by Donald Kern, MFT
(One of the most valuable concepts in the field of Psychotherapy is the wounded healer
concept-The therapist is in recovery from the illness he/she is now treating in others.
The following is an excerpt from a larger article in which I chronicle my own experience
with Bipolar Disorder.)
I have been there. I have seen the images of grandiose creations, ever evolving thoughts. I have believed myself to be the recipient of special knowledge deeded to me by God. I have woken up morning after morning, ever vigilant to the possibility of attack by inner forces of terror attempting to draw me into the turmoil of endless doubt. Those mornings, times of joyful resignation to the voice in my head which would have me believe I am Holy, leaves me gravely disappointed. After exhaustion from hours of dancing to the tune of Mania, I am engulfed in despair, the likes of which I’ve never experienced, much less believed possible. Exaltation followed by crassness. Then the belief that only suicide
is the avenue which will bring me home.
No sooner do I recover from that moment’s agony then I am caught up again in a reprise of my role as savior-therapist, God’s prophet-inventor. And such was my life for weeks at a time. Several years went by in this fashion, interspersed with periods of treatment, medication, boredom, self loathing, and at times, sanity. I might be bored and confused, but at least the sidewalk stayed beneath my feet. Now as I walked, I was mainly aware of my stiff joints and sore muscles, the price to be paid for the medication which kept me functional. There was, as well, the lack of a dream without which there is no future. I lived in a land of small promise and little hope. It would seem I had joined “ The Village of the Damned.” But even for this I was profoundly happy, though it did not seem so at the time. I was, at least, not crazy, able to maintain my equilibrium long enough to begin to heal. And so began a tale of Recovery.
Recovery follows after hopelessness has brought acceptance. “I have a problem, and it isn’t going to go away.”
The decision to recover, for that’s what it is, a decision, is made alone. The final struggle to accept or put more aptly, to not continue denial, is over. Only then does treatment begin, and with it, the inclusion of hope and help from others…Family, friends, and professionals. The worst fear has been confirmed. “I have a problem, and it isn’t going to go away.”