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Mind Optimization Part 11: How to Use Meds

Tolerating wobbles. Nothing is perfect, and we should tolerate a small amount of variability and imperfection before we make the call on what works and what doesn’t. And every bump in the road is not always a cliff. Stay patient, stay optimistic.

This video is part eleven of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.

You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.

Video Transcript

Speaking of starting, continuing, and stopping medications, I want to talk about some important ideas here also. I tell everybody, whenever we start a new medication, “Accept that there’s going to be 20% variability. It’s not going to be perfect immediately.” Just because you might feel that your earlobe is a little itchy three days after starting the medication, or you might feel that, “Oh. I don’t know. I felt a little funny. I’m not sure,” you decided to stop. Then you come see me two weeks later, and you’re telling me this happened. To me, I tell everyone that this is the importance of tolerating a little bit of wobble, but I keep it at 20%. Nobody’s saying that if you started medication or if you started any intervention in your life, and you really don’t like it, it’s not a 20%, it’s an 80%, by all means, stop. Let somebody know.

But also, let’s not be hyper vigilante and hyperreactive to every bump in the road. That theme is going to come back later because what I also want to point out is once people are doing an intervention, whether it’s a psychological intervention or a medication, I tell everybody to just ride the wave a little bit. People are too quick to say, “I feel better. I want to stop.” That, again, comes down to the rapid dialing the shower too quick. I also think it’s important to attain stability for a while and keep it. The human mind learns patterns, and the longer you can stay in a better state, whether it’s because you’re sleeping more at night, whether it’s because you started medication, or did any other intervention in your life, lock it in for a while. Sit with it. Get used to it. Don’t be in a hurry to say, “Okay. I’m better now. I’m done.” No. Coast a little bit.

An important thing I also call is cliffing. I think cliffing to me is people that once they are better, live their lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. Oh my god. If something gets a little but worse, this is the beginning of the end. That’s a dangerous way to live life. Historically, I also point out to people that even though you may have had these wild waves in the past, you’ve had a period of stability for three months, and sometimes a bump in the road might just be a bump in the road. In my experience as a psychiatrist, more often than not that’s what it is. But too many of us live thinking that, “Oh my gosh. This is the beginning of the end any day now.” That kind of an expectation bias can be dangerous.

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