Every interaction is my practice.

I’m taking something from an email I received from my childhood friend just two days ago.  I’m anti-pharmaceuticals when it comes to matters of mental health.  In great part because I’ve read the pros and cons of pharmaceuticals and because I have read the pros and very little cons of alternative modalities of healing, and I’ve personally experienced advancement in my awareness and understanding of what the messengers have come to say.

I’ve known my friend R since the 8th grade.  He was my longest running friend and was my best friend and confidante.  Well, at least he was before he got married, then I could never see him without her, and never talk to him except for the 20 minutes between work and home.  He has some deep struggles in life (I won’t share what those have been, mostly because I don’t really know).  And he’s in need of medications to help him.  I shared my frank thoughts after researching a great deal and shared a lot of resources I’ve come across with him.

And I only hurt him, but he gave me a lot to think about:

If you had a kidney ailment, would you not take a pharm to cure it. Why do people think that just because it has to do with the brain, we cannot medicate after therapy and other methods have been unsuccessful. When I read your blog or your letters to me online I become sad. Why can’t you let the doctors employ their knowledge?  …trust the doctors..? I can tell from your words that you are so unhappy, and I think you need help.i mean that in a caring way, not condescendingly.i have not seen you in years,so I can’t pretend to know you,even though you do not feel I am pathological, you don’t know what I have been through.

New medicines have brought progress. Heart meds, cholesterol meds, cancer meds, etc.have kept people living longer. Better as well. What about in your field before DNA? You are a DNA expert. You are trained and educated.trust medicine. Nature, yoga, etc has its place, I agree, but please consider an outpatient therapy program. There is one at st mags [close to where you are] and it was very helpful.  you may have a fear of meds, which is fine, but they won’t push them on you. Please get some help.

I made the mistake of not believing he was pathological.  I was eager to show that there are ways to heal that have less toxic effects on the bodymind.  I’m not AFRAID OF meds.  I just know they aren’t the panacea we are led to believe.

I realized when this mirror was held up to me, that I was hurtful (he said other things I’m not sharing here) and I must look sad and pathetic to a great number of readers who come across my writings.  A LOT of people who google “complex PTSD” and “Hashitmoto’s and Bipolar link”.  They come, look, but don’t comment.  I wonder if they, too, agree I am in need of help.

Well, that’s the message my family has ALWAYS said to me.  I’m in need of “psychological help”.  This decree has been with me a LONG time.  Part of my self-definition is that I’m a half a bubble off plumb.  Well, so be it.

After apologizing for being a jerk and being unintentionally hurtful (I can be very opinionated at times and I’m working on that),  I told him I’ve seen 4 therapists in the past 4 years:

1.  A CBT therapist I saw for a total of three sessions, who couldn’t write fast enough for the amount of information I gave him,  gave me a bunch of handouts and told me I must have done SOMETHING for my family to mistreat me.  Um…yeah.    It was my fault I was abused as a child.  Sure.  He recommended David Burns Feeling Good, but at that point, no medications.  Even though I came in every time and had to fill out a “how suicidal are you today?” form.  A low enough score meant I’m in no immediate danger to myself.

2.  My second therapist? A former opera singer turned person-centered therapist (a style of therapy developed by Carl Rogers in the 70s), who had her first and only child at 41, I totally loved her.  She understood the complex feelings I had and the complex experiences I have had in my life.  Because she knew of my interest in Eastern spirituality, she recommended yoga, mindfulness meditation, nutrition, and energy work, among others.  She gave me free recordings of things.  I gave her some references and books to help in HER practice.  And we talked a great deal about mothering challenging children.  It was truly a collaborative effort.  I had to stop going because I could not afford it when my husband lost his job for the second time in our marriage.   I specifically asked her if she thought I needed meds.  She said, “no, and there have been scientific studies done to show that exercise is as effective as antidepressants for mild depression, with no side effects”.

3.  My third therapist was after my husband had a suicide gesture.  He has his personal issues (which I won’t reiterate here) that led him to that place. She has not recommended medications to me.  She tells me she is impressed with my knowledge and awareness as well as understands my struggle to believe in my self and to cope with the memories and deep grief that wells up in me from time to time and the depletion of my energy.  She has NOT recommended I go on medications.  She recommended I take time to consider more of the things I’ve done RIGHT, rather than focus on the things I’ve done WRONG.

4.  My fourth therapist was this woman who worked in the area of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Internal Family Systems Therapy.   She was gruff and straightfoward and compassionate and humorous and I simply stopped going when my husband’s church stopped paying my bill (I got 8 free sessions to try and help me cope with my husband’s suicide gesture and the events that led up to that).

She did NOT recommend medications for me.  She recommended working to continue to strengthen the parts of me that were strongest and not to let the weaker parts of me “drive the bus”, so to speak.  She recognized why my weaker parts, left alone to deal with stress and trauma, would act extremely erratically and desperately, but ultimately ALL the parts serve some purpose.  Erratic and desperate or not, they all have my best interests at heart.  Even if no one else could comprehend how.

Currently, my husband and I see therapist number three.  We alternate going alone and going together.  It’s been working out pretty well.

As far as medicines?

I experimented with St. John’s wort and it was short lived.  I used it not because I’m unhappy.  I used it because my energy levels were down the toilet.

I am fairly certain I am going through perimenopause, and I have an autoimmune disease.  Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is something that has been OFFICIALLY diagnosed…including antibody testing…which proves I actually have this medical condition.

A thyroid node specialist/endocrinologist at the University of Chicago would not give me Synthroid to treat my KNOWN condition.  It wasn’t “bad enough”.

Two years later, still feeling awful, my primary care physician gave me another blood screening, and saw that my vit D3 was borderline low and everything else was within normal ranges.  She recommended 2000 IU of vitamin D3 (deficiencies of which are known to cause depression) and scheduled an endocrinologist visit to confirm the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s that I got at U of C (which was simply by ultrasound anyway).

The endocrinologist at her office, checked my thyroid antibody levels, ALSO refused to give me synthroid medicine, even though I have antibodies which PROVES I have hashi’s. She said that since my t3 and t4 levels were within the normal levels based on testing, she won’t treat based on symptoms alone.  Feeling like shit physically isn’t enough to medicate.  Okay.

I said, but I have chronic fatigue and feel “depressed” a lot – not sad, just energy levels being depressed.    When I feel sad, I usually feel sad, and I might cry (and sometimes a lot), but I do not feel physically depressed.  I can feel the difference between a sad state of mind and a tired state of body.

Her answer to me?  A lot of people come in with fatigue and I won’t treat just for that.  She said, “I recommend taking 200 mg of selenium”.

If I want to feel better, I HAVE to experiment with alternative treatments.

I’m actually NOT completely anti-pharmacueticals.  But reassuringly enough, the experts around here are surprisingly conservative.  Leaving me with no option but experimenting with natural supplements.

I tried St John’s wort.  Like my friend, I just want to feel better.

I went on and off a few times and realized…it’s not working.I don’t believe SJW actually worked to do what it could have for me because my problems are NOT biochemical in nature.  And it does NOTHING for anxiety, and, in fact, I think it gave me anxiety, because i’ve been anxiety free for about 2 weeks now.

Before then I tried 5-HTP and Rhodiola.  After a week, 5HTP gave me a facial tic and could be the reason why I have extreme tenderness when I get a massage.  Rhodiola gave me energy and and a bit of manic creativity (no not THAT much).  And then I got anxiety.

I’m NOT unhappy with myself (though sometimes I’m unhappy with WHO I have chosen to love and share my self with, yes).

I’m NOT unhappy with my past, nor unhappy in this moment (though I do HAVE unhappiness sometimes, it’s NOT a chronic thing).

I’m unhappy with the way our (U.S.) society is set up.

I’m unhappy with the way our society sets us up to fail and then the ONLY way to get through this life is by medicating our pain away, rather than changing our mindset, our fixed beliefs or lifestyle, or simply have friends who freaking “GET IT”, ya know?  Most of my pain is not having community, no matter what “bad things” I’ve done to “screw up” my life.

My blog is NOT an unhappy place.  Not for me it isn’t.  I move through my feelings through my writing.  There’s always a silver lining.  Always.

If anyone hear unhappiness…that is only temporary.  To say that it characterizes my entire being, is mistaken.

Through my thinking, my writing, my expressing, I turn my experience around.  I’m HAPPIEST when I’m writing, exposing my heart and my human failings, risking rejection to share the lessons I’ve learned.

I also hope someone can glean SOMETHING worthwhile when they are here.

I made some mistakes when I tried to foist what I’ve learned on others.  I’m kind of dense and can’t see that getting on my soapbox hurts more than it helps.  Nobody liked Hermione for acting like a know-it-all.  Even she learned to cut back on that.

Just a day ago, I just read this:

Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

And I’m in such agreement with that.

I’m seeing a pattern in my interactions.  All the conflict I am is teaching me that I need to get out of the habit of trying to help people see a different viewpoint. It only hurts them, me and the relationship I have with them.

That’s never been my intention.

I hope I can apply this lesson from now on and keep out of things and just express happiness for others that they found a way that works for them.

We shall see if I can learn from this.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in anxiety, Bipolar, Carl Rogers, Complex-PTSD, depression, Grief and Loss, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Healing, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Meditation, Mindfulness, Personal growth and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Every interaction is my practice.

  1. ksbeth says:

    we are all in a constant state of learning, best to you ) beth

  2. Ellen says:

    I don’t feel meds are right for me either. They just didn’t help much and had side effects. I’ve had a doctor prescribe me meds, because that was what he knew how to do. My current T never suggests them, but then, he doesn’t believe in them. It turns out you do have to decide for yourself. I’ve found on the internet, some people view their emotional difficulties as purely medical and get quite offended with other views. Others see meds as basically a corporate conspiracy. In the end, we get to choose what we believe. We can find experts to go down the path, but we have to choose the path.

    IMO, it’s condescending to tell someone to ‘get help’ or that they need meds. But yes, we need to be careful not to disregard the choices they make in their own health care. Something I’m not great at doing either.

    Anyhow, I don’t find your blog ‘unhappy’ and I totally get it about writing through pain.

    • Casey says:

      Thank you for your response, Ellen. I appreciate your kind words. I’m writing from my iPod and can’t give your reply a decent response.

      But I will as soon as I can.

    • Casey says:

      Some people have been led to believe that their emotional difficulties are purely medical. I think there are complex factors that are at play, and there are many avenues towards healing. And I believe in employing as many as one can afford to do so (getting creative if need be – ie bartering services).

      I also think the body is a self-regulatory system…if we put high-quality nutrition in and avoid the obvious toxins (caffeine, sugar, simple carbs or in some cases all forms of gluten, and other known toxins and hormone disrupters, etc).

      That’s the first line of defense.

      The body would love nothing more than to be in homeostasis. We constantly challenge our bodies. The American lifestyle and dominant mindset is not conducive to health.

      I was surprised at his reaction to me. But I shouldn’t have been.

      And I’m using this as a central lesson to myself.

      What I said that prompted this response above was rather blunt and upon reading, could be taken unkindly. But, in all honesty, he didn’t write the email I responded to, his wife did. I was troubled by that. If he couldn’t respond to what I originally said, himself, I wish he HADN’T responded to me, through his wife (the email before this one). I wish he waited until his feelings were less troubled and wrote me directly.

      I also wish I waited until my feelings were less troubled, too.

      I was responding not really to him, but to his wife, since she wrote the email before the one above on R’s address. I was choosing my words less carefully because, historically, I’ve known her to be incredibly judgmental and unkind towards others. I responded as if she was going to be the only one to read my message, but I was aware that my friend would have read the email. The way she made it sound, R had less individual choice in the matter, but was pressured into his choices. I could be mistaken, but that’s what I have picked up on. My intuitions have been wrong before.

      My own negative feelings towards her contaminated my response. It should not have.
      I should not have replied to her. I should have waited until I was more sure of myself and wrote directly to him, rather than to her.

      Re: On the meds? I don’t believe there is a conspiracy. I think people think they are doing some good for people. But at what price? When the costs outweigh the benefits, it’s better to look for alternatives. There’s medical research validating the idea that antidepressants have a ‘push-back’ effect.

      I sent my friend and his wife this link:

      http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/09/things-your-doctor-should-tell-you-about-antidepressants/

      Because my friend said he was on ADs successfully for years. And I was thinking…but the body is not MEANT to be on ADs for years.

      And, yet. Who am I to say anything?

      As his wife said to me, “take care of your own family, and we’ll take care of ours”.

      So…well…I retracted what I said.

      I meant well. I know I did.

      But meaning well is not enough. I get this.

  3. ptero9 says:

    Yes: “Through my thinking, my writing, my expressing, I turn my experience around. I’m HAPPIEST when I’m writing, exposing my heart and my human failings, risking rejection to share the lessons I’ve learned.”
    Me too Casey. And I feel that engaging other writers does something that the face to face friendships I have cannot. In writing I can respond at my own pace, which can be painfully slow.
    I agree too, the world is a mess, it’s no wonder that some of us are sensitive to it. I cannot comfortably bury my instincts and intuitions when some days the world seems to be coming at me at a million miles an hour.
    I admire your ability to express your vulnerability. I have a terrible fear of rejection. Everytime I push the publish button I imagine how many followers, especially people I admire might unfollow me. Not that this has happened, or that I can even keep track, but the fear remains, a deep fear of being misunderstood that drives me to try to be clear, but without ever feeling that I really can be.
    Crazy, eh?

    • Casey says:

      No, not so crazy.

      I felt sad when some of my former followers who were in on the dialogue with me unfollowed me. But then I realized they aren’t rejecting ME personally. They don’t really know me. Reading my words gives a glimpse into my mind and heart at any given moment, but it’s only a snapshot of the person that I am at that moment in time.

      And, weirdly enough, I attracted two new followers, and I’m glad. Not because I want them to read what I write and respond, because I read their blogs and I was able to peek into their minds and hearts, knowing full well that what they express at a given moment is only a snapshot of who they are at that moment in time.

      I have that same twinge of apprehension when I hit publish. Or when I respond to someone in the comments.

      A deep fear of being misunderstood? Well, having a history of being misunderstood, I definitely can relate to the fear.

      I KNOW my ideas are not going to fit everyone’s palate. If that were the case, I’d let my family of origin know of my blogs. Nothing doing. No way, no how. They stamped out much of my expression. But I fought hard to get it back. And though I have insecurity, I won’t let that stop me.

      But courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to act in the presence of fear.

      I don’t unfollow people, generally. HOWEVER, I know when I use my iPod, with it’s tiny touchpad, I’ve accidentally unliked posts I’ve liked and liked posts I haven’t even read yet. And I have found myself hitting the follow/unfollow button, when I try to get back to my own blog (it’s up in toward the top). If I realize it, I try to fix it. But I don’t, then if they don’t show up in my reader for a while, I figure they may not have anything to say, when in reality, I accidentally unfollowed them. Because of the iPod, I follow and unfollow myself all the time. I like following myself. I like seeing how my posts come up in the reader.

      I know I could spend a lot of time replying to your posts, asking questions. I’m honestly afraid I’d get lost there. That’s how I am with most people’s blogs who seem intellectually and spiritually rich. I like what I read, but I get afraid to articulate myself on other people’s blogs many times. I fear that’s when I’ll really start to look stupid.

      Your last post on Why Deny the Obvious Child. Fantastic. There’s a lot of thoughts generated in me on that.

      Authentic voice.

      Internal vs external orientation.

      Information saturation.

      Expertise.

      Feeling our experience, our bodily reactions.

      I have something to say about ALL of those things. Where do I start that could begin to cover it?

      But I’ve been responding to my commenters since 8 am and it’s now 10 am. I really need to do some work around here.

      I will say I have to laugh about the fact my friend called me a DNA expert. Um, nope. What I know doesn’t even cover what there is to know about DNA. However, I knew a bit about forensic identification. I know a little bit about using DNA fragment analysis and gene sequencing for diagnosing a handful of orphan diseases. But I’m NO expert in DNA. Particularly since I haven’t stepped into the lab in over 10 years.

      I love, love writing and I love writers. The downside is that I get carpal tunnel symptoms after typing too long and I don’t have the sensory experience of the other person. I miss face-to-face communication. With the right kind of interactions, with other thoughtful, sensitive individuals, the conversation blossoms, warmth can be shared. Smiles, laughter, tears, touch. My heart expands exponentially.

      I have an experience of my OWN movements through emotions, but I don’t experience the person on the other side of the screen. Unless, of course he or she describes for me they are moved to laughter or tears. I can visualize, imagine.

      But these perceptions may not be as full, for me.

      Then again, I know while I’m sensitive, I know of others who are so finely sensitive that they perceive so much that it almost hurts. I’m not quite like that. Though one of my dear friends are bombarded by stimuli in everyday situations.

      Have you heard of Elain Arons Highly Sensiitve Persons?

      http://www.hsperson.com/

      I’m a sensory-seeking HSP. Overstimulated in some ways, understimulated in some.

      Some things don’t take the place of being there. Like I can talk about the places I’ve been to that have been immensely beautiful, say, the Garden of the Gods, perhaps, but I can’t quite give you that full experience of actually BEING there.

      Or are online interactions with certain people (creative, imaginative people) more full?

      I feel a LOT when I relate with Erik Andrulis, even through this medium. I can’t see how I could feel MORE if I saw him in person. But maybe that’s because he describes for me his internal experience. I like that. I’m warmed by that invitation into his experience, though mediated by words.

      See, I guess it depends.

      People can describe for me their feelings, places cannot.

      • ptero9 says:

        Thanks Casey for your warm and personal response. I know, I know, not enough time for all of the writing we’d like to do.
        I’m glad you’re here and feel kinship with you through reading about your troubles.
        I have some serious issues with so-called Christians on one side of my family. I’m not ready to write much about it yet, maybe someday, but I say this only to let you know that I feel sympathetic to some of the hurt done to you and all others in the name of God.
        Peace and hugs! (back to work for me)
        Debra

      • Casey says:

        I’m glad you feel resonance here.

        You are uniquely you, so if not writing about difficult experiences you’ve faced with fellow Christians doesn’t feel right, not writing about it is the right thing.

        In the writing of difficult, deeply personal things, there is risk of re-triggering and of dwelling in that space. The events we re-tell can echo in our hearts. There’s a fine line between writing about something to release it, and writing about something and then finding yourself clinging to the story and the feelings you feel again and again.

        I find myself in both camps sometimes.

        Sensitive individuals who have been traumatized may know of which I’m talking about. And it’s why I wrote the post The Gift in Forgetting Our History.

        I can see the validity of both remembering and forgetting.

        I remember too much that hurts.

        This is why I am trying to learn the prinicples of Zen Buddhism. I don’t want to become a Buddhist. I want to be free of suffering caused by ego. Letting go is the ONLY way towards emotional freedom, for me, because I have a strong tendency towards dwelling and re-experiencing pain..

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