Most likely, what I am saying is relevant more to US readers more than it is relevant to readers outside the US, however, I think readers anywhere may find value in reading about my experience. Or maybe not.
I can’t assume what your reasons are for considering leaving the System, but first of all, allow me to clarify that I am speaking of the Mental Health System and not Western medicine on a whole. There are some who make a full exit from Western practices and only see alternative healers. This was something I seriously considered. However, I decided against the idea. I won’t get into the whole debate right now or any kind of discussion of the faults of Western medicine. We all know there are many. The world is a flawed, shaky place.
I have heard the argument that if you stay healthy, you won’t need healers at all. I don’t buy it. Show me a perfect body. Show me a bike tire that never goes flat. Be realistic, folks. We break easily. They say we humans are quite biodegradable. That’s why many of us get buried when we die.
But I decided to can mental health care entirely, that is, all types of psychiatric care and anything that resembles traditional mental health counseling with a professional caregiver. I won’t go to “group therapy” and I shun most types of “support groups.” If the leader is a “mental health professional” and that person is not a participant in the group, I will surely not participate. I also choose not to attend “12-step” meetings or any type of meeting in which it is assumed that the participants are mentally defective and are there for the purpose of improving upon themselves. I choose not to attend “relaxation” meetings where it is assumed that the participants are flawed because they are “anxious.”
I stay away from many types of self-help groups that assume helplessness, but I enjoy educational classes that empower and strengthen. There’s a marked difference between a writing class, cooking class, knitting circle, or public speaking class and a “support group” where people the object is to make each other “feel better” but there’s no end product, such as a crafts sale, public reading, or tasty meal with leftovers at the end. I enjoy learning new skills if they have practical use or attending interesting lectures or going to museums or entertainment or humor to have a good laugh or to gather together to celebrate or pray or honor or mourn or eat or walk or run or party or drink coffee or have a doggy meeting or just hang out.
All these things sound like so much more fun than “mental health” activities. Where have I been all these years? I was stuck in programs and halfway houses, in therapists’ offices, and locked up in hospitals. What a world. This, sadly, was the center of my life and I choose to make this no longer be the case.