Originally posted 3/6/2013
A late post tonight, since my new exercise program has pushed my blogging back by an hour or so each night. My suspicions about exercise were correct, by the way; it is much easier to suggest exercise to other people than it is to actually exercise. I’ve been at it since the beginning of the year, and I at least feel a bit less hypocritical.
While I’m on the topic… I’ve received many comments over the years from people complaining that they’ve been taking Suboxone or buprenorphine for X many years, and they have no energy, they feel stressed, they have gained weight, they don’t sleep well or they sleep TOO well… and concluding that all of the problems are from Suboxone.
Suboxone causes… everything!
They aren’t (from Suboxone). Not at all. But I wonder, at this point, if regular readers of my blog know EXACTLY what I’m going to say. I’m tempted to stop typing and ask people answer so I get a sense of how predictable I’ve become. But then I’d have to wait and then come back, read, and assess the situation…. I really can’t imagine much positive to come out of THAT experience, so I’ll just finish my thoughts, about the problems that people often blame on Suboxone.
The problems are the result of other things, including things that tend to occur naturally as our lives become less chaotic and more outwardly-secure. The problems I mentioned above, for example, come from inactivity. They come from thinking that we’ve ‘paid our dues’ at the age of 30, and it’s time to coast in life. They come from failing to seek out challenges, and from failing to do our best to tackle those challenges. They come from letting out minds be idle, smoking pot or watching American Idol instead of responding to the naggings sense of boredom that ideally pushes people to join basketball, tennis, or bowling leagues.
Our minds and bodies are capable of SO much. I (honestly) am not a network TV viewer, but I love the contrast of ‘before and after’ scenes on ‘Biggest Loser.’ People magazine (it sits in my waiting room) had a section a while back about people who lost half their body size, by exercise and dieting. The part I found most interesting was the deeply personal answer that each person had to the question, ‘what was your turning point?’ Each cited an episode of humiliation or shame that lifted the veil of denial, and helped them do what they knew, all along, needed to be done.
We are not all capable of ‘Biggest Loser’ comebacks. But it is important for people to understand that feeling good, physically or mentally, takes work. That incredible feeling of a ‘sense of accomplishment’ only comes when we accomplish something. We don’t need to eliminate global hunger or cure cancer; sometimes we just need to shovel the driveway, mow the lawn, or do a crossword puzzle. I’ve learned, as a psychiatrist, that the people who walk around with smiles on their faces usually did something that made the smile happen. I’ve learned that ‘feeling happy’ does not just happen for most people. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who answered, when asked about stress, ‘no—I don’t have anxiety.’
Once someone blames Suboxone for their problems, it becomes less likely that the real causes of those problems will become apparent. For example, If I think that my glasses are giving me headaches, I’m less likely to make changes in my diet that might make the headaches better. Once we have something to blame, our problems become more and more engrained, and the real solutions become less and less evident.
I’m truly sorry if I am coming across as ‘preachy’; understand that I’m just trying to make my way through life like everyone else. But I now take note of all those people power-walking at 6 AM, and I understand why they do it. Some of them might be on Suboxone. Some of them might not be. But I respect all of them for opening their minds, and for their willingness to do the hard work that brings happiness—or at least points in that general direction.