The mixed messages that life sends is enough to make me drink bleach. “You’re the only one putting pressure on yourself, it’s all in your own head.”
Talk to others…“You need to suck it up, life is hard, no one else gets to sit on their ass because they’re tired…”
So which is it, motherfuckers?
Which brings me to an all new rant. This mindfulness/narrative therapy in which the whole point is to let go of the past, be mindful of the present, and not be self critical and negative. This is a fucking winner. NOT. Because what happens in therapy is so NOT the way the world really works. Want proof? I can let go of my past but it keeps biting me on the ass.
Job interviewer: “I see you have this misdemeanor shoplifting charge on your record…That’s going to be a problem.”
I’m living in the now, not judging myself, and yet…In the real world, it doesn’t apply. No one cares that at the time of that charge, I’d just lost a very good friend and I was at rock bottom and self destructive to the nth. No one gives a damn for the reason.
Job Interviewer: “Your employment history is very spotty, you don’t seem to stay at one job very long.”
Again, doing my best to move on, own my mistakes,and do better…And there it is, gnawing on my butt cheek. Never mind the job history pretty much displays the very pattern of bipolar depression, by which standard, I am perfectly normal in my mental illness. No one gives a flying fuck. You can try to explain, but there are a dozen candidates without that limitation who are going to look a lot more appealing than you. Game over time after time. Defeatist or plain reality? Therapy would say defeatist. It’s just reality.
New age shiny happy therapy method: “Be objective, do not judge yourself negatively. The past is the past, focus on the present. Be mindful of this moment.”
Reality: “You act like all the bad things you’ve done don’t count, you need to grow up and take responsibility.”
Shiny happy therapy method: “Be positive. Just because something has happened once does not mean it will happen again. Let it go, live in the now.”
Reality: “I stole something 11 years ago, it only happened once.I’m not that person anymore, I can be trusted now.”
“Well, you have a history and that does play into employment and being trustworthy.”
such utter rubbish even if well intentioned.
Now, I realize I am prone to looking for the worst, playing devil’s advocate. It’s not negativity. It’s experience. It’s lessons learned the most playful way. I’ve really lost job opportunities over that one misdemeanor from so long ago. All my brief job stints have impacted how I am viewed. I can let it go, but I can’t move on if my past has tainted me and no one will even roll the dice on me.
And perhaps the cruelest part of all this shiny happy therapy is that you start to believe it. You let your guard down. You’re all pumped up on the “The past is the past, I can do this” party line. Thing is, a positive attitude and “let’s do this” mind state do not make you stable enough to handle the stresses others can. In a way, it’s building you up for failure when your attitude fails to veto your mental illness. The therapists may mean well, but I think they’re a bit sadistic. Admitting you do have limitations due to a disability is not the same as refusing to try. Frankly, I can tell myself a thousand times if I flap my arms hard enough I will be able to fly like a bird. Silly? Well, is a therapist telling you that you can do anything you set your mind to. With bipolar, what your mind is capable of in May could change by June. It’s setting you up to fail. You can live in the now. Bipolar has a way of changing the now without really informing you.
The defeat felt when assuring people, like employers, that you are stable and capable, then failing…And failing those who gave you a reference…Agonizing. Humiliating. And avoidable, with a little bit of compassion and leeway from society. Ya know, the same society with all the laws for wheelchair access, no discrimination against those with disabilities. Which oddly doesn’t apply to the mentally ill. People with knee issues can have a place to sit on a job. If you have panic attacks or abrupt mood swings, there is no hitting a button for ” a break” so you can ride it out and gather your wits. There are no mental health sick days. Your disability is invisible so no concessions need to be made. You are just one more normal little worker bee.
The common societal myths toward bipolar and depression are a hindrance and a disservice. You get celebrities preaching about how they take one pill a day and are cured. (Fuck you, Demi Levato and your pro-Latuda tour supposedly to raise awareness of mental health issues, they sponsored your ass to promote their poison.) The assumption made is if so and so only needs one little pill and they’re productive and successful therefore every bipolar person can be and those who don’t are malingerers…It’s fucked up. While a singular axis one bipolar diagnosis is far simpler to treat, especially in those who respond well to medications, for every simple case there are dozens of us who struggle endlessly. We’re not malingering. We’re trying. And zero fucks are given because E for effort isn’t given after first grade.
I’m just so sick of “mindfulness”. I am glad, truly, that it’s proven helpful for many. Right on, rock the casbah, dudes. The “one size must fit all” mentality has to go, though. If something isn’t working for you, as an individual, you shouldn’t be made to feel like a failure.
As for the narrative therapy…I pretty much think that’s what blogging is, without the involvement of a professional. Of course, I don’t do the “view it objectively without positive or negative judgments of yourself” thing. I think as hard as I can be on myself, that’s Borg programming from those around me being so hard on me. It transfers but I think I’ve found a balance of admitting my flaws and mistakes, while acknowledging my small victories and progress.
And I do believe I have made true progress. Not with the bipolar as the meds still aren’t doing their thing properly. But as a person. My kid forced me to grow up, to be less self absorbed and selfish, to at least get my shit together to an extent. By giving myself time to process all that I’ve gone through and not caving into the “let it go, it’s the past” thing…I’ve been able to come to terms with many things. Even with The Donor. I was difficult and with who he was versus who I am…It’s a wonder we didn’t kill each other. I still hold a serious grudge for how he’s treated Spook, but as for me and him…I don’t care. It was wrong from the start. Had I not been unmedicated and preggo, I’d have seen that. I wouldn’t have let all the bad little thoughts control everything, I’d have followed my gut. Which told me, this is all wrong, it will lead nowhere good. That’s on me. I own it. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have viewed it that way at all.
And most of it done without a therapist. Because the one I had was a little short tempered and kept saying, “You’ve spent the last forty minutes saying the same thing over and over and accomplished nothing.” Judgey much? This is how I work through things. I drive them into the ground. And eventually…I can see clearly. Having a therapist tell me what works for me is wrong is insulting and invalidating. Is it any wonder I don’t trust them anymore? I’d love to have someone to talk to when things are really confusing…Without trust, though…Nope.
So basically…I am not in favor of shiny happy therapy. It’s crap for some of us. It’s basically enabling denial. And when reality isn’t so forgiving and happy, it’s harmful to be put up on that pedestal.
Everyone is different. Go with what works for you. But for the love of pegacorns…Don’t judge me just because it doesn’t work for me. I’m not negative or being a downer. I am being honest about what is helpful to me. I promise I will TRY not to stick pins into my voodoo doll every time I see the word “mindfulness.”