I read a post from a fellow blogger the other day that made me so livid I was shaking. When I was done I began to fire off a heated rebuttal. I was going expose this person. I was going to call this person out. The rebuttle was written and ready to publish.
Luckily, years ago I adopted the practice of never posting things like this until I let it sit for a day or two because I realized that this was not how I wanted to handle things. I don’t want to vilify or embarrass anyone, even if they kinda deserve it. When it comes to mental health, I want things to get better. That’s my only objective.
So, hereto is my revised version.
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The post in question was written by someone who identified herself as licensed psychologist as well as a “certified coach and trainer.” This is what made the post so alarming. I’m used to hearing a lot of bogus information about mental health in general, but from a licensed psychologist???
I know from my own experience, as well as hearing so many heartbreaking stories from other people, just how prevelent it is for mental health patients to be subjected to bad therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. Only those who have experienced the expectation of seeking out help and then being let down will know exactly what I mean. It can be so disheartening.
To be fair, mental health professionals have a tough job and there are a handful who are awesome and work hard to do their best, but they are few and far between. Good psychologists usually have long waiting lists and are also often quite expensive. The only good psychologist I had was while I was in college. When I graduated I couldn’t see him anymore as I was not a student.
The vast majority, in my opinion, are either not sufficiently trained or they just don’t seem to really care that much. It’s just a paycheck for them.
Anywho, on to the post. I’m going to go through several points that I wish to make in rubuttal to the article I’m choosing not to identify.
1. First, never assume your audience is stupid – There is a logical fallacy I’m sure most of us have heard of called Straw Man. Accusing people of, say, “black and white” thinking in the first sentence is a great example of this. Bad idea.
2. Medication – One of the main arguments of the post is to advise people against the use of medication. To me this is so very dangerous. The pharmaceutical industry is far from perfect. I think we can all acknowledge that. However, in many cases, including my own, medication has made a monumental difference. Finding the right medication has literally saved me from a life of complete misery. I don’t let anyone make me feel guilty for that.
3. Playing the victim and attention seeking – I really hate it when people accuse mental health patients of “playing the victim” and it gets said a lot. We are people with serious and legitimate health conditions that require treatment. Often our symptoms cause us a tremendous amount of pain, both phyiscally and mentally. Would you accuse someone with a broken leg or a heart condition of simply “acting like a victim”?
I would also NEVER accuse a mental health patient of being merely an attention seeker. That made my jaw drop to the floor when I read it (still trying to pick it up. Good thing I’m typing.) Then again there actually are conditions that do descibe such people. I would think that any psychologist would know about things like hypochodria, narcissistic personality and anti-social personality, all of which are considered mental health disorders.
4. Mental health disorders as “labels – This is another thing that gets said often that I really hate and wish would stop, like, yesterday. A mental health disorder is NOT a label. All a diagnosis really means is that the symptoms you have were found to be similar to the symptoms of other people. Those symptoms have been grouped together and given a name. We have to call it something, don’t we?
When a mental health disorder is identified, it can be an essential step toward healing and recovery. Is the current system perfect? Heck no. The system needs a whole lot of improvement, but at least we are headed in a forward direction. I don’t want to “be cavemen again…” or a cavewoman. I’ve gotten too used to having things like refrigerators and indoor flush toilets. I also do not want to wind time back to a century ago when mental health patients would often be dropped off at a facility on a hill and forgotten. Remember the story of Nellie Bly?
5. Blaming the patient for their own failed recovery – This really made me want to scream, yet I am all about maintaining decorum as much as possible. Are you seriously blaming the patient for their own failed recovery??? Really??? Did I read that right??? Do you really believe that patients just blindly do not want to change? Does the person who wrote this post really have a PhD? Then again, I’ve met so many health professionals that seemed to think just the same. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising at all.
6. Mental health patients can simply think their way out of their condition, if they chose to – This made me laugh out loud it’s so preposterous. Do you really think that people want to feel like sh*t? This is what differentiates a mental health disorder from just having a bad day.
To be fair there are several things about the article that I agree with. We should all do as much as possible to assist in our own healing process by meditating as well as “getting sunshine… taking a walk in the woods… and daring to dream.” (Yes, the writer really says this.) But wait wait, do you mean to say that I could have simply dreamt my way out of borderline personality disorder all those years, or just taken a nice walk in the woods? Wow! No no, I’d much rather live in pain and agony. Yeah!
The writer also makes the valid point that when it comes to health care we should not always blindly follow the people who “wear white coats.” We all need to be our own best advocates and trust our own intuitions more. I couldn’t agree more.
As I’ve already said, the system is not perfect, but it’s not hopelessly broken eaither. The only effective change is trying, as much as possible, to work within the system to improve it rather than merely trash it. The latter is far easier to do though isn’t it?
The truly unfortunate thing is that I’ve met so many therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists who seem to think just like this writer. I want that to change, like, yesterday.