So I called him up and asked him to be my therapist. He laughed and said I couldn’t afford him, then went to work.
It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried to find someone local. I called my ex-therapist, who said yes but didn’t schedule me in. I called Dr. Peter Breggin, who referred me to a couple local empathic therapists. One of them never returned my calls; the other came and sat in my living room and told me I couldn’t afford her. I went on the Internet, searched for therapists and cold-called a lot of them. Most calls were received by voice mail and not returned. Of the one’s that were returned, most refused my insurance when they found out that it was Medicare primary and Medicaid secondary. I got on waiting lists at clinics.
A friend referred me to a psychiatrist who said he’d gotten so mad that he resigned from the hospital where he worked and let his license lapse. He would come, sit in my living room, and spend an hour telling me how awful the psychiatric system was. I will complain up to a certain point, then I take action. When I proposed action to this fellow he replied that he couldn’t act now because “they” would come after him. I have never met a psychiatrist who is an emotionally balanced human being, including the one who was arrested for attempting to murder his wife. Normal people get a divorce; a psychiatrist gets a knife.
I was suffering terribly with what we called PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a nasty bit of business that occurs when you are in a terrible situation and can neither fight nor run. Take, for example, being pinned down in a firefight in Iraq. Or, for another example, being kept locked on inpatient psychiatry, which was my problem. They were murdering my soul and I couldn’t get away from them because they kept giving me drugs. It happened repeatedly over a thirty-year period.
Then, after a decade of not taking drugs and therefore not being hospitalized, I went to the Breggin Empathic Therapy Conference. The speakers ripped off all the scabs. They talked—as academicians will do at conferences—about drugs and seclusion and degradation and abuse and the lies that psychiatrists tell their patients. Except that to me, it wasn’t academic: it was my lived experience.
I went bonkers. I’d cry all day. At night, I’d wake up having nightmares then not be able to go back to sleep. I was frequently suicidal. I was desperate. In PTSD, it is not memories of the past that make you sick. It is real-time—the experiences are not being re-lived as memories; they are being experienced as what is happening right here, right now. It was terrible, so I finally called this guy—this therapist—and asked for help.
One of the first things he did was ask me to be his co-presenter at a workshop. Well, that was pretty damned cool, wasn’t it? He said I was his colleague—then he used his skills as a therapist to open me up like a can of tomatoes. Does a person really treat a colleague that way? Or is that how you treat a patient? And does it matter if you make no distinction between colleague and patient? Why would it matter?