I’ve been ill since last Wednesday. I was at a conference, listening to a psychoanalyst, when my stomach started paining really bad. Maybe it was the subject matter of his paper, maybe it was the way I’ve been psychologically programmed for years, but I blamed that incessant, shooting pain on anxiety. Like I’ve been made to believe everything that is wrong, is due to what’s wrong with the emotional part of my brain.
Despite that, I asked him a question. A simple question. I asked him where does the layman, the potential patient, go when s/he has a problem. Lately, things have started to lean towards taking an integrated approach, despite it being double the cost, where a psychiatrist and a therapist work together to, not presume to cure, but help the patient cope better. I asked him what his thoughts were on this, whether the patient should go either to a psychiatrist, a therapist, OR to a psychoanalyst.
Yes, I asked a long, rambling question (what else do you expect from me?) despite the fact that my stomach was killing me.
He got enraged. He said, most patients he gets are addicted to psychiatric drugs, have more problems because of taking them. He said Clinical Psychology is tosh, and anybody can become a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, just by taking a six-week course. He said, therapists aren’t interested in the root of the problem, aren’t interested in human consciousness, and Psychoanalysis is the only way to go.
I’m not exaggerating. I’m slightly paraphrasing (I could have transcribed from memory the enraged bits, but I choose not to), but the above are the points he made.
I didn’t have a microphone, I was in excruciating pain, and it would have been inappropriate for me to argue, because we take respecting elders (especially the extremely learned kind) seriously here.
Now, I’m not an expert on mental health, but I’m not a complete hack either. I did a minor in Psychology, have been interested in the area for years, and I do keep in touch with what’s going on. I would have studied it, had it not been for the desperate artsy side of me that went for literature instead. I read Philip Roth’s Everyman recently where his main character saw all kinds of doctors for his stomach pain, including a psychoanalyst who diagnosed him as having issues from the past, until he was rushed to the hospital for an appendicitis operation. His pain was gone.
This is not an attempt to use a literary giant to get back at the afore-mentioned psychoanalyst. Well, it could be, but a similar thing happened to me as well. I lived with the excruciating pain, thinking it was my anxiety (and unhealthy ways of coping with that anxiety) for three days, missing work and my somewhat passable sanity.
Until I saw the doctor on Saturday, who said it was a really bad infection.
There’s information all around. Tons. Back in the day, when I was in school and wasn’t allowed internet at home, I used to look up encyclopaedias and old Reader’s Digest issues to understand what’s going on. Because doctors can often be condescending, and I just wanted to understand what was wrong with me. It didn’t make it better, but I feel those in the business of treatment can often miss out on the fact that it is the patient who has to make the decision. Who has to pay for it. To suffer for it. To regret mis-diagnosis. Of course, s/he would want to learn up on things. To anticipate what will happen.
To use information on making the right decision in the first place.
The medicines I’ve been having since yesterday have been awful. I’ve always been sickly, but even I have a threshold pain point. I feel better today. The pain’s lessened. I have to go to work tomorrow, because I don’t think people care much about The Girl Who Cried Stomach Ache Too Many Times.
Also, I got a Netflix subscription yesterday to watch Gilmore Girls, because Gilmore Girls is the kind of wholesome goodness which is equivalent to having dessert (and you know how much I love dessert) without having any. It has helped work things out psychologically, by being the only good thing that has happened these past few days.
I don’t have the answers. That’s why I asked that question. I don’t know what to do when I have a stomach ache. The psychoanalyst also talked about health, about working on what’s good as a way to make the bad better. By that logic, I should get eye-drops for my okay eyes, because it might help my toothache.
It’s all very good to blame EVERY PROBLEM YOU CAN POSSIBLY HAVE on what might be wrong with you emotionally, but sometimes you just want, no, need a fix. A real, solid solution.
There is so much wrong with the mental health culture. I’m a 100% non-expert on it, but I know that it is a culture, that blaming everything on a few buzzwords (“Oh, my hands are dry because I don’t like to keep them dirty. I’m a little OCD that way.”) has become so internalized, as well as externalized, that we can’t even see the problem with it. Let alone, do something about it.
The integrated approach has worked so far. A combination of antibiotics and Gilmore Girls has helped me type this, and be slightly less scared about showing up to work tomorrow. I don’t know if that’s acceptable to the experts. But, I currently don’t have anything more to report, or muse over, because I am the ignoramus, uh, patient who is recovering. Hopefully.
What do you do when you have a stomach ache?