Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Wonders of Diagnosis

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Yesterday did not unfold quite as I had expected.  I had scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist at Allina Health to provide a second opinion on the PTSD diagnosis that I received in late June from my current therapist (who happens to be a clinical social worker).  The evaluation session was not quite what I had imagined or hoped for.

I had understood my appointment would be for ninety minutes.  Some time into the session I was informed it was actually scheduled to be sixty minutes in length.  The doctor ultimately gave me ninety minutes of her time (which I appreciated).  I did not find her methodology for taking a general mental health history to be very straightforward or especially thorough.  Given my complex past history it can take quite a while to describe it to the most intelligent and focused of people.  I did not even describe all the events in my early life which I found to be especially stressful.  I certainly was willing to do so and yet the conversation did not evolve in such a way that seemed to really emphasize the importance of sufficient thoroughness.

The one "win" I did take away from the session was the input of someone who essentially could be completely objective about my relationship with my father.  My sense of the doctor's impression of my circumstances is there is little benefit to be gained by attempting to have an active relationship with my father.  Because my father does not give me the depth of emotional support I am looking for it would be wise for me to cease and desist spending my precious energy trying to obtain something I am never likely to get.  This input at least proved helpful.

I did not find the doctor's final recommendation especially helpful though.  Her recommendation was that I consider undergoing psychoanalysis.  This would be an intensive process where I would meet with an analyst several times a week for what could ultimately be a few years.  I am not convinced this would ultimately prove to be a healthy course of action.  And here is why I feel this way.

It has been my experience that some forms of therapy can actually prove to eventually be of little benefit over a longer period of time.  Talk therapy, which I did with two psychiatrists previously, is a great example.  I believe there can be great value in talk therapy as a way of identifying your core issues and then developing a strategy to resolve them.  And yet eventually if all you ever do is continue to talk about your problems that is all you will ever have because that is where you are focusing your attention.  What you put your attention on will grow.  If all you ever think about are your problems then that is what will fill your consciousness and devour your attention.  How can your problems ultimately vanish if all you continue to do is fixate on them?  If you look at a wall painted blue all day long what will you experience?  You will experience a blue wall.

My experience of EMDR therapy thus far convinces me that continuing to utilize this technique could continue to produce excellent results.  I already feel much better in only two months of work with my current therapist.  In the short term I believe the best course of action I can take is to continue the work I am doing with my therapist, take the Resilience Training program which begins next week at the Penny George Institute, continue to reduce stress in my life wherever possible, continue to refine my exercise regimen, find venues in which I find healthy men who are committed to living full lives and focus on moving my career in the new direction of wilderness therapy and ecotourism.

Last night I used a process my therapist introduced to me to seek clarity and calm.  I definitely found some relief and insight.  I followed one of my insights and awoke early this morning to make a prayer and offering to Orion.  Orion is a prominent constellation we see in the early evening hours in winter.  This time of year he can be found fairly high in the eastern sky at dawn.  I asked for help to access the warrior inside of me.  I need the discipline, power and prowess of the warrior archetype in my life.  I have found that energy within me as I walk this path of healing.  What a journey it is.

I am still a bit baffled as to what to make of the diagnosis the psychiatrist provided yesterday.  I suppose it will prove to be more fodder for me to process when I see my therapist on Monday.  I am a highly intuitive person; something I can confidently state is that I didn't feel much heart based warmth in that meeting yesterday.  I need people in my life who live a healthy balance between heart and mind.  The Resilience Training program I will be starting next week cannot come a moment too soon!

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