Outside of a couple of emergency counseling sessions in college, I’d previously tried finding a permanent therapist twice. The first time I attempted therapy was when I was 18. I had my first ‘real’ job with fancy, new insurance and I’d been depressed since I was 9 years old – so I assumed the natural course of action would be to go to therapy like other well-adjusted adults. Well, at the end of the first session she basically told me she wasn’t sure why I was there or how she could help me. Needless to say I didn’t make another appointment.
Two years ago to the exact month, I felt my depression hitting hard and knew it was time to try it again. Unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of my personal brand of depression is a severe lack of motivation. Have you ever had one of those chores or errands you have to do that you simply keep pushing off for hours, days, or sometimes even weeks? Well, it took me exactly one year to research therapists in my area, make phone calls, and finally book an appointment. I wish I was making this up, but I honestly have tasks that I was supposed to tend to more than two years ago.
And for some extra fun, my brain won’t let me forget about them either.
Though it took me a year to find him, I felt confident that I was doing the right thing by finally meeting with my second therapist. Sadly, that hopefulness lasted approximately one hour because I never saw him again after the first session. He vanished on me, and it was a kick while I was down. Once again I sorted through my own issues all by myself, but I knew I could only do it for so long before something had to give. Another entire year went by until I finally broke again last month.
I’d been struggling for several weeks with motivation and will, and dealing with bouts of crying. My sister called one day while my husband was traveling for work, and something she mentioned burst the flood gates. I broke down and confessed everything I’d been feeling, apparently so much so that she calmly informed me that she would be calling my primary care physician to see me immediately that day. It took several more weeks, but after receiving incredibly shitty care from my doctor, I finally mustered the strength to contact a new therapist.
I know what I need, so it takes me some time to sort through providers to find exactly who I’m looking for. I found a guy who matches most of my criteria and knew it was meant to be when he provided a contact email address in addition to a phone number (people with mental health issues need options, plus it’s 2017!). His responses were prompt, he got me an appointment within the same week I emailed him, and he seemed pretty nice.
I went to my first session last Friday, and it was a mixed bag to tell you the truth. He was late for our appointment and the whole thing started off pretty chaotically. He walked in wearing a backpack, corduroy pants, and a thermal shirt, so my first impression of him is that he’s sort of a hipster. His office echoed that sentiment when I entered and noticed the art and sculptures, coloring books, sand zen gardens, and tapestries.
Being our first meeting, he went over some basic guidelines and information about patients’ rights and how he handles situations. I felt it was a good sign that every point he discussed mimicked my integrity, and not one thing sounded unreasonable. We spent the rest of the session talking about my life, what I’m looking to get out of therapy, and what a few of my most outstanding issues are. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I spend a lot of time thinking and analyzing, so I already have a pretty solid grip on what’s wrong and where I need direction.
He seems nice enough, and he certainly listens. We did randomly talk about alcohol use which was followed up with asking me if I’ve tried marijuana – something I didn’t want my therapists to know about right away. I’ve had the same symptoms of depression since I was 9 years old and don’t want a therapist painting me with a ‘stoner’ brush and attributing my symptoms to that. But I decided to be honest and say yes, he asked how it makes me feel, I answered, and he moved right on to something else – I take that as a good and non-judgmental sign.
He’s relatively young, so I feel more of a ‘friend’ vibe with him as opposed to a professional one – and I’m unsure if that’s a good or bad thing at this time. I’m comfortable opening up to him, but I generally am with most people anyway. I half-jokingly told him he doesn’t have to feel obligated to take me on, and he did reassure me that there’s nothing he sees that he doesn’t want to work with.
So at least I haven’t terrified him. Yet.
I feel pretty good about this one. I’m seeing him again soon, so I’m hoping to have a better idea about him. In the meantime, I can breathe a little easier now that I got myself the help that I need, and I did it on my own.
Here’s to new beginnings.