Most of us have been in arguments with people we love that we have to decide- do we continue fighting or do we let go of our pride and end the argument, choosing to return to a loving state instead. How many times though have we really had this internal conflict where we choose pride over self-love?
I got to experience this firsthand when I followed up with my neurologist about 2 weeks after the stroke. Knowing depression is high for 3-6 months after stroke he asked “ok should we put you on an antidepressant for a couple months?”. I declined because at that time I felt that I could handle the emotions that were occurring. I felt it was important to feel all of them so that I could navigate them clearly. However, as the weeks went on I started becoming more hopeless and unmotivated. Expected post-stroke emotions started to give way to thoughts about “maybe there isn’t a reason for the stroke like I thought” and “I wish that stroke would have taken me out”.
I started feeling alarmed at the occasional idea that I wished I was gone when I felt so strongly at first that this was a blessing in disguise. After 6 weeks of patiently meditating, journaling, optimizing my nutrition and exercise I was still experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. For example, one day I went on a 3 mile walk around a local lake with my daughter and at the beginning felt so grateful to be alive and thought it was so beautiful. However, about 30 minutes later felt so sad and holding back tears, wishing I had died.
I tried resetting myself at home, alone knowing the science behind interacting electromagnetic fields and the possibility of “emotional contagion”. For a few days I spent more time focusing on my body and feelings. Asking where my gratitude had gone. In my mind I knew I should be grateful but somehow it felt just out of reach. I wrote gratitude lists, talked to my integrative psychiatrist for more holistic options and tried it all. I looked for other careers, I tried more creativity, reached out to friends more. Nothing was working. In meditation one morning I knew I had to let my pride go.
I had been having an internal struggle between my pride and love for myself. As a doctor of western medicine I know that medications are useful for stabilizing in an unsafe situation. In this case I had started to wish for death which is an unsafe situation. Nothing had done the trick and I knew that one specific low dose antidepressant worked well for me. I had been so proud not needing any medications for mood or sleep (a big feat for me) prior to the stroke and now here I was again.
I had to let go of my pride and choose self love. Thoughts about “but your book is called Medication Detox” were finally replaced by “but your book doesn’t condemn medications, it only shows ways to optimize health for free so we can require the least amount of medication”. I acquiesced finally and went on the low dose anti-depressant, anticipating temporarily until things stabilize and continuing to work on the circumstances that created the need for a medication.
I realized that all of my favorite naturopaths and alternative medicine practitioners teach the optimal care is found in a synergistic relationship between western medicine and the more traditional medicine.
I had to let go of my pride and find my self-love. I had to put me first despite the frustration with all the medications I was now on (albeit temporarily) for the stroke. I know so many people who are afraid to let people see them in a vulnerable state but in this case I was not allowing me to love myself in the vulnerability. I wouldn’t allow myself to say ‘let’s make this easier for a while because I love you and you deserve a break’. I one time heard somebody say that growth is a spiral staircase. Sometimes it feels like we are taking steps and barely making any change but I believe with some patience and trust in the process eventually the lessons learned today will propel me further than if I had never experienced them.
What are you fighting yourself about and why?