12/27/2007

How Do You Want to Move that Mountain?

Okay, I don't talk about this much, but those of you who read this blog regularly know I'm a psychotherapist, right? I talk about one part of that career when I talk about my nursing home patients but I rarely, if ever, discuss my private practice.

I write about the nursing home patients by disguising certain facts and creating an amalgam that protects their privacy because I feel they are in danger and I want the world to know about it.

My private patients can fend for themselves but my old guys are mostly helpless victims who need my active help. Part of what I do is rant here about the terrible state of elder care in our nation by making it personal, by giving you a glimpse into their daily lives.

I will never do that with my private patients. But today I read a blog post at a very popular blog, http://dooce.com, that really sums up the way I wish everyone could see therapy.

Heather, the blog's author, has battled depression and anxiety for years and talks about why therapy and medication has helped her. This particular post deals with her struggle to understand why her friend won't seek professional help.

She says, "I think many people are afraid that if they take medication or even agree to see a therapist that they are in some way admitting failure or defeat. Or they have been told by their boyfriend or their mother or their best friend that they should buck up and get over it, and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Well then, let me be weak. Let me be a failure. Because being over here on this side, where I see and think clearly, where I'm happy to greet my child in the morning, where I can logically maneuver my way over tiny obstacles that would have previously been the end of the world, over here being a failure is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than the constant misery of suffering alone.

Yesterday I wanted to say this to someone but didn't because I'm afraid she will stop talking to me about certain things because I'm not telling her what she wants to hear. She wants me to tell her that she is right and that if she ignores a certain very large problem it will go away. But I don't understand why being right is more important that being happy, why someone would go on living with a sick, nauseating swarm of junk in her stomach rather than trying to figure out how to fix it, because the act of even admitting that she feels this way is somehow a character flaw."


I tell my patients, "Pretend I'm a shovel and your problems are the mountain of stinky poo standing in the way of your happiness. Now, why would you want to move that mountain all by yourself, without a shovel?" I say, "Look at my office as a landfill. Come here and dump all the garbage you want to get rid of. Leave it here and don't worry about it. Don't let it rent any more space in your head."

When someone really needs medication because the dark cloud sits too heavily on their shoulders, I say "You'd take insulin if you had diabetes, or an antibiotic if you had pneumonia, why is depression any different?" But there is still this pervasive stigma against therapy and medication. Still! Even therapists resist therapy!

I am so glad to hear someone who's been through it and doesn't mind telling the world - hey, therapy really works!

Okay, done with my sermon.

I'm in New Bern, visiting my mother and my Sister Flea. The Flea and I are having a blast. We made one of our mega-shopping tours of the Wally World where the Flea convinced me to buy a winter coat because it was really cold last night and she swore that despite what I'd heard, it was going to remain cold for the next 2 days.

Ahem. It's going up to 60 today, Flea!!! But I really do like the coat...

When I went to see Mom in the assisted living facility she said, "Now, you should know I'm not in my right mind."

I'd been there 3 hours when she said this and she'd seemed fairly lucid. But when I said this she nodded wisely. "I know, I can be very lucid and yet crazy at the same time. I even forget what I've said."

I nodded wisely. "Welcome to my world, Ma," I said.

We're all bozos on this bus!

1 comment:

Random Blogger said...

Money and Distance aside, I would spill my guts to you.