Monday, October 29, 2007

Therapy 101

In case you’re all dying to know how my first therapy session went, I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. It went about as well as I could expect—leaving me, brimming with emotion, wondering just how many sessions it will take for me to “rewire” my reactions so that I can cope with all the crap that has happened to me and keeps coming my way.

What I learned in the first session wasn’t all that surprising—I have low self esteem stemming from how my parents raised me. You see, when you constantly discourage your kid from being what they want to be and constantly call into question all of their decisions, and even go so far as to proclaim that they must love a food that they have repeatedly sworn they hate, the kid starts to call into question everything they feel. They start to mistrust themselves. The kid ultimately develops a very low self esteem. That kid, desperate for their parents’ approval, becomes an overachiever and to the outside world appears to be quite a success. The kid becomes keenly observant of the people around them in their quest to obtain parental approval and therefore make tons of friends because of their ability to listen and dole out helpful advice. In the meantime, their own emotions get bottled up until they become such a burden that the kid can no longer deal with them. Therefore the kid becomes depressed and prone to anxiety attacks. Throw in some major life issues to deal with, and the kid can no longer function without seeking therapy. I’m so textbook it’s scary.

I’m not here to blame my parents, but I’ve known forever that their brand of parenting wasn’t--and still isn’t--very helpful for a healthy self esteem. Whenever I expressed interest in something, I was told--oh, you don’t want to do that--or I was told why I shouldn’t do that. This pattern has continued right into adulthood, as I faced infertility and was told by one of my parents that I shouldn’t do fertility treatments, and if they were faced with the same issue, they would choose to be childless.

All of the mentors in my life have recognized my self esteem issues and have asked me how someone as successful and smart as me could have such a problem. Well, I’ve always known the answer to that. I didn’t need therapy to tell me. What I need to know is how to fix it. Because I’m not going to repeat this pattern with my boys. Period.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Next Step Forward

I’m finally pulling the trigger on some much needed therapy. I’m nervous about it, and I keep second guessing whether I really am depressed enough to seek counseling, but I’ve decided to go through with it and see what happens. After all, it can only make things better, right? I had a few rough days last week where I was just so down I couldn’t stand it. It was tough making the call for a referral—you get so many questions—but after I told my situation to the counselor on the phone, she told me how surprised she was that I was coping as well as I have been and that I definitely should seek some help ASAP, not only pick up the pieces but to be able to get though my impending abdomen surgery (more on that later).

What are my symptoms? I’m unmotivated about work, I have little interest in seeing friends, I’m sad more often than not, I have emotional breakdowns after every doctor’s appointment, I feel sick when thinking about a future hospital stay, and yes, I’ve occasionally thought that I’d be better off dead. But only occasionally. Most of the time I’m happy to be here, even though I’m unhappy about so many things that have happened to me. I don’t believe I’d cause myself any harm and I certainly wouldn’t harm anyone else. But sometimes I don’t want to be around anyone, and that scares me. Sometimes, when I’m alone with the boys for a few hours after work, I just want to call H and tell him to come home early because I can’t take being alone with them. This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

I’m tired of feeling sad more often than I feel happy. I want to snap out of it. H is also having a hard time. It’s hard to feel happy when I see how depressed he is too. I’m hoping therapy will provide me with an outlet and an objective person who will help me come to terms with my emotions and teach me how to handle them in a more productive way.

For awhile, this blog was my “therapy.” I could get things off my chest, and get some good feedback from others in the same boat, but now I feel like I need to take the next step in getting better. Occasionally I get a comment from an anonymous person who tells me I need to “get over myself” and stop complaining. Those comments (which I refuse to post since the person doesn’t have the guts to say who they are) always send me reeling. Maybe I am too self-centered. Maybe I should just get over it and focus on the positive. But then I have to laugh. I mean, this blog is about me, after all. Why should I have to “get over myself” when writing it? If I did, what would I have to write about? I’m not sure how many people care about what I have to say. I like to think my blog helps some people who are going through what I’ve been though. I’ve also made friends here who I think are genuinely interested in what’s going on in my life. To the people who think I need to “get over” myself, I say—don’t waste your time reading my blog. My blog may not be for you, and I can respect that. But my blog is first and foremost an outlet for me. It’s not about gaining readers or popularity. I hope my story can help other people and that’s also why I tell it. I know reading other people’s blogs helps me feel less alone in this whole mess.

Anyhow, that’s what’s on my mind lately. The boys are doing great and I’m plugging along. I hope I’m on the road to a complete recovery. I’m going to do everything I can to be a better, happier person for my kids. I have to believe that there will be a happy ending to all this. You might say I’ve already gotten my happy ending, but it’s just not that cut and dry.