I loved the desk sign when I saw it. Buried among the comfortable chaos of items on the shelf at a popular discount store, it sat alone. I loved the simplicity, the font- but most of all I loved the message. This sign proclaimed the very truth that I seek to help my clients believe every day.
At my office (pre-COVID!), this sign sat on my office desk, facing outward, preaching its simple message to all who entered. . . you are capable. You are resilient. You can do hard things. You got this.
It's a bit pithy at first glance, yes. I can see how it could induce an eye-roll, a shake of the head. Particularly when individuals find themselves in need of my services, it can all too often feel that the opposite message is true. 'No', your brain may say.
'No, I don't have anything under control! I keep engaging in eating disorder behaviors'. Or, 'I feel discouraged'. 'My medication needs adjustment'. 'I'm just so anxious'. 'I hate my body'.
And all these things may be true.
But these things be as they may, I believe that your body, and brain, have an innate wisdom. I don't feel that my job as a psychiatrist is necessarily to teach new skills, even though they may feel new in the moment. Rather, it's to provide space, and a roadmap, for you to lean more and more into your very birthright.
You see--as a baby or a toddler, you likely didn't have shame. You didn't try to control your eating in destructive ways. You certainly didn't hate your cute squishy legs or have anxiety about your hair or face. You knew when you needed soothing, and you knew how to get that need met. You fell as you learned to walk, you cried for a minute, and then you got up to try again. And thankfully, a good number of you likely had not yet experienced major traumas.
Mental health professionals can help by seeking to understand your story deeply, and we can hold space with you to process all that followed those early years of innocence. We can help you learn to remove the barriers, built up over time, that prevent you from living your fullest life. We psychiatrists can even prescribe medication to best support optimal neurotransmitter functioning.
But. . . we aren't doing the work for you. You're doing it. You're practicing skills. Your behavior patterns are changing. You're taking medications, if prescribed. You're showing up for appointments. And at the end of the day-- every single person who ever improved with psychotherapy, no matter how skilled their therapist might be--that is a person who took charge of their own healing.
And we know it's rarely a smooth road. The path to freedom and healing is often a long one, and a bumpy one. And yet, I believe that you have what it takes to find the way through.
So when you see my desk sign, now you'll know- I really mean it. You're doing the work. I'm just the support. Really, truly- you got this.