Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Claiming A New Paradigm...For Myself


So back to the idea of "can we shift from a mindset of "illness" to one of "wellness"...

Part of making that shift from "illness" to "wellness" mindset was choosing to see "diagnosis" and "symptoms" as something I can learn to change vs. seeing these labels as something I "have"...and I have no control over or power to change.

In talking with others I've noticed how they, like me in the past, talk about their mental wellness - or lack of it - as though it is a "thing".

And while it's true that this is the message we've been getting since Bill W. called alcoholism a "disease of the mind"...I found that in owning this message I was left feeling very dis-empowered. Or if you've been around for awhile, you may notice this is an idea that falls under that concept of "feeling powerless" (click to listen to what I said about "powerless" on BTR)

I felt powerless to change because I viewed my coping mechanisms of "acting out"; irritability, anger, aggression, hyper-vigilance ie the "lashing out" at the world and others - as well as the "acting in"; depression, dissociation, insomnia aka the "self harming" behaviors -as related to this "diagnosis" that told me that I had some "genetic" mutation in my genes that made it impossible to change"it" or the behaviors related to it.

By "buying into" the idea that my emotional and cognitive distress was something I "had" ie "I HAVE (fill in the blank with whatever your "diagnosis" or "symptom" is)..."

I was left feeling as though I had no power to change my life because that is what I had been told by the providers of...and is the "standard of care" in the biological, genetic, medical, disease model of mental health issues.

It was hard letting go of this paradigm of "care"...

I mean....come on; these guys are the "doctors", the "providers".....

Yes; but they are not "god".

And I gave them 15 years of my life to "fix me"....

But I found "wellness" when I gave up "illness" as my chosen "paradigm".


Next time....a look at what is a "paradigm" in the sciences....


Q: How have you claimed your own power recently?



14 comments:

Splinteredones said...

Great post hon. And courageous. As long as I looked at my constellation of mental illness as something Other Than Me, like the moon orbiting the Earth, I had to have somebody else fix it. As I come to accept that it's mine however it's mine to fix. How empowering. Thanks for this ;)

@MyDysfunctions said...

I used to let my mental illness define me, to rule my thoughts, actions, my life. And then I realized that it's really just an aspect of me. I may have a mental illness, but I am also an artist, a yogi, a meditator, a metal head, a graphic designer, a daughter, a friend...you get the point. It's a lot less intimidating when it's not my defining factor. I try to focus my thoughts on me as an artist instead of me as a mental illness. When mental illness starts to come up, I meditate on why it's showing its face, consider it, change the situation, and move on. Haha, at least that's what I do on good days. On bad days I lay in bed and cry but all days can't be great.

Lenora said...

I recommend the book "Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility" by Ellen Langer. She talks about this very phenomenon, with evidence to back it up, and advocates for a mindful approach to dealing with illness or "conditions" of any kind, recognizing the fluid nature of any diagnosis and/or set of symptoms.

It's hard to completely escape labels and generalizations, and they can obviously be useful for organizing thoughts and for convenience in conversation, but with a mindful approach to them we can indeed shift to a healthier--and more truthful/accurate--paradigm.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT said...

Nice job! Thank you for your openness and candor which I'm sure will be inspirational to many.

Susan said...

"As I come to accept that it's mine however it's mine to fix"

You said it all in that one sentence!

Glad to see you S.!!

Susan said...

MD - I so hear what you are saying...and identifying when things are "cropping up" became a key factor in my ability to finally move beyond that.

These times became an indicator that "oops...more stuff to work on"...it was the "going through to get out of" part of the journey that brought me to this place where I live more "good days" and fewer "bad days"...and it just keeps getting better!

Great to see you today and thanks for taking the time to comment!

Susan:)

Susan said...

Lenora - thanks for your comment and I will be adding the book you suggested to my reading list!

Great to have you here today!

Susan

Susan said...

Lisa...Thank you! I appreciate your contribution and your encouraging words:) Susan

Marian said...

Luckily, I used to move in circles very much influenced by thinkers like Laing, Miller, Jung, Foucault, etc.. I'd never heard of the medical model before I started to do some research on "schizophrenia" outside of this partly psychoanalytical, partly antipsychiatry/critical psychiatry//socio-political sphere back in 2004, upon receiving the label myself. Although it didn't seem the best imaginable news, I was open to learn, and also to accept that maybe all I'd believed in in the past was nonsense, that really my brain was broken, my genes were defective. So I dug into the research with an open mind. What I found was a whole lot of questionable preconceptions, circular argumentation, incoherence, contradictions, and plain illogic. Things simply didn't add up. Not on an overall scale, and certainly not with my own, at that time merely intuitive, understanding of myself and my experience. Additionally, the "probably-it is believed, though we don't really know-further research is needed"-rhetoric soon had me become a little suspicious of the validity of the medical model. So, after a rather short period of doubt, and after eventually coming across well-founded critique of the medical model, and alternative views on crisis, I concluded that I had been right to see my experiences as a reaction to my past, as completely natural, necessary, and self-preserving coping strategies, rather than seeing them as symptoms of an illness.

The period of doubt, where I thought, I might have missed out on some the concept of "mental illness" revolutionizing, neurological and genetic discoveries, was the only one where I became suicidal in a literal sense. Why keep on with a broken brain you can't really do anything much about, and that leaves you more or less dependent on others' help? Crisis was a kind of struggle for freedom, for independence. The medical model renders you a slave, of your genes, of your biology, and of the system. Others had controlled me all my life. I was sick and tired of it, and I certainly wasn't prepared to give up on the idea that freedom and independence were possible, and submit to being a slave for the rest of my life. But I was prepared to off myself, should the medical model turn out to be true, as suicide seemed the only remaining way to achieve freedom and independence, or at least escape slavery, in that case. - It doesn't surprise me that suicide rates especially among young, newly with "sz" labelled people are rather high, about 10 per cent. Neither does it surprise me that Soteria's suicide rate was only 1%, 2 out of Soteria's 200 residents. While both suicides occurred unrelated to the individuals' stay at the facility. One of them actually killed himself in the context of a (re-)hospitalization, several years after his stay at Soteria House. The "message" people were told at Soteria was quite different from, almost diametrically opposed to, the one the established system tells.

Nothing was as empowering as the realization that I had been right to view crisis as a natural result of trauma. Not a genetic, predetermined defect, but learned behavior, which it was my responsibility to come to an understanding of and, eventually, change. This realization in itself was ultimately liberating: freedom and independence. :)

Frankly, I don't think it is possible to achieve true freedom and independence without shedding the label of "mental illness". All labels sort of limit one's responsibility, especially that of "mental illness". And responsibility is the key to freedom and independence.

Susan said...

Marion - thank you for that eloquent comment on this article. I hear and value each word that you wrote...

"Nothing was as empowering as the realization that I had been right to view crisis as a natural result of trauma."

Yes yes yes.

"Frankly, I don't think it is possible to achieve true freedom and independence without shedding the label of "mental illness"."

And yes a thousand times.

Please stay in touch...I would love to hear from you again.

Susan

Melissa Mashburn said...

I have something for you here http://www.sugarfilledemotions.com/2010/06/beautiful-bloggers/

Susan said...

Melissa...I am honored. Thank you!

Susan

Kyla said...

I like, how you always talk about how doctors etc people give labels..i never liked that, and never really liked doctors, or psychiatrist.
They seem to, go too quickly and don't spend enough time trying to figure out what they can do to help you..just my opinion) just can't stand doctors.
I see what your saying on, how instead of saying well i have this....___ and i cant fix it, so blah blah etc,(negative thinking). rather than, I can get better i can move forward etc, (positive thinking)-As always great post, well said

Susan said...

Kyla! Great to see you! And thanks...I agree with what you are saying...and it really is important to find our "empowered" self to be able to realize that we can make a choice how we view this journey and ourselves. You always have such good things to say! Thanks for sharing!