Halting Cookie-Cutter Treatment

The second to last value I promote as the author of my books is this:

Firing a doctor or other professional who practices “cookie cutter” or “one-size-fits-all” treatment might be necessary.

You’ve read in my last blog entry how I did this to save myself from ongoing sub-par treatment.

I’m not the only one who holds out a higher standard for the professionals that treat me. Other local NAMI members have also championed not settling for less than the best outcome for your own recovery or a loved one’s recovery.

If the status quo is working, fine. Yet it’s my belief that if you’re not moving forward, you’ll remain stuck. The number-one predictor of my success was that I always set goals I wanted to achieve. I was goal-directed from early on in my recovery.

I championed to the mental health staff my goal of finding a full-time job in 1990 when no one else with schizophrenia was employed or dared try to obtain a job. Meeting with resistance at the day program I soldiered on and was successful.

“Treatment” is not just mental healthcare. It’s the other facets of your recovery that work together with medication and therapy: treatment can be a job, a loving relationship, a volunteer job, or whatever else gives you self-esteem.

And when this “treatment” is cookie-cutter or paint-by-number or one-size-fits-all or narrowly defined, this could cause you to remain stuck. I worked in the gray flannel insurance field for seven years. I’ve written about this failed career over and over more times than I care to admit.

My recovery took off when I was 35 and started to work as a librarian.

I would like to hunt down the staff in the community mental health system that didn’t think I could do anything except be a secretary or an elementary school teacher or more likely not much of anything because I was a free spirit who marched toa  different drum.

I wrote in the Left of the Dial blog here that I value everyone: you don’t have to have an Ivy-league pedigree for me to be impressed with you. All hail the creative types who do our own thing!

In 1987, I was presented with only one option: to attend a second day program instead of setting the goal to find a job. Inmy memoir and to a counselor there, I likened this milieu to a “playpen.” Most of the members of the day program had been there for years and years.

A young person with schizophrenia or bipolar or another mental illness who has so much potential should have choices for treatment options that they research and analyze to choose the best one from.

Listen: I value living my life left of the dial–with my thoughts and feelings in balance on the VU meter.

I’ll take emotional freedom and mental clarity over having a high-pressure job where I continue to have major ongoing episodes.

Today recovery is not only possible it’s probable for most people.

I dare to dream of a day when everyone is able to recover because they get the right treatment right away.

I dream of a day when being shunted into a day program isn’t the automatic option.

A day when each of us can find our groove job and be happy and content living in tune with ourselves.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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