Friends, hello! It's been a while, have ya missed me? Juuuust nod your head yes. As you may have deduced from my absence / manic rants about interior decorating, I'm in a bit of a winter blues situation. This happens to me every year and I usually just ride it out with a self-prescribed mix of hibernation, prestige television binges and spaghetti, emerging on the other side as chipper as ever. But something felt off this year, the usual techniques weren't quite working. Last week I confessed to a friend that I was in the midst of my "Annual January Anxiety Spiral" and she kind of paused and very kindly replied, "Liz...you know it's February, right?"
I came to the hard realization that I might be beyond carbs at this point and it's time to call in the big guns. Professional guns. AKA: your girl's going to therapy.
FINALLY!! I know, right?!
Many of you might cringe at that admission, thinking therapy really isn't something we ought to talk about openly but I wholeheartedly disagree. I think this mindset perpetuates the harmful stigmatization of mental health issues, which only furthers tragedies like suicide and addiction. Mental illness ought to be discussed as openly and treated as urgently as physical ailments. I truly believe it's vital for the wellbeing of society as a whole.
Also I have literally #nofilter so...pretty much anything's polite conversation as far as I'm concerned.
I think therapy is great. Everyone should get therapy! I honestly think it should be mandatory. Even the sanest of people benefit from occaisionally hashing it out with a neutral third party. Unfortchhh it's not quite that easy. For one, those who most pressingly need psychological help often lack the ability to seek it out by very nature of their illness. If you're so depressed you can barely leave the house, how are you going to muster the courage to pick up the phone and call a doctor? I have a pal who has issues with avoidance and procrastination. We were chatting one day about our mutual need to get our ish sorted and he confessed to me, very vulnerably, "if I was able to pick up the phone and call a therapist today instead of talking myself into just doing it another time...I wouldn't even need them in the first place!"
Secondably, therapy ain't free, unless you live in Canada, probably, those goddamn Maple Leafs have it all, so one must wade through the arduous task of tracking down an acceptable therapist that falls within her particular health care plan which, frankly, is the worst. Did you know that Anthem Blue Cross and Empire Blue Cross are different providers?? Even though they're both frigging BLUE CROSS?? And therapists (and docs of all stripes, to that end) can take one but not the other? How are they not the same thing??? The mentally healtiest of people could have a full on nervous breakdown just from trying to navigate health insurance.
There's another option, of course, which is to go to an indepent provider or to one not in your network and pay out of pocket. Which is, let's say, inaccessible. Last week I was quoted $350 an hour by one doc. THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS AN HOUR?? Do I look like Kim Kardashian??? I mean, yes, obviously I do, but though I may have the ass, I don't have the cash. Money can not buy happines, but apparently it can buy you some nice out of coverage mental health care.
Lastably, unlike, I don't know, an ENT or a knee surgeon or whatever, it is vitally important to find a therapist with whom you can connect and feel comfortable baring your soul. It's like dating! Except kind of the opposite, wherein on a date you try to act like your very best self possible, but in therapy you spew out all of the inner truths that make you a delightful headcase.
I honeslty don't know which is worse.
I very briefly saw a therapist a few years ago and, like essentially all of my dating tales not involving BriGuy, it was an awkward tale for the books.
Staring down the barrel of a standard January Anxiety Spiral, I decided it was time to get serious and spent weeks basically being the Three Bears of Generalized Anxiety Disorder - this therapist's too expensive! This one's too far away? - until a co-worker passed on a recommendation from her own therapist, for the doctor who worked across the hall. He came recommended, took my particular, apparently very specific, brand of insurance, had offices just up the street from my work...could this guy be just right?!
Spoiler Alert: he was not.
The second I walked into this well-apointed digs in Manhattan's Greenwich Village I just knewit wasn't going to work out. I knew! Nothing was alarming from the get-go but, just like a first date, either you feel it or you don't. I could smell something was amiss. Except I couldn't actually smell anything at all, as he burned large quantities of incense, to which I am allergic. Five minutes into the session and I was weeping, not so much from my emotions but from my smarting sinuses.
We started with the plesantries. He learned I was a high strung neurotic with daddy issues and I learned that he really, really, REALLY liked lacrosse.
Every tidbit I would reveal, he would meet with a story or metaphor about lacrosse, the preffered sport of date rapists and douche bros worldwide.
"I'm afraid I might suck at my job!" I would blubber.
He would serenly nod, in that therapisty way, lean forward and reply: "Did you know the Iriquois invented lacrosse in the early 18th century to play during harvest festivals?"
"Um...no? Are you saying I should quit publishing to become a farmer? Or make bespoke lacrosse sticks??"
"Only you can know what you need to do," he would reply. "I'm just here to listen."
Ever the Type-A people pleaser, I decided to overlook these instant and obvious flaws and stick it out. Rock a boat? I would literally never. I would just smile and nod and make this work. Maybe his weird metholodology will actually heal me! Until then, I would just sit there and learn about lacrosse for one hour per week for the rest of the weeks of my whole life until one of us died.
This lasted for four sessions until he finally decided to spice up his standard lax ramblings in favor of something a little more, um, intense.
I bet you're thinking that's a good thing, right? Ditching the weird coach act for some real therapizing. Oh no, friendo. Oh no.
I don't remember what I was yammering on about, I'm sure it was some unhinged paranoia about how someone, somewhere is probably mad at me, that sounds like something I'd work myself into a frenz about, but I do remember exactly what he replied. He nodded, brought his hands to his mouth, tented as if in prayer, and said:
"Did you know that during the Holocaust, some imprisoned Jews would serve as guards in the camps and would become very corrupt and betray their own people to the Nazis in an attempt to save themselves?"
What. The. Actual. What. I did not know that particular historical fun fact but now I have ONE MILLION follow up questions such as "why are you talking about the Holocaust right now?? Are you calling me a Nazi? Or am I a traitorous Jew?? IS THIS REALLY MY LIFE RIGHT NOW???"
Clearly, this had to end.
Sadly, as hard as it can be to find a therapist, it can be even harder to let one go. I mean, I was paying this man to help me get over my pathalogical need to be liked by everyone and now I had to dump him? Wait...does that mean he might ... not ... like me?!
I did what any rational human would do and googled "How to break up with my therapist?" and was amazed to find I was not alone in this world! Countless other nuts had gone before me and with their help, I bravely drafted an "It's not you, it's me" brush-off, printed it out, and practiced a dozen times before leaving him a cool, calm and collected voicemail, never to speak to him again.
Well, there was that one more time.
A few months after I so boldly dumped him, my phone lit up with a new text message. It was from my ex...therapist! He had a question about billing and, like a professional medical doctor, was using text messaging to convey this query. In the message he asked if I might clarify some insurance information and left his email address for me to follow up.
I won't reveal his full address as that is both unkind and probably a violation of HIPPA, but I will share that it contained the prhase...and again, this is an adult, professional, doctor we're talking about here...it contained the phrase "laxbro."
I could not make this up in my wildest of dreams. It is so real, it almost hurts. On the plus side, this did clear up, much like a bad date, that he was deffonot the one for me. But on the negative side, I was once again back in the wild, chomping my fingernails with no therapist in sight.
Until now! I finally harnessed my powers to wade through the muck and have a preliminary appointment this afternoon. On paper this gal seems great! She's a lady, which I'm into, you know, therapy wise (and romance wise if you're Keri Russell...are you guys watching The Americans? Good GOD Felicity, you minx), takes my insurance (booyah!) and comes highly recommended via my lady doc, whom I adore. If this woman takes the same care with my mind as her friend does with my va-jay-jay, I'll be sane in no time!
Wish me luck? Clearly I need it.
Before I go, I'm going to hop back on my soapbox for a hot second and tell you that if you ever are feeling off and like you might benefit from talking to someone, do it! And don't be shy about it. Tell a friend. Seek a recommendation. Put on your biggest big girl panties, clutch your lucky lacrosse stick and make the call. Believe me, I know it's hard, I am clearly barely listening to any of the advice coming out of my own mouth (fingers?) right now, but I know you've got it. Seeking help is not shameful in the least, it's bold and you should feel proud about it. You're going to be great.
I think you are the nicest and best Jew who would never, ever sell out his homies to the Nazis...no matter what.
xoxoxo Liz Hott