I love quoting Morrissey in my blog posts evidently…this song was playing in my head as I was thinking of what might have contributed to the slow progress of my pre-recovery recovery. Unavailability and inappropriateness of certain health services is one. But I have also been to therapy for many many years and fair talked about my feels there aplenty. I reckon I could’ve recovered about a year or so ago, had it not been for my very poor diet. About a year ago I started therapy after a break of about 9 months. I had finished with a therapist whose approach was unsuitable for my needs. My needs are, to solve a problem when I see it, instead of dwelling in the past, and in the problem. I had also accumulated enough toolage to solve problems, when my brain was working. My brain hadn’t been working since about 2010 or so.
Here a problem: the therapist sees me in a state of great distress and underperformance. They have never seen me be anything but troubled and anxious. How do they know what potential I have to be something other than troubled, chaotic and anxious? How do they know what else I do in life than come to therapy? What do they know about my other identities outwith my Therapee identity, my Recurrent depressive disorder current episode moderate identity, my Atypical anorexia nervosa identity, my Borderline personality disorder identity? Those are some of the fun diagnoses I have been given during my illness and whilst I certainly had symptoms that made me qualify for those fun categories, I am not, and never have been, defined by them. Also I currently don’t have symptoms of them, so I’ma chuck those labels in the trash can and light the trash can on fire.
Anywhoo…I am a very talkative person. Herein lies the problem in many ways. Because I am often talking, when given the opportunity, sometimes there is no space for food in my mouth. Seriously, I am often struggling at luncheons because I need to have time to chat with my friends *and* eat and my preference is always the chat. Cue: malnutrition. It’s funny, I am often heard saying ‘sorry I have to stop this phone call because I really need to eat now’, as I am always too busy doing other things to stop to eat. This is a problem! I also know to fix it (put food in mouth)! Problem is thus solved.
Another thing relating to my talking is that I don’t think my therapist has had time to ask me questions. When I was very ill, I didn’t talk about my past and all the cool things I have done during it (including but not limited to two and a half uni degrees, with an A in my Philosophy dissertation, just to brag a bit, sorry not sorry), because I felt that I was a big suck with nothing to offer to the world. My therapist’s approach is solution-focused, so if I had disclosed that I do infact have a dirty past of excellence in many things (and moderate or below average performance in some others), she probably would’ve drawn from that. But I was too busy doing my monologue about how things are VERY DIFFICULT and how I am VERY ANXIOUS. These days, as I am better, I know better not to focus on the problems, but to focus on solving them and looking towards the future.
Again I am returning to the theme of holisism (is this a word?) in treatment and therapy, and drawing from a person’s strengths, not their weaknesses. A holistic approach also includes questions about a person’s lifestyle, such as ‘how you eating?’. There was a reason I was heavily underperforming in life. I had achieved many things. There could’ve been a focus on the achievements and I know it would’ve made recovery easier.
I am thinking about these things again, not to complain, but to suggest new ways of doing things. Care needs to examine the individual’s past achievements and their strengths, and draw from them in recovery. Not everybody has a PhD, but everyone has achievements. That means they are capable of working on their recovery, whatever recovery may mean for any one person. For me it means today, tomorrow, and the future, in light.