April 21, 2011

No "False" Hope

I think it was twenty years ago, yesterday, that I woke up in a hospital in a town I had never heard of in a rural Northeast community.  That hospital was still using an old-school approach to problems that doctors now treat as "biochemical."  They used medications in that hospital, but they believed in therapy as the essential tool to getting well.  But there was a sense of righteousness about it.  That approach did not work so well for me, because up until then I had always chosen my own therapist, thank you.  

My new hospital therapist was kind enough, but told me I needed to go back to being a baby in a crib. She told me that the hospital treatment team would be my "new parents."  As a person with a healthy distrust of authority figures (I went to liberal college where fellow students had bumper stickers saying, "Question authority" and "Subvert the Dominant Paradigm," ) this new story about me was  simply too hokey. But, in my more vulnerable state,  I did not have the confidence  to gently object, so I remained silent for many hours of therapy. Some of you may know, silence is almost impossible for me, when something is bothering me! I was silent because I felt hapless and hopeless and a failure.  It did not help that she shamed me in a group therapy setting.  

Because of my silence, these well-meaning professionals "made up" a narrative that blew my mind when I came back a year later to read it.  In this pre-HIPPA era, they'd written  that my husband told them I was "oppositional."  (Not true, but it took the responsibility from them onto me, if I did not get well.) 

They, of course, had to be right about their "guesses." They hedged their bets when they let me go too.  My therapist told my husband  in my presence,  that I could be in and out of hospitals the rest of my life! Well yes that could very well be true.  Especially if they planted that negative thought in a patient's head.  She  also told me I ought not to have a family, because I would become too attached. (She  had met my mom and I guess thought I would be just like her, when I had my own children.)  I came back to tell the hospital staff the next year, that what I had needed was a more complete truth and one that encouraged recovery and told me what I needed to do in order to beat the odds against recovering. 

Dare say,  my experience is that doctors today are still afraid of handing out "false" hope.   

That is why I love EA. In EA, there is no such beast as "false" hope. Instead, our program invites people to claim hope when they are ready. 

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