Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clueless Therapist

I went to see a therapist this week.

I'm not entirely sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I started taking anti-depressants a couple months ago when it felt like I'd been sick forever and there was no end in sight. (Gee, sounds kinda the same as now!) They definitely helped with my feeling blue and being irritable and weepy.

But I felt like I needed someone to talk to, and I hate to burden my friends with endless "poor-me" sagas about my health. They're all busy, most of them are moms and some of those moms recently had second babies. And while they're all very supportive and sympathetic, they just don't have time to come over and hold my hand every day or even every week.

So I think I just wanted to pay someone to be my friend and listen while I talked about how hard all of this is and how scary I find the latest developments.

I wasn't looking for someone to "fix" me. But that's what this woman wanted to do, with all kinds of "alternative" healthcare solutions. I know these things work for some people, but I think you have to believe in them for them to help. And I am way too cynical to believe that the reason my elbows hurt is because I need to change directions in my life. Huh? What about people with Rheumatoid Arthritis? Is the miracle cure to all joint pain really in a bunch of affirmations?

She asked me about my coping strategies, and I mentioned this blog as one of them. I think I've written about my life ever since I got a diary for my ninth birthday. (Still have it, but have no memory of who gave it to me.) This therapist couldn't understand why I'd want to write about my thoughts and feelings in a public forum rather than a private journal.

While there are definitely things that I'm not going to put out there where a future employer (or my mother!!) might read them, it does help me to feel like I'm communicating to the world at large even if only a handful of friends and family are reading me. Or even no one at all. It's simply healing to me emotionally to let it (almost) all hang out, in a place where others could read it and perhaps identify with me, to know that I'm not alone in this experience.

And that, I think, is the worst part of being sick like this, the feelings of isolation and being all alone. Don't get me wrong, I know there are many people out there dealing with similar or even much worse illnesses. But when you don't have a diagnosis, you can't even join a support group, online or IRL.

Anyway, I think I found a new therapist to try, and this time I made sure we talked on the telephone for a little while before I made the appointment so I could be sure we had an understanding about what I was looking for and what she could offer. We'll see how it goes.


Laurie said...

A few points here--Good for you for seeking out someone to talk to, someone who is removed from the rest of your life.

It's really off-putting that she would question why you want to write (or why you chose to do whatever it was that works for you, seriously). Not only are there research studies that support the idea that writing about illness can actually improve patient outcomes, but common sense would tell you that expressing feelings and frustrations is a healthy, normal thing to do.

So...long version of me saying I am glad you're moving on with a new person, and keep on writing!

Laurie said...

Hi there,

So I wrote this long comment to you and I'm not sure what happened to it, so here's the short version: Writing about illness has been proven to improve patient outcomes. Beyond that, expressing feelings is better than keeping them in. And lastly, who is she to criticize your method for dealing with all of this, regardless of what that medthod is? Seriously.

So glad you found a new therapist. Keep on writing!

Aviva said...

Laurie -- Thank you so much for the encouragement and for validating my feelings. I find your blog so inspiring that I'm really tickled that you took the time to look at mine. :)