My therapy journey
It was a February night in 2010 when I was at the kitchen table with my family and I broke down. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a panic attack which was replaced by deep despair by the end of the evening. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be last time I experienced these thoughts and emotions.
Blubbering through tears, I told my mom, “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t live like this.”
Her response? Simply, “You need to go to therapy.”
I was stunned, taken aback and honestly, I was offended. I didn’t need therapy — I was a good student, a good person and more importantly, I wasn’t crazy. In my mind, the only thing I needed was to graduate high school and then travel the world for a year.
But my parents, although avid world travelers, reminded me: “you can’t run away from problems. The only thing that will change is that you’ll have to get a bigger suitcase.”
Thus starting my journey into therapy. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that respected and understood the power and benefits of therapy. I’ve had three therapists so far, and here’s an inside look into my time with each.
My first therapist
Le sigh. My first therapist was awful. I was a sophomore in college, and I wasn’t ready to talk about my mental health. So, instead of doing research on therapists or going to my parents, I visited the a random therapist at the university health center. She opened the door and as I sat down on her couch, I realized her son was a popular football player on campus. I was immediately intimidated and embarrassed.
But I forged on. I tried to explain to her how depressed I’ve been and how it’d been hard to get out of bed and make my classes. Being a highly motivated student, I had never experienced this before. I told her that it was even hard muster energy to do simple things: showering, eating, seeing people. I had lost 20 pounds in four months without trying.
It was a dark time.
Instead of investigating the root cause of this depression, she handed me a booklet detailing important hygienic habits. It had sections like, “How to Shower Properly.”
I was mortified. I couldn’t believe that I had fallen so far that I had to be told how to shower. It was humiliating and one of the worst moments of my life.
I walked out of the health center, threw the booklet in the recycling and called my mom.
My second therapist
My mom had seen a therapist on and off for a couple of years. And after my first humiliating experience, I decided to find a therapist off of referrals. So, I went to my mom’s therapist. He was really different and interesting. He was a silver-haired, professor-type complete with glasses and elbow patches. This therapist was a religious ex-pat; a former fundamentalist Christian pastor who, in his late 30s, left his religious calling and started a new life path of being a therapist. I was content with seeing him, even if some things didn’t really click. After three years of visiting him, I called to make an appointment and was greeted with an outgoing message explaining that he had suddenly retired. And that bring me to my current therapy experience.
My third therapist
I tried going without therapy, but ultimately decided it was a good decision for me to go back. I went to Psychology Today, saw my current therapist’s picture and thought to myself, “She looks nice.”
That was two years ago, and I’ve had some of the best breakthroughs since. I’m in the best mental health space for the first time in over ten years. I’m coping and growing with the help of my therapist and making progress every visit.
Finding a therapist that understands me has been a mildly rocky process. There have been some dark moments. But, it was so worth it. I’ll never be fully cured of depression, but I like to think that I’ve made significant strides. Mostly thanks to my most current therapist.
If you’re trying to find a therapist, please know that the first one you see may not be a great fit. I encourage you to keep trying until something clicks. Psychology Today is a great resource. Click here to read "How to Find The Right Therapist for You."