Growing Up Is Not Necessarily The Same as Growing Away

 

cant decide so dance

Image by faster panda kill kill via Flickr

 

Self-Care Tip #105 – Grow up, think on your own, and stay connected.  Be a friend to yourself.

Staying connected doesn’t mean loosing your freedom.  Staying connected doesn’t mean immaturity.  And independent thought doesn’t mean disconnecting from others or your foundation in life.

When we move into adulthood, we move into roles requiring responsibility, autonomous decision-making, teaching like parents.   This is confusing don’t you think when we were designed to be connected?  Well when something feels so wrong inside, listen to it.  There is a incongruence with what you intuitive know.  Independence includes dependence

Adulthood means learning to have creative thought while being willing to learn.  It means disconnecting while remaining connected.  It’s not all-or-none.  It’s seeing the strength in vulnerability.  Part of taking care of “Me” includes choosing dependence.

Dependence never takes away freedom.  Sometimes when I listen to people telling me how I should feel or think, I feel caged and start doing things to make me feel less caged.  Unfortunately sometimes that isn’t a healthy thing, like eating chocolate or… well it’s often eating for some reason.  Other people do this too.  They may cut on themselves or bang their head.  Unnecessary, because we are free no matter.  Drugs.  Whatever it is that in the moment somehow springs you from the phantom cage only to put you in another.

Question:  How do you live free yet connected?  How do you deal with feelings of infancy, immaturity, loosing freedom when it comes?  Please tell me Your story.

Afraid of Meds

A colleague told me,

I want to get off my sleep meds because I don’t want to be dependent on anything.

Dependence.  Lazy, pass-the-buck, unimaginative, immoral, chemical abuser.  Maybe even doctor-shopper depending on who is speaking.  When someone says it, before we talk about medication use, biology, etc… we need to know what is behind that word.  Working with the tip of an iceberg of prejudice might sink us before navigating much treatment.  Even physicians after 25+ years of education and more of medical practice, find it hard to shed these cultural prejudices about psychotropics (medications used in psychiatry).  What does the word dependence mean to you?

To psychiatrists, substance dependence means that the body has become accustomed to something.  We don’t get as much physical or emotional boost we used to using a substance, such as to nicotine, alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications.  We now need more to get the same effect we would have gotten before with less amount.  It includes physical and emotional cravings – like sweating, shaking and yearning.  A lot of time is spent to do whatever it takes to get it.  Can’t cut back.  Keep doing it even though spilling into personal and professional space.  Keep using even though aware body and mind are worse for it.

Was this a description of my “dependent” colleague?

How about abuse?  Substance abuse is when we do dangerous, mean, and/or irresponsible things when using.  Was he hitting his wife when he was under the influence of a sleep medication?  Was he taking sleep medications when he was at work because he liked how they made him feel?  Driving with them?  You get it.

This guy is no dummy.  Yet he felt guilt and shame about appropriately using a medication for a medical reason.

I was seeing a woman for the first time in my clinic.

“Doctor is this medication going to make me addicted?”

We spoke about her fears.  Turns out, she thought her medication would prejudice the world against her.  Change her personality.  Make her crave it if she ever wanted to stop.  Steal from her geriatric mother and eventually, who knows?  Panhandling?  Now how am I supposed to work with that?  How she ever got the courage to come and see me in the first place with all that on her back, must be pure grit.

So here’s the dirt.  Some medications have no dependency risks.  Some medications do.  Some people abuse any medication they can get their hands on.  There are rave parties where there is a kitty – a bowl full of whatever pills anyone in attendance donates to.  They take them out randomly and swallow to get whatever surprise awaits them.  Is one class of medication more often abused than another?  Yes.

As a prescribing physician, I have sworn to not intentionally do any harm.  As a patient, you contract with me to take your medications as prescribed and safely. We’re in this together.  We will talk about any recommendations and you will hear the risks and benefits to treatment.  You will decide.  There is no conspiracy to turn Americans into bad citizens through psychotropics.

Self Care Tip #52 – Find out where your fear is coming from.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What are your fears about psychotropics?  Agree or disagree with this post?