Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Post-Therapy Thoughts

*****This Marc Maron interview with Judd Apatow has one of the most brilliant and helpful mental heath discussions I’ve ever heard!

• The best advice I got before I graduated myself from therapy: “Don’t fight with yourself. Let yourself be wrong or even stupid.” What was really crazy-making, though, is that this particular lady contradicted her advice for the rest of the time, auto-correcting or trying to breathing-exercise away any thought or emotion she didn’t approve of. Being emotional is unwieldy and sometimes inconvenient, but it’s who I am. They’re just emotions, not poisons or monsters.

• The other really helpful thing was “Find creative ways to think about space.” And now I have the space to do that.

• I meditate every day. I go to a very breathe-y church. I’ve taken Qigong and Yoga. If things could be solved by breathing, I would’ve transcended by now.

•My brother is studying to be a psychologist, and I can see him fixing some of the stuff that's wrong with the field.

• I’ve been experiencing bursts of anger that are almost comical in their bluster. They are embarrassing but I think it’s actually a good step—allowing myself to express anger instead of internalizing it and letting it become more self-loathing. A lot of the things that piss me off happen to be things I can change or avoid so there’s no need to wrestle myself into having a good attitude about them. It feels like a phase, a way through, and I hope it is.

• When I was a teenager, a therapist told me I’d be happier if I wore more normal clothes to school. Since then, I’ve suspected that the goal of Psychology isn’t happiness or fulfillment, but conformity. Is 36 too old to re-realize that I’m a non-conformist? Albeit one who watches a LOT of TV?

• I still think that knee-jerk use of antidepressants is insidious, covering up the symptoms but not seeking to solve the CAUSES of depression and lulling people into complacency with the status quo.

• I thank therapy for taking me this far from being the jittering lump that I was back in March. I think I would have benefitted from a slow, supportive unpacking of my bedraggled narrative, but I’m not sure that that exists within my price range or anymore. Maybe therapy has been irrevocably sped up by prescriptions, or maybe Positive Psychology is just too uncomfortable with the amount of ruminating that I feel I need. (In addition to practical changes, of course.)

• In trying to define myself as separate from my past, I think I was as dismissive as these maddening ladies. It’s safe now, I think, to let the traumatized parts of my story come out, even come out obsessively till they’re done. Once I can integrate those parts of myself, on the page at least, I think that things might be alright.

• I’m glad to be guru-free at the moment. Running my life by committee, with my pathological wish to please, was getting exhausting.

• Amy was reading my cards the other day and she said there’s a figure at the center of the Wheel of Fortune, holding it steady so I can climb up. (She’s as awesome as I am at made-up fortune-telling.) I’m going to try to be that figure.

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