On Being Your Own Best Shrink

Some background on me is, that I’ve been in relationships with mental health professionals since the age of seven. These relationships have been sporadic since the age of seven until my current age of 38. It wasn’t until my later 20’s that I actually was under more constant mental medical supervision of some sort.

My first experience with a social worker, was when I was approximately seven years old. I was pulled out of my class and felt like something was wrong and I also felt awkward because everyone’s attention was then focused on me and what was concerning me. The social worker takes me to a room and I thought I’d done something extraordinary wrong for the manner in which everything was taking place. It felt very covert and I obviously felt like all the attention was diverted to me, but in a overwhelming way.

The social worker makes an attempt to make small talk and eventually asks me if anyone had been touching me in an inappropriate way or hurting me. There were many times that I would wear pants to school to cover the welts in the warmer months and that was until my ass would start to mend and then my step-parents would switch off so I could wear the appropriate clothes for the weather. I suppose that was clever on their part.

I lied straight faced and without even having to think much over my response to the social worker’s questions. I didn’t tell the truth because I was afraid. I was afraid of where I’d be put if I was put in the foster care system and I was even more afraid of what would happen if my step-parents found out I told the truth of the sexual trauma, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I endured day in and out. The devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t. All I know is for a seven year old girl to have so much on her plate, she had to think fast and be a few steps ahead of things.

So, from that time when I was seven and until now, there’s no telling how many people know the intimate details of my life story. This is what I do know about it all now, though. From the time I started working with mental health professionals, I would have to say through my experiences, that very few individuals actually helped me make any productive headway whatsoever in my daily life.

I readily admit that I’m what any DBT therapist will describe as, “willful.” It’s entirely true to a default. I’m both a realistic and pragmatic when it comes to everything in life. If someone is hocking an idea or strategy to me that I know will not work for me, than I just discard it right away. THIS is my whole point with the mental health field. It still is medicine being practiced. New studies are being conducted constantly and nothing is truly static.

What I’ve learned for myself that works tremendously and it doesn’t require an hour long session to accomplish is, to assess your own self. You don’t have to have a degree in anything to do this. It’s something that I regularly do to figure out what is working for me in my life and what isn’t. Take for example, my relationship with my biological mother has always been a strained and rocky one. Last year, I wrote her a letter that would forever change our relationship. It contained something that happened that she needed to have knowledge of.

Her lack of response was the only indication I needed to move on in my life as she was no longer anyone to me anymore. I realize for some people, these are not easy life tasks to accomplish. Permanently severing my relationship with my biological mother was a painful process and definitely a decision that I ruminated over. But, the empowerment! If you are able in your life to make these decisions on what’s not working and only adding more stress to your life, with a clear, stable, and sober mind, then you will find that inner strength you always had to persevere through the strife.

I go to my therapist almost on a weekly basis. I don’t feel any stigma about having to deal with the mental health professionals. I know I’m a pain in the ass because they probably think I’m a know it all, that doesn’t listen to their suggestions (when they actually provide feedback ) but it’s my hour. Having multiple mental illnesses is enough combined with the physical problems I have as well. Ultimately in life, it is you that is going through and dealing with your mental illness and other problems. Your mental health professional isn’t going to be there with you when you’re stuck in a public restroom stall willing yourself to breathe because of a anxiety or panic attack.

I know all about these times. Twenty or so minutes spent trying to collect yourself so you can leave the bathroom and go pick up your prescriptions. Do the breathing exercises. Focus, distract yourself with just about any method that works for you. You know you better than anyone else. You know when you need a break. You know if a place is subject to trigger a panic attack. Take care of yourself the best way you know how. If something isn’t working, THROW IT OUT! I personally only use the strategies that work for me and everything else is background noise, because I have tried many mindful skills, and DBT skills but they don’t work for everyone.

I don’t have a little notebook of skills compiled for the panic attacks and all of my triggers. I just know. At this age, it’s second nature. Everyday is a struggle for us all. I’m just trying to learn as I go about what’s helpful and what’s not. Fight on my fellow warriors!!



Pills for What Ills

So, I had an appointment with my assigned psych nurse this past Monday in which we discussed how neither of my insurances would cover a new med that she wanted to put me on. I’ve tried ALL kinds of anti-depressants all in the SSRI category. Many were simply ineffective. Some were just terrible for me to take period, ( lamictal, prozac, wellbutrin of any milligram ) those are a sample of a few.

I even took this genesight test that tests your DNA to determine what psych medicines would work better with your chemistry. Before I entered the nurse’s office, I already had mentally prepared myself for what I intended to say. I told her I had no faith in any anti-depressant and that I refused to think my salvation or “cure” could be found in pill form.

Her reaction was that I was resigning to my illnesses and how they affect my daily life. I’m very realistic and pragmatic. I took her comment offensively because, as far as I view my illnesses, I didn’t chose to acquire them at any point in my life. She ultimately advised me to get exercise and make sure that I was getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

The same nurse that told me prior to this appointment that I should really start taking a multi-vitamin as my folic acid levels were low and my medicines metabolize better when I’m not mineral deficient. I’ve only been on the same meds for almost 8 years and I’m just now receiving this advice?! WTF???

I’ve also been told by previous therapists that, “you need to be your own advocate.” I agree to that sentiment. However, sometimes, just making it to a doctor’s appointment, etc. is a feat in itself. I then thought, would you really fucking give your own damn self this advice?! I suffer from major depression as well as other mental illnesses. I’ve been disabled since 2012 and I would like to ask them how is it when someone is sick, to advocate for their selves when they’re already doing the best they can???

I want to know the answer to this question. I can’t tell you how many therapist sessions I’ve spent in the restroom (partially) due to my stomach issues that are related to my mental problems and negatively affect every aspect of my life as well. When I had private insurance, the level of “care” wasn’t better. I had a psychiatrist. I hated him. I wanted to stab him until I exhausted myself with a dull letter opener. He focused a lot on my past and asked a lot of questions and took a long time to speak. I believe he did it to waste time. As he certainly did not have any great contributions to offer in regards to my “therapy.”

So, sometimes private doctors suck worse than the places that are state and federally funded. I’m 38 and I’ve been seeing social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others in the mental health field since I was seven years old, off and on. At some point, you begin to question the validity of the mental health field as a whole. Honestly, I owe my stability to two drugs, Lithium and Depakote. I have to use Valium to help with my anxiety. I used to be on more, but had adverse side effects.

I have a sharp insight into what’s wrong. I approx. said this to my present therapist, “Imagine how frustrating it is to have endured the suffering and strife you were dealt throughout your life to only have to relive all of those memories because you cannot forget. You are haunted by your past every waking day.” I’ve told my prior therapists the same thing before. Do you dare think I want to hold onto those memories for the pain they serve to remind me of? The same memories that rob me of my present life because of the hell my past was.

No one really has anything profound to say. Yes. It would be patronizing on anyone’s part to say something they think may make me feel better. I know they’re smarter than that. If I were in their shoes, I guess if hadn’t experienced my own history, than I wouldn’t know what to say either. I’ve had ECT referred before. I may do it. I’ve found the depths of depravity that I’ve reached are as deep as I’m willing to sink.

What would it feel like to swim? Is it even a possibility?