Tuesday, April 13, 2010

beginnings and endings

Someone I'm very close to recently got into some serious problems due to alcoholism. I am worried about this person (who I won't name, obviously), and that has been weighing on my mind heavily. The good news is, the person is now in rehab and plans to beat the crippling addiction. A beginning. A new life. I said, "This is the best decision you have ever made in your entire life." I meant that.

Tonight I saw my therapist for the last time that I'll be able to see her as a client. I might run into her in the hallway at the community mental health center some time, but no longer will she be my confidante, the person who I run to with everything that pops up as a problem I need to stamp out. No longer will she be able to do reality checks when my perceptual problems act up. I will no longer have her to confide in, or her advice to absorb, or her kindness to appreciate, or her knowledge to help me understand myself and my life. To say I am going to miss her is a great understatement. I honestly do not know how I'm going to live without her. I will, obviously, but it seems almost impossible right now.

For three years I saw this therapist. Medicare paid, and then, some months back, Medicare decided they would no longer cover therapy with Licensed Mental Health Counselors, and would only pay for treatment with Clinical Social Workers. The difference between these titles made an incredibly horrible impact on many people, because of this Medicare decision. My therapist is not only competent, she's absolutely the best one I've ever met (and I've met quite a few over the years), and she has over 20 years experience, mostly all at this agency. But she's not a "clinical social worker". So The Powers That Be in the bureaucracy that governs Medicare forced her to have to tell sixty clients (yes, 60) that she could no longer provide services for them. And since there were not a lot of social worker therapists at the community mental health center to take on these clients, most of them just got pushed out into the world without treatment.

The reason I did not get pushed out into the world then was because my therapist decided that she had two clients who absolutely had to be seen, and one of them was me. I never really knew the details of that. I only knew that after she told me there would be no coverage for me to see her, she also told me, she was going to keep seeing me anyway. And she did. I don't know what she had to deal with behind closed doors to make that happen, but I know she really pulled some strings. I appreciated that more than I can express. I am not sure I ever expressed my appreciation to her as much as I could have. I need to work on that. This therapist kept me going when I was psychotic and terrified. She encouraged me, and never was the least bit condescending. She searched for answers with me and for me, telling me about dozens of books, giving me research articles to read, keeping up to date on details about all sorts of health issues - both physical and psychiatric. She provided a comprehensive type of therapy that was exactly what I needed. I needed someone who I could ask about things, and who I could trust enough to hand my life into her hands. And she was that person for me.

Every few months my case manager has to fill out these reports about me, and she has to ask me "who are the important people in your life right now?". I say my immediate family, my close friend Kathy, and another friend or two, and my therapist, and my case manager. The Powers That Be have succeeded in shrinking my list of important people. They have taken away a support that I needed which really worked well for me. I am not happy about this. I wish I knew who to blame, but, really, I don't. It's the system that is a problem, not just some individuals. It is the way that our society as a whole views mental health and, not only that, but health in general. Our priorities are so deformed, it's sad. Money for war, but cuts in Medicare. I am sad for this nation quite frequently. I have hope for the future healthcare plan that Congress is putting into motion, but I really have been disappointed by the total lack of focus on single payer healthcare by the Obama administration and the congress. But, I digress.

Today was an end, in some ways. I don't think that the importance of this has really hit me yet. Honestly, I had this whole plan in my mind that I would eventually write a book with my therapist, with coping tips on Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder. But I'm not sure she would have any remote interest in that. And now, I won't be seeing her to discuss things anymore.

The community mental health center hired a new therapist that is a social worker, who I can see now. I could begin therapy with her soon. I'm not sure I'm going to do that, however. Starting all over with explaining my entire life history is not something I feel would be a productive usage of my time and the new therapist is not somebody I would be able to trust for a long time, because I would have to get to know her quite well before I could really feel safe enough to divulge some of my issues. Alas, I'll have to mull this over and figure it out.

Endings and beginnings.....

A long time ago, I wrote here about at a guy I would refer to rather sarcastically as "Mister Wonderful". I haven't had any contact with him in over a year and a half, but I still think of him frequently, because that is part of my pattern with obsessive thoughts - some of them never go away. For those of you who were not readers back then, basically I made an utter fool of myself falling all over a guy who didn't really care about me in the least. It was quite pathetic, and the fact I still think about him is even more pathetic to me. But the obsessive thoughts really suck, and they are not something I choose to have. They just are. Anyway, when my close person with the alcohol problem previously mentioned was in trouble, like legal trouble, I contacted Mr. Wonderful for the first time in over a year and a half. He never wrote back. I only wrote about two sentences. My reason for contacting him was because he had similar experiences as the person I'm close to who got into trouble, and he used to work for an agency that I thought might be able to give some ideas about resources to help someone in the situation I described earlier.

The thing that is important here is not that the guy formerly called Mr. Wonderful never wrote back. The thing that is important is that I actually thought he would. Man. Talk about feeling pathetic.

My symptoms have been acting up lately, maybe that is the explanation for why I had this delusional idea of Mr. Wonderful actually giving a damn about the person who used to frequently annoy him who (as has been clearly established), never cared for a at all - would, for some cosmic reason of true love and attachment, contact that person. I hate that this has been a part of my life for 13 years. I HATE THAT THIS HAS BEEN A PART OF MY LIFE. I TRULY DO. Really. I hate it. I've worked quite a bit on changing it, but the thoughts come back.

I would like the thoughts to end forever. They may never do that. But what did end the other day, when the former Mr. Wonderful did not acknowledge my existence, was my sad little belief that he would, under certain circumstances, talk to me again.

Why these thoughts never leave for good, I do not know. I do know that I have other thoughts that are obsessive, but none as strongly as the one about this guy.

It's okay though. I'm okay with this now. I'm okay with knowing that I have these odd thoughts, which get in the way of things by toying with my emotions, yet, knowing that they are only that - thoughts. I know that I don't really care about this guy anymore. And so, I can go on. The thoughts float in and out of my head, but I can go on and live with them.

I think that fact right there sums up what I learned in therapy over the past three years. I learned that perceptual problems (as my therapist called them), can come into my brain, stay there a little while, then leave. And I can still go on. I don't have to die, or end up in a hospital, or give up all hope and feel that all is lost. I can just let it be, and go on. What a gift, that knowledge is. A true gift. I will be grateful for my therapist forever for that.


  1. Hi Jen,

    I'm so glad your friend who suffers from alcoholism has reached out for help. That's great news. But I'm sorry that you had to say goodbye to your therapist. Since I got very ill, I have only had one therapist. When she took time off for a sabbatical, I just stopped seeing anyone for a couple of years. I'm very grateful to have come upon her almost from the beginning of my psychosis. She has been a great help and comfort to me. But do give the new therapist/social worker a chance. You never know, it might just work out. Sometimes a fresh start is just the thing. You'll never know unless you try. I believe in the value of talk therapy. It's a vital way to see one's patterns and to stay honest.


  2. My favorite post so far. I stopped by to begin, again, reading your blog from the beginning hoping to find a clue to help my son. I can relate to loosing your therapist. What a gift! How many people in our world find this kind of help at all much less for 3 years! I had a counselor before I got sober that tolerated me and brought me off my ledge of chaos once a week for an hour. When she said we were done and it was time for me to move on I was ... devastated for a while.
    I had to find a new sponsor a couple of years ago. My previous sponsor had moved out of state and we couldn't really work together even though we tried. I've been through a couple since then. The current sponsor I've been working with since my son was going through his final psyche test in the Air Force and being discharged. We don't communicate well, the new sponsor, she seems to come from a world where people are just together without trying, and I am intimidated by her. BUT I am changing. And I know it is because I continue to try to move forward in life with this woman's help and input. Just try. If you can. Because there are people, like me, who have never met you face to face but care about you being as ok as you can be regardless of an illness.

  3. Thanks, Kate and Thanks, Seeking -

    I actually have never read this blog from the beginning myself, so that is pretty impressive if you have!

    Really, it means a lot to me that people stop by here and take the time to read my humble words sent out into the world without a specific landing site.


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