I went through mountains of paperwork and saw one therapist three times over the course of about six months. Had I scheduled another session, it would have been at least a month from now. There are only about six therapists in my area who take my kind of health insurance. So far, every one I've seen has been incompatible. And it takes at least six months to get started on "therapy" because there are so many patients and so few counselors. Add to that the fact that I'm an atheist and things look almost hopeless.
You see, my counselor didn't understand how badly religion can hurt a person or how ostracized and rejected one can feel after "coming out" as an atheist in a small, conservative town. I went to her because I felt ostracized and rejected. After today's session, I felt even more ostracized and rejected. I came out of the session feeling much worse than when I went in.
The funny thing is I talked to a lady afterward who was a billion times more helpful than the licensed therapist. She actually understood me and agreed that this town is oppressively conservative to anyone who is different. This is a fact. Anyone with eyes can see it. And yet my therapist denied it and told me I had an attitude problem. Yes, I know I have to make some changes, but I also want a therapist who understands the fact that coming out of religion was excruciatingly painful and that living in a religious community is filled with perils, especially if I stay true to myself.
The lady from Croatia was so kind. She figured I must be thirsty and gave me water. I've been in a lot of emotional turmoil and instead of dismissing it, she comforted me. She bemoaned the fact that an atheistic therapist had just quit the clinic and that my only other choice is a young man who probably wouldn't be right for me either. I was terrified about tonight's chorus practice and she gave me her card and urged me to call her and tell her how things went. In just a few minutes, this woman helped more than the entire clinic had in the six months I've been registered there.
She told me the atheistic counselor is moving to a clinic that also accepts my health insurance. There's a small chance I could get in to see her. That doesn't guarantee we'll get along, but at least there's a small chance.
Through all this I've kept in mind recent studies that suggest anti-depressants and psychotherapy are no more beneficial than a placebo. I'm a walking argument for this point of view because neither has done me much good in the long run. At this point, I'm trying to find my own path. I wanted to include psychotherapy because even if it doesn't work, it doesn't have the horrible side effects of psychiatric drugs.
I am now of the opinion that psychiatric drugs did me more harm than good by destroying my health. I can't prove it yet, but I believe I'm correct. I didn't have fibromyalgia until after the drugs. I didn't gain weight until after the drugs. I didn't have type 2 diabetes until after the drugs. Once I came off Cymbalta and went through some excruciating withdrawals (yes, there are withdrawal symptoms from these drugs...HORRIBLE withdrawal symptoms; don't trust any psychiatrist that tells you otherwise), I lost 50 pounds. I'm only using insulin a couple of times a week now. I was using it at least twice a day. The pitting edema is gone. I still have a little bit of non-pitting edema in my legs, but it is manageable. My health still isn't great, but it's better than it was when I was on Cymbalta. I will have another huge battle on my hands when I decide to go off the next psychiatric drug. If I come off Seroquel successfully, maybe I can lose the rest of the weight I gained when I went on psychiatric drugs some twenty years ago..
To the psychotherapist I saw today, I have something to say: Religion is harmful.
Sorry, cold and unhelpful therapist woman I saw for the last time today, but that's the truth. I don't need to be more accepting of religion any more than I need to be more accepting of racism. Can I love religious people? Sure. I do it every single day. But I need a better way of handling my emotions. If you don't understand where I'm coming from, how in the world can you help me? In order to make changes, I need to feel safe and I can't feel safe with someone who denies the truth. It was also obvious that you didn't give a rat's ass about me. It was in everything you said, in every move you made.
Then a lady from Croatia showed me that a tiny bit of kindness is worth more than six months of your crappy psychotherapy. Thank you, kind lady. I thank the god that doesn't exist that you were there to save me from one of his followers.
I'm so glad you had such a positive experience!
A few times lately I've been rather surprised by small kindnesses. I have to try hard to keep them in mind while trying to negotiate life. :)
Yes I know. I eat very few carbs, which helped take me from "dying of ketoacidosis" to "a pill every day and a few injections a week". I will definitely need the meds for awhile, though. I still have a lot of weight to lose. :)
Right now my biggest issue is back pain. EXCRUCIATING back pain. It's so bad today I can hardly stand to be inside my own body. My L4-5 disc is almost gone and I do NOT want another surgery, especially one as risky as a diskectomy / fusion of lumbar vertebrae.
Short-term I'm trying a muscle relaxant. After that, I have to find something else. I really don't want another spinal surgery. I've been there and done that. It was performed on my neck and it worked, but back surgery is much more hazardous.
I may even try therapies with no scientific backing. Yes, I'm that desperate. :)
I can barely walk, let alone do yoga. But it's a nice thought. I'm probably going to try to swim, even throughout the winter.
Have you tried to find internet therapy? I've heard that it works well, and you could find an atheist more easily.
I have a very strong feeling such a thing will not be covered by Medi-Cal, but I will Google it anyway when I feel ready to tackle this issue again.
I'm my own psychotherapist. A bit psycho and maybe needing therapy. (My joke.) Everyone could use therapy but not everyone can afford it. I think deeply about why I do things that I do, etc. My step-dad says I think too deeply and analyze too much. He's right, but I can even interpret my own dreams. I know what makes me tick and it comes from everything else we take in over a lifetime, and more so what is bothering us right now. The famous and the rich have therapists.
You may be right about the drugs and what they did to you. Drugs are not always good and everyone is too quick to prescribe them.
Why would you need to be more accepting of religious people? I used to be one, and I think they are all deluded and deceived. Why would I want to be accepting of those who believe nonsense?
Anyway, good luck to you. Psychotherapy has been known to work and a lot of that depends upon you and your bond with the therapist, whether or not the therapist is theist or grounded in reality, and in how much they would seem to support you and your well being. There has to be a bond of sorts between you.
Oh, where is Ericson when you need him? Long dead, but I'm told he was a great therapist.
So being in Fundyland affects the therapist search as well. I was helped a lot by self-help 12-step groups - ACA in the Los Angeles area. Perhaps they would be more accepting?
Long-term, low-carb diets tend to cause depression and irritability.
Have you been screened for celiac disease, which can also have psychological effects? If not, it would be a good idea.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. But there are delayed-reaction food allergies that often occur with it, that can also cause psychological symptoms.
Delayed-reaction food allergies are more likely if you otherwise have allergies.
Especially if you have allergies, you might try a hypoallergenic elimination diet followed by food challenges. This is the only good diagnostic method for delayed-reaction food allergies.
I hear you, but because I'm in a delicate emotional position right now, I can't make any sudden changes.
I saw this topic on my Latest Activity column and I couldn't help but think, "Damn, I've SEEN something about this somewhere." Turns out it wasn't "seen" but "HEARD" ... on the Thinking Atheist podcast. I think it's in this podcast where Seth and his guests talk about the Secular Therapist Project, which may help people to find a therapist without the theistic attitude.
I hope this helps.
Hey thanks! It's a very interesting site even though there's no one nearby. The odds of that were extremely low and even if there had been someone, I couldn't have afforded to pay them. No, I have to stick to the ~6 people in the county who offer care to Medi-Cal recipients. So far, none of them have either the expertise or the time to actually help me. The same goes with "regular" doctors. Too few good ones around here.
Like I said, I'm questioning the status quo anyway. I'm doubting the efficacy of psych meds and psychotherapy. They are currently the only options, so if they don't work or only work for some people, I'm screwed whether I have one or not.
I wish I knew how to proceed, but I really don't. Awhile ago, I decided I would try to "rejoin" society, but even limited exposure to people is scaring the hell out of me. Staying away from them makes me lonely, but more exposure to them resulted in a full blown emotional meltdown. I was sort of hoping the therapist would help me with what happened, but she made it worse. So I feel like I've been caught with my pants down. OUCH.