Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Back at it  

I haven't written a post in about 4 months.  Sorry about that.   However, for some reason there has been an uptick in traffic to my blog. I can see it on my dashboard. Probably just a server in India perusing content for key words but hey it prompted me to sit down and write again.  Such as my writing can be called "writing". Another reason to post now is that the pressure from school has subsided slightly so I thought I could share with you some of the wisdom gleaned from the 2 classes I recently took.

Tongue in cheek.

Last Wednesday was the final exam in my Abnormal Psychology class.  I did not study for it adequately.  I got burned out.  Frankly,  I'm going to have to move to Wayne county because I have already diagnosed everybody within a 45 mile radius.   Here's the gist of Ab Psych: being human makes you crazy.  The kind of crazy that comes from being human...well, folks, it's pretty much incurable. Like in 98% of the cases.  The drugs work but only temporarily and most people comply with medication directives about 22% of the time because side effects from psychotropic drugs are often, well,  unpleasant. Who would of thought that was possible?  Apparently, things that mess with our already delicate minds make us feel even weirder.  Often people go to talk to shrinks only when they're forced to.  The people who have disorders of the mind--even some of the more serious ones--don't even recognize them as problematic.  That was the class in a nutshell for shit's sake.  Talk about depressing.

The class was basically an introduction to the DSM-V which is the diagnostic and statistical manual of psych disorders, 5th edition. A real masterpiece of gloom and doom, if you ask me.  It's the most efficient label maker I've ever seen. If you want to reduce a human being to their diagnosis, then get the DSM out.  Ugh. The teacher was a too-officious and somewhat glib 26 or 27-year-old and, not to be ageist but to be totally ageist, how in the hell is she qualified to teach a class on abnormal psychology at that age?  She don't know shit about "cray" until the girl has had herself some babies. Then we can talk about "Abnormal Psychology." Just sayin.'  Nothing makes a person loonier (and saner) than kids.  The other wonderful gifts that come from raising (or helping to raise) children include the gifts of humility, patience and empathy which seemed lacking in that lecture hall.

Her therapeutic methodology was the strictly Cognitive Behavioral model (CBT).  Not a fan of psychological orthodoxy any more than I am strict adherence to any dogma.   She must've known I felt that way from the first lecture.   When dealing with human emotions and behavior, logic and science only go so far.   Her belief is that it can take you all the way; that behavior is the whole story.  It's a big part of the story but it sure ain't the whole thing.  Science (i.e. big pharma) likes it because you can measure behavior easier than you can feelings and emotions.  If you can measure it, then you can hypothesize about it. If you can hypothesize you can run drug tests. If you can run drug tests on it and the drugs "work" to change the behaviors then you've got yourself a huge rainmaker.  Rainmakers drive more research.   Just talking, doing art therapy, singing, dancing, hugging. Well, there ain't much dough to be made there because it's more art than science--more analog less digital. Fancy human beings being less digital and more analog.   Hyper-pathologizing the normal human struggles inherent in breathing is a great way to make money.   It drives the academic machine to boot.  Everybody loses.

Obviously, with a bent like mine, she and I were not destined to be BFFs.


Anyway, I went into the final with 267.5 points out of a possible 250 at this point. I always front load points when I can.  This is because of my dirty little secret: I tend to crumble under pressure.  I'm like the honey badger in the headlights. Rather than breathe and engage my cortical brain and attempt to show up mentally, I go into Veloceraptor old brain mode or roley poley mode.  Either my eyes glaze over  and I dream of ways to eradicate the offending source of angst or I curl up in a ball and rock back and forth. Typical fear responses.  Not terribly effective. But it turns out I'm not alone. This happens to those of us who have perfectionist tendencies.  BTW, the DSM-V calls this O.C.P.D. or obsessive compulsive personality disorder.  Perfectionism is a thinly disguised response to the anxiety of not being in total control; grief and loss, as well.  It's what most people think of as OCD but it's different. It's a personality disorder not an anxiety disorder.  OCD is the guy who has to "wipe off" the El Camino he sees driving down the road.  Although this kind of disorder makes for great reality TV it very often ends sadly because the sufferers become so severely impaired.

OCPD is Mommy Dearest.  Think the scene: "No more wire hangers!"


Although I think one could've safely diagnosed Joan Crawford by throwing the DSM AT her image on the screen and then looking at which page opened when it hit the floor.   God bless her. I'm sure she did the best she could. 
The other class I took this term was online and taught by Brene Brown, PhD.  It was about general perfectionism and it was an art-based class. It was far more enlightening.  We painted with watercolors and journaled about just showing up in all of our imperfect glory.  Very Kumbaya but in a non-cheesy way. Seriously.  They're running another one after the first of the year.  Here is the link if you think you'd be interested in it:  http://www.oprah.com/own-brene-brown-course/brene-course-bundle-landing.html   It was a great adjunct to the ab psych class.  In fact, I think it was an inoculation against a total ab psych-induced freak-out.

I'm going to stop right now to say that my writing of this post last Tuesday was interrupted by a phone call from the farm where Mr. T now resides.  He had another mild case of colic.  It was cured by a dose of Banamine (which is analogous to Advil) and a giant-sized horse poop plus some extra TLC.  Wouldn't that be great if all of what ails people mentally could be cured with an Advil and trip to the Loo?  The other thing that happened that day was I woke up to a flat tire.  The same flat tire that I just had replaced.   So, yeah, pressure. The day before a final for which I had not studied adequately. Out of my control things. Things that make me stop thinking and start reacting.   It wasn't pretty but THIS TIME I got through it.   I actually took some time to breathe, reflect on what I could control,  tell people how much I appreciated their guidance, help and care and just sit in the uncomfortable space of being an imperfect human who actually needs other peoples' assistance to function.   The whole crappy incident ended up passing rather quickly.   Pardon the equine manure pun.

The cool thing about this whole series of unfortunate events is that now I can re-label myself: I am now "somebody who can operate under pressure."

Next label to deal with: Class troublemaker.

Merry Christmas