Feelings Are Not Facts
Over a short period, my doctor saw me change significantly. My body was shrinking from an undiagnosed digestive disease that caused me to lose 110 pounds. My thoughts turned more positive as I filled my mind with only inspirational influences and media. My wardrobe changed from frumpy to stylish and borderline sexy, and I finally cut my hair after four years. Not only did I cut it, I actually washed and styled it instead of pulling my dirty, unwashed hair into a ponytail. Most importantly, I was constantly smiling.
Considering these changes, she decided it might be time to back off the cocktail of psych meds I had been taking for 20 years. Because this is not a decision to be taken lightly, she ordered a battery of psychological tests. My final diagnosis: major depressive disorder.
They would not drop the depression diagnosis because I had pain in my body, which to them, meant I was depressed. At the time, I was recovering from a total abdominal hysterectomy and was put on synthetic hormones, which caused high blood pressure, resulting in terrible headaches. I also have a metal plate and four screws in my neck from a cervical fusion. So yes, I have pain in my body. Does that mean I’m majorly depressed? Personally, I don’t think so.
I sent a letter to the head of the psychological testing unit explaining the above concerns and requested they remove the diagnosis from my chart. When I received the follow-up paperwork, I was upset by the response.
Essentially, it said that regardless of the marked progress I’ve made, I will continue to suffer from depression and have very little hope of a full remission.
Never mind, how I’m living my life or how I feel daily. Per the institutional stooges, history and genetics dictate that I will forever suffer from this DIS-EASE.
The night I received the letter, my son stopped by for dinner. When I asked him to fix my AppleTV. Which never seems to work right, he said he was going to teach me how to use it properly. I “kind of” freaked out and went off. My reaction was a misplaced response to his offer to teach me how to use it properly.
He appropriately pushed back and said, “Wow, I’m feeling your energy, and you’re giving me stuff that doesn’t belong to me. I get it. I’ll take it, but I know it’s not my stuff. What’s going on?”
I admire how wise he is. How incredibly different my life would be if I had that skill at his age. So much of my depression was the result of unknowingly taking on other people’s stuff. To be able to recognize when this happens, AND then not take it on, is a whole ‘nother kind of special! I’m so proud of him, his insight, and his ability to maintain his personal peace.
I’ve done much emotional work myself, but I did not start that work until I was 20 and living on my own (because seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist was not OK in my family). My son is blessed because he learned things at age 4 that I learned at age 28. So while my son is only 21 years old, his emotional maturity rivals that of people twice his age.
I promptly grabbed the letter from the institutional stooge and asked my son to read it. After reading it, he immediately came into my office and said, “Fuck them. These are just words on a page. This is not you! This is not how you live. You are so much better than this. They don’t know you! Don’t let these words dictate your feelings. Burn this shit. In fact, can I burn this?”
I responded, “Absolutely, my dear. Thank you. I love you.”
I am blessed. I appreciated the fact that my precious son took charge of the situation and made the decision to burn the words on a page for me. I’m not certain I would have had the courage or the bravery to do it myself. I felt protected and shielded by my son, and it was nice not to have to be the strong one for a change.
Feelings are not facts. Even when institutional stooges try to dictate them and document them as diagnoses. Only you know how you feel, and it’s important not to “take on” the energy of other people. Recognize when it’s happening and deflect it. Push it back if you can. At the very least, push it away from you to protect your peace!