On Mental Health

A Check in.

I went to see my doctor on Thursday. This is my psych doctor: I think he’s a psychiatrist but not one of the bad ones who instinctively reaches for the perscription pad instead of taking the time to talk through an issue. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with psychiatrists for just this issue, because I truly believe (even after everything), that severe mental illness diagnosis’s like mine can be worked through. I concede that perhaps medication has merits in some instances; for example when I was mid psychosis the chlozapine would wipe that symptom set out in ten minutes. However I feel that it’s overused today and can often throw up as many issues as benefits. Chlozapine dulls a person up and makes them less likely to try and reason through the experiences they are having, it makes it much harder to do this because the person is so lethagic- it would be like trying to make out a complex picture through a dense layer of mist.

So. Anyway, rant about psychiatry and medication over.

I saw my doctor, who I have a lot of time for and who I feel genuinely listens. I told him I’d been drinking more than I wanted to be, and instead of sounding the alarm and writing me down the details for AA groups etc he asked about the frequency of my drinking and the amount, and how I felt about it now and at the time. He said he didn’t feel the need to pathologise it, that it seemed to be more of a social behaviour rather than an illness, which was exactly what I thought. I don’t neccesarily have a problem with drinking, more of a slight issue with it.

It’s like when I’m feeling particularly high, or low, I feel the desire to go tee total, never drink again- which is a reflection of my own tendency towards extreme thinking and all or nothing solutions. I have always been a social drinker, it would be extremely difficult to stop drinking alcohol all together, and that’s part of the reason I’m drawn towards the idea. A part of me is self sabotaging- I feel as though the problematic parts of my life are insumountable and so I’ll set myself another very difficult challenge to mirror that.

It occured to me that I feel as though there is a lot of other factors in my life which I’d like the change or alter, but feel unable to do so in the short term, or the here and now. So I transfer the emotion and focus all of that stressful energy on the issue of alcohol- just because it is something which I can hold in my hand, so to speak, and use as a simply replacement issue. Rather than work out all the other complicated and troublesome issues I have in my life I will just stop drinking! It is something which seems tangible, and possible, over all the other complexities and issues.

So we chatted about that, and we chatted about the issue that a part of me resists the volunteering role that I”ve taken on in the last few months. I said to him that I know it’s a positive thing, and that when I actually get up in the morning and go I always feel better for it afterwards and it makes me feel good to be so active. It’s a placement working in an allotment so it always feels great to get outsdie and spend an hour or two up to my elbows in mud. However, there is also another part of me which reists going in, a part of me which is sick to the back teeth of doing things- because they’re just a good thing to do. I’ve spent so much of my life doing various volunteering roles because, a) they’re a positive thing to do, b) they’re a reason to get up in the morning, c) they will likely lead onto something else in the future, d) they’re simply a good way to be spending my time. There’s a small, very pissed off part of me which has been simply sick of simply doing things because “doing things” is inherently “good.”

When I said this to my doctor he said that a part of him was actually glad that I expressed this. And this got me thinking about something else.

To conclude the last point, however, I will continue to do the volunteering because as much as the part of me which is bored as fck with all this fannying around with positive pursuits and pasttimes is valid to an extent, I do nearly always feel better for doing the volunteering, and I know the fact that it’s good for me isn’t really something to sniff at. I am at heart an active and social person and moreover I would eventually like to start applying for jobs again. Volunteering is a good way into that, and a good thing to have on the CV. So- I listen to those little griping pissed off voices, and then I stopper them and draw a line under them.


One thought on “A Check in.

  1. Firstly, sorry to be late to the party. But I’m something of a party pooper anyway.

    I am glad that you have found a practitioner who genuinely cares for you and your needs. Clearly someone has been looking after you. I share your opinion that mental illness can be worked through; in any case, a positive attitude to getting well has always been an asset in a patient, even when medications are needed. With mental illness, it is a prerequisite: without the active participation of the patient, the practitioner can only work on the symptoms that are visible to the eye – but not those that are visible to the mind’s eye.

    My own take on medications that stifle the mind are that they are often used by those who are too lazy* to take the time to do what your current doctor has been doing with you. (*Or under too much pressure, what with the NHS being so woefully underfunded.)

    Interestingly, around thirty years ago now, I applied for a job as a gardener with a psychiatric clinic. Their therapies included prescriptions of gardening work, naturally enough, meeting the capabilities of the individual. It is something that can heal, and it certainly is refreshing.


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