It’s the night before my first appointment, the intake. I’m filling out all of the necessary paper work.
I get to the page that reads, “Check off any of the following things that you are struggling with.” A laundry list of problems follows this statement. I read over them. Abuse, depression, substance abuse, and frequent crying spells were on the list.
“I’m not really dealing with any serious problems. Maybe I shouldn’t go.”
I call my cousin. She is an LCSW and one of my best friends. I value her opinion. I share with her that I have scheduled this appointment and am thinking about cancelling it.
“Don’t chicken out before you even go,” she says.
She got me. That is one of my major issues. I do it all the time. I am guilty of that when it comes to certain relationships and even committing to certain extra-curricular activities. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I do gather myself and take a leap of faith. I do. Other times I look over the ledge and I’m like nah, I’m gonna stay put on this solid ground of familiarity.
“Ok.You’re right. I’ll go.”
I cross out frequent and write “SOME” next to crying spells. I’m trying to minimize my more noticeable symptoms. Subconsciously I am still talking myself out of going.
“It’s not like I don’t know why I’m crying. I know why I cry. I feel sad and lonely sometimes. I get frustrated and I cry. I’m frustrated with work. I don’t feel brave enough to just walk away from it. I worry that if I quit my family members will see me as a burden.”
All of these thoughts are going through my head. I reluctantly write a check in the blank next to [SOME] crying spells. I prepare for my appointment by writing a small list of things I want to discuss.
I am nervous. I am going to therapy for to improve my mental and emotional health. To help work my way through different fears and stresses so that life can be better for me. I know I need this. I haven’t felt like myself in quite some time. In the first session I find it difficult to relax. I’m trying to keep up an act. I wrote about my issue with perfectionism in a previous post. I share that with her. Together we come up with a list of things I’d like to improve upon and a few metrics, like crying less, and then I am on my way.
That was three months ago.
After a number of sessions my therapist encourages me and tells me that I am making improvements. While I can say that I don’t have as many crying spells, I don’t really feel that things have improved that much. Due to some outside forces I feel more stressed now than when I started. It isn’t necessarily a bad stress. It is the kind we experience when we are challenged to adapt to or perform in a new environment. It is the stress that accompanies change. I don’t take notes during my appointments, but maybe I should. Two of the major takeaways that I have been better about practicing are:
- Be firm about what you expect.
- Ask for the things that you need.
They seem simple enough, but it has been extremely helpful to have someone speak objectively and reaffirm me in those areas. So many times I’ve been told that I’m too needy or difficult or selfish or crazy for demanding basic respect for myself, respect of my personal boundaries or even my personal space. While I may not feel like a whole new person, this wise counsel is helping me developing the tools I need to be successful. Tools I need to thrive and for that I am grateful.
If you’ve been considering therapy to help you through any emotional struggles, trauma or major life transitions I suggest you take the jump. I found therapyforblackgirls.com to be very helpful when it came to selecting a therapist. This is not an ad. It’s a great resource. I hope you find the help you need on the way to becoming your best self.
Happy Hump Day Beauties!