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aro_elise

mental health professionals have big problems with aros

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i had a psychiatric assessment yesterday (recently had a bit of a mental health crisis, not important), so there was a social worker who did most of the talking, a psychiatrist whose purpose was supposedly just to prescribe me an appropriate medication, and a recent grad who was just observing.  anyway, at one point they asked my sexual orientation and whether i was in a relationship, so i told them, and they had a lot of questions and comments.  i had to explain aromanticism and how it's different from asexuality.  they asked whether i'd ever been in a relationship so i tried to sum up in a minute what a bad experience it was (just because i'm aro; he was great) and added that "i haven't been in a sexual relationship because then it would have to be sexual and romantic and i...can't do that.  but i also don't want to just like...ugh, it's complicated."  at this point the psychiatrist interjected by saying that a sexual and romantic relationship is an important part of life and basically implied that it would lessen my depression, when i'd just explained how the opposite was true.  i said "i would have to disagree.  i'm quite happy with my life the way it is."  he said "ok" but was clearly not satisfied.  i also found it interesting that despite my having expressed a mild interest in making more friends (but i couldn't be bothered), they did not agree that that would improve my life.  i wonder whether they would have made such a big deal about me being single if i weren't aro, like if i just didn't happen to be dating at the moment.  i told my dad afterwards and he was surprised and disappointed that they reacted like that; i was disappointed but not surprised.  i told him "everyone says that.  i'm used to it."  (most of the mental health professionals i've seen, i mean, but obviously people in general too.)  he said "that's like telling an asexual: 'go have some sex.'"  i informed him that people do suggest that, and reflected that "if i'd been asexual, he (the psychiatrist) would have had a wig-out."  i added that my aromanticism is "always my least favourite thing to bring up (to health care professionals).  they're like, 'so, are you in a relationship?' and i'm like, 'oh, here we go.'"  so yeah.  i'll be doing a few therapy sessions with the social worker; i hope she'll let me talk about my depression instead of my aromanticism. 🙃

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God, yeah, the mental health field is such a gamble. On a lot of things, this included. I avoided coming out to my last therapist (despite it being... directly relevant to sources of stress in my life) out of the conviction that I'd get a reaction like this or worse.

 

I wish you the best on your recovery -- and take everything that psychiatrist says on this subject with a grain of salt. Actually, more than a grain. More like an entire sack.

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I've had mental health counselors try to tell me I either secretly wanted a romantic relationship or that not being in one wasn't good for me (the latter mainly before I discovered the term 'aromantic'). I did really believe I wanted a romantic relationship in the past, and after I figured out my identity, I found that people including mental health counselors as well as my mom didn't seem to get the concept that maybe it was everything the media and my parents had taught me that had made me think I wanted a romantic relationship rather than my actual desires and they kept mistaking my friendships for something romantic just because I tend to make friends with women more than with other guys.

 

I also understand what you're saying about not having a sexual relationship because it can be hard to have a non-romantic one. I usually think I'm demi or gray-ace, but I sort of think that may just be the result of not being comfortable getting that close to someone who might see me in a romantic way and I'm also not interested in random hook-ups with people I don't know.

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Oof yeah....I haven't had any mental health professional who I've come out to, and stuff like this is part of why I'm wary and mistrusting of therapists because I wouldn't be able to talk about my issues without incorporating the fact I'm aro, but coming out to them seems...difficult.  

 

9 hours ago, aro_elise said:

i wonder whether they would have made such a big deal about me being single if i weren't aro, like if i just didn't happen to be dating at the moment.

I doubt they would have made a big deal out of someone just happening to be single.  If anything, there tends to be a healthy perspective that you need to take care of yourself before able to healthily enter a relationship.  But society is such that NOT wanting a romantic relationship at all is seen as a weird or bad thing so...yeah.  Tbh them saying a romantic relationship would improve your depression is....a really unhealthy attitude in and of itself? The narrative of finding a partner to fix you and make you happy is bad and could lead to over-dependence.  

 

I hope stuff goes well and you're able to actually talk about what you want to.  Also, if they expect you to educate them about aromanticism, during the time they're supposed to be helping you, remind them of what you're supposed to be talking about and tell them to do research on their own time (though possibly useful if you can recommend sources).

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i am always hesitant to come out, but the alternative feels kind of dishonest, like i could just say i'm straight and single at the moment, but then also what will they ask next, like when was i last in a relationship?  over 3 years ago?  hmm...  and like with my more long-term therapists i've felt like it's pretty important to share, if nothing else then so that if they are disrespectful or whatever, i can address it or find someone else.

 

10 hours ago, Magni said:

Tbh them saying a romantic relationship would improve your depression is....a really unhealthy attitude in and of itself? The narrative of finding a partner to fix you and make you happy is bad and could lead to over-dependence.  

i know, i'd think they should be more worried about people like that.

 

15 hours ago, DavidMS703 said:

I also understand what you're saying about not having a sexual relationship because it can be hard to have a non-romantic one. I usually think I'm demi or gray-ace, but I sort of think that may just be the result of not being comfortable getting that close to someone who might see me in a romantic way and I'm also not interested in random hook-ups with people I don't know.

yeah, i'm not ace-spec or opposed to hook-ups in the future but for now i want it to be someone i know better, but yeah if they were romantically attracted to me i'd be uncomfortable, ahhh idk.  i'm just playing it by ear, as in, like, doing nothing.

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Psychiatry suffers from major foundational problems, for example take axis II disorders, which include “abnormalities” how somebody lives and sees themselves as a part of society. That's obviously shot through with value-judgments. So I'm not surprised that mental health professionals have a problem accepting aromanticism.

 

Anyway, sorry for your experience.

4 hours ago, aro_elise said:

yeah, i'm not ace-spec or opposed to hook-ups in the future but for now i want it to be someone i know better, but yeah if they were romantically attracted to me i'd be uncomfortable, ahhh idk.  i'm just playing it by ear, as in, like, doing nothing. 

It feels pretty stressful to me without knowing somebody at least a bit.

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I've seen this a lot when it comes to the media, like when a movie is about being depressed, they only get "cured" because of a romantic partner and it sucks. I'm aro and have dysthimia so i feel awful because allos think we can get better only when we are in a relationship.

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10 minutes ago, AroVampire said:

I've seen this a lot when it comes to the media, like when a movie is about being depressed, they only get "cured" because of a romantic partner and it sucks.

Well, I'm not even claiming that a romantic relationship cannot “cure” someone's mental health problems. It's just certainly not true for everybody.

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8 minutes ago, DeltaV said:

Well, I'm not even claiming that a romantic relationship cannot “cure” someone's mental health problems. It's just certainly not true for everybody.

that's why I'm saying in the media, of course that a relationship can make some people get better, but I've never seen a movie/tv show about stopping being depressed without being in a relationship, I'm talking about how people still think that we need someone to "fix" us according to how it is shown on the media.

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5 hours ago, AroVampire said:

I've seen this a lot when it comes to the media, like when a movie is about being depressed, they only get "cured" because of a romantic partner and it sucks. I'm aro and have dysthimia so i feel awful because allos think we can get better only when we are in a relationship.

i have dysthymia too, i usually just say depression because it is a type of it and most people will understand better.  but yeah, that storyline...yikes.  it's also romanticized in the sense that, like, the mentally ill character (usually depressed or alcoholic, in the 1930s-60s movies i watch) is seen as mysterious and melancholy and intriguing--the other character sees it as a sort of challenge to uncover their secrets and fix them.  like no, you want intrigue?  read a mystery novel.  want a project?  clean your house.  i feel like it's similar to how aros are seen, like "oh, they're cold, probably afraid of falling in love, but i can get them to open up and trust me--" stop.  want a challenge?  run a marathon.  i am not something to be overcome by someone who wants me but not the way i am.  getting off-topic but i mean to say that it supposedly works both ways--the depressed/aro character gets "cured" and the other one gets entertainment and achievement.  and it leads to people thinking like that in real life.

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I used to make fun of a friend who moved to another state but would return to my city to see her health professionals of different sorts (she only went to places local to her if it was an emergency). After the experiences I have heard about and some stuff that happened to me when I didn't see my regulars I now know it is so much better to find someone good then cling on to them. 

I hope the sessions you have in the future are better than that one. or that overall you find a better situation. 💚

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On 4/13/2019 at 7:43 PM, aro_elise said:

i had a psychiatric assessment yesterday (recently had a bit of a mental health crisis, not important), so there was a social worker who did most of the talking, a psychiatrist whose purpose was supposedly just to prescribe me an appropriate medication, and a recent grad who was just observing.  anyway, at one point they asked my sexual orientation and whether i was in a relationship, so i told them, and they had a lot of questions and comments.  i had to explain aromanticism and how it's different from asexuality.

A pity you didn't ask them what relevance that questioning was or, even, ask them inappropriate personal questions.
You were doing a favour explaining aromanticism, especially free of charge.

 

On 4/13/2019 at 7:43 PM, aro_elise said:

 they asked whether i'd ever been in a relationship so i tried to sum up in a minute what a bad experience it was (just because i'm aro; he was great) and added that "i haven't been in a sexual relationship because then it would have to be sexual and romantic and i...can't do that.  but i also don't want to just like...ugh, it's complicated." 

Again unprofessional of them to be asking. Though it sounds like you gave a good explanation.
 

On 4/13/2019 at 7:43 PM, aro_elise said:

.at this point the psychiatrist interjected by saying that a sexual and romantic relationship is an important part of life and basically implied that it would lessen my depression, when i'd just explained how the opposite was true.  i said "i would have to disagree.  i'm quite happy with my life the way it is."  he said "ok" but was clearly not satisfied.

That's as inappropriate as suggesting that it would be good for a straight person to be in a gay relationship or a gay person to be in a straight relationship.
Have you considered making a complaint about him?
 

On 4/13/2019 at 7:43 PM, aro_elise said:

i also found it interesting that despite my having expressed a mild interest in making more friends (but i couldn't be bothered), they did not agree that that would improve my life.

That actually does sound like a symptom of depression.

 

On 4/13/2019 at 7:43 PM, aro_elise said:

i wonder whether they would have made such a big deal about me being single if i weren't aro, like if i just didn't happen to be dating at the moment. 

TBH a single alloromantic who wasn't desperate to be in a relationship might well get the same attitude. Belief in amantonormativity being pseudo-religious.
See this article.

 

On 4/14/2019 at 12:10 AM, DavidMS703 said:

I've had mental health counselors try to tell me I either secretly wanted a romantic relationship or that not being in one wasn't good for me (the latter mainly before I discovered the term 'aromantic'). I did really believe I wanted a romantic relationship in the past, and after I figured out my identity, I found that people including mental health counselors as well as my mom didn't seem to get the concept that maybe it was everything the media and my parents had taught me that had made me think I wanted a romantic relationship rather than my actual desires and they kept mistaking my friendships for something romantic just because I tend to make friends with women more than with other guys.

It's unlikely they would get it. Since they very much part of the problem here.

 

On 4/14/2019 at 3:27 PM, aro_elise said:

yeah, i'm not ace-spec or opposed to hook-ups in the future but for now i want it to be someone i know better, but yeah if they were romantically attracted to me i'd be uncomfortable, ahhh idk.  i'm just playing it by ear, as in, like, doing nothing.

I think wanting, but being unable to find, meaningful non-romantic sexual relationships can be a problem for many allo aros.

Especially those of us who are romance repulsed and unable to tolerate being in a romantic relationship.

 

 

 

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That sucks! This is a concern of mine because I'm starting grad school to become a mental health counselor. I want to be able to provide quality care to a-spec people especially aro-spec people. I'm really lucky that my current therapist trusted me when I told her I'm grayro. She was respectful, accepted it, asked me to elaborate because she's never treated someone who identified thus before, and ran with it. I know my old therapist would have insisted I just needed to find the "right person" to correct me of it.

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On 4/15/2019 at 3:03 AM, aro_elise said:

i have dysthymia too, i usually just say depression because it is a type of it and most people will understand better.  but yeah, that storyline...yikes.  it's also romanticized in the sense that, like, the mentally ill character (usually depressed or alcoholic, in the 1930s-60s movies i watch) is seen as mysterious and melancholy and intriguing--the other character sees it as a sort of challenge to uncover their secrets and fix them.

To be fair, the ‘intrigue‘ and ‘uncover secrets’ thing simply follows from psychoanalytic theory…

Most extremely shown in Spellbound by Hitchcock, though that's not about depression. I was some kind of Salvador Dalí fan as a teen, and I watched this movie just because of him.

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@DeltaV i love hitchcock movies, i've seen like 20!  my favourite is dial m for murder.  

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