Tag Archives: therapy

On Assignment

Timehop tells me it’s been eight years this year since I graduated from my master’s program. That means it’s been eight years since I’ve had homework.

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And, yet, here I sit: on assignment.

I’m writing this because my therapist told me to. Well, he didn’t specifically say what to write. And he didn’t tell me to write a blog post. He simply said, “write.”

“I don’t care what you write. Just take an hour, by yourself, and write. It might be hard, and you might not write anything. But you need to get back into it.” 

So, at 11 a.m. today, Mr. B — my ever-supportive (sometimes annoyingly so) husband — kicked me out of the house and told me not to come back until I had an uninterrupted hour of time. And, apparently, he wasn’t willing to include drive-time in that hour, either.

My first session with J was on Monday. I’ve done therapy before — twice, actually — for a couple of different seasons in my life. But it was never anything that I thought was particularly life-changing. And it never lasted. After just one session with J, I think I know the reason: I hadn’t met the right therapist yet.

After just an hour with J, he’s pretty well figured me out — well, at least figured out how my mind operates and how I need to do things. At the end of the get-to-know-you, why-did-you-call-me session, he asked me what I would need to have accomplished at the end of our time together (whether it’s two months or six months or a year …) to know it’s been a success. Together we set three very measurable, very realistic goals.

And from those goals came my weekly “homework” assignments. This week’s? Make time for myself to write.

It’s not that I don’t want to write. I actually really, really do. And I miss snuggling up with my computer, the romantic glow of the screen keeping me company while I drink green tea and type whatever words happen to be at the top of my mind that morning … or noon … or night. It’s just that I’ve been struggling to make it a priority.

You guys are probably pretty sick of all of my blog posts about trying to make time for myself, about filling my cup before I can fill the cups of others. But it’s all I’ve got right now. This is the season I’m in. And as I sit here writing, listening to the buzz of the coffee shop around me, I’m beginning to think I know why it’s so hard for me — or at least part of the reason.

I don’t want to miss a thing with Dottie Lou. Not a single thing. No mom does; no dad does. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the world for working parents — whether they have to work or they choose to work, or both. For me, I think there’s even more to it than that.

I’m still carrying with me the grief of all of the experiences we missed with Penelope Joy, and the fear of missing out on one of Dottie’s milestones keeps me as close to her as possible whenever it’s in my control. There are days I still cry when I drop her off at daycare — even though I know she’s loved and welcomed as one of their own children. There are nights I cry to Mr. B because I miss Dottie so much during the day.

While Dottie goes in and out of stages of separation anxiety — when all she wants is me — I’m experiencing separation anxiety of my own. It’s hard enough to leave her during the day while I work, but to take extra time alone in the evenings and on the weekend is really difficult. And the thought of leaving her overnight causes me pretty bad anxiety — even if I want to go on the trip. Because every time I think about the possibility of missing something with Dottie, the wounds of Penelope Joy’s loss feel so fresh.

As J and I settle in to our relationship, I’m certain we’ll be working on these — and so many other — issues associated with Penelope Joy’s and my dad’s deaths. The grief? It will always be there. Because that’s how grief works — it’s a constant (sometimes gentle, sometimes not) reminder that we have loved; that we have lost. But I need to find ways to deal with Grief’s friends, Anxiety and Fear.

Writing helps.

catharsis

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I’m ‘Cured’

On Thursday I went to what turned out to be my last therapy session for the immediate future. It had been about a month since I’d been to therapy, and I’ve been feeling really great. Well-adjusted. Progressing. Dealing with life. In fact, I’ve felt more normal about my feelings — or lack of feelings — than I think I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s been a pretty solid month. And I think it’s why I’ve been so quiet on the blogging front.

My month in bullets:

  • Work — Getting through some major projects and prepping for a big New York trade show for one of our publications.
  • Family — Family is, well, good. We’re going through some stuff, but because I’ve been able to talk through it with my therapist, I know I’m prepared to handle it and work through it — as long as other people (who I’m not paying) are prepared to listen a bit.
  • Community — I’ve picked up a new ESL student to tutor, and things are going great. She’s very sweet and eager to learn English. It’s so fun to be back tutoring and working with a motivated student.
  • Training — My half marathon is less than three weeks away. I’ve been keeping up with the training and feel like I’ll most likely be ready to run when May 28 rolls around. I feel strong. I feel fast(-ish). I feel like a runner. I ran a training run on part of the course this weekend, and it felt great to be out there. But then we drove the actual course in the car. Wow, 13.1 miles? That’s sorta long. I started doubting that it was doable. But, after a nice little pep talk from my sister and a silly song/dance combo from my mom, I was feeling better about things. I’ve put in the hours. I’ve prepared myself as much as possible physically and mentally. And, I’ll continue to do so until the day of the race. Until then, I run.
  • Fun — I’ve had a couple of much-needed half days of vacation time in the last month to spend some time with friends and family. And I’ve planned an extra “for-fun” day in New York when I’m going to get to meet up with some fellow blogging friends, run a race and enjoy some food and fun times. I’m hoping to check out a bit of the city, too, that I haven’t been able to see on my past business-only trips to New York.
  • Books — I’m about five books behind on my 52 Books in 2011, but I’m not stressing. Nice, warm, summer afternoons in the park are perfect for reading good books. Besides, there’s an awful lot of 2011 left.

So, life is good. I feel happier and healthier (mentally, emotionally, physically) than I have in a long, long time. As I reviewed the last four weeks with Dr. L, she said she was impressed at how different my attitude is now compared to five months ago. Hearing her say that I’ve made great progress and am in a good place? That made me feel even better. (It’s one thing to think I’ve made progress, but for it to be seen from the outside, too? That’s pretty cool.)

In fact, it was a little difficult to even find things to talk about with Dr. L on Thursday. I mean, I’ve not thought about Amor No More in weeks. And getting on with my life after that break-up was the biggest reason I started going to therapy in the first place. I used to think about him whenever I ate at a restaurant we enjoyed. Or passed a park we used to visit. Or looked at photos from my vacations from Mexico when I visited him. But he barely crosses my mind unless I consciously think about him or talk about some the memories we made together because I refuse to bury them — they’re my memories, after all.

So, yeah. For now, therapy’s taking a back burner — both Dr. L and I agreed. I asked her if I could make some as-needed appointments this summer, depending on how I feel. Because I realize that, of course, mental health is an ongoing process. And I am a work in progress. But for now, I’m going to enjoy where my life is right now. I’m going to embrace my feeling of health and happiness, and I’m going to take things as they come — processing as I go and remembering that it’s OK to ask for help. And it’s important to talk about things. And, when there’s no one to talk to, there will be writing.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is in inherent in a human condition.” ~Graham Greene

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It’s All About Me

I never thought I’d find myself sitting across the couch from a therapist, talking about the most intimate details of my life — my thoughts, my fears, my worries, my hopes. I’m not a big talker. I find it hard to share truly personal things about myself, and I tend not to let people get too close. Yeah, I realize that it doesn’t seem possible, since I put most everything I’m thinking and feeling out in the blogosphere (golly, I hate that word) for anyone and everyone to read. But it’s different when it’s face-to-face and I see you seeing me.

It’s easy to write about your life when you can hide behind the safety of a computer screen. Sure, I’m not anonymous — I post pics quite a bit and talk about my real life. But it’s different when I don’t really know the people I’m “talking” to with my typing.

So, needless to say, I was quite nervous when it came time to actually meet with my potential therapist. I’d found this office on the Psychology Today website. I was looking for a female therapist who had some knowledge and experience with some of the things I’m going through and wanted to discuss. So, I called ’em up and asked if they were taking new patients. They were — and they were covered by my insurance. After an initial half-hour meet-n-greet, I decided I liked this therapist (for the sake of the blog, we’ll call her Dr. L) and thought I could relate to her. More importantly, I felt comfortable and able to share with her. So, I knew it was a good place to start. We set up my first actual session for a couple weeks later.

In the meantime, I called my insurance to verify that it would be covered. Well, it wasn’t. Our policy changed Jan. 1 and I no longer qualified for some of the benefits that would have kept my out-of-pocket expenses low. And, yes, when I initially called Dec. 20, I did qualify for those programs. So, it looked like it would cost me $120 out of pocket for each session. That is, until I met my $1,000 deductible. Then it’d only cost me $60. As soon as I heard that, I nearly called and canceled my appointment. But I re-evaluated and decided that I really wanted needed this. I wanted to get a handle on where I’m at and what I’m feeling — and that was worth the money for me. So I kept my appointment.

That was last Thursday. It was a really good first session, where Dr. L spent some time asking me some questions and getting up to speed on why I was seeking out counseling at this point in my life. She sat next to me on the couch, and we were able to talk like, well, we knew each other. It was casual, comfortable and really quite friendly. I found myself easily able to open up and talk honestly about what I’m feeling. We talked about my weight loss, my former relationship, my family, my health and my goals for myself over the coming years. We talked about my periodic anxiety, my need for control over situations and my worries. We also talked about my social life — or lack thereof — and the things I do that make me happy.

My favorite part of the session? It was all about me. I know, this maybe doesn’t sound great. But, to be honest, how often are we in conversations where we get to really talk and know we’re being heard? Most of the time, the other person is searching her own head for what she’s going to say next or how that situation happened to her (only worse or better than it happened to you, depending on the story) or what she’s going through right now. When we’re able to talk, really talk, about what’s on our minds without interruption or competition? That’s when the real progress and exploration happens.

While Dr. L was using this information to get to know me, I was able to kind of learn a little bit about myself in the process. Some of these things I’d not talked about openly with people, so I never felt the need to really hear myself think them. All in all, I’d say this initial session was a success, and I’m looking forward to going back so we can really focus in on some of these issues and fully explore them one at a time. Because of the money and scheduling issues, I’ll be meeting with Dr. L biweekly rather than weekly for now. My next session is next Thursday.

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