There was a time in my life when I didn’t think very highly of the mental health profession. Let’s face it, I held the belief that they were all a bunch of wackos whose main role in life was to screw with people’s minds and pump them full of drugs. I thought all psychiatrists were nuttier than the average fruitcake and that counselors and psychologists weren’t worth the paper on which their degrees were printed.
To be fair, I was raised in a house FULL of fruitcakes who spent most of their time lying to, using and manipulating anyone who tried in vain to help them. To them, all of their issues were the fault of others which included any mental health professionals to whom they were assigned, voluntarily or otherwise. Since those poor souls were either denying them the drugs or the answers they wanted, they were ineffective quacks who should have their credentials snatched immediately if not sooner.
Let me state for the record, I was (gulp) wro…, um…not correct. At least not entirely. I still think the mental health system has a long way to go to meet the needs of the suffering. From my experience, it’s the system that wants to either pump people full of drugs or send them to overworked and underpaid counselors without the proper training to meet the rapidly growing needs of society.
Please don’t misunderstand, I have personally met some whack job mental health people over the years whose offices I’ve left confused, disappointed and shaking my head in dismay. But, to be fair, I’ve also met whacked out medical doctors, priests (lots of those), teachers, grocery store clerks and bank tellers. I once had a creepy gynecologist who I couldn’t wait to get away from. I’ve had hairdressers that chopped my hair making me wish I was bald and a masseuse once at Elizabeth Arden Salons that creeped me out so bad I complained to management. But none of these had me telling anyone and everyone that would listen that the entire profession of massage therapists, medical doctors and hairdressers were all batshit crazy. No – that particular classification was reserved only for shrinks and their brethren.
And then I became clinically depressed.
Don’t you love God’s sense of humor? I sure do.
Over the last 20 years I’ve been through many psychiatrists and therapists as I’ve navigated this complicated condition. I’ve learned to overcome prejudice and stigma while simultaneously opening my own mind to the possibility of an excellent relationship with those on the other side of the couch. It’s been extremely humbling and very hard work but it’s also made me a more compassionate and empathetic human. Definitely a blessing.
I now find myself in a relationship with a therapist that I’ve come to not only like, but to trust. I like lots of people. I trust very few. I know part of the reason I’m feeling so good about this is because I was ready to hear what he had to say and do the work required to make myself well, but it’s also because he’s very good at his job and he’s exactly the personality type that I needed. God and the Universe knew that it would take a very special combination of efforts to bring me to a point where I was ready to receive the message. Another blessing.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in the last 20 years is that this work is required. For the last 19.5 years it was because unless I took care of myself, my children were going to suffer. Long time readers of this blog can tell you that shit don’t fly in my world. My family is worth anything and everything I have to do to create an atmosphere of loving kindness. Besides…it’s not their fault mama’s a nutcase. In fact, my own depression allowed me to recognize it in one of my children at a very young age and allow him to avoid a lot of heartache and difficulty. More blessings.
In the last few months however, I’ve also learned that I’m worth the work required just because I breathe. God created me and, I imagine, as my Father it probably made Him very sad to know how little I thought of myself up until this point. In fact, it probably pisses Him off – if God can even get pissed off that is.
I’ve now come to the realization that my therapy time is my sacred space. That hour belongs to me and me alone and what’s said in that room is strictly between me and JP. If I choose to share it then I share it. If I choose to keep it to myself that’s okay as well. It’s one of the few places in my world where I don’t feel judged or like I’m going to make a mistake. When I’m in that space I don’t feel fat, or ugly, or wrong, or clumsy or any of the things I’ve been carrying around most of my life. I feel accepted and safe and like I’m worth the effort.
That’s not a blessing people…that’s a fucking miracle.