The Amorpha Household, who sometimes comment here, put together a great list of things they’ve learned from their therapist. Much like Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from my Behavioral Therapist, it’s a sarcastic list, and very funny. Much of this describes well the reasons I won’t have anything to do with psychiatry, at least no more than I absolutely have to (“have to” entails bureaucratic reasons, such as SSI reviews, not emotional ones).
I should note, also, that many of the reasons that I don’t trust laws that say “You only get locked up if you’re a danger to self, others, or gravely disabled,” are encompassed in here. (Besides the fact that what is done to you after you are declared those things, is not good even if you are any of those things.) Many people don’t realize how if you’re the wrong kind of person, that law gets bent and bent and bent and bent, and that the “determination” of such things is a matter of having a box checked off on a form while they’re already admitting you. I’ve gotten “danger to self” for such atrocities as picking scabs or having chapped lips that bled easily. When’s the last time you’ve been committed or tied down for absentmindedly picking a scab? It all depends on what kind of person you’re already judged to be.
This letter by Zilari for Autistic Pride Day also reminds me of it.
Anyway, I’ll shut up now and present Amorpha’s list, everything below the line is theirs (here’s a link back to their post):
Traditionally, a lot of recovery-type multiples have put lists on their pages of stuff like “Things I Learned From My Therapist.” Here’s our list of what we learned from therapy and doctors.
- When you are really having problems, nobody believes that you are suffering. When you are all right and working things out on your own, nobody believes that you are not disturbed and suffering.
- Refusing to commit yourself to any kind of long-term medical relationship with a therapist because s/he was a useless, arrogant, condescending, and/or uncompassionate ass does not mean you are exercising your power of choice as a consumer, it means you’re a snob who thinks they’re too good for anyone. This can be fixed with patronizing, authoritarian lectures and drugs.
- Waiting to seek help for a problem due to bad past experiences with therapists entitles the therapist to lecture you like a child on how stupid, foolish and irresponsible you are, for not running off to the great pill dispenser the moment you start to feel the slightest bit of unease.
- If you don’t make eye contact, it means something is wrong with you, or that you’re being dishonest. If you make eye contact, it means something is wrong with you and you’re trying too hard to pretend to be honest when you’re not.
- If you don’t express enough emotion in your voice, it means you’re a fake who doesn’t really have any of the problems they claim to. If you express too much emotion in your voice, it means you’re a fake who doesn’t really have any of the problems they claim to.
- The Internet is dangerous to your health. People you meet online should never be trusted and are dangerous to you– somehow more dangerous than people you meet in the 3-D world, even when you have a track record of being taken advantage of due to inability to read other people’s body language well. They might do horrible things like convince you that you’re not being helped by your doctor.
- If you come in wearing an old shirt because it was the only clean thing, or if your jacket is a little rumpled, you are exhibiting deteriorating self-care skills, and these are symptomatic of your “condition” worsening.
- If you get too upset and cry too much, it means you want to harm yourself and are at risk of suicide. You can never just be letting things out.
- If you sit on the couch and look at your feet, you’re depressive. If you get up and pace, you’re manic. If you do both, you’re bipolar.
- “Group therapy” which consists of letting the other patients verbally abuse and insult you and each other, while the supervising therapist sits around like a potted plant in the corner of the room and occasionally asks “how does that make you feel?”, is somehow supposed to be helpful. Not sure how. But it is. Take it from them.
- “How does that make you feel?” is somehow the most important question that can ever be answered in a therapy session. Not that, if you can put into words how you feel, anything will ever actually done to help if you’re not feeling so great.
- If you ever, ever, at any time, even consider the possibility that you might possibly be able to figure out a way to work things out without the use of drugs, this is a dangerous delusion you must be talked out of at once.
- Anyone with a degree is qualified to speculate on the psychological health of your entire family after a five-minute description of them.
- If you say something early on in a session, then forget later on that you said it due to the fact that the therapist’s interrogation was making you flustered and nervous and confused, this is symptomatic of a horrible mental problem, although they will never tell you what it is.
- Always trust the doctor’s perceptions over your own, no matter how much they conflict. Theirs is the Official view of reality. They have achieved total enlightenment in earning their doctorate and now reside on a higher plane from which they view everything with total objectivity.
- Pills are the solution. Always. If one doesn’t work, just give more of it.
- If it does exactly the opposite of what it’s supposed to, you also need more of it somehow.
- If you really feel you need a short term course of a particular drug and ask for it specifically, however, you are just a junkie trying to get the doctor to hand out your fix.
- Drugs do what the doctor tells you they will, not what the label and warnings say they will. Reality is different inside the doctor’s office than out of it. For example, in the Doctor’s Office Bizarro World, Thorazine is not a high-potency neuroleptic but merely something to alleviate anxiety.
- Do not ever expect to be given anything resembling a realistic assessment of the possible side effects of any given drug.
- If you disagree with the doctor’s assessment of whether you need a certain drug, you are being noncompliant. Noncompliance is bad. Noncompliance means you need more drugs.
- If you disagree with the doctor in any way, seem unsure when agreeing to let them throw more pills at you, look away, look too unhappy, look too happy, look away too much, look at them too much, etc, you are also being noncompliant.
- Charges of noncompliance can sometimes be deflected by agreeing to let the doctor increase your dosage of something they already have you on (which isn’t doing what it’s supposed to either).
- Sometimes doctors will decide to arbitrarily up your dosage anyway. No reason. Just don’t argue with them. They’re always right.
- Many doctors will refuse to prescribe minor tranquilizers, warning you of the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, and will then turn around and try to shove things at you for which the withdrawal symptoms are potentially much, much worse.
- If you ever state that you don’t need medication or help, or not the kind they’re giving you, anyway, this just means you’re too sick to know how sick you are.
- Everything you tell the doctor about your personal history will be hacked up and mangled beyond the point of recognizability by the time it gets to your official report in your file. This can range from elimination of very important facts (such as the fact that a past episode of depression resulted from being bullied every day at school), to “re-interpretations” of things you tell them (because, being mentally ill, you can’t be trusted to interpret incidents in your own life accurately), to just making shit up out of thin air.
- Even if your anxiety or depression stems from something perfectly understandable, such as the death or serious illness of a family member, reacting to it in a way that leaves you unable to perform some daily tasks in the same manner as before doesn’t mean you’re having a natural stress reaction; it’s a symptom of your illness.
- In fact, any time you have any kind of extremely strong emotional reaction in response to a life event, you’re never really acting in response to that event. It’s just a by-product of a chemical imbalance in your brain.
- Many doctors will not take “no” for an answer in response to the question of whether you ever want to hurt yourself or others. They’re determined to ferret out the “real” pathological impulses that underlie your actions.
- Although the doctor is furiously scribbling notes the whole time you’re talking to him, he is, in fact, writing down few or none of the pertinent facts you relate to him. He’s probably writing alliterative verse about his cat or something.
- Rule of thumb: The nicer the doctor’s office, the more horrible your experience in it is likely to be. If you see soothing, relaxing decor in the waiting room, with rugs on the walls and potted plants and dimmed lights and white noise machines and little miniature waterfalls, turn around and run. Do not walk. Do not pass Go or collect 200 dollars.
- Never suggest that you might have self-diagnosed. This will get you nothing but smarmy, condescending sneers and “Did you read that on the Internet?”
- If you get a “learning disability assessment,” if you are female, your chances of being diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder increase by approximately 200%. If you are male, your chances of being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD increase by approximately 200%.
- Do not ask to see the DSM. Do not ever suggest that you have even read it.
- Never, ever, ever, ever, answer any of the following questions with “yes”, even if they’re true: “Do you hear voices? Do you get thoughts racing through your head? Do you feel that people are plotting against you?”
- Never trust anyone who smiles at you in a grandfatherly manner. Say just the wrong thing and they’ll suddenly turn on you, although this is all for your own good, of course.
- If drugs don’t help you in the way they’re supposed to, or if you ultimately find ways to get along without them, or are forced to find a way because the drugs cause too many problems, this means that you “never actually had that problem to begin with,” even if you had every single “symptom” of it or sounded exactly like someone else’s account of a worst-case scenario, the kind who “need” certain kinds of treatment.
- And if you talk about your experience of how you learned to deal with things without drugs, you’re harming and undermining “the people who are really sick, not mildly afflicted like you were” (even if, again, their definition of someone who is “really sick” could have fit you exactly at some point in your life).
- Or if you talk about this, you’re automatically a $cientologist. (Even though $cientologists are all batshit anyhow– more than most “mental health clients,” anyway.)
- If the Very Scientific Studies By Experts don’t match up with your personal experiences, it’s never that the experts’ studies are the ones that are flawed and failing to account for you. If they don’t represent your experience, it’s because YOUR LIFE IS WRONG! But don’t panic! Diversity of human experience is curable. With modern medical intervention, everyone can be made to be exactly the way They say you ought to.
- No matter what actual, valid problems you might have, that have nothing to do with your being plural, everyone will always be much more interested in the fact of your multiplicity– no matter how many times you say it isn’t a problem for you– to the point where this overrides any chance of your actually being able to discuss the things that are real problems.
- If you are a smoothly-functioning system and completely accepting of it, the doctor will get far too fascinated by this, and every therapy session will end up being you on display as the circus freak show.
- Apparently, there is some nebulous “you” in here whom everyone else is a part of. As in “what part of you feels that way?”, when the person speaking mentions that someone else has an opinion that differs from theirs.
- It’s okay to have “imaginary people in your head” as long as you never commit the horrible, horrible crime of actually thinking those people are real, or that they’re autonomous persons rather than “parts of you,” or treating them as though they have as many rights as you (the speaker).
- And, of course, the ultimate goal, even if they are just imaginary, is to integrate them back into “you,” so you no longer need this “way of coping.”
- If you leave therapy without having integrated, you can never go without the friendly advice of being told to “find another specialist in dissociative disorders” to help you.
(These can be redistributed, at your discretion, with credit given to Amorpha Household in the byline somewhere.)