I’m neither a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I’m a consumer of both ideas. So I reckon I can say something on the subject…
Have you seen the Twitter war? The psychologists v psychiatrists war of words in 140 characters. It can be as caustic as JK Rowling v Donald Trump, except in this war, as far as I can tell, there isn’t an obvious bad guy. And in this war, capital letters are only used for diagnoses and prescription pills.
As someone who pops antidepressants on a daily basis and pours her heart out to a complete stranger on a weekly basis, I find it all a little unsettling. Should there be one right way to do things? Am I in with the in crowd? (in taking antidepressants, I fear not).
I feel guilty for relying on chemicals that there is no definitive test for to prove that they work. But they feel as though they work – for me at least. And the thing is, as much as long-term psychological treatments can unravel deep rooted causes for my anxiety, its only available in six session blocks on the NHS. Those six session blocks can sometimes seem as much a sticking plaster as an antidepressant.
But something has changed. I’m seeing counsellor number six right now. I’ve only had four sessions but something has clicked. I’m not doing CBT (and don’t get me wrong, I do rate CBT, but in my case it has been more about managing symptoms than dealing with the cause). What I’m doing is working on self-esteem, shame and liberation. The things my counsellor believes might be driving my anxiety.
He’s a private counsellor. Through work. Because due to a severe lack of funding, the NHS referral took five months – so thank God for work’s Care First services and my prescription. Anyway…
It might sound a little clichéd, channelling the inner child and all that shite, but something really has clicked. For the first time ever. All of a sudden I feel as though I have found the secret door to happiness, I just need to find the guts and strength to kick that bastard door to pieces. I’ve ignored it in the past, that door. Looked the other way. Pretended it didn’t exist. Assumed it was far too heavy and thick to be moved. And even if I did sometimes confront it, I assumed there was a sheer drop behind it that would send me spiralling into a bottomless pit of hell, Napalm Death’s ‘music’ on a loop ringing in my ears and a severe infestation of spiders, rats and Piers Morgan.
But all of a sudden I am feeling a little giddy. That door feels more breakable. I reckon I just need Mr Miyagi to teach me how to kick with confidence and belief. And I’m mega excited to find out what’s behind it.
Liberation isn’t a scary word. It’s an enticing word. A word that can take me into a world where I can read a script with passion unafraid of sounding silly, where I can shout whatever I like as loud as I want at a basketball game, where I can sing along to Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Ear Worm on a karaoke machine and where I can jump into a pool and know I’m not going to die (the latter perhaps being the most important to me).
So right now I’m doing both. I’m embracing psychology and psychiatry. I absolutely see the value in both. And part of me believes that, without the help of psychiatric drugs, my mind wouldn’t have been calm enough to embrace the psychology. No blood test or lobotomy is going to prove that though.
So can I be fans of both please? Can we all go to the party together? I don’t want to feel bad or think that synthetic drugs are my evil crutch. It’s not my crack (that’s Diet Coke if anyone’s interested. Now that IS an issue). Maybe one day I wont need to take the pills. Maybe one day I wont need to attend therapy. But for now, it’s all good.