Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crazy(ish) no more...

An eavesdropping fly on the wall one week ago might have heard the following snippet of conversation:
Me: I've been thinking that I don't need to see you as often anymore.
Therapist: I think you're right.
Well bring on the propeller hat, rainbow wig and bright orange rain poncho (which I assume is standard attire for such an occasion) because I've officially graduated from crazy school!  
Well, that's how it feels anyway.  
I've spent my Thursday lunch hours discussing the finer points of my emotional well-being with a therapeutic professional in a year-and-a-half long quest to find out just what the hell is wrong with me.  And to my great surprise, I think we did just that.
It was a personal crisis of epic proportions that led me to her in the first place. I walked into her office full of plush furniture, eclectic decor and shelves stuffed with self-help literature without knowing what to expect.  All I knew is that I felt broken, like there weren’t enough king's horses and king's men on earth to put me back together.  A lifetime of cartoon images of bespectacled, clipboard toting men asking patients lying in prone positions about their mothers didn't prepare me for the soft spoken, scarf wearing, easy smiling, kind eyed yet sharp tongued woman who introduced herself as Cynthia when she invited me to sit down anywhere on her cushy furniture and tell her all about it.  
There was no in-depth analysis of my dreams or dramatic recounting of childhood traumas.  There were no shock treatments or repressed memory discoveries, or creepy attempts to reenact my birth experience.  Instead there was conversation.  There was advice.  There were sometimes tears, but also a lot more laughter than I'd expected.  There was talk of the fat, but there was more talk about all the other things I am.  And--to the great delight of my inner nerd--there were worksheets, handouts, diagrams, and homework.  And, most importantly, there was progress.
Therapy gets a bad rap sometimes, I think.  The red-blooded American pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality that runs deep in our collective veins can sometimes mistake reaching out for mental health support as evidence of a weakness of character, a convention of a modern age that relies on science and medicine to cure what a good kick in the ass should be able to knock out of us. After all, people have survived for thousands of years without therapy and antidepressants, why do we need them now all of a sudden?  That argument is short sighted at best.  People lived without antibiotics for thousands of years to...and they died of ear infections and strep throat.  If I had cancer, I'd get chemotherapy.  I had a case of the crazies, so I went to therapy, and I'm so glad I did.  The hardest work may be over, but I'm not done yet.  
I am the same woman who walked into that office for the first time, but I am not the same person I was that day.  That girl was so lost in her fear and despair that it makes me ache to remember her.   But the woman writing this?  Her I like.  She’s strong.  She’s resilient.  She knows where she's going, and she’s tough enough to keep working to get there

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! I think we'd be friends in real life if we knew each other. And I LOVE your description of therapy and its benefits. I, too, am a big believer in getting help for what ails me - whether its a mind thing or a body thing. I've had great experiences with therapy: years ago when I came out as a lesbian, and now helping me tune-up my partnership of 11 years.

    Cheers to you and your strength, resiliency, and beauty.