This means I haven’t been walking my dogs or lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs. for weeks. I’m immobile. For the first time in years, my favourite exercise, walking my dogs, is verboten.
I don’t enjoy solo walking. Furthermore, the weather has been anything but walkable, so I’ve stayed home and fallen off my eating plan for my eating disorder.
Then, at my annual physical last week, I had a chat with my GP. I stepped on the scale backwards, so I couldn’t see the number. I didn’t have to. Although weight is one number you don’t need to know, I know I’m heavier and I don’t like the way I feel. I hate it.
My doctor didn’t recommend a diet, which for anyone with an eating disorder is a dirty word and a dangerous pursuit.
“Just get back on your eating plan and get out and walk, without the dogs if you must, but not too much,” she advised me sternly.
She knows how easily I can get obsessed and addicted to exercise, my form of purging.
In this morning’s New York Times magazine, former journalist Lori Gottlieb wrote a feature titled The Branding Cure, My so-called career as a therapist, about the dying practice of psychotherapy. As a newly minted psychotherapist, she sat in her empty office awaiting patients to flock to her door for her help. They neither flocked nor walked. They stayed away in droves.
In an effort to find out why, Gottlieb discovered that according to Dr. Katherine C. Nordal in a 2010 American Psychological Association paper titled “Where Has all the Psychotherapy Gone? that psychotherapy as we know it – or at least I know it as 50 to 60 minute face-to-face sessions with a caring and knowledgeable psychiatrist or psychologist – is quickly becoming archaic.
Meanwhile, as “managed care” has declined dramatically, “pharmaceutical companies spent $4.2 billion on direct to consumer advertising and $7.2 billion on promotion to physicians, nearly twice what they spent on research and development,” Gottlieb reported from Nordal’s paper. Increasingly more and more patients are receiving medication only – 57.8% in 2007 or 30% more than 10 years before.
I find that shocking and sad, but I know it’s true.
Having lost my only kidney (yes, I was born with one) to carelessly monitored Lithium Carbonate back in the 1970s and 1980s – iatrogenic acute endstage kidney failure – I know that unmonitored medication can be perilous.
Nordal admits at the outset that “while medication is an appropriate part of a treatment plan for many mental health disorders, psychotherapy has been documented as the preferred treatment for many common psychological disorders.” I have learned that medication PLUS psychotherapy is the best route, but that is my experience. My psychiatric experience started in the 1960s, its dark ages with precious few pharmaceutical choices.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m not sad. Not manic, either. Just celebrating aging and a joyous day. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. It went on for three days, beginning Saturday. I had my hair cut. Very short. It’s a brush cut. I love carefree hair. Who has time to fuss with hair, so every eight weeks, I’m buzzed.
2. Then, I met my closest girlfriend and we walked to a tiny perfect new sushi spot for a delicious Bento Box lunch. Very intimate. We had the place to ourselves. This is our annual ritual because our birthdays are three days apart, though I’m one year older. We exchange small gifts ~ I knit her a scarf in her favourite colours ~ and we celebrate our friendship. Without fail.
3. Then I went home, worked for a bit – I never feel right unless I work everyday. We watched a great HBO documentary about Ethel Kennedy, made by Rory Kennedy, her 11th and youngest child born six months after the 1968 assassination of her father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
All over my neighbourhood, walking my two Dandie Dinmont Terriers today, I’ve encountered people harvesting or clearing out their gardens, a little prematurely placing Hallowe’en pumpkins on their porches and celebrating the splendour of the autumn colours. You have to see them to believe them.
Last Thanksgiving, I was starving, skeletal and anxiously waiting to start an eating disorder program.
In her new book, “Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” cultural analyst and psychologist Sherry Turkle describes the Goldilocks Effect like this: “Not too close. Not too far. Just right.” It’s also known as the Goldilocks Principle.
(Last year, when I was in the throes of my eating disorder I was driving myself and everyone around me to distraction by wanting to be “just right.” But it was an ephemeral obsession because “just right” for me was always five pounds less. Impossible, of course.)
This is the new normal of our digital age of texting and emailing and posting and online connecting in all its many forms and endless platforms. It’s a factor in digital intimacy, but I’m not going into the Robotics side of this story here. Too much for me to handle right now.
You know, I have lost count of my Facebook “Friends.” At this very moment, as I am in Blogging overdrive so I don’t care about the numbers of Twitter or Linked In or Pinterest connections I have. I hate numbers anyway.
“Less is more,” for me. But then, I’m not normal in any way, new or otherwise. We know that, don’t we?
I’ve been in touch with Sherry Turkle, initially to request an interview.
Right now, she’s buried under a pile of dissertations, grading or marking, as we say here in this country, and how well I understand the pressure of that task.
It is backbreaking work. She declined my request most graciously, but surprisingly expressed an interest in this blog.
Sherry Turkle is the pre-eminent scholar on technology and its impact on our lives. How it is defining our lives and our identities ~ who we are.
Right now I’m reading everything I can get my hands on by her and about her, as I am unable to interview her.
“She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
“She has been studying our changing relationships with digital culture for over three decades, charting how mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics are changing our work, families, and identity. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, Frontline, and 20/20.”
I need to research my subjects…
I cannot write about anything without research.
Today, from the crack of dawn, I was out of the house and tramping around town in the heat. No fun.
I had an appointment with my psychologist and our next is in one month.
We’re winding down…
Then back uptown we had another appointment with our financial advisor. Never fun and games either.
In between, a quick trip to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled. Walks with the dogs. The stuff of daily life that helps to keep us running.
I was thinking about you…
Still, all along, you were in the back of my mind. I knew I would have to get my new installment in fast. And late. Really late. It’s going to be short, too.
Here’s what I have to report. It’s about The 10th Mirror. “The Mirror of Consciousness” or the inner mirror. It’s about body-image. The power of the inner gaze.
It’s titled Live Beyond Normal and it’s one of today’s most popular.
It deserves to be and I urge you to read it…
Before I rhapsodize about her insights into that misunderstood word, normal, not one of my favourites, I read more posts by Jenise.
Thinking Outside The Box hit home for me.
“Everyone sees the world through their own frame, or box,” Jenise says. “Early on in life, people are given labels, told who they are and what is expected of them. They are ‘put in boxes.’ A teacher may label a student as gifted or slow. Parents see one child as the athlete, one as the smart kid, one as the comedian. Peers give the labels of stupid, ugly, dumb, fat, or loser.””But boxes, no matter how ornate or beautiful, are limiting.”
So true. So beautifully stated.
They won’t move mountains for you or transform your view of life. They’re not earth shattering. That’s a misconception about psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy doesn’t change you…
It’s gradual. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s a process that can change the way you feel about yourself, though you don’t realize it while it’s happening. You have to commit yourself to it.
You end up, I think, with a bit of insight.
People don’t change and you can’t change them…
This is perhaps the hardest, most challenging realization I’ve learned in my therapy. I’m constantly learning and relearning it. Really accepting it has made my life more peaceful.
This is as close to an absolute truth as any I know.
“My exit strategy”…
We’re spacing out our appointments. Seeing each other monthly. This is all part of my “exit strategy” from my psychiatric psychotherapy.
Dr. Bob and I began seeing each other in 1990. That’s 22 years of life-changing therapy.
This past February he spent six weeks at Addis Ababa University teaching psychiatric residents through an exchange program with the University of Toronto. Initially I was concerned about him being so far away for so long.
I was meeting with my psychologist Kim Watson and working on recovery from my eating disorder. So I was not working entirely without a net.
When Dr. Bob returned he couldn’t believe the change in me…
“You’ve done it,” he said during our first session on March 29. “You’ve been working very hard.”
That was when I began for the first time in my life to entertain the idea of what until now was unthinkable for me.