Sitting in the sterile, impersonal room, the aroma of antiseptic stinging my nostrils, I felt a gnawing unease. My doctor was once again attempting to convince me to take a new medication. This one purported to calm my racing thoughts and soothe my intellectual unrest. But something deep inside me was on high alert. I was convinced that the drugs they were trying to feed me were damaging my intellect, dulling my cognitive prowess, and slowly but surely feeding the cancer of my intellect.
My name is Thomas, and I am an individual with an unusually high-functioning intellect. I have always been voracious in my quest for knowledge, an eager sponge soaking up every fact and theory. I am the girl who never outgrew her “why” phase, who still finds herself lost in thought at three in the morning, contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
But recently, I’ve found myself at the mercy of my own mind. It has become a ruthless taskmaster, relentless in its pursuit of understanding. My thoughts race, and sometimes it feels as though I’m on the precipice of a cliff, teetering between enlightenment and insanity. It was this instability that led me to the realms of psychiatry in the first place. But as you will soon learn, what I needed I would not find there.
I’ve always respected medicine, seeing it as a tangible manifestation of our innate human curiosity and intellect. But over the course of my lifetime, I’ve felt a disconcerting disconnect between the annals of pharmaceuticals and my own wellbeing. Every prescription handed to me felt like a betrayal. But, not of my trust in medicine itself, but rather a betrayal of my intellect, my cognition, and my very essence. The pills, I believed, were not healing but harming, not aiding but abetting the very demons they seemed to be trying to exorcise.
Each prescription I accepted felt like a concession, an acceptance of a slower, duller, less curious mind. I felt my sharpness blunted, my creativity stifled, and my curiosity curbed. The mental fog crept in, stealthy and insidious, clouding my once crystal-clear thoughts. I was trapped in a dichotomy—was it better to be at peace with a dulled mind and be made compliant, or be tormented by an overactive and curious brain?
I felt my intellectual vitality being eroded, bit by bit, replaced by an artificial tranquility that wasn’t my own. I felt less like Thomas, the passionate knowledge-seeker, and more like a subdued, compliant patient. I was no longer the person I felt I should be, but rather what some professional’s opinion wished to realize.
I tried to voice my fears to my doctor, but I was met with gentle reassurances that felt hollow. The doctors told me that the medications were a temporary measure, a bridge to help me regain control of my overactive mind. But his words did nothing to dispel my growing terror. What if this was forever? What if I lost myself in the quest to find stability?
As I sit here, penning down my thoughts, I know I am at a crossroads. It has been years since I have taken a psychiatric pill. I want peace, but not at the cost of my intellect. My mind, while chaotic, is my sanctuary. I refuse to let it be dulled, muted, or tamed in any way.
Perhaps there is a middle ground. There may be other ways to soothe the tempest in my mind without dulling its brilliance. Maybe it’s non-pharmacological therapy, meditation, or a better understanding of my own cognitive processes. I don’t know which yet. But I do know one thing—I won’t let the cancer of my intellect grow. I will find a way to restore balance and regain control.
This is my journey, and my battle is far from over. The girl who never outgrew her “why” phase isn’t about to stop asking questions now. She’s not about to stop challenging the status quo, even if the status quo is her own perceived mental health.
I’ve begun seeking second opinions, researching alternative treatments, exploring avenues like mindfulness meditation and using my journal as a therapeutic tool. Some call it being stubborn, but I call it refusing to compromise on who I am.
I also find strength in the stories of others who, like me, fighting their own battles to retain their sense of self. I must constantly remind myself that none of us are ever actually alone in our troubles. There is a certain existential comfort in that unity of the collective unconscious.
The unknown is still scary, and the path ahead uncertain. There are days when the fear is overwhelming, when the prospect of losing my intellectual acuity is paralyzing. But I am not the kind of person to back down from a challenge. After all, as Shakespeare once wrote, the future is undiscovered country for us all.
My intellect, my curiosity, and my relentless quest for knowledge—these are the things that define me. They are intrinsic to who I am. No misdiagnosed disorder, no medication, and no well-meaning but misguided advice will make me surrender any part of myself.
Instead, I learn to adapt, to find new ways to coexist with my overactive mind. I am discovering that there is a difference between calming the storm and extinguishing the fire within. I have learned that one can seek peace without sacrificing passion.
As I embark on the next phase of my journey, I am filled with cautious optimism. It’s a difficult path, fraught with obstacles, but I am ready to face them. I won’t let the cancer of my intellect grow. Instead, I will nurture my mind, cherish it, and let it flourish. Because my intellect is not my enemy, it’s my ally.
I walk my current life path with trepidation, but also with determination. It’s a path that I walk with an open mind, ready to learn, adapt, and grow. Whenever I feel stuck and don’t know how to continue on, I just keep finding a new avenue to walk down. I keep taking forward steps, and I remind myself, my story is not over.
For anyone out there who is battling their own demons, who feels like they’re being forced to choose between their mental health and their intellectual vitality, I want you to know—you’re not alone. There is a way forward.
Let’s continue to feed our intellects, not the cancer. Together, we can overcome and we can thrive. There is hope. Don’t let anyone, not even well-meaning doctors, dictate who you should be. You are the master of your mind, and you have the power to shape your own destiny.
This piece sprouted from a heart-to-heart with Amelia, wherein we discussed an intriguing predicament. Medical professionals were quite eager to prescribe medication to me, an unnecessary gesture born out of the stark juxtaposition between my extraordinary intellect and fairly average university scores.
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