No. Please. This isn’t about colonics.
As I write this I am sitting in my downstairs office on an otherwise unremarkable Colorado day, with the temps pushing into the nineties, if the storm overhead goes away. I really hope it doesn’t. As long as we don’t get shredded with another storm that cost me my entire garden, my roof and a deck, I’d love more rain.
The floor is covered with piles. Piles from files. Files I haven’t looked at in a very long time. Part of the reason is that the week after the BF moved in, I had shoulder surgery. Had to move to the couch upstairs (that’s where I get well; my bed is enormous, four-poster and too damned high off the floor to risk falling on my coconut because of pain meds). Then, the BF decided he wanted to use my office. There’s a good reason for that, too. In summer it’s almost too cold in here, it’s so well-insulated and protected by foliage. The view out the window is stupendous. The back yard sports huge blue spruce trees and visiting deer. Well, at least before last week’s hail storm, that is.
I had to move my working files and computer to the dining room table. OMG whatta mess. Piles of files. And notes from interviews. Books. Notes. More files. More piles.
For someone who is superbly neat and anal, to live like this for the few months that my right shoulder was inoperative drove me absolutely nuts. Downstairs, I had stuff crammed, thrown around, laid on the floor in that hopeful “I’ll get to this later” organization. Then files took over the kitchen island. Relatively neat, but still. Not where they belonged.
Eventually I couldn’t find the notes from a recent interview for which I had a deadline to deliver a story. I still haven’t found them. They’re around here or else perhaps used to pick up dog poop in the back yard. That was the final straw.
My surgeon had reluctantly and under great pressure from the BF and me to do something about weeks of residual pain finally gave me prednisone. He argued first to bull through it, then he told the BF it was “all in my head” until an MRI showed considerable inflammation- moron. That got rid of the pain and also damn near landed me in jail. However, now I can move my arm. Not only that, I am released to return to the gym. All my energy and enthusiasm returned now that I can exercise, clean house and have a life again after weeks of couch surfing. I haven’t seen the surface of my island or my table since May. That and a hundred hundred cup stains marring the wood. I had work to do.
I spent about a week walking around picking this up, that up, putting it back down. If you’re like me, that will drive you nuts. I have a three page to-do list, and there are a lot of big rocks on it. I couldn’t focus. Visual clutter drives me batty, as well as not being able to locate what I needed.
So beginning around 3:30 this morning I began the process of cleansing. I brought the mass of materials downstairs after the BF had been (gently but firmly) evicted and got to work.
The problem is that as I begin to file, I also find a pooload of stuff I haven’t seen in years, that either intrigues or interests me, or that needs to be tossed.
In other words, this is not a swift process.
However, it’s fascinating.
One of the items I found about an hour ago was the test that some local doctor had administered to me back in 1995. That test, initially to identify if I had ADHD, said that I had bipolar disorder. It was devastating at the time. In hindsight, I now see that as the beginning of a very long journey back to real mental health. The testing doctor had, of course, strongly recommended very strong meds (which almost killed me off) and of course years of counseling. After all, someone needs to pay for their kid’s Beamer.
I am not now, nor was I then, bipolar. Yet that damning diagnosis remains in my military records. I had gotten repeatedly raped in the military in the early 70s. Anyone who has ever experienced that kind of trauma will have deep, repressed anger, nightmares, and a whole range of often not very good coping mechanisms. However, whoever designed the questionnaire (please, someone with a very strong vested interest in pharmaceuticals and ongoing counseling, neither of which worked, of course) got to dictate to me who I was, how problematic I was, and how badly I needed meds.
These days women just like me, both younger and older, are given the same diagnosis, about one out of four. One of four. I call bullshit on this. I do not buy the notion that fully a quarter of the American female population is bipolar. I DO buy the notion that creating a test that skews the results in that direction provides the perfect feeder system to doctors, psychiatrists and the profit margins of the pharma companies.
I have since done a great deal of cleansing. Not only did I cleanse myself of the evil, toxic, deadly and dangerous psychotropic meds that I got fed for two decades- and am VASTLY better thank you- I also cleansed myself of the denial that the rapes ever happened. No counselor did that for me. That had to bubble up from within, as does all healing. Cleansing involves going after the internal lies- those that the mind will install for survival, for example- when you are otherwise more capable of dealing with them. That took a long, long time. I got medicated for eating disorders. Nobody wanted to know about why they had begun in the first place.
For a simply superb book on how to never, ever get started on Celexa or any other life-fucking anti-depressant (and please, I’m not addressing schizophrenics here, this is garden-variety depression) please see A Mind of My Own by Dr. Kelly Brogan. A doctor, a psychiatrist and a holistic healer in one, she spends the first two chapters reaming the pharmaceutical industry’s asshole with Borox. Long overdue. Talk about a cleansing. Brogan is the White Tornado personified. She has good reason to be. She backs up her claims with the kind of solid research most of us don’t bother to check while watching actors gorm pills and behave as though life is JUST DANDY thank you. No it isn’t. Pills kill. Those on anti-depressants have been shown to die 33% sooner than those who are not. While each of us is different, especially if you were misdiagnosed, which happens twelve million times a year in America, the wrong chems can create havoc. Learning to wrap your arms around your pain, let it strengthen you, uplift you and rebuild your sense of self is the prescription for real health. It’s hard damned work. It’s supposed to be.
Most docs would never want you to take this path. Oh heavens, no.
Why not? Well, let’s see. For one, if I get well, I don’t need the meds any more. For two, I don’t need counseling any more. For three, well, you get the picture. I am off the hook, unmedicated. Funny thing. Much happier, healthier. Cleansed. Doesn’t change my history. What that cleansing did was open the cell doors. Meds jail people. Sometimes forever. Anti-depressants are often vastly more dangerous than going without them and finding your own way- this is particularly true if we don’t have a bona fide, genuinely serious disorder. That’s how we were made: to find our own way. Life is full of shit brownies. Learning to eat them and smile is part of how we become masters of our own fates. Admittedly, some folks do well with counseling. I didn’t. That doesn’t make counseling a bad option. However if someone keeps making you focus on what makes you suffer, get the hell out. That’s not healing, that’s a living hell.
When we clean up our own act, some people in the medical/psychiatric community might have to find other work. I have no interest in apologizing to a system that preys on women’s vulnerability after she’s been preyed upon in the first place. What does work is a support system that allows her to deal with her demons head on, rather than be in such a brain fog she’s lucky to be able to walk the damned dog. Is this for everyone? Of course not. There are those who have taken me to task for this attitude, arguing they “have to have their pills.”
I am making the argument that the vast majority of women who are informed that they are in bipolar might well just be righteously pissed off for very good reasons. Racism, rape, reprobates they have to tolerate at work. Let me name the ways people drive us nuts. We’re not mental. We’re mad, in a culture that devalues emotions and deeply believes that an emotional woman is a woman in need of medication. Who wrote those rules? Patriarchal men, for whom the word “hysterical” is the fly swatter for those of us who cry after a gang rape. Hey doc, how ‘bout we toss you into the prison population, naked, in the shower, and check you out about three hours later and see if you can mouth the word “hysterical” after that? There’s no way to cleanse after a rape. There just isn’t. You wear that forever in some way. All you can do is learn to look at it differently and not give that event (or in my case, multiple events by a senior officer) ruin the rest of your life.
As a journal writer since 1972, I have untold thousands of pages through which I can peruse at will to see how far I’ve come, what rocks I still carry in my emotional backpack, what issues or insecurities or lies I continue to tell myself. I also get the gift of seeing where occasional deep emotional housekeeping has absolutely set me free. It’s as soul-satisfying as being able to see real progress on a weight loss goal, the wrap of a book manuscript (oh, but to heft that finished book in your hand…exquisite), the ability to participate in a hard discussion without accusations and anger. All these require different types of cleansing: the removal of obstacles, variously defined, beginning with a willingness to see what’s not working.
Such as being a victim. Such as taking meds for what ails us emotionally rather than to make friends, eat well, exercise, get engaged, and work our own slow, laborious way to a sense of humor and balance. That, we own. That, no medication can do for us. That is permanent.
As the piles slowly disappear, a part of me had a lovely chuckle about that psychiatric test. I’m keeping it as a token. It reminds me of how I allowed others-mostly male doctors- to dictate who I was, to place an inappropriate and dead wrong diagnosis on me, and to have far too much control over my life for two decades. These days I challenge everything, most particularly doctors. Boy does that piss them off. That’s not my problem.
I suggest a major cleanse.