I feel so Seinfeld, so Mad About You, so oh I don’t know, Diane Keaton movie about living in New York City and having a mysterious and very interesting life, right now.
Remember when going to therapy meant you were rich? Or lived in the big city? Or were a nut job?
It doesn’t anymore.
It still means you have some money because therapy equals privilege in our country. A gift to those who have health insurance.
I’ve only gone to therapy twice before in my life.
Once when I was in my mid-twenties and married to my ex-husband. I was told by someone that I had anger issues. So I went to therapy and I was told by the therapist that he didn’t think I was the one with anger issues. That maybe it was those who surrounded me.
The second time I went to therapy, I was sitting across from my soon to be ex-husband at the end of our marriage. He was finally ready to work on it, I was checked out. It was sad and not at all the helpful kind of therapy.
Over the past couple of years, my menopause symptoms have sent me to ugly places. My anxiety, which I have always had, has been beating the shit out of me as I maneuver this new-to-me territory. It was after a panic attack sent me to the emergency room when I realized I should get some help.
Fast forward a year and a half later.
For years, our other insurance company said they wouldn’t pay a copay. They said that we had to pay out of pocket thousands of dollars until we reached a certain amount, and only then would they pay a percentage.
So therapy wasn’t a priority. Because I like feeding my family more than sitting in a room talking to a complete stranger about the garbage in my brain.
I never felt like I was “normal” although does anyone really ever feel normal?
It was that panic attack that put me into an ER over the holidays that finally opened my eyes. On the discharge paper in front of me were the words I had always been searching for: Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Heh, look. It has a name.
This past April, my anxiety was getting bad. Mike saw me struggling to cope more than usual, so he called our health insurance provider. It turns out that we only needed to pay a copay with our new insurance company.
I began looking up therapists in my area.
But as what is “normal” with my anxiety, I put it off.
I would add it to Monday on my calendar’s to-do list, but then push it to Wednesday,
Then the following Monday again.
I sometimes get overwhelmed with my anxiety.
So things like researching what type of therapist I should see and have 350 articles pop up in Google search, was the worst thing possible in my head.
What kind of therapist do I need? Do I need a psychologist? What about a psychiatrist? Are there different types of therapists?
I landed on a therapist group near me that looked friendly and inviting. Because that is what is most important to me.
Got your degree online through a correspondence course? SURE! Just be nice to me, okay?
I’ve been in therapy for six weeks now and I really like it. I like how I feel when I leave there. It’s like a weight has been lifted off of my weary shoulders. A weight I had no idea was even there.
I can sit in her office and cry about something small, or something really big. I can talk about something inconsequential and as things pour out of my mouth, other things start to make sense. I can hear her words and all of a sudden it’s like a lightbulb has been turned on for the first time in my life.
I don’t feel guilty for things I used to and I’m learning strategies to help me navigate situations that used to tear me up inside. I am learning that I will have anxiety every single day of my life, so instead of hiding it or being ashamed of it, I can now own it.
I’ve been given tools to help me work through situations, big or small so that I can function on a much healthier level than before.
I liken finding myself in therapy to working a puzzle.
For my most of my life, those around me have been working on one big confusing puzzle.
I sit at the table with everyone and try to work on the puzzle but none of the pieces fit.
I can never find the right puzzle piece.
I ask for help but no one can help me find the right piece, all the while everyone around me is able to get their pieces in place.
They are having fun, talking to each other, laughing while adding their pieces to the puzzle. I am staring at all of the people wondering why they are so happy, how can they do this? Why can’t I do something as simple as putting a puzzle together if everyone else is able to?
But now that I am in therapy, I am slowly putting puzzle pieces together.
It’s still hard, I don’t always find the laughter enjoyable, and at times, I still excuse myself from the puzzle table, but I am finally okay with not having the pieces.
I realize that I wasn’t built to play puzzles. Maybe I am better at board games? And maybe I can start a puzzle of my own.
For the first time in my life, I feel less afraid of everything, less intensely upset about situations I cannot possibly control, and more confident than I have ever felt.
Therapy is a gift I wish everyone could experience.
Because everyone deserves to feel good.