When I walked into my first psychiatrist's office, back in the early 1960s, it never occurred to me that psychotherapy was a beginning with no end.
Can you ever get to the bottom of your mind?
Imagine waking up one morning and saying to yourself: That's it. I've arrived. I know myself. I'm healed. No more psychotherapy.
If you say it too loud and people hear you, they'll think you're crazy.
Then again, were all a little crazy sometimes, aren't we?
My current psychiatrist, Dr. Bob, has mused that psychotherapy is like peeling an onion, layer-by-layer — yet you can never quite reach your core.
I think of psychotherapy as my PhD in me — except I'll never graduate.
Dr. Bob and I have worked together for the last 19 years and counting. He's my coach: a brilliant, kind, empathetic, wise and fine psychiatrist who also happens to be a fine psychotherapist.
That's a rarity, these days.
We have a great relationship. I see him when I feel I need to, and when I leave his office I'm at least 25 pounds lighter, emotionally.
You're wondering what's wrong with me, aren't you? What's my diagnosis?
I've had quite a few — schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, manic depression, affective mood disorder, bipolar disorder, bipolar 1 and hypomania.
You know what? I haven't changed. Only the psychiatric labels have.
Psychiatric diagnostics have always been subjective and unscientific. There is no blood test, x-ray, urinalysis — no medical test that can diagnose a mental illness. Yet.
I don't care about diagnostics because today, I am well.
As a mood stabilizer, I use an anticonvulsant that also treats epilepsy. This one small pill morning and night takes the edge of my exuberant nature.
I am active and engaged with the world, not because of this or any drug. You won't find insight in a pill bottle alone.
I'm healthy because of my studies with Dr. Bob. As a lifelong learner, I'll never stop gaining insight through my psychotherapy.
Every day is a new beginning with new possibilities. A clean slate with no mistakes in it. I don't mind mistakes. They're tough, but they're the greatest teachers of all.
So, welcome to my world. Twice a week, I'm going to explore all kinds of mental health issues, news and views. Mine and yours. I invite your comments, questions, concerns and criticisms.
It's high time we face these mental health issues, take them out of the closet, and look them straight in the eye.
Who cares about diagnoses? They're just labels with a habit of sticking; labels that we tend to internalize. They never really fit and it's high time we peeled them away.
We're people first. Individuals. Unique. If there must be a label, the only one that works for me is human.
We have so much to share.
This blog is for you.