June 25, 2011

Marsha's gift

The woman who developed Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Marsha Linehan, "came out" recently about her own struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder. It made me smile, because one problem I have always had with therapists of all sorts was whether or not they could view things through my eyes, or if they have ever suffered as I have suffered.

I know from experience that I cannot understand my spousecreature's obsessive compulsive behaviours, and I find I am often impatient with him when I can clearly see he is being irrational about something (lint, for reals). So I have a problem where I wonder how a therapist can properly understand where I am coming from if they have never felt the way I do.

At the same time, I wonder about the moral and ethical side of the argument, whether or not someone who has suffered from a mental illness should work in the psychology industry, or if it is ethically a great big no-no. Obviously there was some degree of "no-no" if Marsha Linehan has kept quiet about her own struggles for so long, even if they were personal "no-no's", but in the end she felt she would do more good being honest about her struggles with mental illness.

I suppose it comes down to individual personality. I know that at this stage in my life, my excess amount of empathy would interfere with working in the mental health field, while someone else who has a mental illness would not have that problem. I do hope that as I get older and a bit more life experience, because I have a feeling I will change into my 30's, I will be at a point where I can enter the mental health field. I would like to save lives, and I would like to make a difference.

But getting back to Marsha Linehan, I have to say a big thank you to her. DBT saved my life, and have given me skills to be a happier and more productive person. I know I am grateful for how she has touched my life, even though she doesn't know my name or anything about me, she just knew I suffered and thanks to her development of DBT I am still here to make a difference to the world with my life.

Marsha Linehan, I honour you and I thank you for your services to the mental health field. Thank you.

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