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. []


  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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