This is easier said than done, of course. It’s easy for us to make suggestions to other people, and often we’re quick to suggest the very changes to others that we struggle the most with ourselves. This is one reason I decided it’s more helpful to present my readers with some kind of alternative-thinking about my topics rather than say “This is right and here’s why and how you should do it,” or “This is wrong and here’s why you shouldn’t do it.”
Thus, even though I disagree with certain diagnostic labels in mental health, I’m not going to waste time arguing they are “wrong” and disempowering for everybody. I only speak from my own experience, and as I said last week, such diagnostic labels never gave me anything I could use.
My intention for therapy was always to learn how to become independent of the need for such assistance—not just hold me over until my next “refresher” sessions. The methods of the therapists I saw, plus their strong promotion of antidepressant medications, actually made me more dependent on them. When I realized this, I decided that going back to a conventional therapist was no longer of any use to me.
No therapist ever asked me questions or did bloodwork before prescribing a drug to see if there were nutritional imbalances or other issues we could address first. Many years later, with the help of holistic health specialist Cindy Dillon, I found out I did have nutritional deficiencies that affected my mental and physical well-being, as well as other issues that were resolvable with homeopathic supplements. For example, taking a certain “fish oil” supplement has resolved the nutritional deficiency that led to the excessive muscle-pain I experience when I’m stressed out, and a hormone-balancing supplement from Standard Process stabilizes me more than any anti-depressant drug or mood-boosting supplement I ever tried.
I also didn’t realize that a particular problem I had was a side-effect of medication until I stopped taking the medication, and I wonder how many other people are similarly trading one problem for others and not realizing it. If they really compared any benefit they get from medication against the side effects, the pros and cons of the drug may actually cancel each other out, making the medication a zero-benefit option after all (as was the case for me).
Another thing I’ve learned from Cindy Dillon is how to use my spiritual practice as part of my health-promotion and empowerment skill-set. Most therapists aren’t trained to help clients use their spiritual practice in this way, so it isn’t necessarily fair to hold this against them. It does, however, make them less equipped to help those of us who need more than talking about the same issues over and over again to help us finally break out of the ruts we’ve been stuck in, or fill our “containers” (to use Cindy’s term) with more positive and empowering energies and beliefs.
I like the idea of thinking of our old patterns as grooves or tracks we’re stuck in, or as a container that we can explore and learn to replace the contents of. For me, these concepts are synonymous with the Buddhist concept of the karmic storehouse, which some people call their karmic “basement”: Just talking about our problems and trying to fix our lives with intellectual exploration and behavior-modification simply don’t go deep enough to help us change our deepest karma that has hindered us from being able to change our lives. Working with ideas such as grooves and containers and changing our core belief systems is energy work, and that’s what’s helped me actually find the door to my karmic basement after being stuck for years at the top of the staircase to it.
I’ll continue these ideas, as well as present another approach I recently heard about working with the groove and container concepts, in my next post.
Image: Diamond-heart detail from “Nothing Without Love” by Karla Joy Huber, 2016; Prismacolor marker, Sharpie marker, metallic gel pen, white gel pen