I’m going to try something a little different today. I’m posting a dictation between a patient of mine and me because I think it has flow and a nucleus. (There are a few small changes made in liberty, and no identifying data.) Let me know what you think of the content.
Psychiatrist: …And so we were talking about perfectionism, right?
Psychiatrist: And about how you are not being kind to yourself when you expect yourself to be all healthy.
Patient: I’m not being kind to myself when I don’t want to take this or that because I don’t do synthetics. (This is what my patient was using to describe medications.)
Psychiatrist: I like that you used the word synthetics, because I’ve never put it in that perspective with patients, and you did that for me.
Patient: Well, there are non-synthetic and there are synthetic.
There’s body recognizing things, plants, and then there are the synthetics, what the pharmaceutical companies produce. And I’m a very negative pharmaceutical company person.
Psychiatrist: Compare that to other inconsistencies in our life. Such as, I’m going to be all-natural, I’m only going to wear hemp.
Or take it to the point where I’m going to weave my own clothes because it’s really natural and I know exactly what’s in it. Versus saying that I’m moving forward and I’m going to take what science has offered to us. I’m wearing polyester right now.
Or, I’m willing to take over the counter “herbs” because they don’t have the pharmaceutical stamp on it, or maybe I like that it grows out of the ground. But none of that has been governed. Aside from the “he-said-she-said evidence,” there’s often little science behind some popular over the counter remedies either.
Let’s consider that perhaps the study data, comparing in a regulated way, one patient with another, defined synthetic agents, and then allowed my body to be its healthier self. It gave us objective data. Numbers. Sure they have their flaws and weaknesses as we learn in statistics that all does. Poke holes in it as you wish, but at least there is a degree of transparency.
Patient: Maybe for me it’s more trust, because I feel like people are so over-medicated today. And it’s easy to write out a prescription than to really deal with the issue.
(Me, on the sly: This view, that practitioners prescribe for reasons other than for the medical benefit of the patient, is one that I honor with humility, and stand up and listen when others voice it. Annals fill the internet search engines on it, I’m sure. I will still pick at it a little, I’m a stubborn nubby person like that.
Let us note together that the word, “easy,” in this context isn’t so kind to our person. Taking medication to treat a medical illness is often not easy. It is one of the most courageous acts in someone’s life. And this wonderful lady, who came into my scary office, was a great example of this kind of courage. She wasn’t here doing what was easy. She was giving her emotional entrails a work-over with her psychiatry venture.
This patient, whom I will name hereafter, Lady Courage, was “really dealing” with the issue, in contrast to her self-described mores. Might we suspect the insidious tendrils of “Mister Stigma” shaming her? Yet here she was… Just fabulous!)
Lady Courage: I’m more one that, “Let’s really deal with your issues, and then your mind should come around, everything should come around.” That’s how I view it, because if you don’t fix the underlying problem you’re never going to fix the problem with meds.
Psychiatrist: Okay. But you’re willing to say there might be some inconsistencies in that right now.
Lady Courage: Right, no, I’m not …
Psychiatrist: It might not be entirely false, but it might not be entirely true.
Lady Courage: Exactly.
Psychiatrist: We were saying, “I can be healthy but still have disease in my life.”
Lady Courage: Yes, that’s true.
Psychiatrist: Because I don’t have to be perfect.
Lady Courage: Right. And I do find that a little bit hard. But since you put it in that aspect of being, “healthy with disease,” I can see that. I probably never saw that before, because I did always separate the two, either you’re one or the other.
Lady Courage: Yeah.
Psychiatrist: That’s poignant. Is that how you see God as well?
Lady Courage: In what aspect? Like, yeah … Well, you know what? I try to strive to walk in His ways. I haven’t always walked in His way, so I do have guilt about that, but I shouldn’t have that and I know He’s already said He’s forgotten it, He’s washed me clean. So it’s just receiving it for myself. And that just is faith. And I know then it makes me feel like I’m lacking a little faith, but I know I should be stronger. But, yeah, The Word is something that I strive to follow, and it’s hard.
Psychiatrist: So do you feel like God is, “either/or,” in the way He looks at you? What about the parts of you that are diseased?
Lady Courage: Well, no, yeah, He’s going to heal that.
Psychiatrist: But what if He doesn’t right now? What does that mean about who God is?
Lady Courage: Well, He sent me here probably in hopes that you can help me to heal. He provides these avenues for us, so that we can get healed.
(Folks! So good! Smile.)
Psychiatrist: So you somehow think that God enters into the space of the synthetic.
Lady Courage: Well, yeah, I guess so, yeah. I do, okay. It’s so contradictory, but in one aspect I do take a thyroid medication that is a synthetic, but I know I have to take that and I understand it and I don’t feel it’s abusive. And I look at my blood work and I know where I’m supposed to be and how much I should be, so I feel confident. But when it comes to things like this that I’m not used to taking, and that don’t show up on labs, and it involves transforming my brain, I’m not really on board with that.
Psychiatrist: So when you use the word transforming my brain, I understand you’re saying that it’s making you into something different?
Lady Courage: It can alter your brain, yes.
Psychiatrist: Okay, so that’s the part I think that’s very scary for people, because they think it’s making them into somebody they’re not. But in reality the medications are there for healing who you already are. So for example, today you feel more like yourself than you did last week.
Lady Courage: Well, yeah, last week I was desperate and hurting and losing weight and scared.
Psychiatrist: And today you’re closer to who you think your healthy self is.
Lady Courage: I think today I’m … Yes, I’m much closer to my healthy self.
(Q: Closer to who God is creating you to be? Closer to God’s will even?)
Psychiatrist: In all of these scenarios, at each point we want to think, “What does this say about who God is?” If He or She, (but we will say He to simplify because it’s culturally appropriate,) is kind and loving like you mentioned, then would this belief, X, Y or Z, be true?
Self-Care Tip: Lay out our beliefs next to that standard, that premise in our life. And because we’re a lot crueler to ourselves, then we would allow other people to be, it can rescue us on occasion.
Questions: “What does this say about who God is?” Please speak out!!! …and, Keep on!