I never thought that this is an entry I'd have to write, or an idea that I'd have to explain. I'm not sure why, really, I thought society was more informed, because discrimination is everywhere. From the person who refers to you as a psycho, to the 'friend' who feeds on the dramatics and encourages the antics then tries to swoop in and play hero. It comes in all forms.
A form I wasn't expecting actually came from the last place I'd expect. I was presenting at a conference on Thursday, on service user and carer involvement in mental health; basically getting people moving and taking control of their care and their lives, something I'm actually even more passionate about than you'd expect (side note- I had to start travelling not much after 5am and got home at 10pm, because it was in Birmingham. Dedication, kids). I love things like this, because they involve people on all sides and there are microphones included so when I present I feel like a popstar. It's my birthday in the summer, so feel free to buy me a Madonna-esque head microphone thingy. There're usually a few ideas floating around at these things that I don't agree with, usually more politically based, for example don't EVER get me started on them cutting services but increasing bureaucracy and surveys and OH GOD, I NEED TO STOP.
As part of the carer involvement some really, really painful things were said. I can't praise the man enough who stood up and recounted how it's not just professionals that don't listen to carers and see their side, it's service users who are guilty of that, too. That must have took a hell of a lot of courage. He made me think and I'll always be grateful for that perspective. A perspective that absolutely blew my mind though, came from a woman who explained that the main problems come from the fact that therapy is so egocentric.
Think about that one.
Years of hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. Loved ones' years and blood and sweat and tears. Professionals' time and energy. All down to self indulgence. The need of the mentally ill for attention and a quest to make everything about ourselves. I'm pretty proud of my work and my battle and suddenly, in a couple of lines on a Powerpoint, it was discarded as nothing but, well, I believe the phrase was along the lines of, 'therapy makes a self-obsessed person even more focussed on themselves.' Then something about selfishness. I argued in the room as I'm going to argue here, and had to leave in tears. That's a life's work, reduced to selfishness. And that hurts.
So I'm going to tell you now, my years of therapy and my hours in offices have been the hardest hours of my life. I've been through sexual abuse and domestic abuse, but I have not been through anything as hard as trying to reconcile it all with a professional. Going over, admitting painful truths, reliving it all- it's the least self indulgent thing I can imagine. I used to leave therapy and spend the rest of the day trapped in the past, stuck in mental quicksand. And that's not just my story. That's therapy. That's why people end up ill for so long- it's harder to get better than it is to be ill. It's worth it eventually, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone, especially in the early phases of therapy, who comes out a session feeling good. But it's how I know how strong I am. We all have self-obsessed times; we're all, at a primal level, selfish and that's most definitely not exclusive to the mentally ill.
In fact, I'd argue that a lot of the time, we're less self-absorbed because often when we're suicidal, we often stay alive not for ourselves, but for other people.