…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

no one ever said he was sane

“Let me tell you a little about myself so you know where I'm coming from,” said my psychiatrist, five minutes into my appointment with him last week. It was the beginning of the end of our doctor-patient relationship.

I was in a bit of a state. My mood had headed south several weeks before and had been stuck in its inexorable downward trajectory ever since. I needed something more than a pep talk but short of a ride to the care unit—the thought of hospitalization depresses me. Even more.

A meds tweak maybe? Childhood regression therapy? Another, heretofore undisclosed treatment option? I was ready to follow the good pill doc's advice because I trusted him. He had come recommended to me as more “holistic” than most in his profession: e.g., he's pharmaceutically conservative and therefore unlikely to dope his patients beyond recognition. True to his reputation, he’s pulled me through a number of crises over the past few years with minimal damage to my overall personality. I'm just as snarky as I've ever been, and if my mind is a bit duller, I blame it on the neuro issues, not my psychotropical cocktail.

“How are you doing today?” he asked, once I was seated in his office.

And I told him. I spoke for what is, to me, an interminable stretch—four, maybe five minutes solid—about feeling crushed under a pall of hopelessness. I know intellectually that this state is nothing more than funky brain chemicals, I told him, but it's vampiric. It sucks at my life force and fucks with my sense of self until I'm ready to do anything to make it stop. I just haven't yet figured out a way to kill the parasite without snuffing its host.

Look, baby animals! They'll lighten any mood.

It was in response to my tragedian soliloquy that the good doctor thought he’d share out a bit himself. He's a Spiritist, he told me, and therefore believes that we are each perfect, eternal, godlike souls. “Death” is not to be feared but rather eagerly anticipated as a beautiful and peaceful place where we shed our physical and psychological burdens to exist in serenity. Our lives are but series of lessons we must learn in order to achieve our highest level of being, akin to Jesus or Buddha, and we are reincarnated again and again to take on our assigned course loads, eventually attaining perfection.

Well, that’s lovely, I thought, nodding in appreciation as he explained Spiritism’s core philosophy. It doesn’t so much resonate with me, but bully for him for finding peace in a belief system he can buy into.

Then it got weird, at least from a professional angle.

He said the difficulties I'm experiencing indicate that I’ve charted an ambitious lesson plan in this life and that my failure to complete what I’ve laid out for myself does me no dishonor. He said there's no shame in suicide, and that as an eternal being the only consequence of an early checkout would be that I won't have learned the necessary lessons of this life and would therefore have to repeat them in the next. Then in a withering tone he said he would of course prefer that I choose life, but should I choose death, he assured me, I would simply continue on to my next life—no harm, no foul. He ended the appointment by upping the dosage on one of my meds.

I drove home in a bit of a daze. Had my psychiatrist really just given me the green light to follow my instincts, the instincts that are presently corrupted utterly by depression? I wondered whether his counsel would have been different had I told him I’d lately felt as though suicide were being marketed directly to me, first as a post-holiday book recommendation from Amazon—Kay Redfield Jamison’s Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, under the banner “Get Yourself a Little Something!”—then as a recurring commercial in the dystopian film Children of Men, in which the world has become so unrelentingly miserable suicide is not only condoned but actively marketed in the form of a product called Quietus. Its slogan: “You decide when.”

Maybe I had just encountered reverse psychology? Was his blasé eternal being picking a fight with my anxious quiver of universal nothingness?

I didn’t counter-share my own belief system, which is that we’re happenstance creatures evolved of primordial ooze and when we’re done the lights go out forever. It’s a cheery philosophy, I know, though it’s one that keeps me relatively tethered inasmuch as what I really crave in the big sleep is a sense of relief, which is unattainable in a “religion” that denies postmortem sense and emotion. Au contraire, Spiritism holds that we not only shed our earthly burdens but pass our between-lives interstices in a state of bliss unimaginable to us corporeal types. If I could choose a belief system, I’d take the bliss, thanksverymuch, but I can’t choose to believe in an afterlife any more than I can choose to be reborn as a so-cute-she-makes-your-fillings-hurt baby leopard.

When I got home I Googled “Spiritism,” because how could I not? As an organized movement it’s been around only about 150 years, but adherents consider it a purer form of Christianity. They say its teachings are based directly on the Gospels of Christ and are therefore uncorrupted by ulterior human motives, unlike those "biblical" teachings contrived in the early centuries to discourage unsavory pagan rituals and traditions.

Spiritists have a fairly liberal outlook (their antigay woman-completes-man stance notwithstanding). They encourage rational scrutiny, they respect all other religions, and they do not endorse evangelizing. They have no churches or clergy, though they attend meetings together. But to be a true Spiritist is to endorse a doctrine that includes the following:

• There is life on other planets, some more evolved and some less evolved than that found on earth.
• Both incarnate (material) and discarnate (immaterial) spirits exist side by side on multiple planets.
• We are rewarded for our goodness in this life—and punished for our transgressions—in future lives (indicating that I've been very, very bad in past lives).
• Certain human spirits [see Allison DuBois] are born with the gift of mediumship, and only these incarnate spirits may communicate with discarnate spirits.

In short, my soon-to-be ex-psychiatrist believes in aliens and ghosts.

I also found these folks when I Googled Spiritism:

As a married Spiritist couple, they’re a force to be reckoned with, if you believe in that sort of thing. You see, they’re both gifted mediums. He channels Jesus. She used to channel Mary Magdalene, whom you’ll be pleased to know married and regularly enjoys coitus with Jesus in heaven. Now, in addition to channeling John Lennon and George Harrison (who have collaborated on a new song!), she channels Alura, a talk show personality on their daily YouTube show Here’s Jesus!

He’s also a self-taught artist. As is she! Christ, I hope my soon-to-be ex-psychiatrist wasn’t self-taught.

I’m not out to ridicule anyone’s religion. Hell, I often wish I had faith in something other than the bleak existential void that fills that part of my brain like some kind of inert gas. I can’t not recommend my philosophy vehemently enough. And yet, if I believed in an afterlife of everlasting bliss, I’d have broken on through to the other side a long time ago, preferably before I met anyone who would have ever loved or missed me.

In the absence of such eternal promise I’m forced to find meaning in the now, something that makes life worth a treacherous journey lacking any known destination. Baby animals are an excellent start, and I suppose the rest goes something like this: We’re all in this thing together. We may as well love one another and make the best of it.

Thanks to for the great animal pics!


Blogger Vic said...

A few things:

That song is terrible. Actually, it might get better, since I only lasted halfway into the second line, but I most sincerely doubt it.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Vic said...

Crap, I meant to say more...

Your pictures of animals are great and definately are a good start.

I think you are right to move on and it takes a fair bit of strength to do so. It's easy to end up feeling obligated to someone who you regularly spill your guts to. I think you're doing the right thing.

Cheers and head up,

11:01 PM  
Blogger weese said...

your shrink needs to be committed.

stick with the baby animals.

9:11 AM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Perhaps if your soon-to-be-ex shrink was self-taught, he'd have offed himself before making such unprofessional, asinine, alien-influenced statements to you.

Baby animals are good. If Bisc brings even half as much joy as our dogs do me, be sure to take every opportunity to soak up that love, too.

10:10 AM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

Oh my goodness. I wish I could say, unbelievable! But, it is beliveable and it is sad.

The baby animal pics work for me as do actual baby animals.


2:25 PM  
Anonymous puppydog said...


this is PAINFULLY funny.

particularly laughcramp inducing: the baby animals, 'inert gas'... and then that damned video. OH OH OH it hurts me !!

Where do you FIND this stuff????

5:18 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

"The artwork displayed here is for the viewing pleasure of the visitors, only." Somehow, pleasure is not what I felt when I looked at doc & wifey's artwork. Self-taught is hi-larious! And really, really creepy.

Great post, scout, though it necessitates a bifurcation of my emotional self: your baby animals had me laughing out loud, and your breach-of-ethics, scary-insane psychiatrist had me apalled and horrified.

Dr. Cuckoo is a complete freakshow and should lose his license to practice as soon as possible.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Hop said...

Jesus H. Crist! Your shrink should be shrunk himself, then arrested for endangering his patients. On what planet is it OK to put a professional stamp-of-approval on suicide? Are you sure he’s not a reincarnation of that Heaven’s Gate maniac who sent his faithful, hapless sheep to the big conference-on-fraud in the sky? How can he sleep at night? Maybe he will be reincarnated as some poor creature who must endure some God-awful mental torment as a lesson for next time. But, I totally agree with you about love, so I wouldn't wish that on him.

My dear sweet Scout, I am always impressed with your softness and tolerence, with your level-headedness and philosophical nature. You have given him every benefit of the doubt which is way way more than I ever could. I admire your ability to compromise and be diplomatic - yes, you get along well with others. How great that is. He was lucky to have you as a patient, the way I see it.

It so bothers me there is so little oversight of mental health care givers. Hope you find a nice, sharp, kind doc soon.

12:37 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

It seems to me that the new John Lennon song undermines all the cute animals. You think--"what cute animals" and it gets pushed out of your head by "you've got lots of friends around here..."

Maybe that's what those bad thoughts are like. The parasites your brain can't get rid of. Like the new John Lennon song.

I love the fox things. And you. I also love you.

11:00 PM  
Blogger KMae said...

Okay. Shrinks aren't perfect. They are fucked up, like the rest of us. They make mistakes. That doesn't mean they can't help us.
What your therapist did is
UNCONSCIONABLE. Actually immoral & vicious under the circumstance of your present sensitive depressive state. Although I somewhat agree with that theory, I would NEVER expect a "professional" to bring it up to anyone on the edge. It was truly, unbelievably wrong. And thank God you recognize that! You did say he had helped you a lot in the past, so I think you should call him on this.

My best shrink (I had 3) made a couple of mistakes in the past flashing her ass. I called her on them & she apologized & said she realized she was way off base.
They are humans & sometimes their insanity gets in the way of common sense. Here are 2 examples:

She was in great pain when she hurt her foot & asked me to go across the street & get her a flask of vodka. (I am a recovering alchoholic/druggie.)

One time were were doing a session at her friend's cool apt on the upper west side, & she sat on the bed with me for hypnosis. (I am a survivor of incest, my mother being my main perpetrator.)

Both times were stupid idiotic ideas, but we had been together for a long time & the lines of friendship got blurred which sounds familiar to your guy.

She had helped me thru SO MUCH craziness that I overlooked her mistakes since she apologized & ended my therapy with her a year later when there was nothing left to do.

To suggest suicide as okay when you have felt suicidal is a no - brainer, tho. He totally lost his mind with that one.

Good luck with your decision. Sorry for the long comment, but I know what it's like.

1:23 PM  
Blogger alice, uptown said...

Love the baby animals. Can't believe what your shrink said -- although it's something I have thought, minus the afterlife.

I don't know how we do it -- day after day in the land of the psychotropics, but somehow, we get by. Or at least that's my take on things.

1:15 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

when it comes to religion, i'm a bit odd, but wow...

5:35 PM  
Blogger Gyrl said...

We so need to talk.

6:18 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

I no longer have therapist envy.

Excellent use of baby animal pictures! They are soooooooo cute.

3:23 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but your shrink was 100% correct, and had every reason to tell you what he thinks.
Oh, wait, no he wasn't. He's a headcase.
The "attacking prairie dogs" is the ultimate picture in a whole world of cute pictures. If only the real world were as delightful.
The bunny's pretty darn cute, too.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Little Blue Petal said...

Baby animal therapy... you are onto something there! Wonderful pics!

That Syphilitic couple in the picture is truly terrifying. They look as if they would be right at home in a BBC Dickens production.

Your psychiatrist-- well what can I say. That guy is projecting and sounds like he needs some intensive therapy himself. Dogmatic fool.

I (still) think you ought to look into finding yourself a cheery homeopath! Sorry I can't directly recommend anyone as I am in the UK, but there will be a society of registered Homs in your area. Please email me if you have any queries.

Hope your cloud lifts soon.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I haven't been by in a while - sorry for being a slacker - but I clicked on your link from Suzanne's website and it took me to some hollywood gossip blog, then I went to Wendy's blog and clicked on your link and it took me here and now I can't find that other blog. It was your url but another blog. I swear to little baby Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I know it was there.

Of course, if I'm going crazy I sooo won't go see your shrinky dink.

Let's see - both Buddah and Christ were against killing. If you kill yourself, that's a bad thing. If you're punished for doing bad things, then you will be punished in your next life for killing yourself because killing is bad. In fact, killing is the ultimate bad. Ergo, in your next life you will feel bad all the time because that is your punishment for killing yourself in your previous life. As further punishment for killing yourself in your previous life, you may get stuck with a shrink who suggests you kill yourself in order to get to the next life - in which you'll be punished for killing yourself in your previous life.

Let me play shrink here for a bit, because apparently anyone can do it, my advice is to NOT kill yourself. Whatever you do, DO NOT kill yourself. It appears you've tried it already and it simply isn't working.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Wow, pushing religion and spirituality on you in YOUR session doesn't seem very professional, does it? Poor thing! I don't know if I could've sat through the whole spiel. The part about those two people channeling Jesus and Mary was pretty funny. Is that TRUE? I know you put their info. on there, but I'm too chickenshit to even go to their website. I don't wanna! You can't make me!!

The baby animals placed here and there throughout your post was a great distraction. I loved the idea!

Talk to you soon I hope! Stop by and say hi sometime! Everyone!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Maryellen said...

This is such an excellent post. I thought about becoming a therapist myself once upon a time but realized I was not insane enough. Loony tunes a bit like an average person, but not crazy like most therapists.

As for the channelers, who knows?

A gal in Cali

9:03 PM  
Blogger André said...

Hi Teresa. My English is not that good. I guess there's some misunderstanding there beetween medium and spiritist. A medium is someone who channels spirits messages. A spiritist is someone who follows the Spiritist Philosophy. In USA Spiritism has no expression. There's a Philosophy called New Spiritualism, and people often takes one thing for the other.
Around the world lots of people claim do write or talk under influence of Jesus. We must judge bu the content. Spiritists are very skeptical, you know?
If you want to learn about Spiritism please go to The Book of Spirits, by Allan Kardec, is the basic of basic in Spiritism. Most of what you wrote is true. Spiritists nowadays are the closer to first Christians. I find funny that people who claim to be Christians «don't believe in "ghosts"». When Jesus, on Mount Tabor, talked to Moses and Elijah, he was talking to "ghosts", actually :)
Spiritists do more stuff than talk with spirits, as people often imagine.

My respect to you. I'm André, a spiritist from Portugal.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Nita said...

Good for people to know.

9:10 AM  

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