Pushing Labels

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Envelope Pushers.”

My first strip to a psychologists office was when I was 8 years of age. My defiance was more about fear than because I had any real understanding what was needed of me – or what I needed from them.

I accepted the labels. And I lost count of the faces that gave them to me. Psychologists. psychiatrists and neurologists, all had different ideas and different treatments. All the labels, to me where just synonyms for ‘crazy’. I now know that they weren’t asking the right questions, and just because someone studies.. doesn’t mean that diagnostically they are any good.

One doc said I was schizophrenic after 5 minutes with me. Another decided I was bi polar…  etc.

So… with that brief history out of the way, it is no wonder that my escape from the emotions and the warzone that was my mind, I fell deeply in love with crack and cocaine and whiskey… and anything that involved ‘teetering on death’. So my first trip to rehab was for the hard shit. But I had a dozen yellow post – it’s with labels stuck to me that meant I just went with the flow and did what I was told – on the most part. I also did not like ‘me’ very much – so any direction given was ‘logical’. You know, because they are doctors.

The psychologist assigned to me was and is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. He knew precisely how to rip my intestines out, hand them to me, and help me put them back. He didn’t FIX anything… he just was the catalyst for forward movement.

So nearly two years later I was still clean and sober and had developed a firm idea of who I was, and who I was not. I had boundaries and although I have always and still do struggle with my temper- the only real issues for me, were the moments where I wanted to go BANG.

I had horrible headaches and migraines that left me projectile vomiting and huddled up in the darkest corner I could find. I bought some pain pills and learnt how to make my own migraine cocktails. What I did not know, was that codeine, being an opiate, would ultimately do the same to my brain as heroin would. The more I took, the more pain my brain generated, and the more I needed it. I wasn’t doing it for the escape – so it didn’t occur to me at all that how much I was taking was making it worse. I just believed I needed THAT much to stop the pain.

So, back to rehab. And this is where the envelope, so to speak, was pushed. I had made a MISTAKE. I was not running from anyone or anything. I was not hiding pain or anxiety. I understood exactly how I landed up there, and in my mind it was to detox under supervision. Not to blend into the sea of faceless junkies that were more than happy to keep their sticky note labels as a buffer from facing what was largely all about choice.

I had to see a psychiatrist twice a week. No session lasted longer than three minutes and the woman didn’t make eye contact with me. I was sedated (which I accepted because I was told that the withdrawals would hurt), but I was sedated to the point  where my insides stopped working. I would fall asleep on the toilet because my bladder muscles weren’t working – and fall face first, butt up in the air. The solution – to the clinical staff there – was to take the lock off the door, instead of recognizing that I was OVER sedated. I couldn’t speak properly. I slept through everything – until I realised that I was just a junkie. That the fact that I was objecting, didn’t matter. I was paying 900 bucks for three minutes in which I wasn’t even looked at.

So I decided to kick harder. I refused to be spoken to like a nameless, faceless addict. I persuaded a large handful of the other patients to refuse to see the Psychiatrist, just for one session – so that she would see what that three minutes cost her when she couldn’t charge for it. I challenged the entire clinical team, and became very unpopular.

One of the nurses who had a particular dislike for me, called the girls with eating disorders over the intercom system: Will the eating disorder girls come to the nurses station, please?

That is like saying: Will the crack whore junkies please gather in the dining room?’

I freaked out, and said. Their names are BETH, JANE, MILA. Don’t define them by the very definition that brought them here for HELP.

I was pulled aside and challenged more that once, only to walk out having discovered that the person challenging me knew NOTHING about my history – and yet ‘governed’ me. That is like me sitting next to a homeless person, and calling them lazy.

My need for justice and to be heard as someone with a name and a face and a surety of who I was, didn’t wash well. It rocked the boat and the rhythm. But it was seen as maternal when it came to the young-ins that I had grown to love and keep close.

For someone that grew up being labelled, and for someone who fought to be clean and sober – I went in and came out refusing to accept that I had fallen. I didn’t fall. I made a mistake and the girl that went in was just as strong than the girl that came out.

I don’t know if that will qualify as pushing the envelope in anyone elses eyes, but I believe whole heartedly that it was. We are too fast to accept that because someone is a doctor of medicine that they are always right. Especially in an environment where we are ‘observed’ and boxes make thing easier for those doing the watching, and the fixing.

Just my thoughts. Agree, disagree…  all good.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say – and push back.

13 thoughts on “Pushing Labels

  1. Strong when you went in and stronger when you came out! Doctors are human beings… They don’t have all the answers I have learned the hard way! Glad to have ran int your blog! Keep on posting without a sigh! WordPress has an amazing community and it has carried me out of my darkest place! Be proud of your story and the lessons you have learned!
    Ps. I just had to give some attention to the follow button!

    Liked by 1 person

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