It Just Takes One Person & Lessons From My Therapist
A few weeks ago I did a virtual visit with a new PCP so that I could get a refill on my Zoloft. I've been taking the same dose for years and they need to check in now and then. Since we moved a year ago, I had randomly selected a primary doctor, met her once, and then she left the practice, so this was a new person. I was feeling let down at that moment- by the world, by myself, and had little faith that a new stranger would be able to offer me any help or relief. I fully expected to be dismissed so she could move on with her busy day. I get it, healthcare workers are strapped and my needs aren't dire...but when I mentioned that I'd been feeling kind of terrible lately, this family doctor gave me comprehensive depression and anxiety surveys and then commiserated about how hard it is to find a local psychologist. She really listened and made me feel heard. She also recommended I increase my dose of Zoloft. Later that week, I had my first appointment with a BetterHelp therapist. I also had low expectations here. It didn't feel like "real" therapy. It's only 30 minute sessions once/week, with texting contact in between. She's busy and will be seeing people with fewer resources and more pain than me. I felt guilty even bothering her, and also doubtful that she'd be able to help me. But I wanted help. It was worth pushing through all my concerns to try. Plus, I'd been given a boost by the other doctor, encouragement to try. Here's what I learned from her in my first session:
1) It seems that it's not my fault that COVID is fucking up my kids' lives and I shouldn't feel guilty about it? And it's also fucking up my life and I'm allowed to have feelings about that.
2) I am a good mom, and doing my best is actually good enough.
3) I'm worthy of love, today, without conditions that I try to apply.
4) I'm allowed to suffer even though other people also suffer/suffer more.
5) All these life changes are scary and traumatic and I'm allowed to feel weird about them.
6) Feelings are for feeling and trying to dismiss them doesn't actually make them smaller or less real, it just gives me stomachaches and shoulder pain.
7) My brain is going to need some time to heal from everything it's been through and I should cut it some slack.
8) It's wise to ask for help. It's not weakness, it's strength.
So...between these two women, I'm feeling forgiven. For...all the things that I fear I'm not, or that I'm too much of...I feel heard and seen and worthy. Baby steps toward worthiness. It all feels very raw and quiet right now. There was no dramatic swing toward happiness and health, I'm still in the tender part where it hurts as it heals. But it's baby steps in the right direction. It seems that sometimes I need other people (virtual strangers will do) to give me permission to love myself and acknowledge my hurt. I spiral into this place where I can't stand myself, being inside my head feels crowded and SO judgmental, and I need an escape hatch. They offered me that. I wasn't in such a deep depression that I was considering harming myself, but if I were, these two conversations might have saved my life. Sometimes it just takes one person. If you're hurting today, find that person.
BetterHelp is just one of the therapy services that doesn't require insurance and is (a little?) more reasonably priced. They match you with someone who specializes in what your'e going through but if it's not a good match, there are others you can try.