A Stand-Up Comedy Routine Performed by Carl Blumenthal
Editor’s Note: Carl performed a different version of “My Therapist, My Self” at the July 19, 2018 New York City Peer Specialist Conference.
Carl: Welcome everyone. Welcome. It’s an honor and a privilege to perform at the NYC peer specialist conference. I call this skit “My Therapist, My Self” because my therapist, Nina, and I are as tight as…well, Michelle and Barack. But don’t take that the wrong way.
First a disclaimer: No mental health workers were harmed during the making of this comic routine. I really love my therapist and psychiatrist.
You’ll hear today a sample of what Nina and I talk about during our therapy sessions. Because Nina’s big on patient-centered care, she’s going to let me say a thing or two about my recovery. Right, Nina?
Nina: I can’t promise you anything. That’s because I’m a refugee from the Soviet Union, a socialist turned social worker. I left when the KGB wanted to lock me in a mental hospital for demonstrating against the regime. Now I’m afraid the CIA is following me.
Carl: Aren’t we all paranoid? Thankfully we live in a democracy with separation of church and state. That means we can choose between possession by the devil and surveillance by OMH. God bless America!
Nina: Here’s something else to celebrate: Due to the insanity of global warming, the National Weather Bureau is changing the names of hurricanes to brands of psychotropic medication. Now, we’ll have every drug from Adderall to Zoloft to thank for our destruction.
Carl: On a lighter note, have you heard this joke: If New York doesn’t drive you nuts your therapist will.
Nina: That’s right Carl. So, take a hike—if the subway’s late. Grow your own—if the food’s rotten. And pay the price—if Medicaid won’t. For God’s sake, take responsibility for your recovery.”
Carl: Talk about responsibility. Do you remember the day I found you in your office tearing up your abnormal psychology textbook?
Nina: Yes, I thought some smarty pants doctor had discovered a cure for mental illness. Thank God he was wrong. Just think how bad that would’ve been for business.
Carl: Even if you were ready to throw Freud out the window, there’s no denying the importance of childhood trauma? I remember one of my mother’s religious fits, when she tried to drown me in the bathtub—a test of whether I could walk on water like Jesus.
Nina: Forget your mother. You’ll learn a lot more from my books: How to Take the Mad out of Madness, Why Therapists Make Lousy Lovers, and Medical Marijuana is the Best Thing Since Thorazine
Carl: Self-help is great. But what about empowering peers with mental illness? When discussing my case with doctors you’re all about my poor insight, low competency skills, and lack of impulse control. Sounds like I need toilet training.
Nina; Don’t worry. I’m no fan of shrinks. They’re like tour guides showing you a foreign country where the language is impersonal and condescending. To them you’re just a broken machine that needs fixing.
Carl: As far as I’m concerned, my treatment team analyzes me as if they’re picking meat from my bones. If only they’d invite me to lunch, I’d bring my homemade barbecue sauce. The secret ingredients are lithium and Prozac.
Nina: At least I’m interested in your dreams. Not the ones about becoming a chef. The nightmares about losing your health insurance. Who will pay me for putting up with your craziness?
Carl: If you need money so badly, why did you become a social worker? I hear you wanted to be a doctor but flunked anatomy. I hope that doesn’t mean you think my mind is a compound fracture.
Nina: Are you worried I don’t take your bipolar disorder seriously? My job is to keep you from doing anything foolish. If you fly without a parachute and land in a garbage dump, I’ll kick your butt.
Carl: So, what’s your reaction to this dream? I’m in heaven. The American Psychiatric Association and the big drug companies sit in judgement next to God. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both demand admission. While the Donald claims he’ll make America great again, Vlad swears Russia already rules the world. God’s diagnosis: “You’re both deluded. Now take your Risperdal.”
Nina: Doctors think they’re gods and God thinks he’s a doctor. What’s a social worker to do?
Carl: How about joining the peer movement for better mental health? Admit it. Social workers are in denial about their own mental illness. Jump on the bandwagon before psychiatrists claim they’re sicker than you are.
Nina: Does that mean we get to counsel each other?
Carl: Of course. I’m sure you have a recipe for ribs you’re dying to share with me.