Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crimes against Clients - HFC Day 14

Share your experiences about a professional or professionals (doctor, therapist, nurse etc.) that had a negative impact on your recovery. How did they make you feel? Did you speak with them about this? How did they respond? How did they impact you? How did you recover from that experience? How did you learn to seek help and trust professionals again?

This is a shaky one for me.  In my letter to medical professionals (Day 6) I expressed my frustration with my treatment over the years but also my gratitude for all the men and women who have treated me.  I believe that all my experiences, good and bad, have made me the recovery woman I am today.  I know that everyone I come in contact with is a teacher – some of what to do, some of what NOT to do.  Either way, I can learn from everyone.  Back in the throws of bulimia, I didn’t see it that way.  When a professional (aka role model) showed disease behavior, I took away bad habits and negative massages and fit them right onto me.  A lot of times I knew I was self-sabotaging and wanted to bring the pain.  Other times I was competitive or seeking attention.   Occasionally, that “I’ll show you how sick I am” mentality drove me.  In the most dangerous times, I just had no fight left and I was giving up. 

So, you may be wondering what made some folks such bad examples.  My perception may be off and my disease certainly filtered things said and done differently back then, but the number one reason I decided a professional was not worth my effort to recover was inconsistency.  If the message of the professional was inconsistent with their behavior, I was done.  The most obvious example I have is one therapist who owned a day treatment center and was my primary therapist.  This was an eight hour a day, five day a week deal, and I was a patient there for over two years.  I saw so much of this therapist that I could tell you what she would say next, if she was in a good or bad mood, and how she was doing with her food.  She was a recovery anorexic, or maybe just an anorexic.  Here was the inconsistency.  She spent all day, every day, telling us to embrace our bodies, sharing professional opinions, encouraging us to eat balanced and nourish ourselves while she did none of it herself. 

If I could go back now, I would ask her why she only ate 150 calories for lunch every day and how that made any sense to eat during our sessions.  I would show her that my meal of 500 calories, made no sense next to hers.  I would ask her why she got plastic surgery and showed off her cleavage at work while telling us we were perfect just as we were.  I would challenge her to explain her significant weight loss after her husband left against her claim that we did not have to use food to cope with any and all circumstances.  I would call to her attention that we were all competing with HER!  I would share my anger and confusion towards her and her behavior.  I would explain my pain in all its depth and tell her I wanted to be free.  I would walk away from two years of a dead end pursuit and look for help and hope in someone who had recovery.

I spent years being angry at this therapist.  I felt that I had lost so much time being sick because of her.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  I learned a lot from that experience.  Today, I interview my doctors and therapists.  They are working for me after all.  If I don’t find hope in their story, sense in their methods, or most important to me consistency in their words and actions, I find a new professional.  This has served me well and I am my own mental health advocate.  I tell a doctor or therapist when something doesn’t seem right or when I’m just not feeling comfortable with my progress.  I have learned what I don’t want in my treatment, so now I’m finding what I do.  

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