Friday, March 9, 2012

Therapy- its common reputation and why it's all bullshit

The first time I went to see a therapist, I was in 7th grade.  Like many middle schoolers, I was dealing with the social hardships of puberty and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with all of my newly developed hormones.  I thought I was depressed.  I liked to lie in bed all day and eat candy while listening to Harry Potter books on tape.  So it happened that my parents and I went looking for my first therapist.  It didn't really work out.  The woman I went to kind of scared me because she was old and I was too young to know how to effectively communicate with adults yet.  I don't really remember how long I saw her or if anything ever really got done.  I just know that the things I was preoccupied with were things like a boy being mean to me and people calling me a slut because I'd made out with my boyfriend (boy, did that reputation change- more on that another day).

This picture is unrelated to the post-- I just needed to add a picture...

During my junior year, I tried another therapist.  She was a bit better (less scary than the last one), although I still wasn't able to establish a strong rapport with her.  I don't really remember what I talked to her about-- angsty high school issues that were crushing the life out of me (more on that later as well).  But I do remember that when I came to her one day when I was in a particularly good mood, she told me (in so many words) that she thought we didn't need sessions anymore because, bottom line, I was too happy.  In retrospect, I think that was a bad move on her part.  Just because I'm in a good mood one day, doesn't mean that I'm cured.  Plus, even if I am cured, who cares?  I might still want to have a therapist.

Which brings me to the thesis of today's post: you do not need to be CLINICALLY DEPRESSED to see a THERAPIST!!!!

You just don't.  In fact, nothing needs to be wrong with you at all.  I feel like a lot of people hear that someone is going to a therapist and they automatically wonder, "what's wrong with her?"  It frustrates me how many people don't seem to understand the idea behind therapy that isn't to help a mental problem.  According to J, the woman I live with (who is a therapist herself), in LA, it's weird if you aren't seeing a therapist.  I realize that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I guess that LA is a little more in tune with therapy and the wide range of things it can do for someone.  But in much of my experience before LA, I've been hesitant to tell people that I see/have seen therapists because people will think I'm mentally unstable.


I guess maybe some people might use Dove chocolate and
its motivational phrases as a form of therapy...

Don't get me wrong.  I have tons of people in my life who I can talk to about things: my parents, my siblings, my close friend....but the thing is, there's something to be said for having someone outside your everyday life to talk to.  It's not like I can talk to my friend about a fight I had with her that's bothering me, and it's not like I can talk to my parents about a fight I had with them.  It's a major relief to just sit in a room somewhere on a comfy couch and chat with someone who is completely separated from all other aspects of your life.

During my second semester at Emerson, I started seeing another therapist.  This time I was actually having issues, but the thing is, they still weren't issues that meant I needed to be treated like a fragile china teacup.  There were just some things that I was having trouble with that I needed to work out.  I was able to talk to my mom about most of those issues, but the thing is, I always feel a little bit guilty talking to my mom or dad about things that serious, because I don't want to worry them too much (especially when I'm far from home).

The therapist I had at Emerson was fantastic.  Even if there was nothing particularly wrong on a day when we had a session, I still just liked to go and chat with her about my week.  It was just as helpful as if I were talking about the problems that led me to another bout of therapy in the first place.  A lot of the time, I would realize that the things that happened to me during a normal week actually might help me get to the bottom of why I was feeling so awful about life and such.  I can go into more detail about this in a later post if I'm ever in the mood, but basically, therapy was helpful even though I wasn't at risk of killing myself or anyone else or anything like that.

I wish more people would realize that going to therapy doesn't necessarily mean that someone's nuts.  It might.  But there's always a good chance that it doesn't.

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