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Therapy

by Chelsea Mandler,
Help Therapy Personal Stories

No one tells the whole truth in therapy. And while, we, the patients, are fitting the bill, we tend to leave out bits of pieces of our narratives as not toa rise any suspicions about what exactly we do not want to discuss.

I had a therapist that moaned every time I said something depressing. I hated his guts. But I went back week after week to have but another session about “why he sucks as a therapist.” He finally accused me of flirting with him and I stormed out in disgust. But that was in my glory days.

One young man, fresh out of residency, truly made me believe I was something very special. Such a compliment goes far with me as it is my utmost need to be something very special.

But last year, when my world began to crumble beyond my ability to comprehend, be hopeful or find solutions, I visited one therapist who seemed truly exceptional in her job.

Her name was Ronni, although she was a PhD, she decided to forego the doctor title as to make herself more approachable to her patients.

Every week I would go see her and cry about my life. I was facing bankruptcy, in excruciating chronic pain and suicidal. She would listen. I would tell her what I felt comfortable admitting and as each week passed my comfortability morphed into the truth. My truth. And with every worry or concern I stated, she validated my concern. She did not try to fix it or provide solutions and she even agreed it seemed very hopeless on many occasions.

I don’t know if she saw through the crux of my problem as an inability to not be living up to the mainstream representations of reality that I witnessed on a daily basis. She welcomed my quirkiness and seemed very excited to see me. However, soon my problems just became subjects to talk about. And then my subjects actually became funny as I was able to look at them from different angles.

By the time I left her, my anxiety disorder was at bay, my depression was lifted and I began to realize I could either kill myself over my chronic pain or learn to live with it by accepting wholeheartedly. Clearly, chose the latter.

In as little as nine months, I began to be present when I felt scared. I suited and showed up when I wanted to fall apart. And I truly began to like myself, demons and all.

Strangely enough, all Ronni did was listen to me and validate what I had to say. She never questioned my judgment and she did not lecture. And It occurred to me that the connection of two people learning to listen to each other without judgment keeps us alive.

People want to be warriors, independent, self-starters who tackle life’s woes on their own. That is ego run amuck. It takes a team of people in your life to keep your spirits afloat and increase your capacity for joy. Because let’s make this clear, the essential issue for all mental illness is a decreased capacity for feeling joy. No man is an island. No man can increase his or her capacity for joy without connections to other humans.

So, when I watch world events in horror, I have learned that the human spirit can survive anything as long as we stick together. It happens every day even if the media is pushing it’s an-one-man-show to happiness agenda.. They got it wrong. We are each other’s happiness and we are each other’s resolve. And it only took one awesome therapist to allow me talk about my daily concerns to change my world. And you can do it, too. It is worth the journey.