This is a series of blog posts that I’m going to be making about… well… therapy. I had my first therapy appointment this past Wednesday and wanted to sort of detail my experiences and journey with it. These posts are going to be very free form and stream-of-consciousness in style, so don’t expect a lot of structure or editing. To be completely honest, this is just me openly processing the therapy session. Keep reading past the break if you’re interested.
Prior to Wednesday, I had previously only had one experience with the concept of therapy, and that was when I was in my first experience with in-patient care (grippy sock vacation) following a suicide attempt in… like 2008ish? 2009? Time is a blur through a lot of my past, to be honest, so it’s hard to pinpoint dates without actually digging up records. But this was at a nicer facility, and during my 2 or 3 week stay there, I had two therapy appointments. It was not the same therapist for the two appointments, and I honestly didn’t get much out of them. When I left that place, they tried to get me to commit to a recurring group therapy thing afterward, but I just had no interest in doing that. Talking about my time in mental health institutions is something I’ve been wanting to do, but it’s hard to find the right opportunity or audience. Maybe another day I’ll just commit to a few blog posts? It’s the sort of thing I’ve been wanting to dive into in a podcast type environment, because I feel like it’s the sort of thing that I really need to put voice to, not just words.
Anyway. Back on topic. I finally broke down and committed to spending way too much money on my mental health. I ended up picking a tele-therapy option that had been recommended to me several times. I’m not here to advertise for the company, so I’m not gonna name drop it, but you can always hit my DMs if you’re curious. But as part of the sign-up process, I mentioned that I’d like to talk about my LGBTQIA+ identity, and I ended up being matched with a gay therapist, which I’m very happy with.
The first session went well, I suppose. It was tiring. That’s something no one tells you about therapy is how exhausting it is. It’s hard to sit down on a one-hour speedrun of your trauma with someone who’s an otherwise complete stranger. And there’s a lot of questions I got asked that I just… don’t have good answers to. Or at least, I don’t have answers that I’m comfortable saying out loud. “What’s something you’d like to be able to say about yourself?” Look, dude, I don’t fucking know. All I know is eat hot chip and hate myself. “Why do you think you’re a bad partner?” I literally do not know. I’m a bad person, so obviously bad people make bad partners. Again, all I know is eat hot chip and hate myself.
I have a sense of pending doom about the whole therapy thing. But I also have a weird sense of hope going on. I’m in a very conflicted state about the whole thing. Pending doom because I know that eventually I’m going to have to talk about the two big traumas in my life, and y’know… I uh… don’t want to do that. One of them I only recently let out of the bottle and boy oh boy, that put me on a two month long spiral of hopelessness and breakdowns. The other one I’d rather just… keep in its bottle. It can stay there. I never want to return to that. But I know I’ll have to. The weird sense of hope is just… I’m finally doing things about my mental health? I’m finally back taking my antidepressants regularly and not missing doses, I’m finally talking to a therapist, and I’m finally putting legwork into finding a psych for my ADHD. So… that’s good.
Oh, yeah. Diagnoses. It feels weird to have a professional acknowledge that yes, you have PTSD. I… honestly, I always felt weird self-IDing with that, and I had a post on Twitter a while ago basically acknowledging that I hit all the symptoms except like two, but even then, I didn’t really internalize it. I kinda figured “yeah but that could also just be my depression,” y’know? And it’s also weird to know he was willing to confidently state it in our very first session. Like… was it that obvious? Am I really that fucked up that you talk to me for 45 minutes and go “oh yeah, your responses and reactions are pretty typical for PTSD, ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety.”
The conversation was a lot of the sort of things I’d happily say to people around me, but never to myself. I never treat myself with the same kindness and understanding that I afford other people.
“Well, I don’t have that big of an anxiety problem”
“Why do you say that?”
“I don’t have panic attacks frequently, my wife has much worse anxiety than I do”
“Different people show anxiety differently. Just because your symptoms aren’t as obvious doesn’t mean they’re not as serious”
Well, yeah that’s true… but that’s an “other people” sentiment, not a “me” sentiment. Other people get understanding and validation and affirming answers to their stresses. I’m not other people, so... ha. Joke’s on you, I’m actually, literally garbage. *Finger guns*
Grounding techniques always feel weird and infantilizing. No, I don’t want to count, no I don’t want to do breathing exercises. This is ridiculous. They work and it makes me angry that they work. Picking out blue things in the room is a game you play with toddlers, why does it make the lizard brain shut up? Similar thoughts about the EMDR therapy practice. Tapping my knees and moving my eyes around sounds pointless and silly. *That* is the thing we’re going to do to tackle 14 years of abuse and a sexual assault? Really? Are you sure you don’t want to just lobotomize me? Zap my brain a few times with a couple thousand volts? Really? Tapping my knees. Okay.
This is going to be my biggest problem, I can already tell. Its very easy for me to mentally dismiss these things because they seem so inconsequential in comparison to why I need therapy in the first place. The solutions being given don’t seem like they’re of the appropriate scale for the wound. It feels like I had a limb torn off and someone’s offering to “kiss my boo-boo to make it better” as a legitimate medical response. But I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna try. We'll take the kisses on the boo-boo for now. I've tried damn near everything else.