On Therapy And Therapists: Why Not Just Drugs?

Think about what happens when someone does serious injury to their back. Sometimes surgery is required. Sometimes pain meds are required.

And sometimes physical therapy is required.

Why is this?

Physical therapy is required to help get the person back to normal movement or at least improve abilities to move. If you didn’t have one, any bad habits picked up to eliminate or minimize pain wouldn’t easily be fixed.

Compare this to therapy for the mentally ill. Consider OCD. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is marked by compulsions to do one thing or another. But what happens when you do something many many times? It becomes habit. A psychiatric medication may be able to make the obsessions escapable, but removing the habit will take more than that.

I had the potential to ruminate if I wasn’t thinking about enough things. Rumination would just bring back negative thoughts. So I multitasked to an extreme degree to keep the thoughts back. Some drugs I take help me to avoid the really deep depression where the negative thoughts emanate but they can’t remove the habit of overtasking, that is multitasking taken to a level such that nothing actually gets done. It was a defense mechanism against the horrible thoughts. I’m working on this at the moment, and I’m seeking a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist/Dialectic Behavioral Therapist to help me with that.

Medications can do a lot of things. I like to think of it as someone throwing you a rope when you’re in a very deep hole that you can’t get out of. You say ‘Well, I would get out of this hole, but what will I do then? I’m always in this hole. I’ve planned days, months even years relative to being in this hole. I can’t just leave!” Therapy is a method of getting the individual to grab the rope.

It’s not just the rope. It means you have a way of getting out. Therapy helps remove the habits revolving around being in the hole.

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5 thoughts on “On Therapy And Therapists: Why Not Just Drugs?

  1. Jason says:

    I was just talking with a friend last night about very similar things actually – about the importance of being able to develop habits that take one “out of their mind” – in other words, seems that if you are constantly thinking about staying in the hole, then as you said, all the medication in the world won’t get you out of the whole (though it may perhaps help you have the strength to look at the rope). But ultimately, the combination of medication with good therapy is what’s needed to help you grab the rope.

    I guess the conclusion we came to was that at the end of the day, sometimes “stopping thinking” and trying to find some type of positive activity to engage in can be one of the best ways to get out of the hole. Guess that’s essentially what you’re getting at then? And as you said, a good therapist is a great way to find the strength and ability to leave the mind behind and find some of those things to engage in, that help body and mind get away from all the struggles.

    • Actually “stopping thinking” is not terribly affective. The way I’ve been told to approach it is just “let it go”. This is incredibly difficult to do, but if you try to stop thinking about it you’ll just think about it more. Should you do something different and affirming? Yes, but you want to be able to sit and think. The OCD issues I encountered did not allow for this. With medication, and though I still generally struggle with it, I can manage. This is the sort of thing that made it very hard for me to read. Reading involves sitting still and staring at paper and thinking. “Just thinking” is a good way to ruminate, so I always multitasked. However multitasking and reading has never been something I could manage. I learned to let it go, and, though I still struggle to this day, I can now at least sort of read again.

  2. Marissa says:

    Another excellent post. It’s interesting to me that you see medications as a type of “rope.” I don’t disagree. But, what this brought to mind for me was the “rope” between my sister and me years ago. I was released from the hospital after several weeks in ICU due to a violently bad beating from a boyfriend (bad enough to leave permanent brain damage in my speech area of all things!), and a forced overdose.

    My sister and I became very close during this time. Our mantra became that we would always “hold onto the rope”, so that neither of us would fall into such blackness again. Through the years, “holding onto the rope” has been a reminder of our love and hope for each other and the future, as well as code for “I’m having a rough time right now” which allows us to be there for and be a reminder of better days and current hope for one another. That was many years ago and we are both doing well now (for the most part).

    I just wonder if that analogy appeals to those of us with mental wellness issues, seeing ourselves in need of that rope thrown to keep us from drowning. I’d say it represents a common experience with a common analogy that we know and understand on an instinctive level.

    Blessings and best wishes, Marissa

  3. May I put in another point of view? If we’re in a hole, we instinctively claw at the sides to get out if no rope is there; and if we stop for a moment, we realize that by piling the dirt up beneath our feet as we are digging, we get closer and closer to the top of the hole and pull our own selves out. Only to say, we have more than one tool available to us for help, and sometimes it is our own self giving the help when no other is offered (or available). Sometimes, we forget what tools we already possess. Depression does that to us, and it is with great effort that the negative is replaced with the positive. It’s a battle.

    • I was writing a response to this, but decided to generalize it and write a post. So thank you for making me think about it and inspiring another post!

      Also, if you read it as either

      A) personally directed at you
      or
      B) angry

      that’s not what I intended. I look forward to further comments from you!

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