How much is that therapist in the window?

When I first started therapy I was so intimidated. The white coat syndrome struggle was real. I was on stand-by in the waiting room, nervously picking at my fingernails, while nature sounds and lavender oils drifted around me. I appreciated the effort to take the edge off. I started to relax when a bird’s squawk interrupted my concentration. Well played, nature tape. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. I spaced out and wondered if therapists have therapists. Finally she came around the corner and greeted me along with her intern. We sat down in the office and started my first session.

You should consider your introductory session as a trial. It’s so important to feel 100% comfortable with the person you’re about to lay everything out on the table for. After we went over our expectations and reservations, she told me my schedule has conflicts with her schedule, but her intern’s schedule is flexible. Hm. This concerned me a little bit. Should I really put my fragile state of mind into the hands of a student?

For me, (and probably you, too) the answer is Yes, and I’ll tell you why.

Finding the right therapist for you is a lot like dating. There’s no app to swipe right on your ideal person (or is there?) so you just make an appointment, show up, and hope for the best.

You will know right away if you don’t vibe. Trust your gut. This person is going to influence your mental health and get all up close and personal with your deepest and darkest secrets. I quickly learned chemistry was more important than credentials.

Our first couple of sessions were difficult. I had to pull things out of my brain archives to explore and identify my triggers. This was uncomfortable and draining for me. After an exaggerated emotional outburst one night, I hopelessly emailed him like the damsel in distress that I was…

Subject: THIS ISN’T WORKING I’M BROKEN.

Message: Hi. I don’t need therapy. I need to be sedated. I’m a menace to society and I cannot carry on.

Disoriented and Drowning,

Kaytee

Subject: Re: THIS ISN’T WORKING I’M BROKEN

Message: Hi Kaytee. It definitely sounds like a very difficult weekend, and maybe the support of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner may help in those times. I have some numbers here for you. I will keep my Wednesday open in case you change your mind.

Best,

Intern

*3 days later*

Subject: Hi.

Message:  *Tucks tail between legs* Meep. Is your Wednesday still open?

It’s taxing to feel vulnerable. We are programmed to dodge our feelings in an effort to save face. Why? We’re not machines. Holding our feelings hostage forces us to stew on our issues, instigate more problems, and turns us into toxic people. Seeking help does not make you weak. It’s brave and it’s extremely hard work. We’re all little Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, walking around all big, bad, and impatient, screaming that we want our golden tickets and we want them now! Well, self-improvement is not instantly gratifying. In fact, you should be working towards it the rest of your life. Imagine if we we were all taught how to identify and diffuse our triggered emotions at an early age. Just imagine it. How would it statistically change things like the heroin epidemic, suicides, and school shootings?

If you’re ready to be the best version of yourself, but money or time is holding you back, consider an intern. Their prices are significantly less expensive (sometimes even free of charge), they aren’t burned out from years of experience, they’re caught up on the newest and most effective methods of therapy, and they’re monitored by licensed therapists! Life hack! You’re basically getting a 2 for 1. Most of my sessions were over an app similar to facetime, which was AMAZING. The convenience was a huge relief and I felt way more comfortable in my own space, which allowed me to fully open up and let my walls down. Serious game changer.

Invest in yourself. I promise it’s never too late and things are never too far gone to change for you. Every single day is an opportunity to be better. Your future self will thank you.

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Whose mind is it, anyway?

 

Obsessive Irrational thoughts.

This is what I struggle with the most. Why do I have them? Am I schizophrenic? Why won’t they stop?

When my mind starts to race, the brakes are tough to pump. I not only think impulsively but I act impulsively too. I’m spontaneous by nature (when I was 20 I moved to Las Vegas on a whim without a plan because I thought I was going to be a poker star) but lately my impulses weren’t the exciting and adventurous ones that people envied me for. They were negative and irrational. They caused me to have reactions that were completely disproportionate to the situation. After my adrenaline subsides and I float back down to earth I’m left feeling totally humiliated and filled with remorse. I’d say “that wasn’t me”. I truly felt that way. That wasn’t me. I don’t do that. Who was that? I don’t know her. She’s trying to ruin my life. I gave that side of me a name in an attempt to take the responsibility off of myself-Morgan Mayhem.

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I was like Superman and Clark Kent (well, more like Clark Kant get my emotions under control) The wild thing is it kind of worked. Whenever I did or said something absurd I’d blame it on Morgan and people just went along with it. It became an inside joke between my friends and I. Naming the irrational thoughts in my head allowed me to make light of the situation and not be as incredibly mortified after these episodes. I didn’t know it at the time but I was accidentally practicing a cognitive therapy technique called cognitive diffusion.

Guys, I have a confession to make. I am Morgan. Morgan is me.

As much as I wish I could blame my behavior and thought process on an extraterrestrial with a few screws loose using my body as a host-I just can’t. That’s ridiculous.

I did, however, learn an effective way for Morgan Mayhem to help me combat my obsessive irrational thoughts. She let me externalize my issues and recognize them for what they were rather than be the issue. This gave me the courage to stand up against my irrational and sporadic thoughts and separate them from who I am. I’m no longer overwhelmed and consumed by them. Instead I just tell Morgan to kick rocks.

Real Life Example:

I work for a beer distributor in Baltimore City. I’m at work trying to figure out how to run reports-something I should already know how to do, but the system is giving me problems. Morgan enters my thoughts, stage left. “Why are you still having issues with this? Your boss hates you. How dare you make her stop to show you how to run this report. You’re so annoying when you ask questions.”

Before: “Ugh, you’re so right. I’ll just waste time trying to figure this out because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone any more than I already do. I’m going to get increasingly frustrated then give up and it’ll effect my job and probably the rest of my day but at least I won’t be annoying.”

Now: “Kick rocks, Morgan. You suck.”

See how easy that is?! It’s such a simple solution that truly does work.

Morgan Mayhem is my overactive triggered mind playing tricks on me, nothing more. I’m not schizophrenic. I’m not a lost cause. I’m not a terrible person. You aren’t either. Give your thoughts a name, disassociate yourself from them, and roll your eyes whenever they speak up. Make your voice louder than theirs. It takes a little practice and time but soon you will start to feel like a super hero with the power and strength to kick your anxiety to the curb.