I used to think people that went to therapy were crazy. As it turns out, they were probably only trying to prevent themselves from going crazy.
The first time I went to therapy, I was 15 years old. My best friend had just died in a tragic ATV accident and I thought life was pretty much bullshit.
Sometimes, I still do.
His name was Stuart. He was and older man, and his bald head was very shiny. He brought me in to sit on his couch and stared at me. He always stared at me until I spoke.
I know he meant well, I know he wanted to help. But he didn’t. He didn’t help. He made me feel as if I should be feelings things that I wasn’t feeling. He kept talking about the stages of grief and where I should be. But I wasn’t feeling any stages of grief. I wasn’t feeling anything.
I eventually stopped going and wrote therapy off as a ploy. It was an excuse for people to talk about themselves for an hour a week, I thought. I didn’t need that. I could handle it on my own.
Or so I thought.
The second time I tried therapy, I was 22. I had just been diagnosed with certain illnesses that meant that any kind of intercourse caused me extreme physical pain, and with that came severe emotional pain.
I walked into the office, which was actually just a bedroom of a house. I spent the entire 50 minutes crying. I don’t think I even said anything, past the initial “This is what happened and I think I’m unlovable and I just want to stop feeling pain.” When I looked up at the therapist and asked for another Kleenex, I noticed that she was crying, too.
I went two or three more times, eventually giving up, just like before, and writing therapy off. It wasn’t for me, I decided. I couldn’t do it. I needed to suck it up and deal with life on my own.
After all, that’s what everyone else does, right?
Fast forward a year and here I am living in Los Angeles. I have significantly less pain that I used to, but more emotional pain than I thought possible.
No matter how much progress I make physically, my mentality about the whole situation constantly holds me back.
So here’s the third time I try therapy, today. Age 23. I spent weeks before this researching places to go, and trying to muster up the courage to call.
I finally settled on emailing a clinic, last week. They immediately called me, I didn’t answer.
I looked at their website again. They specialize in patients exactly like me. Women or men who have suffered sexual trauma and can’t seem to get past it. I mean, it’s exactly what I’m looking for, and yet I can’t listen to that voicemail.
I listened, and with trembling fingers, I returned the call. They answered on the second ring and immediately began the intake process.
Three questions in, and I found myself starting to shake. Five questions in, and I feel myself starting to cry.
This is how I knew I needed therapy. I knew I needed it when I couldn’t talk about my condition and the way it makes me feel without wanting to vomit. I knew I needed therapy when I began to cry when I explained my daily internal struggle. And I knew I needed therapy when, after months of trying, I still can’t look in the mirror without being disappointed in my body and the way it let me down.
In a way, we probably all need therapy. We all need someone to help us sort through all of the shit in our head and let us know that everything is going to be okay.
But the problem came, at the end of the call, when I was informed that to get the therapy that I so desperately need, from a specialist that is so undeniably perfect for me… I would need to muster up $150 a session.
Now, $150 may not seem like a lot to you. But to me, that’s my groceries… for three weeks. That’s my car payment. That’s my prescriptions and my visits to the Gynecologist. That’s my physical therapy sessions and my movie tickets with friends.
When it comes to choosing how I spend my money, it’s difficult to justify spending it on 50 minutes a week with a lady listening to me chat about something that I’ve chatted about over, and over, and over again…with no improvement.
I want to believe in therapy. I want to believe in it so badly. But it doesn’t feel like it wants to believe in me.
Therein lies one of the problems with this society. We drive people to insanity, offer them no help without a hefty cost, and then condemn them for giving into the pain.
I know that there are other ways to get help. I know there are free clinics and maybe even a self-help book or two. I know that I have friends and family that are willing to listen. I know this.
But I also know what it takes to admit that you need help, and then realize that the help you so desperately seek is just out of your reach.
I know that therapy isn’t the answer to all my problems. I know that I can find another way, and sort this all out.
But sometimes I’m tired of trying to be strong. Sometimes, I just want someone to listen to my problems and tell me that everything is going to be okay.
And then I want to believe them.