Archives for April, 2012
Stress can't begin to describe how it feels to cope with being unemployed. In today's economy, with soaring unemployment rates, cut-backs, massive lay-offs and a consumerist culture shouts "buy, buy, buy," it's devastating to be jobless. Furthermore, our cultural values are out of sync – how we value ourselves and our mental and emotional health versus the value of work, money and "stuff." (Ironically, volunteer work builds self-esteem more than a huge salary and it's a great stress-reducing strategy while job-hunting.) All this hit the headlines last week... Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen belittled Mitt Romney's wife Ann and her full-time career as a housewife and stay-at-home- mom. "Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life," Rosen said on CNN."She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future." That comment rang alarms with everyone across the political spectrum. Especially women.
Maybe there's hope for me... In today's New York Times, the lead article in the Sunday Review is titled Where Have All the Neurotics Gone? by health reporter Benedict Carey. Where are neurotics today? It seems they've become a thing of the past. An old, dying breed. According to Carey, "For a generation of postwar middle-class Americans, being neurotic meant something more than being merely anxious, and something other than exhibiting the hysteria or other disabling moods problems for which Freud used the term. It meant being interesting (if sometimes exasperating) at a time when psychoanalysis reigned in intellectual circles and Woody Allen reigned in movie houses. "That it means little now, to most Americans, is evidence of how strongly language drives the perception of mental struggle, both its sources and its remedies. In recent years psychiatrists have developed a more specialized medical vocabulary to describe anxiety, the core component of neurosis, and as a result the public has gained a greater appreciation of its many dimensions. "But in the process we've lost entirely the romance of neurosis, as well as it's physical embodiment – a restless, grumbling, needy presence that once functioned in the collective mind as an early warning system, an inner voice that hedged against excessive optimism."
There's a mysterious, somewhat strange-sounding convention in psychiatry, I think. I'm not sure. I've never imagined it would apply to me, so I've never bothered to investigate it. I've steered far away from. It scares me. Leaving therapy... Here's how it was explained to me at the Eating Disorders Outpatient program I just completed. And remember, an eating disorder is a psychiatric illness. For a minimum of two years, I was told, I could not go back to see my social worker, dietician or any of the practitioners who helped me begin eating normally for the first time in my life. A follow-up might be possible, but now I have a psychologist to help me. I suspect psychiatrists work in similar ways. I don't know... Once you say good bye. Once you receive your psychiatric "seal of approval." Once you have your psychotherapeutic "walking papers." Once you leave, is that it? Do you venture off into the world on your trembling feet, vulnerable, alone? Independent? Do you never see your therapist again? Or at least for a minimum of two years? That never seemed to be the case with Dr. Bob. It seemed he would always be there for me.