don’t give up on me now

In the last session, I explained to my therapist how I felt more responsible for and in control of my own happiness, and less dependent on others for a sense of identity or fulfilment (things I’d struggled with before). I also told him how I’ve been more vocal about my needs, to give my friends a chance to be involved in my life instead of always putting my feelings aside, and how I’m lucky that they’ve responded so positively to that. I’ve made some major life decisions that I believe will lead to positive changes, I’ve been productive, and I’m happy for right now instead of being deluded by a hopeful sense of what the future may hold1.

When I brought up idea that it may be the medication that’s been helping me so much, he said it’s good but not that good. Otherwise, he’d be popping pills every time he needed some sort of personal epiphany. Instead, it’s there as a way to help me think more clearly in certain circumstances, but it doesn’t do any thinking for me. This came as quite a relief, as I didn’t want to think that I’d be dependent on something for this sense of mental well-being.

My therapist’s initial goal was to teach me how to take better care of myself, due to the fact that I had insufficient coping mechanisms. Now, he believed I could handle that sufficiently, and after saying that I looked “delighted”, we agreed that I didn’t need to continue with our sessions anymore, something he’d never said to me before. I walked in and out of there feeling good. I like the fact that he respects me, cause he’s one of the few people who truly understand me.

On the other hand, I didn’t particularly care for my psychiatrist, an hoary man who didn’t seem to have a sense of empathy, whom I met for the first time a few weeks ago. As a sign that my experience with him was part of Canadian healthcare industry, he had no clue why I was there, when it was a doctor at the same clinic who had to write the referral for me. At the appointment, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire that included things like:

  • Are your parents divorced ____, for how long _________, and what age were you ____?
  • Father/mother: how much education did he/she have?
  • Please circle the type of socioeconomic environment in which you grew up: poor / lower middle class / middle class / upper middle class / wealthy
  • Habits: marijuana ____ frequency ____ gms ____

Sometimes he talked over me, as if he wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say, although it’s hard to blame him for that, seeing as how his role is to monitor my medication instead of dealing with any kind of psychoanalysis. At the end of the appointment, he said I had a lot of options cause I had a lot of interests and intelligence. The only thing is, I don’t think I told him anything that would have given him that impression, so it all came out as flattery.

At least I won’t have to be seeing him for much longer, as I was told that I could stop my dosage, but he recommended that I continue for at least six months after I start feeling better (not after I start taking it), which means I can’t still can’t drink until some time around Christmas. But by then, hopefully I won’t have to.

  1. One thing I’ve learned is that realism is more valuable than optimism (and a lot more valuable than pessimism) when it comes to psychology. []

8 comments

  1. Yeah the not drinking sucks, but drinking while depressed sucks more.

    Did he explain why you should continue taking for 6 months more? Most of my friends seem to quit taking it on their own accord (leading to severe withdrawals because they’ve been on it for so long without actually dealing with their problem), so I’m not too clear on the rationale.

    Unless it’s like antibiotics for the mind where you have to complete a course of drugs even though it appeared like you were cured. If not you’ll have a relapse. If so, then it makes sense, somewhat.

    There is a clear line between realism and pessimism though. Again, I know a handful of people who dwell on pessimism and cynicism and call it realism. The best way I figure to know the difference is that in realism, you leave yourself with the option that all problems have a solution; and the inability to find the solution doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a loser, it just means you either lack the necessary knowledge or experience to solve the problem, both of which can be gained in time.

    Pessimism is straight out declaring a problem cannot be solved, with cynicism trying to justify the various problems with everything on why the problem cannot be solved.

    • I think the reason I’m supposed to stay on the medication for a while after I feel better is so it can continue acting as a safety net, because life is never completely stable. Perhaps there’s a bit of the same logic as anti-biotics too, because there is the possibility of going into relapse if the medication is stopped too suddenly.

      I’ve been a person who’s mistaken pessimism for realism before, so I understand how hard it is to break out of the cycle. I think it takes a certain amount of wisdom to come to the realisation you mentioned: the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a solution to a problem only means you don’t know it yet. I’ve never been able to see it as objectively as that, perhaps because no one has ever put it so simply.

  2. I didn’t know you were seeing both a psychoanalyst and a psychiatrist. Medication is always a patch-up job only at times of emergencies.

    I think realism is of utmost importance, but I think hope for the future is also needed. The thing is hope has to be realistic. Being realistic means recognising that some problems can never be completely solved, and they may have their silver lining afterall.

    So what conclusion have you drawn, i.e., what really cured you?

    • I only started with the psychiatrist this time because of the medication. Otherwise, I’ve never needed one.

      One of my favourite sayings lately is, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst”. I think it sums up nicely your view on needing both realism and optimism, which I agree with.

      I don’t think it was any specific thing that cured me. Mainly it was making sure that my needs were being met, instead of constantly putting them aside for the sake of others. That helped me realize that I can be happy, I can make myself happy, and that I’m happy now.

  3. Realistic Jeff lives in the present as a healthy individual who maintains his body and mind with the help of professionals, and it’s great to see him doing much better than optimistic Jeff who lives in a place that doesn’t exist, or pessimistic Jeff who doesn’t live at all.
    Realistic Jeff has got it goin’ on.

    • Realistic Jeff couldn’t have done it without you.

  4. It must be me, but ending your psychologist early seems strange to me. It seems early. Although you really did pick yourself back up very well – with some med help – this time. I guess I’m used to manic depressive friends who are on them for long periods of time at a stretch, or indefinitely.

    Forgiveness of yourself and your needs and shortcomings is realism to me.
    (The rest I vote for optimism.)
    (While sounding like pessimissm.)
    LOL. I’m glad you’re doing well.

    • It seems early to me too, cause I’ve also heard many anecdotes where people continue therapy for years, but I have to trust that my therapist knows that it’s the “right time”. One thing he did say to me is that I seem to be able to apply the things I’ve learned very quickly. I think the fact that I tend to reflect so much helps with that as well.

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