On Mental Health

Hi. My name is Zoot and today I’m seeing my first therapist.

I see people all the time post Facebook statuses like, “I keep getting back pains when I run…any ideas?” And people will recommend chiropractors and PTs and acupuncturists. They’ll tell you their favorite NSAID or how they depend on Epsom salt baths. Some will tell you their experience with switching mattresses or pillows.

But no one ever posts a status that says, “Some days are too much…any ideas?”

And I write statuses all the time about how we need to change this. We need to normalize mental health care and be open to talking about it. When they shut down the doctor’s office where my kid got counseling for his anger, I went on the NEWS and talked about it, and I talked about the stigma of this type of healthcare and how terrible that is for people struggling. I tell my kids that when they have seen their therapists it’s no different than going to their pediatrician. NO SHAME. It’s nothing to hide.

YET! Yet…I took my blog off my Instagram account because I have so many real world people that follow me there and I’ve been talking about my own journey to my own mental health so much here and…well…I was ashamed. I was afraid they’d look at me differently the next time they saw me. Maybe I’d no longer be “Fun Goofy Kim” and I’d be “Crazy As Shit Kim.”

And then…THEN…I felt total shame about taking it off and trying to hide the fact that I’m seeking out mental health care. So I decided to write this entry. THERE IS NOTHING MORE META.

My name is Kim. I have always suffered under the burden of several types of anxieties as long as I can remember. I manage them successfully most days, but in many ways they also often darken my life. Lately, as my plate seems to be overflowing with obligations, as the presidential election cycle becomes more and more ugly, and as I suffer through my least favorite month (March: The month we spent watching Dad die in 2009), it has all become too much. I’m not sleeping well, I’m crying too much, and I can not manage my diet because my stress-coping mechanisms always revolve around binge eating.

So, I’m getting help. I made a million phone calls (AND I TOTALLY ABHOR THE TELEPHONE) last week trying to decide who is covered by my insurance in what way and then trying to matching up covered counselors with my issues and today at 10am I am meeting with a therapist. I chose an LPC because I’m avoiding medication right now. (I have this intense awareness of the GOOD parts of my anxiety and I’m terrified of losing those in medicating the bad parts.) She may be terrible. She may be amazing. Who knows, but I’m trying to be casual about it. I want people to be as open saying, “Hey – did you like your counselor who helped you with your anxiety?” as we are saying, “Hey – did you like that Physical Therapist who helped you when you had Runner’s knee?”

I’m feeling unwell. I’m going to a doctor. Just like if I had tendonitis or a stress fracture. My brain is not processing the things in my life successfully and instead it is backfiring so I’m going to seek help in fixing that. I’m starting with a therapist just like you might start with an x-ray. I need someone to help me look at the big picture for awhile to help me see if I need to approach things differently. Maybe I just need to change my running form or my tennis shoes. Or maybe I need surgery. Either way – I need to be open about it so the next person who feels like the weight of the world is crushing her to death will feel okay coming out and saying, “Some days are too much…any ideas?”

29 thoughts on “Hi. My name is Zoot and today I’m seeing my first therapist.”

  1. I’ve been struggling with how to manage not only my anxiety and depression, but also the fact that I sometimes feel a lot of shame about it. It’s gotten easier as I’ve gone through the process of getting help (therapy, meds, continued treatment), in large part because I’ve found that the most rewarding part about sharing my story has been hearing the stories of others in return — especially those stories of success and health and recovery.

    When I was just beginning the process of seeing a therapist months ago, my friend sent me this print from an amazing organization, To Write Love on Her Arms: http://store.twloha.com/collections/all-products/products/courageous-print

    I remember when I got it I had no idea what to do with it. In fact, I was kind of embarrassed by it. Why on earth would I want to broadcast my mental illness by hanging a picture on my wall from a nonprofit that promotes awareness and help for mental illness?! That’s just ASKING for judgment and broadcasting My Crazy!

    Three months later, I have it hanging on my wall to remind myself of a few things: there is no shame in what I’m feeling or experiencing. I am not alone in what I feel or how I react to the world and my emotions. I can make a difference by sharing my story AND in the way my story evolves.

    I realize now that I probably should have emailed this, because things just got pretty personal for a blog comment, but, hey. Be courageous with your story.

    Sending luck and good thoughts your way today and everyday.

  2. I hope it is a good fit! A few years ago life was just too much…no sleep, a job I was sick of, not enough money, too many fights with the husband and kids too young and needing all of me – basically what so many parents of young children feel. So I took the steps to talk to a counselor and it was so helpful to just talk to someone whose only job was to listen and give me a different way of thinking about things.

    And even though nothing terrible had happened that first session I cried so much. I couldn’t believe it. Crying in front of a total stranger, but it was so cathartic to have some one just listen to all of the things I was worried about.

    So good for you, and I hope it helps!

  3. I hope you find a good fit! I’ve spent time with therapists a few times and found the good ones immensely helpful.

  4. YES. Have you seen the movie they made from the story of the birth of TWLOHA? It’s amazing. I love the whole sentiment, thank you for reminding me! I had forgotten about it.

  5. I’m so proud of you!
    I suffer from anxiety and depression, and have been medicated for both. Right now I’m taking medication for depression which seems to lessen the anxiety which is great.
    When I made the decision (in November) to go back to the doctor to figure this out, I basically got out a sentence and started to cry. But, we figured it out, and I feel so much better. I mean, I still have way too much on my plate, and last week I closed my office door and had a good cry over a mean email, but … underneath it all I feel like I can handle it as opposed to feeling completely out of control.
    Also, I share your anxiety/stress eating issues. When I start going really overboard with food that’s when I know something’s up. (I mean weight’s always been a problem for me, but when I can’t deal unless I eat cookies … I know I need to ask for help.)

  6. Good for you for taking that first step! I’m going to the dentist today after 20+ years–facing my fears. We can do this! Good luck!

  7. Well done! The first step is the worst. I hope she’s a good fit for what you need, and if not, keep looking for the right one. It’s hard but you can do it.

  8. Jumping up and down for joy – proud of you in so many ways! You are strong and brave – very courageous! Even if you had made this step in private, you would have been all those things. But, that you did it so openly on your blog? You go girl!!! Hoping you and your therapist are a good fit!

  9. asukayuyama – Hello! Welcome to my blog :) I am an engineer. I am 30 something years old. I am a Japanese. I was born and raised in Japan, and came to US when I was 18 years old. I am fluent in English and Japanese. However, my English sounds funny and my Japanese sounds weird :) So, please expect non-perfect English on my blog! The title of this blog came from a idea of taking one step at a time, and taking many of those steps. This blog is a place for me to share my personal journey to explore myself, see myself from different views, and grow myself in a fun and adventurous way. Thank you for taking this journey with me :) Enjoy!
    AN says:

    I’ve had a few different therapists in my life through personal and marriage counseling from my previous marriage. I had one I didn’t connect, and I had one who was great, and I had one who truly changed my life. For someone who grew up in Asia, where counseling is a total taboo and not even one word is spoken about, my Asian family was shocked I went. When I went during the tough time in the previous marriage, that was my first, and I know I was super nervous because I didn’t know anyone who has actually been to a therapist. So, I was the first to step into the room in my world. I went to see a therapist after my divorce as check in, like we go to a doctor for annual physical exam. Going to see therapists was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my life. I hope you have good journey, self-discovery, and even some fun with her. Always remember if you don’t happen to connect with her, there are a lot more for you to see out there. Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. You are not alone. You are already so brave for speaking up and getting help, where not a lot of people can.

  10. Having done this off and on for 30 years, I would definitely expect you to cry for much of the first session. There was one season in my life where I felt that I spent every hour with my therapist crying and said to my husband, “it seems silly to pay her to watch me cry” and he pointed out that it was the only place that I felt safe enough to cry about things and he would pay double to have that for me.

    Again, long time off and on again user of various therapists so would also suggest that you might not know for a couple of sessions whether this one will fit with you or not. If they don’t fit, remember it’s just chemistry, nothing wrong with either of you.

  11. I started seeing a therapist back in November of 2015, and I feel like it’s been a huge help in dealing with my depression and anxiety. Am I “cured”? Of course not, but I go there, and I talk about things, and I learn strategies about how to deal in the real world. And I seriously cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO. Like ugly faced snotty cry. Every time I go in there and think, “Today I’m not going to cry!” and I get like ten minutes in and am a mess. But it is cathartic, and for some reason, not at all embarrassing.
    Good luck today!

  12. Good for you Open up to her. Cry. It took a full year for me to cry in her office. I was and sometimes still am a huge feelings stuffer.I have been seeing a counselor for 10 years. I need the support. Sometimes its 3 or 4 weeks between visits- sometimes 2.

  13. Joining everyone here in holding you up in support of this decision. I see a social worker in tandem with my GP for a combination of medication and talk therapy.

    I hope you find relief

  14. i wish for you a therapist/dr/whatev that is “just right” for YOU. Kim. then it’ll be just like many other things (e.g. buffy the vampire slayer!) … things you now look back on and wonder “what took me so long??? this is AH-MAZ-ING!!!” 🙂 mine had to move about 40 minutes away 8 months ago due to schooling issues for his special-needs son, and while it’s no “real” problem for me these days (since he helped me so much before all that, after going to him when REALLY NEEDING some help)…i still miss him like crazy! 🙂

    sometimes it takes a sec to find the right match…sometimes it doesn’t. regardless, though…it’s ALWAYS worth it!!! we’ve gotta take care of ourselves, girl…b/c NOBODY else is going to do it for us! 🙂

    super proud of you…and mostly just happy for you! love you!

  15. HAHHAHA! I’m so sorry. My blog SUCKS with keyboard emoji type things. I need to install a plugin to try to fix it. My favorite is when I’m listing out things A, B, C, and I use parenthesis like A) and C) but this is what it shows when I do B)

  16. DAMMIT. And now it’s not doing it! It used to make it the emoji with sunglasses for some reason. Duh. Now we both feel smart. 🙂

  17. First, I wish you all the best and hope your experience is helpful.

    But I, as a local, also wanted to tell you my take on your 4th paragraph. I fully understand your reticence, but your words are powerful.

    I found this blog a few years ago when I moved to the HSV area and was interested in local runners. You don’t know me, but we’ve run together on trails. This blog helped me figure out and put a name to my struggles, which as a guy tend to show up differently on the outside. But you put many of my emotions into words that resonated and helped me see that I needed help. I’ve since seen two therapists, each of whom helped me in very different ways. I’m better today than I’ve been for ten years, so thanks. I’m not fixed, but I’m better.

    The kicker is that if you weren’t a “real” person, which in this case means somebody who knows many of the people I know, I never would have read your blog. I’d personally love to meet the only Kim I *know*, who is crazy as shit like me.

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