Dear New Therapist in My Phone
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but…that's why we're here.
First of all, I’ve been searching for a new therapist in fits and starts since I moved across the country a year ago. I have insurance, which sometimes feels like a golden ticket into the healthcare chocolate factory, but in the case of mental health, mostly it’s been just me relying on actual chocolate to get by. It seems therapists near me hate my insurance. So that’s fun. Also, all the other MORE sick and sad people have beaten me to you, and many of you are not accepting new patients. Over the months, when I was feeling especially anxious or depressed, I’d send out a few queries, make (gulp) a few phone calls and get either rejections (as above) or worse, I’d get NONE response at all. Ghosted by the therapists is a new sort of low for me that SHOULDN’T feel personal, but does.
So, I’d give up and manage on my own, with some healthy attempts at mental wellness, like getting outside, stretching or exercising, drinking water, reading, and meditating, and way MORE unhealthy coping strategies like eating ALL THE THINGS (my zipper on my pants broke yesterday just to really send this point home), drinking wine, taking edibles, screaming at my kids, watching bad TV, doom scrolling my phone for hours a day, and generally just pacing around inside my skull being unfocused and mad at myself.
So, finally I take the hint that I’m going to have to pay for therapy out of pocket if I want it to happen in the NOW-ish time. As much as I recognize that I need this and that I’m suffering (and, in turn, my family is suffering) without me having this care, I feel like a worthless chump for spending so much money on myself. Therapists range from $150-$300/hour, with the *possibility* that insurance might chip in (but probably won’t and will instead throw feces at me from a tree and laugh). I already have spent so much on myself this year on my breast reduction (that insurance ALSO didn’t pay for…wait, hang on, are they actually just fucking with me to see what I’ll do!?) and since I’m not bringing in much money while I care for the kids and try to start my writing career….it feels like too much to spend.
BUT yesterday a friend reminded me that I’m worth it and to just shut up and do the thing, so I signed up for one of the online therapy membership things where they pair you with a licensed therapist with specialties in your areas and you get to do virtual calls, group calls, and texting services. I have no idea how it’ll go or if it will help, but it feels like a step, anyway. AND within 12 hours I already had contact from an actual human being, so that’s something.
So, new therapist in my phone, you asked for a brief history. I should back up.
In the last twelve months, I sold a house I lived in for almost two decades and moved across the country from everyone I know, and sold the family business that was our entire life for many years. I left the other job I had and have been attempting to start a new career in the arts, an incredibly lonely and competitive field, without a degree or colleagues or a clear path. I have virtual schooled my children while helping them go through enormous transitions. Four months ago, I underwent a breast reduction to try to cure my chronic back pain and ended up with postop wounds so bad, I was basically confined to a couch for 8 weeks, 2 of them with a vacuum attached to my breast. In that time I gained a lot of weight and this week when I went to see what size my new boobs are, I found that they are exactly the same size they were before I had the reduction. One of my children is going through a very emotionally difficult time right now and has been sleeping in our bed nightly for months, so I haven’t really had a solid night’s sleep in ages. During all of this, I’ve felt shame that I’m not working in my field because I could be HELPING people and bringing in money. I feel guilt that I’m complaining at all, because we’re so, so lucky it’s absurd. So many people are suffering in huge ways that we’re not. I feel like I just don’t cope well, like I complain for no reason, am unnecessarily negative…but regardless, I’m anxious and sad all the time. And I don’t want to be. I’m completely uncomfortable and uncertain in my roles in life and I feel somehow both trapped and untethered. My confidence is shot and I just feel…lost.
Can you help me find myself again? Did I mention I broke my pants? Please help me and my pants.
Thank you for your time, sorry if I’m annoying, I hope it’s not too gross that I’m ANOTHER rich white lady with IBS and anxiety in therapy. I promise to try not to complain to you, my Black therapist, about how stressful racisim is to WITNESS in this world….like I did to my last Black therapist. God. She was awesome. I loved her. Do you know her? Oh, shit, that’s a dumb question. I’ll just be quiet. Please don’t hate me. Actually, I’m rather hoping despite all my obnoxiousness that I become your favorite patient? I tell good jokes. Do you like jokes? Do you keep a list of favorite patients? Can I see the list? I’ll understand if you want me to see one of your colleagues instead.