Life after a ‘mental illness’ is not something Psychiatry promotes often. I think they’re pre-occupied with treatment plans and tempering crises, monitoring meds and moods, so this blog may read as a fairy-tale ending to a Life of Psy. I will also explain some of the challenges that come with moving on from a system that can feel static rather than progressive.
I was introduced to Psychiatry at the age of 14 – a very tender time of development – and I was coaxed towards a medical treatment plan to cushion trauma. I had no idea that this field of diagnoses, medication, stigma and limitation would stick so thick to my sense of identity and personal authority.
I can track my waltz with Psychiatry, buckling beneath its control and fleeing from its grip, a dance that has remained for 15 years. Until today, as good as any day, I renounce my faith in its approach to mental health care from an educated position and in honour of myself.
Wondering how my life could have been different if science had not had its way with my emotional, psychological and spiritual development, I live with hope that the people committed to prising open closed minds about how to maintain well-being, can inspire people to experiment beyond the doctor’s orders. I think it’s extremely important that we pursue multiple perspectives about our psychological challenges before entering into contracts with Dr Psy. Over 400 mental illnesses exist today – none of us are spared! – and all of us know on a deeper level, that our troubled minds and their behavioural manifestations were never meant to be classified and rendered illness to such extremes.
At least I don’t believe so, and I still maintain that belief having befriended the system itself, for if I have learned one thing about Psychiatry, that is, it is a language, unique to the world of its own making and with far-reaching influence across humanity. If you have been on the receiving end of its linguistic program, you will appreciate that its language is limiting, uninspiring, generalizing and pure invention. It tries to classify so it can rectify what it cannot understand.
Once you’re diagnosed and certified [insert mental illness here] what you must endure to evolve from that limiting label requires expertise beyond psychiatric frameworks. In short, Psychiatry seduces with scientific reasoning and provides little reference for your potential beyond [insert mental illness here]. My intention for The Babyfacedassassin is to represent and advocate the Healing Arts that lie beyond, for they are the Arts that render life in all its suffering, as beautiful, worthwhile and never static but always progressive.
Today I write to declare my break away from Psychiatry. We have been in partnership for 15 years now and like any dysfunctional relationship, it passed its used-by-date a few years ago. Like any dysfunctional relationship, we have been on-again off-again, on-again off-again, while I pursued polygamous opportunities of artistic, philosophical, spiritual, enlightening ventures that promised ‘healing’ rather than ‘cure’. Heart, before mind. And, like any dysfunctional relationship, we had our robust moments, particularly during intensely charged mood-swings of suicidality and self-sabotage. There is a place for its contact, compassion and chemical lift of which I am grateful.
Allow me to introduce you to Dr Ernie, my angel in a pin-stripe suit. We have an intimate connection because it was Dr Ernie who sat by my side, day and night, months on end, unphased by my crazed moods and addiction to bed. Dr Ernie believed in me and my biochemistry, and that it could be corrected and life would be alright.
When you stumble across a psychiatrist like Dr Ernie who’s committed to the mystery of troubled minds, yet defers an all-knowing attitude in favour of co-creation, then you’ll understand why I have procrastinated in saying goodbye. Dr Ernie illuminated my life with the expert knowledge of science yet never failed to notice the expert knowledge of my intuition.
When a marriage of sorts occurs in a clinical setting, magic happens, transformation rewires and impregnates a deadened soul with phoenix fire.
When a psychiatrist can see you for your talents and quirks, your creature comforts and childhood dreams beyond their professional impulse to view you biochemically, then you aren’t be ‘treated’ but wholeheartedly greeted and embraced into a form of care that welcomes the soul. Humanism outweighs desire for control.
It was Dr Ernie who I consulted with about the terrors in my head as well as in consultation with a shaman. And an artist, and my best friend, a yogi and dear Nieztsche, whose sufferings bore tales of rebel wisdom. I may have needed dosing of the latest anti-D but that did not prevent me from becoming, all but wiser, questioning, immersing and divulging in the core of why I felt such dark depression.
I no longer resonate with Dr Ernie’s biochemical view and feel that any benefits of medication have run their course. I no longer require medication or diagnoses to comprehend my twists and turns, for life has revealed that in all my questioning, it’s not all about the why. It’s about the simple act of daily self-care, of living life as self-aware, of training mind to be embodied and to trust, especially in the wilderness, that I am my greatest source of power, love and wisdom.
Not Dr Ernie, or the pills that worked for me, but the essence of my true potential that shows up when I chose to take its lead. It is what makes possible the decision to put Psychiatry behind me, and lead a sentient life without determinates of science. For this has been my goal, my challenge and my destiny, to re-claim the self-confidence that I abandoned, when the generation who were leading the way looked in one blinkered direction.
I continue to experience depressions yet I know exactly what I need when I do, which no longer involves adopting a strict treatment plan. Creative arts teachers, yoginis, philosophers, art therapists, martial artists, spiritual midwives, children and elders, are whom I have looked to for a deeper understanding about the mysteries of life to round-out my young affair with Dr Psy. As a woman who was conditioned at such an early age by Psychiatry, I have discovered that in order for me to evolve, I need to detach from the very system that classified me and exercise my own powers of authority. If I don’t, I will lack accountability for the experiences that shape me and find ‘illness’ to explain my behaviours and psychological ruts. A diagnoses can only explain so much and if taken as gospel can be disempowering, unless an individual knows within themself to have such illness.
My concern is for the younger generations, surfing the net for support and being channeled directly into the plague of ‘mental illness’, explained in one language, Psychiatry’s language, which provides no explanation of the bigger picture of how they may deal with their pain.
For I was that younger generation. I was desperate for explanation, and while this blog could not do justice the multitude of reasons as to why we suffer and how we may alleviate that suffering, I do hope that this adaptation of Dr Seuss’s poem, The Places You’ll Go, reminds you of how complex we can make our suffering, when simple truths are universal guides to climbing mountains.
In my last consultation with Dr Ernie, he excitedly shared with me this medicine. Together we watched it in fits of giggles and silent knowing that our relationship had come to a triumphant end.