This is going to be about therapy. Is #therapytuesday a hashtag? It is now.
This is a blog about nothing…this is a blog about EVERYTHING.
Is the Talkspace app worth my FSA money?
I mean is it though? Have you ever used it? I just started about a week ago.
I’ve gone to therapy in the past and I’ll tell you a little bit about it in case you’re wondering about therapy or feel like reading about some stuff I did.
I don’t have patience to go to therapy in person anymore for a variety of reasons which will be explored here and hopefully will culminate into a coherent conclusion but there are no guarantees my friends.
In the beginning…
The first time I went to therapy was in college. It was on Livingston campus. If you went to Rutgers you’ll be like “WTF why Livingston campus?!” There was nothing on Livingston campus in 2004. It was a wasteland. Now there is like a movie theater and a Cheesecake Factory or some shit, but NOT in 2004.
I was “dating” some random shitty guy as per usual, so I totally felt like shit. It could also have been all the gasoline grade vodka I was drinking every night, just a guess, but I became unable to do backflips because my mind was in a weakened and desperate state and this was a problem because at the time backflips were frankly my bread and butter and reason for living so I had to straighten this shit out.
I had a “mental block” and the mind/body connection required to do the advanced acrobatic skills required to be a division 1 cheerleader/student athlete was severed so I couldn’t bring myself to perform any of these skills and was therefore essentially useless to myself, the team, Rutgers University, the state of New Jersey, the world, and the universe. I was still useful to New Brunswick because I ate all of their pizza, drank all their beer, and supplied their streets and frat house basements with an endless supply of my lost shoes.
So here I am in the hinterland of Livingston campus in an office above the dining hall, because that’s the only building there in my mind, talking to this sports psychology graduate student gal about my sudden backflip aversion issue. And honestly she was great. I got really excited about the whole thing because she was a grad student and she asked me a lot of questions like she was interested in me as a SPECIMEN OF STUDY and I thought that was really cool and exciting. And also I felt special like I was some kind of freak but in a cool and special and innovative way and that someone was using me for their professional learning and growth and development. Maybe she became like a leading sports psychologist and champion in her field. Maybe she wrote her entire thesis on me, I LIKE TO THINK SHE DID.
In her glowing presence I learned about CBT and how I can make it work for me. It works great! I’m fully on board. I like to pretend I’m a doctor but I’m not but if I was I would CBT the fuck out of everyone sad around me and they would bask in the glory of success. I don’t know how they figured this out but they DID figure out how to manipulate your brain and to teach you to also manipulate your own brain and it is a perfect and beautiful triumph of science and research and the human spirit.
And CBT, I thank you. You got me back on track and you had me telling everyone I “retrained my brain” and I fully felt that I fully and completely did and for 2 years or so everything was cool and I never needed therapy again.
JK! Because therapy and “training your brain” are like a constant work in progress thing and that pretty much sucks but once you learn to live with that it’s fine but oh guess what it took me a long ass time to learn how to live with it after then so please join me on this terrifying rollercoaster of self discovery if you wish.
The dark ages…
By the end of college I was once again unable to blackflip but it didn’t matter to me anymore because I was graduating so I didn’t worry about going back to therapy but then my “college boyfriend” broke up with me and I pretty much lost it. The idyllic internal space of my brain that I had happily cultivated and retrained quickly deteriorated drastically over the next 7 or so years.
As a 20-something I partied hard in NYC and the surrounding areas as a 20-something will. I made many pals and I traveled all over the country and I did a ton of cool shit but as some of you may have realized all was not well.
I was super sad, I was super stressed, I cried a lot. It was weird. We’ve talked about this before but I ate A LOT A LOT. I ate and cried, cried and ate. Oh I drank everything too. It was all delicious! But somehow…nefarious.
Once I got a REAL job with REAL insurance and REAL free time that was RESPECTED I decided that I would try out this whole retrain my brain thing again because I was tired of crying and eating until I felt sick all the time and I was like someone please help me I need a professional.
So I began the long and arduous journey of “finding a therapist.” This shit seriously sucked and took weeks, and the whole time I was feeling more and more like shit.
Even when you “have insurance” it is still a LITERAL NIGHTMARE to find a doctor that takes it. You can use your insurance website, sure, but the search tool on the website has been confirmed to be 100% useless. I know because I have tried to use it.
You can try on ZocDoc but then you get to the actual office for your actual appointment and they’re like “that will be 2 million dollars please” and it’s like I thought my insurance said they covered this and they’re like um no.
The best case scenario is when you can email the doctor’s office and the receptionist/anonymous email recipient will check your insurance for you and email you back but none of those fine establishments took mine so that was shitty but I guess it was good that they let me know that BEFORE I WENT ALL THE WAY THERE.
Once I finally compiled a list of possible therapists to reach out to that my insurance would cover I would have to awkwardly call during breaks or lunch at work during the day, which was stupid annoying and embarrassing because I felt like people on the street could hear what I was calling about and usually I would start crying because I felt awful and I already hate the phone anyway. Most of the time I would get a voicemail and then they would have to call me back but I wouldn’t be available to talk when they called me back BECAUSE I HAVE A JOB. I don’t know how they expect people to set this shit up unless their stay at home mom is doing it all for them. It is a nightmare. Mom plz halp.
When you finally find some therapists that can fit you in their schedule and probably take your insurance and maybe have some experience with your type of issues then you get to meet them and go through the things and if you’re lucky it will work out. A lot of times it does not work out. Because therapists are people too and sometimes you just don’t hit it off. Or they suck at their job. They really do and I’m sorry but there are a lot of them out there that are really just phoning it in and I am on to them and I don’t think it’s right.
It’s kind of like dating which is the worst thing you’ll ever have to experience. Except in this case you get to pay to go on shitty dates and you don’t even get any food so think about THAT for a minute.
So here is who I found and the first one was my favorite and also wonderful but the rest got progressively worse from there…
Therapist #1 was named Alexandra and she was a very good therapist. She just was. She worked at some therapy joint in Hoboken and she was great, and gave me assignments to do at home and made me write things down and bring the results back to her. She would bring research and worksheets and printed out articles that she had made for me to our sessions and they had notes and highlights on them and we would go through how these things she had found out in the world separate from my 45 minute appointment could apply to me and help me. That was mental health SERVICE.
She didn’t let me sit there and wallow the whole time but would let me cry and then give me some helpful suggestions on how to do a little bit better. Alexandra was a champion of therapy. She was textbook good at it. She was my hero for a time. And I felt like I made very serious progress under her wing.
BUT THAT TIME WAS CUT SHORT BECAUSE SHE GOT A BETTER JOB. She never said “better” but it HAD to be better because she was currently KILLIN IT at that place and the only way to go was up. I miss you Alexandra. Alexandra 4ever.
Therapist #2 was at the same Hoboken therapy joint and her name was Bijal. She was my therapist by default because Alexandra left and Bijal had space for new patients. She was kind but I felt she was not effective or productive. And I am sorry.
I think her style probably works for some but I needed to be punched in the face and challenged and given some options and she was really just there to listen. Which is fine I guess but I feel like I was allowed to WALLOW EXCESSIVELY and I would SOB every appointment and this went on for WEEKS and I started to feel worse and worse and more and more bitter and then I kept on and on with the eating and the crying and I distinctly remember saying “I don’t care how much weight I gain! As long as I stay under 200 lbs!”
And then one day I weighed 190lbs and I felt betrayed almost like she allowed me to get there, and I was terrified so I decided I needed to get the heck out of there because it started to feel like a black hole of sadness I was sucking myself into and I was paying someone to stop me but she was doing nothing! She was just sitting there and nodding! It was like she was a cartoon character of a therapist! And it was a horror movie where I die of heart disease in a black hole!
Whew. That brought back some bad feelings. Sorry.
After that I took about a year break from therapy. I consulted with my regular doctor about medications to manage depression and anxiety and changed some things up and lost some weight and was working out and started to feel pretty good about that but then I got to a point where I was scared I would binge eat my way back into a black hole of sadness again so I went through the whole therapist finding process AGAIN and landed on #3.
Therapist #3 was the worst. The actual worst. Again, I’m sure he was perfectly nice as a normal dude out in the world. He also accepted Venmo for payment which was badassssss but that was the extent of the pros. He just didn’t listen! I went every week for a while and he never remembered a single thing I said and asked me the same questions every time. And he didn’t take any notes so he wasn’t retaining any information about me in any way so how the hell was he supposed to “treat” me?! Again, this is a service I was paying for so I was like okay enough. No more. Bye. I don’t even remember his name but maybe he should have a different job.
Around this same time I had a “man friend” that is a psychiatrist and I picked his brain about a lot of different therapy things and talked to him about my various issues even though that’s pretty much unethical and he was like “Okok shan I can’t really talk to you about this stuff because although I have patients I help with their minds YOU are not my patient” but he would still give me interesting info and he is a super cool dude and I salute him. But I asked him, “hey psychiatrist man friend can I ghost therapist #3 because he sucks and I don’t want to deal with him?” and he was like “shan knock it off no you may not ghost him but you CAN tell him you’d like to take a break.” And it was really hard for me to text that to therapist #3 because I felt bad but I did it and then never spoke to him again. So thank you, psychiatrist man friend. Again I salute you, you were a good pal.
That concludes my formal relationship with therapy. I didn’t have time or money to mess around in such a way! Those last 2 were pretty lame and I didn’t feel like going through the whole search process AGAIN. I was lucky that I really liked the very first one…but then unlucky when she was no longer available to me.
After I ghosted therapist #3 I went through a very tough anxious period for about 6 months and I couldn’t sleep ever because I was freaking the eff out 24 hours a day and I didn’t know why and I would just stay up all night and watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt over and over again because only Titus Andromedon could distract me from the tornado in my brain. In the morning I would just get off the couch and say bye to Titus and go to the gym because I was awake, and then go to work and do the day and then come home and do it all again. That was every day for a while and I was starting to get very sleepy but still did not sleep.
Eventually I got in my head that I should take lavender scented baths to calm down. The baths didn’t do shit but while I took the baths I started to read. And one day I started to read the book Fuck Feelings. Which became my new therapist for some time.
Fuck Feelings isn’t really saying “fuck feelings” like it wants them to go away. It kinda respects some feelings but it’s also like, they shouldn’t run the show. And you should them to STFU for a second while you take a deep breath.
“Feelings shouldn’t run the show” is something I have been told for ages but it never really clicked until I read this book. Maybe because it’s bright yellow and just drilled itself right into my brain with an explosion of color.
Honestly I no longer fully remember what this book is about even though I read it every day until I was able to get out of the bathtub and finally sleep and function like a normal human being and and maybe even beyond that. My takeaway was that life sucks and feelings are shitty, but you need to give yourself credit for the things that you DID do right. And you can’t let yourself be sad or outraged that you didn’t achieve some benchmark or keep up with others around you. And that it’s dumb AF to be like “I need to be a GIRLBOSS!” “I need to be a millionaire!” “I need to do (insert some other unattainable ridiculous nonsense thing”). Like you just need to be you and make it through the day at this point. You can’t let all of this other overwhelming shit make your brain explode. At least if you’re me. I can’t deal with that much pressure.
Like when I couldn’t make it through the day and felt terrible and completely freaked out, I would have an “I made it through today okay/alive/a marginally productive member of society” thought to hold onto. And that was enough. Just something to grab at to get to the next day. And I kept on grabbing and grabbing at the little things I was able to feel like I did right, and eventually it was a few months later and I didn’t feel like shit anymore. THANK GOODNESS. I MADE IT.
I made it til now! When I’m starting to use Talkspace! And trying to see if it’s worth it! Woo!
I’ve only been using it for a week and just been going back and forth sharing info about myself with the therapist. She said a week of 6-ish back and forths equals one regular weekly therapy session and I think that checks out. I’ll keep you posted on the Talkspace DO NOT WORRY.
I feel realllll good now, I do. I’m serious. If I didn’t, I’d tell you. I just think I need to make sure the feeling good keeps up, and I think it’s time to acknowledge that the therapy/working on your shit, shit is an all the time thing. Just keep working on it. It’s part of one’s health.
Also I feel like there are other things to learn! Like now that I don’t feel super sad or anxious maybe I can use some brain power to help and/or understand other people that are feeling sad or anxious. Or understand anyone that is feeling anything.
Also it’s hard sometimes to have a boyfriend now because I never really had a normal boyfriend situation so I don’t really know how to do any of “that” so maybe Talkspace/therapy/self reflection can help me with that too. As far as communicating with another person I’m required to communicate with all the time or I’m in trouble. Does anyone else feel this way? I feel alone in it, but someone else MUST also feel like this. I feel like a majority of us are lacking in “normal boyfriend situations” for a big chunk of our lives these days. I’ll find you.
Honestly I think I’m lacking some compassionate empathy and communication skills. I’m very inwardly focused. I specialize in cognitive empathy but so do psychopaths. Ewps. SO LET’S WORK ON IT! GET TALKSPACE ON THE HORN.
Additionally I just got this fun little workbook from ban.do. I was checking it out last night and it inspired this whole post. You’re welcome.
It has lots of colors and lots of interesting/reflective prompts and ideas for figuring some stuff out about yourself and aiding you in the journey to know yourself that I guess never ends so you better get on board and like it. The other pics of a book throughout this post are from this workbook as well.
Okay you all know I’m obsessed with ban.do. I can’t stop. It’s like they live inside my head. Like Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast! We can talk about her another time though. Actually no, she has some good things to say about mental health too, that have saved my day when I’ve read them. Here’s some thoughts in article from Vice, “Fuck Music Let’s Talk about Feelings.” But we’ll still talk about her and her badass band here another day, don’t worry.
That’s all I got, for some serious shit on a Tuesday. Do you have any thoughts? Any questions? Any suggestions? Anything to share about your own mental health? Or mental health journey? Or trying to be a person in the world? If you do and you need someone to talk to, I’ll talk to you about it. I love to talk about stuff! I might be awkward when you first approach me though. Sry.