Therapy. It’s really such a crap shoot.
I have unpacked my psychological bags for 7 different health care professionals in the past 18 months, in order to gain assistance in sorting out my difficulties in living in this body, in this life. The difficulty in condensing the concerns of a lifetime into an hour long appointment is obvious. It takes several appointments just to get the information shared, and start working on solutions.
My first counselor was an icy clone of my mother. I spent most of the time trying to get her to warm to me, as therapy in a frozen vortex is difficult.
The next was a comical physical representation of one of my abusers. He was like a caricature. I didn’t notice the resemblance until I was in my next therapists office.
My psychiatrist met me in 15 minute blocks, via skype. This was the sum total of the help I received in Ontario.
It was a ridiculous situation, but I managed to find
something from each of them that helped me move forward. It never occurred to me that therapy is only as good as the therapist leading the parade. I didn’t think about what would happen if the therapist was a harried new mother, and only vaguely connected to her job. Perhaps it’s difficult seeing so many people who feel helpless. Maybe you stop thinking you can help any of them.
In BC, the wait time was short, and the candidates impressive. My first counselor here was an unemotional Asian man, who listened without expression, and mirrored back my feelings to me. Our time together was brief, 2 sessions, as he was being replaced by someone new.
My last therapist was the best so far. He was engaging, reflective and probably too good looking. I had to take my glasses off so I couldn’t see how attractive he was when I was talking to him. As it turns out, our two sessions will be all we have, since he is not returning either.
When he went to make another appointment, and he told me that he wouldn’t be returning, I decided to give up on the process of having a professional help me navigate my own mental wilderness. I’m so tired of sharing the warts and moles of my life, only to be shuffled off to someone new. It takes so long to build trust and empathy with someone, and there is never any guarantee that the employee will be able, willing or interested in helping the client make a lifelong change. It’s so frustrating to know that another person holds the keys to wellness, but I cannot maintain contact long enough to have a successful exchange.
In the end, I guess I will take what I can from these sessions.
From the frosty lady I learned about radical acceptance. I have adopted the idea that all of my life has contributed to the person I am now. I love that person, despite her flaws, and she deserves to be encouraged to move forward.
From the doddering old man I learned that it’s okay to stop caring for people who don’t care for me.
From the skype psychiatrist I realized that therapy needs time, and a personal connection. Good work can happen, but everyone needs to be very goal-oriented, with the ability to prioritize mental health needs. I learned how to advocate for myself to take medication, and what kind.
From the expressionless Asian I learned that being heard is so valuable. Just having a place to talk about things, and a therapist who doesn’t judge is wonderful. I liked how rational and emotionless he was about his job. Unfortunately for me, emotion is one of my greatest challenges, so we were not the best match in a therapy situation.
From the last, and best version of therapy I have experienced, I felt understood. I realize that there are others with problems that they are NOT handling well. Since I am stable, and coping well with my difficulties, I no longer have a need to be supported I suppose.
I am a person with a rich inner world, who is lonely and experiencing the first real isolation I have consciously known. I am living in a beautiful, isolated mountain town.
I have the most amazing husband, great kids, and a beautiful, inviting new locale to call home. I see so much potential here for healing and becoming the person I am supposed to be. I am impatient for my new life to begin.
I wanted to write this to remember my frustration with therapy, and how every time I start the process I have high hopes for what it will bring to my life. The reality is, no one can possibly understand what it’s like to be another person. One cannot begin to imagine the compound interest of the experiences that shape another human being, without investing a great deal of time and energy into such a relationship. It is difficult to enter into a one-sided conversation about healing when the person who is scheduled to be the guide has never personally navigated the waters they find themselves in.
I find therapy to be unsatisfying exercise in you vs me, where YOU get to know all of my mistakes and problems, and I don’t know any of yours. You tell me how to solve the problems you have never had. Learning about mental illness is not the same as living with it, and it’s very unsatisfying to be bounced from service to service by smiling service providers who don’t have the slightest idea how to reach and help a drowning person.