I’ve seen lots of therapists.
LOTS of them.
Most of them have sucked.
Which is why I’ve seen so many.
It’s an endless cycle.
You have a meltdown.
You need someone to talk to.
You find a therapist.
You spend two or three sessions explaining your situation and unloading all your shit onto this person.
You start to feel a little relief.
You get tired of talking.
You start dreading going.
You stop going altogether.
Nothing is really “fixed.”
But you don’t feel as bad as you did initially.
So you think you are all better.
Until a couple months or years later.
When you have the next meltdown.
You don’t want to go see the same person you saw before because he or she didn’t really help you.
Or you totally blew them off, never to be heard from again, and you are a little embarrassed.
So you find a new therapist.
You spend two or three sessions explaining your situation and unloading all your shit onto this person…
I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t seek help.
First, there is still that stigma.
What if someone sees me walking into the office?
They will know I am totally fucked up!
And then, it’s a lot of work.
Forget working through your shit with the person.
Just finding a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist is exhausting.
Finding a good one, anyway.
If you have habits or ways of thinking that are unhealthy, you need someone to help you change them.
You need some guidance.
You need someone who is compassionate and understanding but who also knows just when to say Enough already. You are an adult. It’s time for you to take responsibility for your shit and fix it. Here is how you can do that. You must do the work, but I will guide you along.
In my experience, most therapists exhibit that first part.
They will listen to you vent. Complain. Cry. Scream. Yell. Judge.
They will listen to you do just about anything as long as you write them a check.
But they don’t really force you to take a look at yourself. To make changes.
After you tell all your stories and finish crying about your childhood and your marriage, you are out of things to say.
You find yourself sitting across from this person, in awkward silence, trying to come up with something else traumatic to talk about.
In the short term, you felt relief.
But it pretty much stops there.
So you stop going.
About 5 years ago I ended up in the office of a woman who changed my life.
After a little stint in the nuthouse section of the local hospital, I was required to have an appointment with a therapist set up before I was allowed to leave.
I was given a list of three people to choose from. I randomly picked one, and that is how I ended up sitting on the couch across from her.
At first sight, she was a disaster.
And so was her office.
I’m pretty sure she had a hoarding issue.
Which might make you wonder about her competence as a therapist.
But I was there. I also needed to get drugs.
There are different kinds of therapists.
Someone who is a social worker, or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) will listen to you all day long.
But he or she cannot prescribe medication.
So if you see a LCSW but also need medication, then you also need to see a psychiatrist.
That’s how it usually works.
The psychiatrists don’t really help you anymore.
They sit back with their prescription pad,
ask you if you feel feel better or worse,
adjust the amount of medication depending on what you tell them,
ask you for $200,
give you a little white piece of paper to take to Rite Aid,
and send you on your way.
It’s just like having a baby.
The nurses do all the actual work.
You hardly ever see the doctor.
So anyway, this woman I saw was a nurse practitioner.
They are special.
They will talk to you and give you drugs.
I was killing two birds with one stone.
So I stuck with her.
Based on her outward appearance,
and she looked pretty much like this,
I did not have much faith.
I was pretty sure my new Magda lookalike therapist was a total joke.
My plan was to get my prescription,
pretend like I was enthusiastic,
and get the hell out of there.
Never go back.
But she somehow sucked me in.
She got me to really take a look at myself.
There is a kind of therapy called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
If you Google a therapist, most of them will say they specialize in this type of therapy.
CBT is supposed to teach you how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on your behavior.
You are basically rewiring your brain.
Which cannot be done by venting to someone for 45 minutes, once a week for three weeks.
It takes a lot of work.
But Magda was no joke.
She was understanding. And tough.
I did just what she said.
I actually looked forward to going to see her.
About 6 months into therapy, I had a dream.
I dreamt that Magda just up and left.
I still had a lot of work to do.
I was not ready to leave the nest, and I panicked.
What if that really happened?
I was not up for starting the therapist search all over again.
My dream had spooked me. I needed reassurance that Magda was always going to be there.
I told Magda about my dream. She assured me she wasn’t going anywhere.
We carried on. Until about a year later.
When about 18 months in, I got a text.
I need to cancel our appointment today.
I didn’t think much of it.
A week later, I got another text.
I don’t remember exactly what it said.
But it was something along the lines of I’m ending my practice. If you need someone to see, go see this guy. I’ve worked with him before. He’s great.
She was gone.
Dropped off the face of the planet.
No forwarding address.
I was crushed.
Wait! I’m not finished! I still have a long way to go! Don’t leave me!
Just like in the boyfriend department, I had always been the one to dump my therapist.
I had no idea how to handle being the dumpee.
You must REALLY be fucked up for your own therapist to break up with you.
Thankfully, I had worked hard enough over the past year and a half to handle things.
But it was a little bit devastating.
To this day, I have no idea what happened to Magda, although I’m pretty sure she had a breakdown of her own.
I’m not surprised.
She was a little bit of a mess.
But she was just right for me.
There will never be another Magda.
Even, with her frosty pink lipstick, fake tan, bleached blond hair, and stacks and stacks of paper.
But I think I still have a little bit of work left to do.
And there’s got to be someone else out there for me.
After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Time to get my pole and try to reel in a good one.
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