First of all, I sincerely apologize for the radio silence lately. Due to all of the difficulties I’ve had around consistent access to medication, the past month and some change has been the first consecutive six week period of being able to take all prescribed meds, at the correct dosage, consistently. This is a very good thing, but my little bipolar brain has been struggling with figuring out how to feel motivated and creative with all those mood stabilizing chemicals splashing around in there. I’m feeling confident and focused again now, finally! To kick-start my return to regular posting, I’d like to share a guest spot on a podcast I recorded this morning.
The Do Not Listen To This Podcast podcast is so far beyond awesome! My friend (and former boss) is a teacher at a local high school, and he’s been facilitating this project for the past several months. After overhearing three seniors at his school having a very thoughtful conversation, with a respectful exchanging of opinions even in disagreement, he had the idea to get those young adults together to have a podcast. He could have ignored the conversation and let the moment pass, but he recognized the value in supporting students to continue engaging in meaningful conversation with intense curiosity and respect. These awesome humans talk about a little bit of everything (really, from Naked Russians to The Evolution of Education). You can read more about the thought process behind the podcast here. It was a pleasure to sit down with my friend Harold, and students Zac, Tyler, and Olive this morning to discuss Mental Health.
Here’s the episode:
Bottom to Top: Zac, Olive, Tyler, and Harold
Now, we recorded this first thing this morning, and I went in without coffee (BIG mistake!) When I do a podcast, I like to listen to it afterward to figure out what worked and what I wish I’d done differently in hopes of improving for the next time. In listening to this particular podcast, I realize that, in some areas, my wandering mind took over and I feel that a few questions and topics in particular did not get the kind of answer they deserve, so I’d like to go elaborate on a few of those moments here and give answers that are a little more in depth and focused, if you’ll indulge me.
Olive asked a how one could identify a therapist with a stigma mindset. I sort of meandered through the answer and, in hindsight, I don’t think I did the question justice. At the root of that question, I think, is really the concern that maybe your therapist isn’t the right fit for you. When I was meeting with therapists that weren’t particularly helpful, there were several “red flags” that I just didn’t recognize at the time. The largest warning sign that your therapist might not be the best fit for you is if they don’t seem to listen or they make assumptions before you’re able to fully express yourself. I’ll give a concrete example from my personal life. I told a therapist that I left my marriage because my husband would occasionally get physical with me, and I specifically stated that he pushed me and slammed me against a wall. The therapist, before I could even get the sentence all the way out said, “And then you pushed back. You guys both went at it, right?” I sat there a little unsure of how to respond, beyond saying “No.” The therapist didn’t even acknowledge the massive assumption that had just been made, or the impact that such a statement may have on me. (When I hear that, I hear an underlying statement that it was somehow my fault or that I condoned that behavior by also engaging in it. In fact, I did not get physical in response to his actions.) Such a statement was very off-putting, for obvious reasons. Another red flag, I would say, would be a therapist diminishing what you’re saying. If something is bothering you enough to bring it up in session, it deserves all the air time you feel it needs. If something is really troubling you and your therapist isn’t willing to engage in that topic until you feel it’s been properly addressed, that’s a pretty big warning sign that you are not compatible. Finally, if you’re in session and your therapist is talking as much or more than you, especially if they are bringing in personal anecdotes or veering slightly off topic and taking up ten or more minutes of the time for which you are paying on a topic which does not pertain to you and your concerns, it’s probably time to find a new therapist. Bottom line, when you are in therapy, you are paying a professional for their services. You are essentially their boss for that forty-five minutes a week. You have a right to express yourself and have your needs and concerns fully addressed. That they are a professional does not mean that they are qualified to understand your struggles without allowing you to explain them. You are the expert on your own life. Don’t forget that.
When we talked about self care, I think we covered a lot, but I want to elaborate just a little on it. Self care is taking care of yourself. (I know that sounds redundant, but I also think that thinking about it in that light can really help you understand everything involved in the “hot button” phrase “self care”.) Self care is not all spa days and bonfires. Eating healthy meals and getting some sunshine is self care, exercise is self care, going to therapy is self care, taking your medications as prescribed is self care, and getting that higher level of care if it’s needed is self care. Going to the hospital was self care for me. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t glamorous. But it was necessary to take care of myself. So, I just wanted to emphasize that.
We briefly touched on 13 Reasons Why. I recognize that this is a polarizing topic. I’d just like to link a few articles that explain why it is not at all in line with best practices for suicide education and prevention. I haven’t watched it because it is said to be incredibly triggering to people who are struggling or may be coming out of a particularly challenging time. In the interest of taking care of myself and preventing any relapse in recovery, I have purposefully avoided watching it. If you’d like more understanding on why it’s triggering or what it got wrong, check out this article from Psychology Today; this piece specifically aimed toward educators by the National Association of School Psychologists; and this USA Today article on the reasons that 13 Reasons Why could inspire “copy-cat” suicides. These pieces go into much more detail than we were able to do on the show.
THANKS FOR READING, ALL! And thank you for your understanding of my brief absence! I’m back now, and, again, I am truly sorry I peaced out for a minute there.
You can follow the exploits of the Do Not Listen to This Podcast podcast on Facebook and Twitter, and you can find all the other episodes on their Buzzsprout page. It’s so encouraging to see young adults interested in honestly, intentionally, and compassionately engaging in such thoughtful conversation! I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to participate and proud to have been a part of this process!
As always, please let me know what you think! Leave your thoughts, questions, constructive criticism, concerns, and opinions in the comment section below and hit me up on Facebook and/or Twitter. I love talking to you guys! Coming up in the next few days: Friday Finds, Emotion Regulation Part 4, and another edition of the Scrawling Toward Sanity series! See you soon!