No, I’m not cured of bipolar disorder. That’s not the great news. I’m happy to report that I got my annual HIV test results today, and I remain negative. That’s no small accomplishment for a gay man. You never know when something might have gone wrong. I am grateful that my higher power continues to grace me with such good health. I’m very lucky.
I know many who aren’t lucky. I have a very dear friend who needs a hip replacement due to arthritic deterioration, and I have another very, very close friend with breast cancer that spread from his breast to his spine and has now metastasized in his brain. The former friend is only 46, and the latter is only 66. One is battling a debilitating disease, and the other death.
While I was visiting with my doctor today, he paid me an unexpected compliment. He said, “You’re honest, and that’s very rare for me to see.” He described how most of the time he has to deal with murky disclosures or outright lies, and he’s constantly having to read between the lines of what his patients are saying. With me, he said he feels relaxed. He doesn’t have to second guess what I’m saying.
Being honest did not come naturally to me. I’ve been in therapy for 24 years, and I’ve worked the 12 steps of A.A. on a daily basis for 11 years, 11 months, and 4 days as of today. I would say that it’s a combination of those two things that has taught me honesty.
I hold nothing back from my doctor. When I went in to request the HIV test, I was honest with my worries. I hold nothing back from my psychiatric prescribing nurse either, nor the psychiatrist before her. They can only deal with the information that I give them, and if I lie, then I’m only hurting myself. I don’t lie to my therapist, caseworker, or my A.A. sponsor. Even in depression, I stay honest and report my suicidal thoughts.
Perhaps that’s the most important time for me to be honest, during depression. That is the time when I am least equipped to deal with my own issues, and I need the professionals in my life to guide me. I talk to so many people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder who innately distrust their physicians. I’m glad I have doctors and professionals that I feel are looking out for my best interests.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a pushover. I have declined changes in the doses of my medications in the past when I felt it was wrong. I have pushed to get other medications when I thought it was needed. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m not.
The important point is that I have built up a rapport based on honest interaction with my healthcare providers, and we complement each other.
Today, I’m breathing sweet air. I’m eating good food. I have a roof over my head, and so much more. All of that is great news.