On ambivalence about being ambivalent

Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings . . . in opposition. The prefix, as in “ambidextrous,” means “both.” The rest of it, in Latin, means “vigor.” The word suggests that you are torn . . . between two opposing courses of action.
Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
Dr. Wick: Am I sane . . . or, am I crazy?
Susanna: Those aren’t courses of action.
Dr. Wick: They can be, dear–for some.
Susanna: Well, then–it’s the wrong word.
Dr. Wick: No. I think it’s perfect.
(Girl, Interrupted, 1999)

Through ECT, it is its goal that I will come to want life.  I must confess that I still view suicide as a legitimate choice, albeit an admittedly selfish one at that.  There is a small part of me that feels like the ECT is going “take away” this choice to not live. I wrestle with my own ambivalence.  It sounds unthinkable that I still want something that has gripped my livelihood. However, having to let go of these thoughts is like losing something that’s been a part of my personal identity. My desire to want to die has been a companion for nearly a lifetime. This is where I do question if this “choice” that I so fervently want to keep is just a part of an illness. For the time being, I will consider my dilemma to be genuine and not simply rooted in a disorder.

Apparently I seem to find inspiration from President George W. Bush on this matter, because his farewell address on Thursday night made me look at my own ambivalence in a different light. His observation was that “when people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror.” Now, I’m not saying that I agree with his policy or the general doctrine; I’m simply applying his speech excerpt to my little problem here. But I think he has a point. Bush is essentially pointing out that if one is given a choice but only one has been familiar to you your whole life, you would likely pick something that you know even if that “choice” isn’t beneficial to you (Of course, in the context of foreign policy, this would assume that a way of thinking different from US policy-not just in terms of Middle East extremism-is flawed just because they’ve chosen to take a different approach. Okay, back to the other topic…).   To paraphrase his buddy Donald Rumsfeld from that 2002 press conference,  just because I recognize there is a “known unknown” here, how could I go ahead and choose the “known knowns” even though I don’t really know anything about the “known unknown”?

Then again, maybe my ambivalence isn’t that ambivalent. By choosing to go through ECT, haven’t I already made a choice to live?

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2 Comments to “On ambivalence about being ambivalent”

  1. What a strangely beautiful entry. You should write a book. Thank you so much for this blog. I feel that I may need to take drastic measures to get control of my Bi-Polar disorder, and this blog is giving me some of the answers that I am looking for. I am 22 years old and have been resistant to all but one medication for 12 years; I have been on over twenty medications. I have an eating disorder, which makes medications like Lithium and Depakote very difficult choices for me.

    I hope you’re doing well,
    Lisa

  2. Lisa, thank you so much for finding my journal and for your comment. Your comment gave me a lift I needed to get the day going. I’m humbled to hear that this blog can be of some support to you. Have you ever thought about writing about what it’s like to deal with both bipolar and eating disorder? There’s always room at this blog if you’d ever like to ‘vent’ on a post! :) I remember the difficulties I went through with Depakote and Lithium myself.

    Thanks again, and hope we keep in touch.

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