Key note: I backdated the post to match with the September Mental Health Monday
series, so it’s easy for those who are viewing at a later date.
This is a late post, and I’m sorry that it’s up late. PLS love me still!
This is the last post of 4, for our month of mental health. I figured that there’d be no better time than now to ask some questions with someone who professionally asks questions: my dad. My dad is a licensed psychologist, with a lot of experience under his belt. Instead of me introducing him, I’ll let him do the honors:
I’m Dr. Bixler, but you can call me whatever you want. Dr. Bixler, doc, Santa Claus… I’ve been called a lot of things I don’t particularly like.
Last Friday, I sent him a list of questions that I thought would be thought provoking, while simple enough, to where I could share with you all. Part of it, is destigmatizing the professionals, so that we can see how they see things, especially when it comes to their end of mental health.
You wouldn’t believe how many therapists and doctors go into their field, because of what they’ve been through. My dad is obviously no different. They look for answers, just as we do, when we go to them.
Sometimes, seeking the answers to these questions make more questions. It truly can turn into a rabbit hole of sorts. This is a little bit of me asking questions, to go down a little bit down the rabbit hole.
Knowing my dad, he likes to meditate on answers, and since I did give him a handful, and he did spit out some suggestions after asking me if it was okay to do so (which is cool), I checked back with him a couple days later, and that’s why this is actually going up late.
We started talking about sea life and life in general, when it comes to the mind, intuition, and diet – something we just talked about here in this series!
When I finally got some answers, this is what I got:
Note: Names have been substituted with an initial, for privacy reasons.
Question: What’s your mental health journey?
The earliest difficulties I recall started when mom had a mental breakdown and we left Japan. I was just turning 9. Dad stayed in Japan, mom was seeing a psychologist in California and staying with her parents, and I was sent to live with Aunt J and Uncle J in Dallas. Aunt J would constantly tell me how weak mom was and that I shouldn’t be such a cry baby. Mom and I’s relationship never recovered from that.
My boughts with major depression started a couple of years after that. I struggled with ADHD, but there was no such diagnosis at the time… I learned to go into trances and hyper-focus, I had to to be able to quietly sit through prayer meetings for and hour or two of people praying in a language I barely understood.
Bipolar 2 didn’t exist either. So I was told I had an aggitated depression. I learned to really harness the hypomania stuff in my doctoral program. It helped fuel my 100 hour weeks. It was the only way I got to work and do that level of schooling at the same time.
I realize now that what many folks think of me being “full of myself ” or “narcissistic” is more a combination of my bipolar 2 during hypomania phases and cycling between I can’t do anything right (depression) so why bother. .. to I’ve got the energy and racing genius IQ to get anything done…
The most obvious question ever: Why did you choose psychology as your profession?
In some ways the first question loads heavily into the second.
I was raised to “minister” to people. I joking (half) say “my mom raised me to be her therapist”. I started college as an archtectual engineering major, and took a 100 level class to fulfill my social science requirements in “the Psychology of Individual Differences” I was taking and struggling through calculus the same semester, I loved it psych course and felt defeated by the math for the first time in my life the safe logic of numbers failed me.
My early psych class opened a door for me… I quit college soon after that first class, went into working full time. After 4 years in retail, starting in Thousand Oaks and ending in Beverly Hills, I found I couldn’t advance without a college degree.
I stumbled back into church to make sense of my nightmares. .. decided I was running from God who wanted me to be a preacher… so I decided to head back to college. Quit Beverly Hills. .. and was preaching and planning on returning to Japan when I met your mom… I felt that I was on God’s path for me… and double majored in psych and theology.
I wanted to help people. I still find deep levels of worth and reward in doing so. I like working with folks no one else wants to. I guess for two reasons: one is the challenge of difficulty. Anyone can do therapy with bored LA house wives, but it takes someone special to work with “x” population. The flip side is I don’t feel worth working with the lucrative and more stable patients.
I wished I’d know more to help my own mental health issues earlier on, as well.
Next set of questions was what is the best & worst part of your job?
The best thing about the job? How much just “being there” for someone helps. It is so humbling to know that my presence and listening mean so much to someone else. That just listening can help them through a hard time. Decades of study mean less than just being there.
It helps my depressed side realize that I am good enough to make a difference. The schooling is just the icing on the cake. Small doses of “me” make a big difference. Larger chunks drive folks insane though lol.
The worst part is always seeing people in dark times. When they get better and live life more fully, they leave therapy.
The worst thing about the job is when someone I don’t expect to die does; one I’ve let myself really deeply care about.
That’s all the questions I got to, and any more sharing seems like a burden to this post. So I’ll share this offering from a professional.
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