therapy

I have a lot of thoughts on therapy and seeing a therapist. I saw my first therapist when I was something like 12 years old. I used to complain to my parents a lot about headaches. I got headaches most nights before bed. I think headaches were really code for anxiety. I think in hindsight I had a lot of anxiety. I had a lot of nervousness around not being with my parents. I was nervous if they were going to come pick me up from camp on time. I remember that vividly. I had nervousness as to if I could fall asleep at night. And then I had a few traumatic incidents. Like an accident. That, I think after enough time, got my parents to send me to a therapist. I saw the first therapist for several years. And then I saw another therapist a few years later. I mean, honestly, in the moment I never bought into it. I never enjoyed it. And even looking back I would not credit them with much at all. But perhaps I am short-sighted. Or not short-sighted but not looking at the details right. It’s funny how you are taught growing up that memory is this thing you can and should trust. I think we may look back at that as an artifact of constraints and excuses. Like in the future if everything we do and think and see is recorded…well we will not leave luck to chance. We will not leave our memory to chance. And then, when we live in an abundance of memory, only then will we admit what has been true all along—that our memory is fallible. And that our memory bends and is shaped by our opinions and experiences and biases. And so when I think about my experience with therapy, I tend to think bad things. Was it so bad? I’m not sure. But allow my story to continue. Because memories are what I have. So in high school I did some therapy. But then upon graduating I stopped. Maybe I should also clarify that when I talk about therapy, I am really using an umbrella term to refer to any acts where I am intentionally looking to get “mental” help of sorts. I think the term is confusing. Does it only mean talk therapy. That is probably what you, the reader, are thinking about. That was my definition too. Until, well, until I started getting more desperate. And trying other things. I tried nearly all the things. All the things I could find. Besides medicine. Didn’t try that. I saw therapists to do CBT. Cognitive based therapy – they like the acronyms like CBT. I also tried other acronyms like DBT and also did biofeedback and also did talk to coaches who are technically not therapists and also talked to executive coaches and also talked to friends and also talked to psychiatrists.

I mean my list is long. At least long for me. I think I jumped around a bit but what I mean by getting desperate is just I wanted help. I wanted Professional help. I wanted someone to help me get a grip on my head. But perhaps that was where I went wrong. I expected to be able to find someone. I spent a lot of time and a lot of money. Like material amounts for me. To find someone to outsource my problems to. But that was where I went wrong perhaps.

I thought I could just outsource my problems to another human. And they would leave my brain and go to someone else’s and I’d be good. But no. I have not found anything to work quite like that.

In fact my experience has been a series of getting frustrated when others have effectively failed to help me. I feel like the advice I have received over the years is just bad. And I feel like the quality of care has been plain bad as well. Constantly letting me down.

I could rant on and on. And share more details. In patient. Out patient. All the types again I have seen.

But as you can hear in the tone of my voice. I got jaded. Tired of being tired. Tired of people firing me. The problem was me. Clearly the problem was me. Not them. I mean I was just a hard person to work with.

I was done being sorry for myself, though. You can really live your whole life as the victim. And make up all these stories that pseudo comfort you. Or you can start winning on your own terms.

So I stopped seeing a therapist over the past 6 months. I am feeling a lot better.

But now. Well now. Now I started seeing a therapist again. I mean I am going to go see one on Thursday. For the first time in 6 months. A new one. This time in person. This time way less expensive than before. This time there’s no urgent pressure. Like before I was desperate. I needed help.

Now, well now I don’t need them. They are not going to save me. This is not an emergency room.

But I am more hopeful. Because my expectations are low. My expectations are far lower than before.

I think expectations play a powerful role in dictating outcomes. And so I’m trying to think more about expectations before I dive into things. Before committing to things. I try to think about what it is I am getting myself into.

If I could write a guide to working with therapists, I’d basically write one thing: lower your expectations. I think that trumps all other tactical bits of advice I would have had for my prior self.

If I were to write advice for basically all of life – it’s also that. Lower expectations of others.

UNLESS, well unless you are building something great.

If you are working towards something great, well, then, you will fight to maintain extremely high expectations.

But for everything else, accept that they are children. Accept that they are bad at their jobs. Accept you could do it better.

Accept it for many reasons. One, though, one you cannot disagree with – is well that you have no other choice.

So you can spin your wheels. You can outsmart the world. So you think. But you will be left. Alone. Until you accept that these people – these people suck. And they are not going to change. They will continue to suck.

So go build that great thing – and in that world – demand greatness and do not settle. For yourself or others.

But for everything else – accept the bullshit. Accept the impreciseness. Just as you do with these essays. The world is idiocracy. So are therapists. Why would they be an exception?

Also, writing is your therapy. And running. And reading.

That’s all you need, you know.


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