“The most detestable sort of ignorance is the assumption that certain individuals are superior to “the masses” on the basis of the select few’s superior knowledge.” (Brian, 2014.)
Back in 2008 when I was involved in talk therapy for clinical depression, my insurance allowed me a few visits for talk therapy. I never felt anything was being accomplished so I chose to discontinue these sessions.
Cut to 2014 or 2015 (Lamictal memory problems, sorry) my psychiatrist recommended me to a therapist he has worked closely with at a counseling center he works at one day a week. I went into this meeting excited to talk about some of the things from childhood that I learned that were not so healthy behaviors and responses. Her first question to me was, “What is your diagnosis?” I replied, “Bipolar 2 and ADHD,” the only two things I had been diagnosed with at the time. She looked at me, dead in the eye and said, “I don’t think you have Bipolar 2 disorder, I think your psychiatrist is wrong.” I looked at her and said, “Well Dr. (name removed) diagnosed me and I’ve never felt better.” She stated, “Well I think he needs to re-evaluate you.” I was dumbfounded. Who was this therapist to question my diagnosis when she hadn’t even had a conversation with me yet? You better believe that the next psych appointment I had, I told my doc and he stared at me for what felt like minutes. He apologized to me, said he would speak to her, but he would never again refer anyone to see her.
Over the years we’ve discussed the idea of me returning to talk therapy, mainly because my medication management appointments were beginning to become borderline talk therapy. I told him that I wasn’t interested, not after that bout with the therapist because I don’t feel like having to defend my diagnosis to someone who’s not even qualified to do so. He understood and understands but him practicing due diligence, he continues to ask which is why he was surprised at my last appointment that I had finally (four-five years later) decided to do it.
Cut to the reason for this post. I had an IG post of mine that was shared on another IG page and it was met with instant combativeness. I mentioned taking a break from your phone and this woman acted as though I said to cut off all communication. When I tried to explain my actual intentions and that the word “break” does not imply “cut off” she began talking about how people with depression already isolate themselves (duh, I know this and have done this). She then proceeded to boast about the types of people she deals with, that she’s dealt with Bipolar and Anxiety patients, and tried to tell me how wrong I was in my beliefs. I stated, “Your reality is not my reality ” but that didn’t matter to her. She started going off on a tangent which was essentially a walking billboard of accomplishments as though that was supposed to suffice and shut me up. At this point, I had had it. It was clear to me she saw me as less than.
I’m going to take my moment to be a walking billboard and I hope she sees this – I could have easily stated to her that I make good money, I have my Master’s, my Bachelor’s, and I’m taking classes to forward my career into a PMP position, but my accomplishments and successes are mine alone. I am pretty successful but at the end of the day this is because I am NOT my illness. Let me state that again, I AM NOT MY ILLNESS. My entire intent of sharing tips that one can actually practice during a depressive episode, why I share my personal stories is because I want to be a beacon of hope to anyone who feels like they are only their illness. YOU ARE NOT YOUR ILLNESS!!! I am thriving and I want others to know that it is possible. It took me FOUR years, if we’re being entirely honest, of succumbing to and using my diagnoses as a crutch to build myself back up. So who in the entire fuck was this woman to judge me!?
I’ll tell you who she is – an intellectual elitist. She believes because she “cares” for, and I use that word lightly, people like us, she’s entitled to treat me as less than. She is one of the reasons why so many people choose to stay silent, why so many people are not proud of who they are. I show my face because I am a real person who struggles and trust me when I say, I fought her that day for us, and I will continue to speak up, slash down those beliefs, and call a spade a spade for us. I will not be silent. People like her are why people like us don’t see therapists or seek help. People like her, these judgemental assholes, think all people with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, anxiety, OCD somehow all fit into one box.
That’s why I know I chose the right psych and why I trust him, he understands that we’re not all the same. He congratulates me on my successes and reminds me of how far I’ve come, he reminds me to be proud of all the work I’VE done to get here because he’s seen me fall and I fell hard. I hope everyone can find someone as supportive as he is because after years of subpar treatment, I know how discouraging it is. He is a dime a dozen, my angel in the rough, and I promise you, you will find someone like him, too. Just don’t give up.
“…the gaze of an intellectual almost always turns inward to the strength of her ideas or his interpretations of someone else’s ideas and not the source of those ideas. Abstract, conceptual theories themselves can appear equally pretentious and narcissistic. What gives a man the right to talk about women’s rights if he has not experienced work-place discrimination? What right does a political pundit have to make sweeping generalizations about working class Americans if she has never experienced the resigned sadness of choosing between food and medicine? Theory is nothing more than narcissistic idle-talk if it has not been experienced or applied.” (Brian, 2014.)
This one is for all of those “professionals” who stick us in a box. We are all different, we are all unique, and we are all deserving of owning our truths and having them be respected instead of combated. When you’re combative when someone challenges your beliefs, you not only come off arrogant but insecure in your own professional abilities. You come as judgemental, and you come off as someone not sincere about the actual care of the patients that seek you out; you seem like a cash cow.
Side note: If you ARE interested in talk therapy, I’ve found a wonderful site and a wonderful therapist that is licensed in my state. I am able to talk to her through text any time of the day and she is very responsive and respectful of my boundaries. It’s called Better Help; I get e-mails asking me if I’m satisfied with the help I’m receiving as well as the option to change therapists should I feel it isn’t working. My therapist is pretty good and with the worksheets she’s provided, I’m learning a little more about myself everyday. And no, that was not an ad and I’m not being paid for it.
Reference: Brian. 2014. The Dangers of Intellectual Elitism and Narcissism. Human – We’re all too Human. Retrieved from: https://humanities.drury.edu/intellectual-elitism-and-narcissism/