I saw my psychiatrist last week for my monthly check-in about my medication, and we had a little bit of an argument.
I told her how I was having a bad week because of an ongoing issue in my life. This issue isn’t something that happens every day nor even every week. Most of the time I would classify it as “meh.”
She puts down her pen and launches into this passive aggressive “here’s some friendly advice” speech about how I should see a therapist to “work out my issues.” The argument happened because I said no. I have been through therapy in the past, and I have found it to be a waste of time. I never trust the therapists, and that is going to get me no help. Plus why pay a co-pay to see a therapist when I can talk to my support system (my friends and family) for free? But she insisted I go because she contended I was not coping well with this particular issue, even though I had been fine in the four weeks prior to the one when I saw her.
Mind you this was also the week I was frightened I’d have to stop going to the gym. I told her this, but she said “that is not coping.” To hell it’s not. I full well know the center of why I’m having issues with this particular part of my life and I am on a path of trying to fix it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to have bad days over it. And when I do, I’m going to need to cope through talking to my support system or in other ways, like exercise, writing and photography.
I bring this up because I thought some more about my blog post about Xanax and anxiety. People turn to pills, a quick fix, because they can’t cope with things in their lives. Or at least that’s the way it seems at times when articles about “fads” with mental health pop up.
Have we lost our skills at coping with the troubles in our life? And what exactly is a coping mechanism?
I was upset after my trip to the doctor, so I called my father because he’s the one I always talk to about mental health issues. After all, he’s been dealing with them far longer than me. He told me that when he first was diagnosed with his depression, he too went to therapy and it didn’t work for him. His psychiatrist told him something I found interesting — he had been coping for decades with problems in his life, so what had changed? So my dad had to figure out what was his way of coping with the problems of life.
And that’s what I’ve been doing. I like to focus on the positive so the negative doesn’t swallow me whole. But you can’t just sit there and command yourself to do that when you’re suffering from mental illness. That’s where exercising and talking and my creative energy comes into play. It’s good for me to know that these are the things I can turn to when I am feeling unbalanced (because that’s what it is when you have mild bipolar).
I’m curious to know what others think of coping mechanisms. I’m also curious to know how others feel about therapy. Am I alone in thinking it doesn’t work them? Leave me some comments or, as always, you can send me a private note with your thoughts.