I love seeing those posts where people are like “if you have headmates or whatever you should be on meds because that’s not okay” posts. Like neurotypicals just think that there’s some magical pill out there that will ‘cure’ anything they don’t consider ‘normal.’ Meanwhile, in the land of reality, my shrink thinks it’s pretty healthy that I’m finally getting to know my headmates, and has no intention of putting me on magic pills, because as long as I’m not hurting myself or anyone else, who cares what neurotypicals think is ‘normal?’ Actually, let’s be real: who cares what neurotypicals think at all?
It is not a magic pill, it is called “Therapy” and you can even do it in groups!
i… literally mention my therapist… right there… in the original post…
did you not actually read this… do you honestly believe telling someone who has already admitted to being in therapy… to go to therapy… is a “gotcha” moment???
Okay, so there’s a relevant quote from Slatestar Codex here. (The link is to the source; attribution is a Thing.)
Basically, this one obsessive compulsive woman would drive to work every morning and worry she had left the hair dryer on and it was going to burn down her house. So she’d drive back home to check that the hair dryer was off, then drive back to work, then worry that maybe she hadn’t really checked well enough, then drive back, and so on ten or twenty times a day.
It’s a pretty typical case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it was really interfering with her life. She worked some high-powered job – I think a lawyer – and she was constantly late to everything because of this driving back and forth, to the point where her career was in a downspin and she thought she would have to quit and go on disability. She wasn’t able to go out with friends, she wasn’t even able to go to restaurants because she would keep fretting she left the hair dryer on at home and have to rush back. She’d seen countless psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, she’d done all sorts of therapy, she’d taken every medication in the book, and none of them had helped.
So she came to my hospital and was seen by a colleague of mine, who told her “Hey, have you thought about just bringing the hair dryer with you?”
And it worked.
She would be driving to work in the morning, and she’d start worrying she’d left the hair dryer on and it was going to burn down her house, and so she’d look at the seat next to her, and there would be the hair dryer, right there. And she only had the one hair dryer, which was now accounted for. So she would let out a sigh of relief and keep driving to work.
And approximately half the psychiatrists at my hospital thought this was absolutely scandalous, and This Is Not How One Treats Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and what if it got out to the broader psychiatric community that instead of giving all of these high-tech medications and sophisticated therapies we were just telling people to put their hair dryers on the front seat of their car?
I, on the other hand, thought it was the best fricking story I had ever heard and the guy deserved a medal. Here’s someone who was totally untreatable by the normal methods, with a debilitating condition, and a drop-dead simple intervention that nobody else had thought of gave her her life back.
It is not a therapist’s job to make you normal. It is a therapist’s job to give you your life back, on whatever terms are acceptable to you. And if your therapist can’t do that, you need to find a new therapist.
For some people, having headmates and/or alters is a debilitating condition. They’re losing large amounts of time, having trouble going to work and/or school, or hurting themselves or other people. In that case, they probably do need help, but I think most people who are getting fucked up by their headmates that badly are willing to seek out help on their own anyway.
Other people who have headmates and/or alters find it to be a neutral thing, or even a positive thing.
Have you ever been in a roommate situation where different people do different chores, because, (say) Kate loves to do the dishes, but can’t stand to vaccuum, and Toby’s the exact opposite? If Kate and Toby are headmates, they can wind up doing the same kind of thing. Headmates can also comfort you when you’re sad, remind you that your depressive or intrusive thoughts are not true, or help you deal with difficult people.
So, if you’re in that kind of situation, where your headmates are helping you to be more functional than you’d otherwise be? A good therapist is going to treat it like the hair dryer on the front seat of your car.
Sure, it is a Weird Thing. It makes you look a bit eccentric, and it’s not normal. But if having headmates keeps you from having repeated nervous breakdowns, helps you hold down your job, or makes it so that you can deal with your abusers? Then it’s a win, and a good therapist won’t try to ‘fix’ that.
It is not a therapist’s job to make you normal. It is a therapist’s job to give you your life back, on whatever terms are acceptable to you.
As an addition to this post, neurotypicals just assume that all medications work, and that everyone responds the same to medicine. It can sometimes take someone months to find a medication that works for them, and even then the side affects from medication can often times be worse than the benefits. For example, I took a medication for my anxiety that while it did help the physical symptoms of my anxiety, and occasionally lowered it, it made me so depressed I was close to killing myself.
And even if you do find a medication that might work, it can still take weeks for the medication to kick in.
Medication can help a lot of people, and for some people medication is the right option. But for some people it is not the right option, and it is not some magical “fix all” solution.
While I was working in the local hospital a few months back, part of the training included a dementia awareness course, and one of the stories I thought was very telling regarded a woman who had kept stealing towels from others in her residential home and leaving them to soak in her sink. After talking to her and her family, they found out she used to make a living doing laundry when she was much younger, so the residential home invested in one of those old washboard-and-bucket setups for her, and would leave some clothes by it in her room for her. The stealing stopped, and she became much more lively and talkative now that she had something to do that felt familiar to her.
With disabilities and mental illnesses, the reality of it is that many of them won’t go away, not with medicine or therapy or wishful thinking. Treatments are there to manage the conditions. And if the condition is being managed in a way that doesn’t cause harm to the person with that condition or their friends and family, then why should anyone look down on that management?