This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Following Up From Turbulent Waters

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about what happened when my GP and I tried to get me back into the mental health clinic here. I received some supportive responses (both here and elsewhere) and I received one comment that has been on my mind.

I thought about replying to this on the original post, but most of what I have to say feels appropriate as its own post. I won't lie and say I didn't have an emotional reaction to the comment - in truth, I had an extremely strong one. I felt rejected, dismissed and invalidated; my knee-jerk reaction was to quit and never write here again. Obviously I've chosen not to take that path, but then I had other paths I could take. Should I let the comment stand? Should I treat it as gospel and take it to heart or should I dismiss it entirely?

After a couple of weeks reflecting, I decided to do neither. It's important that I don't simply take on board whatever anyone says about me - but it's equally important to me that I'm open to criticism and don't deny something simply because I don't like hearing it. So I reflected; I thought about what was said, and about the beliefs I have around the statements used, and I read my own post through several times.

So, in response to,

"Anonymous said...

You have to see it from their point of view - if after all that help you're still not much better, why would they invest more time and money in you? They've already invested a lot in you and it didn't do a whole lot, so they are now giving other people a chance. Don't go playing the victim."

I would like to start by saying that I don't believe, in this situation, I am "playing the victim". That term, to me, is about not making use of the power that you have. I am, in actual fact, powerless over what decisions the Mental Health clinic makes about my care once my part is done. Their decision was not in my power - what was/is in my power is my reaction. That, I accept responsibility for entirely -- what I choose to do with and about their decision is in my power (within my own limitations) and nothing to do with Mental Health.

However, that "within my own limitations" is important. It's not an excuse to say "to Hell with it" and give up - but it is important for me to remember that I deserve to give myself leniency for things I legitimately cannot help. Everyone has limitations and nobody is perfect. One of my limitations is that DBT was not enough to stop my self harm.

Whether "anonymous" intended it or not, the implication behind the comment was that because, after investing so much time and effort into me (I assume through my course of DBT), I was not better "enough", I do not deserve further treatment. In my view, this is wrong. Everyone deserves health care. Everyone.

If we apply this logic to physical health concerns, it becomes much more clear. If a skin graft operation is unsuccessful for whatever reason, the surgeon does not simply cross the patient off and move on. He or she sits down and thinks about what to do next - and then puts the options into place. Sometimes this means that the procedure is repeated. Sometimes it means that alternatives are explored. If a surgeon simply threw up his hands and refused further treatment because the patient was not "better enough" there would be an outcry.

Why 'would' (or 'should'!) they invest more time/effort/money in my health? Because they haven't tried everything. Because there are avenues that have not yet been explored. Because DBT is not, and was never intended to be, a one-size-fits-all cure. The fact that DBT has not helped me "enough" doesn't mean I am not trying, it doesn't mean that I am beyond help, and it should not stop me, or anyone else, from receiving further treatment.

And yet... this is what is happening in the mental health industry, especially when dealing with those with Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't mean just locally to me, either, this is happening all over the world. Mental health problems are just as valid as physical health problems, and there should not be barriers to receiving treatment and care based on the fact that you are not "well enough" after completing a particular treatment.

There were two other things I'd like to address from that comment.

First, I'd like to dispute that DBT didn't "do a whole lot" -- I think most people who know me well have seen massive changes in me since DBT. Not curing me is not the same as not doing much.

Second, I'd like to say to everyone that although I have allowed anonymous comments so that those without an account can still comment, I would very much appreciate knowing who leaves comments. As long as things are kept respectful, I don't mind people having opinions that differ from mine, and I'm okay with being called out on things... but I don't think that doing so anonymously is generally respectful. In my opinion, if you don't believe in your opinion enough to stand by it as yourself, then you don't believe in it enough to say it with good intentions.

Take care of yourselves until next time, and may we all find our own small fences along the way.


  1. Hey my friend, I am sorry you felt so awful after the anon comment. I think we suffer so much when something negative is said to us. We feel it deeply and it does hurt. I have had a few normal comments and anon comments that have upset me too. I hope you're okay and you are in my thoughts.
    *huge hugs*

  2. i think it's quite brave and mature to let the comment stand on the original post. i see it as one of those signs that dbt actually did have quite an impact on you.
    and i agree that, as a huge generalization of course, there is a tendency in treating/thinking about mental illness to have an underlying "if s/he tried harder, s/he could get better" which is, again hugely generally, really not true. that said, obviously some people could get more benefit from more trying. the same holds true in physical illness: the flu patient who gets rest and eats nutritional foods will recover more quickly than the flu patient who stays up late and survives on cupcakes.
    but you, my friend, are pretty darn good about getting your sleep and eating your broccolli (metaphorically speaking).
    in short, i shouldn't leave comments on blogs when i've just woken up, but i still believe everything i've just said. just, usually more clearly and succinctly.

  3. Lookit that, I didn't even know I could leave comments! All this time...anyway, I know now.

    I have seen enormous changes in you through and since your dbt time. I am so proud of you and you just prove to me over and over again that you are an awesome person.

    Great response to the anon. comment. And you are so right about your skin graft analogy. It could also be like, I dunno, a respiratory infection. Your gp gives you antibiotics, but after you take the full course you're still not all better, so you go back...they don't say, oh well, too bad, I did my bit...they write you a script for a different kind of antibiotics. Yeah.
    Love you, friend.

  4. I am so glad that you took the time to write your feelings about this comment, and stand up for yourself.

    Just because one treatment didn't work...doesn't mean that you don't have the right to try different things, or continue treatment.

    You are strong.

    Thank you for sharing this with the blog carnival against child abuse. Having access to good mental health care is something that is important for all of us.