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March 13, 2006


I’m back in Wellington. Life at the clinic just seemed to be getting weirder and weirder. After being told several times that I haven’t separated properly from my mother, and that is the cause of a lot of my problems… and that getting on so well with my parents, considering them friends, is weird and unhealthy… it got too much. No one insults my mother and gets away with it! The great relationship I have with my parents is one of the best things in my life, and I don’t want it to change. Meanwhile I never got to talk about the issues that really are problematic for me, because everything came back to my mother and my childhood.

I felt like no one heard anything I was trying to say. Everyone seemed to have preconceived ideas about what was going on for me, and so they projected those ideas onto me instead of listening to my own experience.

I was also extremely concerned about the way that other factors, such as chemicals imbalances, genetics etc. were barely (if ever) mentioned. You’d think that serotonin had never been discovered. The assumption seemed to be that everything was caused by suppressed emotions. When a woman was dropping off to sleep in our small therapy group the therapist kept probing her about the emotions she was avoiding by falling asleep. I suggested that maybe there was some physical cause, as she’d been unwell for a few days. The therapist pushed my concerns aside, and turned the conversation around on me, wanting to know the emotional reasons why I slept in and was late for the first meeting of the day. Anyway, the woman’s condition continued to deteriorate, and the staff continued to think that she was indirectly expressing her emotions by physically shutting down. After more than a week though she was taken down to the public hospital, where she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. But even after this happened staff continued to insist that everything was based on feelings we were denying or emotions we had buried.

The whole time I was there I felt like my experiences were totally invalidated, because everything I said was “challenged” and if I tried to say how I felt people argued with me. Instead of suggesting that there might be a different reality other than what I felt, it was stated as a fact that could not be argued with. To pick a random example, when I wanted to have lunch with a friend on the weekend, one of the nurses said he was “very concerned” about me eating away from Ashburn. I said I wasn’t worried, as I had been eating really well, and keeping to the plan I’d been given by the dietician. The nurse said “Well obviously you haven’t been eating well, because you’ve put on weight this week.” Ok, I’d put on a couple of hundred grams since the previous week’s weigh, but a) I had my period so it was probably water retention, and b) scales aren’t that accurate, and can give different readings depending on air pressure, temperature and humidity etc. What annoyed me was that he could have said “do you have an concerns about the fact that you weight 200 grams more this week?” or something like that, but instead he jumped straight to assuming I’d done something wrong. That was what it was like all the time.

The last few days I felt so under attack. I really believe I’ve done the right thing for my own recovery, but it was upsetting to be told that I was running away from my problems, and rejecting treatment etc. I wasn’t rejecting all treatment, I was just choosing a different programme of treatment, one I feel will be more helpful for me. We’d been having lots of farewell parties for patients who were “graduating” to the day programme. The night before I left one of the newer patients said to me “oh no, we didn’t have a farewell for you,” and one of the longer-term patients said “that’s because it’s not a good leaving.” The next day one of the nurses asked how everyone felt about all the changes, and said “we’ve had good leavings, like X and Y, and then there are leavings like Fionnaigh…” ie bad leavings.

But enough complaining. I am back in Wellington now, and very happy to be here. I’ve got a few tickets to events in the last week of the arts festival, and the readers & writers fest. I’ve made an appointment with an art therapist I saw a few years ago, and of course I will hook up with my counselor, psychiatrist etc. I will be doing a few bits and pieces around St Andrew’s for a while, but I’m also going to go back to Pablos Art Studio to do some painting. I’m really excited about it! Also pursuing some interesting possibilities regarding Atypical Depression and chromium supplementation, but more about that some other day.

Posted by Fionnaigh at March 13, 2006 03:50 PM | TrackBack