Am I cured yet?
Patients often ask me this question. A natural and appropriate question certainly. Unfortunately, in most medical fields, psychiatry being no different, cure is not necessarily possible. It sounds terrible, I know. You have a condition, you want to be cured, be rid of it, and move on.
Mental illness falls more into the category of chronic conditions though. Now that is not to say that they are unmanageable, or that people won’t get better. To the contrary, many mental health issues are treatable and people can go on to do amazing things in spite of their conditions. But the truth remains, they are not cured. The diagnosis is still there, the risks of a repeat episode exist, and the genetic factors still play a role.
So why am I writing such a seemingly negative piece today? I am writing it because it isn’t a negative piece, or at least it doesn’t have to be. With therapy, behavioral change, and often (though not always) continued judicious uses of medication, individuals can go on and live the lives they deserve to be living. I am writing this to remind people that just because you feel better, the work is not over. All too often, someone starts to feel better and then they stop everything - medication, therapy, being mindful of what they are doing. It would be like if you changed your diet and began exercising to lose weight and when you hit your goal, you returned to eating ice cream every day. The weight will return inevitably.
Again, I’m not at all saying people don’t get better. Nor am I saying that just because you are taking a certain medication means you will certainly always need to take that particular medication, at that particular dose. I’m simply trying to point out, with the goal of decreasing pain and heartache, that the work is not over just because you are in a good mindset. Keep striving and fighting to remain on top. Keep pursuing your dreams. Yes, you may need to continue therapy. And yes, you may still be on medication. But that doesn’t mean you have not succeeded. On the contrary, if you are able to work, maintain family relationships, and be happy most of the time, you have definitely succeeded, but you are not finished. Continued success requires vigilance and effort, but it is achievable.
Please take this as a reminder and encouragement to keep up the good work, keep striving, and don’t go back to the way things were.
To all of you who are succeeding, please keep going. For those of you who may be struggling, who may not yet be in a good mindset, please seek treatment. There are a lot of good and effective ways to achieve this, so please contact myself (or someone else local to you) and get help. If you need treatment from a psychiatrist, please contact me at 954-755-2885. My office is located at 5551 North University Drive, Suite 202, Coral Springs, Florida 33067, part of Kimmel Psychology. I have evening hours available.