I have a confession to make. In this day and age, it may be rather shocking, but here goes. I’ve never been in therapy. Ever. I’ve also never been on any kind of medication for anxiety, depression or other type of psychological condition. Were you to ask my sister, she would tell you that is because I am not “sensitive” enough to have those kinds of emotions. She would, however, be wrong.
I know I’ve been clinically depressed several times in my life. There were times when I do not know how I managed to get out of bed to go to work, to nurse my child, to do anything. Nearly 11 years ago to the month, I seriously contemplated suicide. What stopped me is a blog post in itself.
So, why haven’t I landed on a therapist’s couch? I don’t know. No, wait, I do know. The main reason I haven’t ever gone to therapy is because I always needed to spend the money it would cost on something else. Honest. That would probably be the main reason.
I did actually go to a counselor once. I was trying to change jobs when I was working for the Marriott. I desperately wanted out of the hotel business and I was finding it a hard transition. I went on interview after interview and got so many rejections that I was seriously beginning to wonder what was wrong with me. The company offered an EAP (employee assistance program), so I thought I would just go and see if someone could give me some tips on how to deal with the stress, etc. Immediately, the guy wanted to delve into my past–the typical (or stereotypical) stuff; how was my relationship with parents, etc. I was like, dude, I just want a new JOB, okay? Can you give me some help with that? I guess the biggest problem I had with that was that I felt like he completely did not listen to me. I asked for one thing and he was determined that I really needed something else. Perhaps I did, but at the moment I wanted to address the immediate problem and he wouldn’t hear of it. For some reason, it aggravates me when I feel unheard. Free or not, I didn’t avail myself of that service again.
Despite the above, I am not anti-therapy; in fact, I’m a lot more “therapy-friendly” than I used to be. I understand that many people do not learn healthy coping skills in their early lives which makes it harder to learn them later. I get it that sometimes one needs some outside guidance from a “disinterested third party”.
But I’ve had friends who were in “therapy” for YEARS for the same problem, the same behavior with different people, etc. repeating the same patterns over and over. If it was that obvious to me, why wasn’t it obvious to the therapists? Where was the help? WHAT was the help they got from therapy? I didn’t get it then and I don’t now. Obviously the therapists benefited from being paid over the years, but what did my friends get out of it? What is the difference between therapy and what I call “scab-picking”?
I understand that sometimes you have to dig deep into things that you’d rather not talk about or even think about to uncover the deeper reasons for patterns of behavior and I understand that a therapist can help with that. But at some point, doesn’t the therap-ee have to stand up and say, “Okay, thanks, you’ve given me some great tools. Now, I’m going to use them and re-build my life?” At what point does “analysis” become counterproductive?
Is that that we just always want the “quick fix”? Got high BP? Take a pill. Elevated cholesterol? Oh, another pill. Feeling lousy? Pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, take another pill.
Please understand that this post is not about “dissing” people who are in therapy and really trying to work out serious issues in their lives. I have the utmost respect for people who TRY, regardless of method.
But therapy, I’m on the outside looking in. In my work, I do a lot of psych reports and some of those diagnoses, whoo boy! Seriously, “adjustment disorder”? Sounds like you got a wedgie. “Oppositional/defiant disorder”? Yeah, you got a teenager, that’s what they do, oppose and defy.
It’s like no one can have any kind of emotion that’s outside an increasingly narrow “norm”. We can’t be just “sad” over something, we have to be labeled “depressed” and put under a microscope and given seriously head-twisting medications and watched for the rest of our lives.
Heaven knows I’m far from perfect. I know there have been plenty of times that I have not handled my emotional upsets well. Again, this post is not about judging the people who are trying to get themselves healthy–if anything, it’s a criticism about the mental health PROVIDERS who seem to want to see a “disease” in every kind of behavior and somehow fit what may simply be one person’s normal coping skills into their DSM-IV book of “diagnoses”.
So, what about it? If you’re in therapy, has it helped? Or have you been going for years and just whining about the same thing over and over and nothing has changed except your bank balance? Seriously, I’d like to know.
Don’t be shy; consider it free, anonymous therapy.