This is one of those topics I think about a fair amount – but I am unsure of how to write my collected thoughts down in a way that will make sense to anyone else. My thoughts are a mixture of memories, emotions and things I have watched and read. But I am going to give it a bash.
For those of you that have read my ‘About Me’ sections, you will know that what I am about to try and put down into words comes as no surprise: In a nut shell, I am against the psychology / psychiatry fields. Broadly speaking.
I started studying Psychology at the beginning of this year and realised after only a few months in, that my motives for studying it wasn’t to learn anything and ‘use’ it for myself or for others. It was more of a mathematical approach to defeating the enemy. Sad, and not well thought out at the time, but very true.
The irony is that the recommendation letters I got were all full of kind words and positive statements about what value I would add to the world of psychology. Two close friends, who are psychologists, and a family member who is a doctor, wrote the most amazing, complimentary letters regarding my character and my ability to read and help people. My being void of racism, or any ‘ism’. It was good for my heart to read – but on my end, I quickly realised that I couldn’t do it. Not for the reasons that I was going to.
The main reason, on a personal level, being that I am not good at falling in line, and am especially not good at being told what to do. Especially by people who I have decided may be in a position of authority but that is all they have.
I explain it this way. Two people can go to the same piano lessons, and learn how to play the same song – but that song is only beautiful if whoever is playing it understands the timing and has a genuine passion for it. I believe it the same with Psychology and Psychiatry. Regardless of what you know, you either can or you can’t – and my ultimate goal was to prove that most simply can’t.
I back that opinion up by experience. 26 years of experience, starting at 8 years old. I have been to more psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists in my time than most people ever see a general practitioner. I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, among other things.
It was only after a failed suicide attempt and a stint in hospital and rehab that I started to realise that I was part of a system that was more like a coffin with a breathing hole the size of a straw. I became weary of sitting for an hour listening to someone who can’t play the play the piano tell me about my brain using only the information I had chosen to give them. Not even I realised back then – that I wasn’t letting anyone near the core reasons for my being the wild flower that I am. Thank heavens for that too, because that would have been like asking for more trouble. It is one thing to open a tin of worms, but to get them back into the tin is another story.
Labels do two things. They give a person a reason to behave a certain way, and no motive to be any different. Secondly they place boundaries and barriers on someone’s self-belief. I have always been the crazy of the family – and the labels have been used to explain my behavior.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there is a place for diagnosis and for the appropriate treatments, be they medication or chilling with a shrink – but I have learnt the hard way that there is money to made in keeping someone broken.
Two times in my life have I come across psychologists who love what they do – and have a gift. They can play anything from Mozart to Thelonius Monk by ear, and they see everything that is not said, and read between the lines.
One was in the rehab I went to, and one was a man I saw after that for about two years. Neither of them let me ‘lead’ the discussions. Neither of them believed the cactus persona that I brought in, and neither of missed a beat. I tried all my usual methods. Being mean. Being obnoxious. Being evasive. None of it worked.
I have consequently come to understand that I have PTSD, Synesthesia and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. All of which easily misdiagnosed by a doctor who play the piano. At one point I was on 14 pills a day. Mood stabilizers, anti – epileptics, anti-depressants, sleeping pills and on things I didn’t even need. My hair fell out, and I became dangerously aggressive and the feeling of being that lost had me counting and saving sedating medication so that I could use them to end it all if I felt any worse.
An eye opener for me was a documentary I watched on how psychiatry started, and how through history, there has been money made at the expense of sick people. Kickbacks for specific drugs from a specific pharmaceutical company. Notoriety on being able to write papers using ‘evidence’ as a tool to make a name for one’s self.
Now, it is common to have bipolar. It is fashionable almost. It is weird if you aren’t on drugs of some kind to get you through a day. It is just as fashionable to see a shrink at least once a week. Everyone needs one, right?
Again, I am not saying that all psychologists are money hungry soul mongers. I know they aren’t. I am however saying that MOST of them are. And, in my opinion, so are most psychologists, seeing as they get to benefit from prescribing drugs.
So let’s be real for a moment. I am not the poster child for mentally stable. I do have a temper that goes from zero to ‘allow me to explain to you how much I would like to skin you alive over a period of a week, and watch you die…’ I am not particularly good with social gatherings that require polite and disarming conversation. I am also very, very, very bad at work meetings with my filtering system. I say things before I have had time to remove thorns or daggers. I would never win Miss Congeniality.
But does that mean I am mentally unwell? No. I don’t think it does. It does mean I have to choose, and it’s sometimes very hard – to just shut my mouth and not speak, or to walk away. But I am still in control. Sadly, it is only recently that I have even made an effort to be a better person, and it is not easy. I am either naturally kind – or the exact opposite. I love old people, and I am generally fast to aid someone who is being bullied, but it isn’t because I care about the victim, it is because I don’t like the weakness and the injustice of it all.
I have broken noses, kicked a man in the jaw and broke it. I have been escorted out of public places because I have walked up to tables in restaurants where the patron is being exceptionally rude to a waiter – simply because they can – and ended up in physical arguments where I am either chucked out along with the bully or it has been appreciated.
I feel things, intensely. Because I was ‘the victim’ at various points in my growing up, I have a warped sense of what is good and bad and right and wrong, weak and strong, and just and unjust. I also have an off switch which comes in handy when walking away from toxic people. I feel nothing.
So when you stick me in a room with a Psychiatrist who from the start I can see is going through the motions of making me comfortable and being agreeable so that I believe I am safe to discuss the darkest parts of me – and I can tell that they genuinely don’t care – I am just another slot – another few hundred bucks… then I have no respect and no desire to share anything of importance.
I have been wrong before, but that is part of me not trusting easily. Understandable given that when I do I end up on more meds and in hospital.
The psychologist from rehab that I mentioned, I was very wrong about him. My first trip to rehab and I walked into his office. He, to me, was your stereotypical ‘farm boy’. But that only lasted a few minutes. He has since become one of my favourite human beings. He made me cry. He made me laugh, and he made me look inwards instead of only outwards.
The same with the second one who I have grown to love. He looked like a mad scientist when I walked in. Crazy grey hair, and a hearty laugh when I said things that were meant to be alarming and not funny. He also saw right through me and it wasn’t long before I was frank and open.
After the last one I saw, I realised that there was no point. He placed a lot of emphasis on my needing to do this all slowly and I should come twice a week. I asked him if he was able to give me the tools to manage the emotions – and he said ‘there are no tools’ – which translated into – you will be putting money in my pockets twice a week for the rest of your life.
There are tools. I know that because I have a toolbox that I am slowly filling with the methods that I have found to work for me. All of my growth in that regard has come from personal introspection and from my own research. I have been to a criminologist brain profiler which was very enlightening. I have read mountains of books, and watched so much on various ideas and schools of thought.
I think it is sad if someone doesn’t cotton on that if they still see a head shrink twice a week four years after they started – that, that shrink is not very good at what they do, but is a clever business-man.
I remember saying to a psychologist I saw when I was a teenager, ‘The party is over, but the people are still there.’ He laughed, and complimented my sense of humour.
When I went back the following week, I was turned away.
I have certifiably crazy friends. One girl has schizophrenia for real. Another is fried, but I don’t know what he has. I know that there is place for medication and for the talking about it feel good aspect. But I will stand my ground when I say that what makes us all beautiful is those quirks and eccentricities. Not everyone has to like us. We are all different, and those differences are what makes life move.
My boyfriend is a shy and timid guy. But he has the heart of a lion. The reason we work is because he doesn’t take the bait when I fight and when it counts he is so stubborn that what I would perceive as weakness in anyone else is a strength in him because it has proved to me that he won’t ever be a doormat.
Both of us are ex addicts. In theory we should be even more cooked with all the cocaine and the crack and the acid. But we are equally as weird, just in different ways – and I wish more people would think independently of others when it comes to how we ‘should or shouldn’t be’.
He has finished coming off his meds and is a happier human being. He also has the skills and self-knowledge to see depression coming and make an effort to change the pattern of apathy and acceptance.
I am busy coming off mine and I have days where I want to strangle everyone, and am almost non-functional because I am so consumed with anger or frustration – but like my boyfriend, I am learning what to do not to stay like that for long.
I would rather know who I am without it all, and love who I am without it all – than be half of what I can be because I am ‘too much’ for someone who contributes nothing to my world anyway.
Does that make sense?