I suppose some folks assume “once a patient always a patient.” This sad assumption is upheld in the media and also, upheld in some “survivor” circles. Sometimes, we shoot ourselves in the feet by advertising the horrors of the System. Why? Because then, outsiders assume we spend all day at it. Do we? A few do, probably most do not.
I actually don’t. Surprised?
I want everyone out there to make a pie graph. Have you ever done that with spending, that is, made a pie graph of how much money you spend on different things? I recall once doing a double-take because this acquaintance of mine was struggling to pay her bills, but 40 dollars a week was gifted to her nephews! You might think, “Oh, how nice.” But compared to her total income, that was too much! She barely got to see them. Who was this sibling who was literally stealing his sister’s welfare check? Got the point?
This woman, whom I decided I’d like to get to know better, was getting cleaned out by her brother. She wasn’t well educated. Psychiatry stole her chance at a high school diploma and her brother was milking her and breaking every promise he made to let her see his kids. So one day, I had her make a pie graph of money in, money out.
Make a pie graph of time spent.
Did you work today? How many hours, and how many hours was the commute? Many work on Sundays, and many have defined “days off.” Some do not have such clearly defined workdays and days that are not working days.
How much time do you spend on social media forums or Facebook? How much time answering emails? Did you spend any time writing postal mail? Did you spend in-person time with anyone today? Did you meet with anyone outside of work?
How much time in doctor waiting rooms? If you were to compare, did you spend more in the waiting room, or with the doc? (for my psychiatrist, that would be 40 minutes in waiting room, 15 minutes with the doc) How much time on public transit, and while on the bus, do you read, do you do mindless Facebook surfing, do you write, do you balance your budget, or sleep, or argue over the phone with your ex?
How much time do you spend practicing useless coping skills that won’t help you one bit to raise your credit score so you can get a loan and buy a house or a car? (Hint: Keep a budget!)
How much time did you sit by the phone waiting for a therapist or doctor to call? (those were the olden days for me…..)
Did you spend time pacing today? back and forth, back and forth……… (hint: it’s the pills…..)
There is a myth out there….”Once a patient, always a patient.” If I were to do a pie graph of my time, I’d say I spend most of my time on non-antipsych activities. And certainly do not spend any time on activities my ex-therapists recommended. Most of my focus is on developing my career. Which, sadly, I have not really been able to tell you all about. Sadly, most ex-patients are regarded with the usual tokenism that the “disabled” are treated with. Even by supposed “liberals.” Maybe worse.
To illustrate. I spent Friday, for instance, dealing with a screening that is a red tape requirement for my job. I had to travel an hour for the screening. On the bus I got out a notebook to jot down ideas for an upcoming speech I am delivering. As for the screening, there isn’t any question about it but the company requires it anyway to cover their butts. I spent several hours Thursday, the previous day, making calls to have other essential paperwork sent their way before my future supervisor, who is a very nice person with an awesome sense of humor, goes off on her vacation. I think she said a “cruise” of sorts. Northbound. Lucky me, I had it emailed but it was also faxed.
What else? This is also non-antipsych. Puzzle has a vet appointment tomorrow. Just a check. I will enjoy the bus ride to the vet but I do not like anticipating the vet bill, nor anticipating another “procedure.” It could also mean another dreaded credit score drop. I have yet to recover from the last drop. I have spent lengthy periods on the phone with the banks trying to clear it up. “No, as you can see, I did not miss a payment. This is not due to irresponsible spending. It’s because I had a very large vet bill.”
(Hint: Don’t ever reveal to banks that you have an expensive degenerative-sounding health problem. That, and thank them profusely and tell them they’re great. The best. Tell them you LOVE their improved website. That’s how to get what you want like lower interest and a big loan.)
Meanwhile, What does an ex-patient do on the bus ride on the way to the vet? See if you can guess!
Door #1. Once a patient always a patient….She snaps a rubber band on her wrist to avoid a panic attack.
Door #2. She takes a deep breath. As instructed in therapy. And brings a paper bag.
Door #3. She takes a PRN before the trip.
Door #4. She can’t take the bus anyway are you kidding she takes the paratransit because of panic attacks. Separate but equal is just fine and makes you look special and it’s okay to be discriminated against because you’ll never work anyway.
Door #5. Actually I am likely to bring a notebook and jot down ideas for an upcoming speech I am giving. I do carry a phone but almost always it’s shut off.
Answer. Door #5. The other doors were there for your amusement and nostalgia.
Moral of the story: Once a patient, not always a patient. YOU CAN break free!!! Ask yourself what your goals in life are, and ask yourself if your money pie graph and your time pie graph align with your goals.
Financial planners make pie graphs for companies to help CEO’s understand where the money is going. One of my friends is a corporate financial planner. He loves his field. I love to talk to him because I love his enthusiasm. (When he and I get talking, we don’t stop.) He says even some CEO’s need some sense knocked into them.
When I was in my 30’s I realized I had spent hundreds of dollars on stuffed animals. I realized it was a total waste, a waste of my time, a waste of my energy, and not only that, having them made me look immature, needy and like a dependent mental patient. It was hard to believe, when I finally gave them up, that I had once been a stellar college student bound for graduate school. Owning all the children’s toys only made me look childish, wrecking my image in the eyes of others in my community. Looking back I realize just how foolish it all was.
Only you can make the changes you need to make. You do this yourself by actively deciding. Say yes, say no. Stop wasting money on stuff that doesn’t align with your real goals. Spend more time on fruitful projects and less time on activities that don’t add to your dreams.