Stand back….I am about to Go Off about Therapists

I have been thinking about doing a post about therapists for awhile now and then I was in the middle of writing out one of my shitty therapist stories for you when I saw a comment from Sandra about therapists and I thought okay well perhaps it is time.

Remember that all of this is my opinion and my experience.

I can see some of you are anticipating negative verbal spewage and are clasping your therapist’s business card to your chest thinking but I love my therapist….

relax

I am not going to say here that therapists are bad and that therapy is useless.

Therapists CAN be good and therapy CAN be useful.

But as with all things the idea that it is as easy as just “finding a therapist” is bull.

The key here is finding a GOOD therapist.

And a good therapist is hard to find.

If you want one who actually understands Bipolar disorder………

pardon my laughter…

ehem…excuse me.

Don’t hope too much.

I’m not actually dissing them when I say that.

HOW is it possible for them to understand Bipolar?

Bipolar is very complicated.

and

WE don’t even understand Bipolar disorder and WE EXPERIENCE it every day!

If you want a therapist who TRULY understands Bipolar disorder than ask your best Bipolar friend to go to school and get a degree in therapizing people.

.

Second best is to find a professional who is so extremely super duper “learned” on the subject of Bipolar and has such VAST VAST experience with people with Bipolar disorder…that even though they don’t actually UNDERSTAND Bipolar they can be of some help in acknowledging the Bipolar at play in your life.

In my little opinion..a kick ass Psychiatrist who is also a Kick ass therapist and-get this- ALSO a kick ass human being….

is the HOLY GRAIL of Bipolar therapy.

Good luck finding that.

I actually found that.  At least he hasn’t let me down yet. Fingers crossed.

But I have seen (to various lengths) TEN therapists…and EIGHT psychiatrists (Though I swear I’m forgetting somebody as I tally right now).  3 of them involved moves…the rest I fired for very good reasons. You would agree. Trust me.

am very picky have high standards and I have lived in places where I have had the ability to take my business elsewhere.  I totally understand everyone does not have that ability.

Point just being that when it comes to these mental health people you have to kiss A LOT of frogs..

if you know what I’m sayin’


Just like with psychiatrists….

these therapists are SERVICE PROVIDERS

THEY are providing US with a service.

WE are paying THEM

of course there is always gonna be that obnoxious power imbalance because we are the “crazy” ones and they are the Doctorate holders (hopefully. I guess.  Though I don’t necessarily think a Phd a good therapist makes.  There is more to it than that)

And that is why you need one who RESPECTS you.

I know this is mind-blowing stuff here.

Imagine it being so hard to find people who respect you…

Oh wait you live with Bipolar….you can TOTALLY imagine that.  Silly me.

But anyway.

Therapists are different and they all have strengths and weaknesses and they all provide different services.

And in my experience  even the ones who market themselves as using an integrated approach and not leaning into one philosophy or another still do have their preferences…

and or they often end up kind of doing

well

nothing

.

So I think we should decide what WE want and need out of therapy.  Because we all need and want different things.

Do you need a place to vent?

Do you want hard core CBT or DBT?

Do you want to uncover your “roots”?

Do you want to work through some life experience?

Do you just want someone in your life to come out about your Bipolar to?

Do you need support through a difficult time?

.

Some do hypnosis…

some do EMDR

or acupuncture

(not kidding…super manic when I went to him…..called out to him in the other room that I was just going to take them out myself…if you ever want to be MORE manic…do acupuncture)

(oh god don’t go do acupuncture to increase your mania.  That is stupid.  Don’t be stupid. Nobody is allowed to be stupid because of what I say. That is a rule. hehe. I’m just some girl on the internet with opinions)

whoa Tangent much

anyway some offer Biofeedback stuff.

WHATEVER

you get what I’m saying.

They can do different shit for you.

AND

if all of the insurance crap rules allow it I think it makes total perfect sense to see MORE than ONE for DIFFERENT things.

now that is some rocket fucking science right there.

Because one might be awesome at desensitizing triggers with EMDR

while another totally gets you and helps you sort through the shit you are currently dealing with.

It is kind of like going to a General Practitioner AND an OBGYN AND  a dermatologist.

they do different things. duh.

.

hOWEVER,

I think the one most biggest important thing about whatever therapist you choose ..

is

that they “get” you

You know what I mean.

There has to be a chemistry

You have to feel like they “get” you.

.

My other criteria are(is?)

  1. They have to tell me things I never thought to think before.  (Or what the fuck am I doing there honestly? Being Bored.  I can’t do bored.)
  2. They have to respect me and the fact that they don’t understand what it is like to have Bipolar (if they’re not going to admit to me that they are Bipolar that is their problem…I will continue on thinking they have no shit idea in that area)
  3. They have to have a sense of humor and be able to read sarcasm.  Obviously, I would NEED that.  The consequences can be disastrous if they lack this ability….though humorous.

.

That isn’t too much to ask now is it….?????

yeah it actually kinda is

oh yeah…it doesn’t work for me if they’re going to be weird about swearing either….

And when I “interviewed” my last therapist…as a jaded totally over all of these people experienced in this area person

I straight out said…

“I just want to let you know that I am not going to worry about “hurting your feelings” or “disagreeing”.”

Because you know how it goes…

You are sharing some kind of something with them and then they may say…

“hmmmm. This made me think of your mother and that time…..”

and you are thinking “what the fuck? that has nothing to do with anything and I really need to say this other thing…..”

but you know if you say so then it will be all like you are RESISTING or in DENIAL or some shit like that…

(and maybe you are I don’t know.  But they aren’t always right you know.  I’ve seen a bunch and they are usually wrong.)

and so you sit there…letting them waste precious minutes of the measly fucking 45 you are paying for…. telling you some shit that is not helpful.

and then you don’t want to “upset” them or flat out be like….”Um no sorry. stop wasting all the time.”

So you nod and make mmmhmmm noises.

.

No, I am so over that.  When he starts that shit I  really try to see how it applies before I say

“Um no.  Not so much. ”

.

We are ALLOWED  to do that and it shouldn’t be awkward.

All therapists SHOULD begin by saying that they WANT us to do that.

Believe me when I tell you that most of the ones I have seen do not seem to like that…

it throws them off.

.

Also…You don’t HAVE to fill out all of that paperwork before you see the person FOR THE FIRST FUCKING TIME.

(they don’t ALL do this but a lot do)

I cringe to think how many of those papers I’ve blindly and begrudgingly filled out….where they want you to tell them everything about everything… including but not limited to suicidal ideation and your childhood shit etc etc…..

Um are you kidding me?  I am going to interview YOU first to see if I even WANT to tell you ANY of that.

I don’t even have to Tell you I am BIPOLAR until I decide I LIKE YOU

.

BUT you know what?

Most don’t even offer you an in person “interview”

actually who am I kidding

I have never seen one who did.

They jump right into the fucking

INTAKE

As in we just met and I want you to jump into bed with me.

Um no.  Not that kind of girl.

The long long intake where you once again have to trot all of your most personal sensitive crap in front of this fallible human being stranger you know nOTHING about (who I guarantee you is fucked up (too?)).

Not fair.

.

I cringe.

.

This is really long but I want to get to that other thing Sandra mentioned.

Can therapy help us deal with the agony pain of Bipolar?

Here is my thought…

NO

Can therapy help us?

yes

Can therapy desensitize triggers?

yes

Can therapy give you a person who cares about you and can look out for you?

yes

Can therapy give you “skills” so you can try not to have a manic panic attack in the parking garage?

yes

Can a therapist help keep you on the straight and narrow?

yes

Can therapy be a crucial part of “managing” your Bipolar?

yes

Can therapy make you feel better when you are paralyzed curled into a fetal position on your bathroom floor both numbed and glazed over and yet somehow sobbing but staring filled with the indescribable tumultuous cosmic voltaic agony of Bipolar?

DON’T.MAKE.ME.LAUGH

.

.

since when can talking about anything get inside that funky ass brain and change the misshapen structures and abnormal firing of all those neurons and chemicals and shit?

(yeah I know about plasticity and reworking pathways over time blah blah blah etc etc etc but we’re not talking about your shortness of breath when you drive over bridges we are talking about writhing in electric Bipolar agony)

AND if it can then why do they have us filled up on these pharmaceuticals?

.

.

This is insanely long now and I still have about 1700 things to say about this so let’s pause here.

Next time on the “Overly Opinionated About Therapy” show you can expect to hear my thoughts on topics such as…

Bipolar advice versus therapist advice…

why therapy can be really damaging

and why they really tell us to go to therapy

.

Gleeful handclap

.

I hope you can contain your suspense

.

Have fun at therapy if you’re going today!

25 comments

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  1. lolabipola

    Love, love, love it. *puts hand up* – Hi, I’m Lola, I’m Bipola, and I’m studying psychology (no drugs from me, baby!) – so who wants to be my best friend? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Trinity

    I fired my therapist about 3 months ago. I needed her help figuring out some vital stuff in my life just to find out that all the sessions we had together were for nothing. I was suspicious that I was wasting my time and decided to ask her what my diagnose was, she said; depression (she not mentioned bipolar) I was shocked to see how much she didn’t get it about me.

    And during that last session she told me the most stupid, out of nowhere, inappropriate affirmation that I never thought possible coming from someone I trusted to be professional and thought understood me, she said out of the blue: “at least you can get good fuck” (it’s difficult to translate her phrase but it’s close enough to what she told me.) I still don’t know if she has a mental illness worse than mine! LOL

    She crossed the line and I still don’t know what that had to do with what I was talking about… Anyway, that session made me understand that she is there only to listen because that’s the kind of therapy she does = none. She wasn’t even listening right. I told her I needed her to help me and she never did, she had no clue or even knew what to say.

    Next day I canceled all my appointments with her, by email, and to my surprise that day I got 9 phone calls from her department at the hospital (probably from her, “they “never left a message or send me an email…) I never answered because I found that to be very bizarre, to say the least. The thing that made me to stop looking for another therapist is that I understood that by being bipolar, no therapist or whatever, will take me serious because they forget we have a personality under our symptoms and there for they won’t ever get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bipolarfirst

      ” I understood that by being bipolar, no therapist or whatever, will take me serious because they forget we have a personality under our symptoms and there for they won’t ever get it.”

      YES so true!

      But it goes the other way too

      Where they like somehow are so unwilling to talk about Bipolar as a part of everything too. Maybe because they just don’t understand it. But I also hate having Bipolar ignored.

      Why can’t there be a middle ground?

      This is why we need therapists who REALLY get Bipolar. Because it is so hard for anyone to understand the complex interplay between ourselves and our Bipolar.
      .
      And ew about your story. Just ew.

      See they are just people too. Some freaky creepy people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Trinity

        I agree with everything you said. The most awkward thing during our sessions were her ignoring my sexuality and after, I don’t know maybe 20 sessions or more I didn’t count, she finally made the question but briefly on our last appointment (too complex to explain sorry…) There’s that too, do we have to interview our therapists first before deciding just to know their prejudices or phobias? I just gave up on believing that I can be helped by a professional or whatever. It takes longer to fix my issues alone but as usual I’ll do it myself and better. As for my symptoms, one day I will crack and that’s life, but I sure can’t get any more frustrated or I will lose it.

        Like

      • bipolarfirst

        I agree with everything you said 🙂

        All of the most important things I have figured out on my own anyway.

        I am sorry about that awkward therapist. You make another great point about how we don’t know what their “held beliefs” are about things…even things they do not themselves acknowledge. Like the sexuality. I think lots of people who say they are totally fine with it may still feel awkward around it.

        I had one where my Bipolar was ignored.

        Now that is awkward.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. emmyrosebell

    Loved this. The more I read the more I felt like I wrote and said these things because so often have these experiences bloomed in my own life. I had had decent therapists here and there, but boy-howdy did I score one day when I met a teacher… Who had spent the better portion of her life as a clinical psychiatrist. Not only were her teachings based on her experiences with several disorders over decades of work, but she was a no-bullshit, straightforward, “this is what we know and don’t know, this is what I saw additionally, do with it what you will” kind of person. When she did several lectures on bipolar, I was ecstatic that the words she released were the closest to how I feel as a bipolar, and I was straight up amazed by her ability to not only understand people with disorders like bipolar, schizophrenia, and OCD, but her ability to relate to them and get where they’re coming from as well. She never once was cocky, or superior, and she knew that when she was working with all those people that she was there to learn from them just as much as they were there to be helped by her. I think it greatly helped her in that she grew up surrounded by people diagnosed with different disorders, her own brother being bipolar. She never spoke ill of mental disorders, never once making it a completely separate issue of the person nor it being entirely what comprised them.

    She even spent a couple class periods doing some special lectures about bad therapists, those she’s met, those she’s heard of from her old clients whose conditions were honestly worsened because of these bad therapists. She made a point in often saying that she was there to prep us against being these poor therapists, and to help us know them when we meet them.

    I have known for years that I wanted to be a therapist, one to stand out from the monotony now, one to stand out from the bad therapists, but she really kicked my wanting into high gear. I have always wanted to use my experiences bipolar, family mental illness, friends with mental illness, and so on to better relate to and understand my future clients’ conditions. Not to mention, personally, spending time in classes learning more and more about your own disorder as well as many others’ has been my favorite form of therapy so far. It has literally pulled me out of crises, pulled me off the bathroom floor before. I’m thrilled I found this niche for me and my issues when I was in high school, and I hope to God I can effectively help people some day.

    Most of all, I’m glad she became a teacher after retiring as a clinical psych, because more psychology students need people like her to teach them to become the best damn therapists they can be.

    Note: I did not intend this comment to be so long. I believe I was just that damn excited by your exquisitely written post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bipolarfirst

    Thank you so much for your kind words and just for commenting! I am glad you posted such a long comment because it was extremely interesting. That teacher sounds amazing and you are sooo lucky to have someone in your life like that. It makes me feel better to know that there is someone out there like that.

    Thank God SOMEONE is saying these things!

    I am sure you will be a great therapist. Sounds like your head and heart are in the right place. 🙂

    Like

  5. Sandra

    I’m so jaded after only 3 psychiatrists that I’d settle for one that doesn’t have the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and doesn’t tell me to do Sudoku as a form of therapy. Excellent post. I agree with Andrew: copyright volcaic agony before that shit is used all over the internet. Bipolar brilliance right there…why do we hate being bipolar again? We’re so fucking creative.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. asher

    Started reading this in the car the other day (I wasn’t driving) and realized I needed to come back to it when I had a bigger screen and enough time to really read it.

    Now that I have, I want to say (as so many others have), “Yes, this!”

    I think we absorb these ideas that can really screw up the whole workings of therapy for us — A) that we need to be “good patients” and B) that people with Bipolar are already regarded as being unlikely to be “good patients.”

    When we try to be “good patients,” we so often overlook our actual needs as participants in the process of therapy.

    Also, yes: therapy is a great tool, but it’s not going to make those bathroom floor moments go away. It’s so good to see this set down in writing. No one thing, by itself, can make those moments go away for all of us; for some of us, no combination of tools — no matter how good and valuable — will make those moments go away entirely.

    As you can probably tell, I’m getting caught up on my blog-reading, so I apologize for leaving a swath of comments all at once, by the way!

    Like

  7. Adam Taylor

    Man you have a lot to say but it is kinda funny in the sarcastic way it’s meant to be haha.

    My first venture into pyschairtists was when I was about 12 and I went to see my dad’s pyschairtist to tell her how my dad’s illness was affecting me. I can’t remember now what I told her but I know I was really struggling with being in a hypervilalant state all the time and it was the start of my fascination with knifes or things sharp haha. Anyway after I saw her my mum and dad went in and then we went home. I have no idea if she told them anything I had said (yes I know about patient confidentiality but I wasn’t her patient remember). On the way home I remember thinking that it felt like I had just shafted and shit on my dad. My mum did ask if I had told her everything I wanted and I said yes (it had been her idea to see dad’s pyschairtist after I told her how I felt.
    The situation was never talked of again and I never saw his pyschairtist again but within six months of my visit my father took his life. Did it have anything to do with it I don’t know but????
    I can’t help thinking how good was she, not because my father committed suicide despite her help, but that she didn’t seem to realise that I was in the infancy of Bpd, depression and anxiety which have followed me all my life.
    If I’m in a kind mood, it was the early eighties and a lot of mental health stuff was still fairly new to the powers that be. On a bad day…….. Well. My faith in them started and died back in 82.

    Next NHS pyschairtist I saw I was about 20 and had one session and thought this isn’t going to work and never went back.

    Then when I was about 25 I saw a private pyschairtist and it lasted about 6 months. She managed to bore the shit out of me. The session was supposed to be the usual hour (that’s the magic 50 minute hour) but most times it lasted at least 2 hours as she loved the sound of her own voice. I’d very often left with a headache.
    I did try again a few years later but it was just as bad as before and again it didn’t last long.

    2007 I had my breakdown and saw the clinical psychologist at the local NHS hospital and for the first time in my life it felt like someone was talking my language and totally understood me, I fell in love with her on the spot haha 😂 it happens apparently.
    Anyway later on my care co-ordinator at the time (have had so many of them it’s unreal) showed me an email she sent of her assessmentof me to the hospital. Anyway I was horrified to read that she thought I was clingy and should be treated at arms length at all times. The bitch I thought, for the first time in my life (I was about 38/39) I felt that like I’d made contact with another human and she thinks I’m fucking clingy, I was livid. I have no idea why he showed me that but he encouraged me to ask that I could read my file which I did. Strangely he (later I wondered if he’d be pushed sideways) left to work in another dept.
    The pyschairtist that I saw at the mental health centre was an absolute bitch and I’m not prepared to say on here the shit that went on.
    Anyway I do actually have a good private psychologist now that I’ve been seeing on and off for years now. Now that I don’t have much money she still sees me at a reduced rate.

    Sorry I’ve rambled on as usual about my shit
    Wtf and I said you talk a lot lol.

    Like

    • bipolarfirst

      Thanks for sharing your shit. It sucks that we all have these crappy stories. I am sorry you went through all of that. Ugh the thing about seeing the records is so unfair and unpleasant. It pisses me off. Now I’m wondering about my files…….

      Like

      • Adam Taylor

        Thanks for the reply.

        I still have absolutely no idea why my care co-ordinator at the time suggested that I ask to see my file.

        If you do take the plunge to see yours and it’s not been updated and computerised be ready for shit handwriting and ineligible scrawls. It can take awhile to figure wtf they are saying.

        Like

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