Well, I’m not usually one to shit on others’ work, but here I am doing it anyway.
The other day, I read a post on another ankylosing spondylitis blog, and I was straight up appalled. I just started following this blog, and this was the first post I read, and it made a pretty negative impression. Here are her own words. All bolding is my own, all grammar mistakes are her own:
“When I started doing therapy in the homes I would listen as any good therapist does and then get on with my treatment sessions. I didn’t talk about my health or my problems until one day I was seeing a woman who had a myriad of problems but none that were life threatening or debilitating. She was very negative and continually told me I couldn’t help her. I begun to get so frustrated wondering “Why am I even here?” I sat down on the floor and looked at her, letting all the pain I felt internally show upon my face, because up until this time she had never seen me grimace let alone hear me cry out in pain.
She asked me what was wrong so I told her my story.”
First of all, this therapist just pulled some Great-Aunt-Bessie-style passive-aggressive shit on this patient by sighing and looking sad to elicit an “ohmygodwhat’swrong” reaction so that she could tell her story. The scene I’m picturing is also just incredibly pathetic.
“I told her about the last two years and how my life had come to an abrupt halt. How I lived in constant pain, couldn’t walk, sit, lay without yelling, screaming or crying. She never said a word, but listened intently. When I was finished I looked at her with tears in my eyes and told her that ‘I wish I had just one of her problems for if I did and not any of mine I would be jumping for joy every time I woke up.’ After a few minutes I looked at her again and she said “I’m glad my health isn’t as bad as yours!'”
And that was where she elicited a “What. The. Fuck.” response from me. I’m no therapist, but I fo sho know people don’t pay them a ton of money for the great honor of listening to the therapist’s problems. The dangerous thing here is that she effectively trivializes her patient’s problems by saying they’re not nearly as bad as her own.
I’m sure she was trying to put this patient’s problems in perspective, but that’s not the way to do it. It’s unprofessional, unkind, unproductive, and I would have asked for my damn money back.
Let’s look at the next patient, shall we?
“Last week I got a new patient with a head injury and luckily for her it is not as severe as it could have been. Again we went through the poor me and pity me stage until I hit my frustration point… ‘At least you have a recognizable disability’ ‘People don’t just think all your injuries are in your head!’ ‘How would you like to have an invisible disease where everyone thinks your just crazy and making things up?’ Yep that did get her attention. ‘What do you mean invisible?'”
Another passive-aggressive comment that makes me cringe. Again, not a therapist here, but I’ve learned from my meager life experience that being passive-aggressive never leads to a healthy solution. I also have some (many) problems with the term “invisible disease,” so look for that in an upcoming post.
I totes cringe-giggled when she basically said, “At least no one thinks your head injury is all in your head.”
“Again I told my story and the look on her face was priceless.”
Ok. Here’s where my interjections get more frequent. Priceless? PRICELESS? I’m glad she’s using her story of pain and anguish to shock a patient into replaying a MasterCard commercial.
“I honestly told her that I would rather have her head injury because if I did something people didn’t like I could say ‘Sorry I have a head injury!’ but when I don’t get up and clean the house or go to town to get groceries it doesn’t go over to well when I say ‘Sorry my back/legs hurt!’ People see your pain as real but my pain is just in my mind.”
Holy balls. This “therapist” is killing me. What kind of educated person says they’d rather have a head injury? I’d choose ankylosing spondylitis ANY day over a head injury that would increase my risk for seizure, stroke, mental trauma, partial amnesia, Alzheimers, blod clots, nerve damage, paralysis, or anything else on this god-forsakenly long Mayo Clinic page.
Also a statement like, “Sorry I have a head injury!” opens you up to a hell of a lot more schoolyard jokes than, “Sorry my back/legs hurt!” In my family, I’d die before admitting I had a brain injury. I have uncles and cousins who would latch onto that and NEVER let go.
Her logic is faultier than that balsa wood racecar I made in shop in junior high. Since when does it “Not go over to [sic] well when I say ‘Sorry my back/legs hurt!'” I’ve asked male strangers at Target if they could reach top-shelf tampons for me because my shoulder hurts, and they’re like, “Yeah, no problem, Mate.” Not ONCE has anyone said, “Prove it, ya big old faker. It doesn’t LOOK like your arm’s severed mostly off the rest of your body, which is the only way I’d ever in a million years believe you were hurting.”
This “therapist” is projecting her insecurities about her own illness onto her patient who she’s supposed to be helping with HER insecurities regarding her injury. I’m really hoping this is pro bono work. At the end, she says that both patients are now happy and healthy, but I suspect they were faking it like hell as they backed out of her office and into a better therapist’s care.
She’s dismissing the gravity of both of these patients’ REAL problems by relating them to her own, which are different but no more severe.
As AS patients, it’s easy to get pulled into the pity party. I spent a couple of years there, and even now every once in a while, I belly up to the pity bar and order myself up a couple fingers of strong woe-is-me.
But as human beings we need to remember that we’re not the only ones suffering. When someone is complaining of their cold symptoms as you struggle to walk, it’s hard to remember your empathy. You want to shake them, but they honestly feel like crap just as much as you feel like crap.
Never negate anyone else’s problems. You can step away and refuse to get involved if you don’t like it, but you’re only doing damage if you act like this my-shit-stinks-worse-than-your-shit “therapist.”