Time’s Up: Me & Therapy

Song of the Day: Our Fight Song (by many of my favorite people) 

Today, as I pass my 6 months of being a legal resident alien of the United States of America, I finished my 8 session stint visiting my therapist Christine.  There’s a pause, and I look up smile gently, calmly, making eye contact.  I laugh as her we’re out of time buzzer goes off.  She looks at her phone, and says very nonchalantly “so our time is up… good luck!”   She hands me a list of books on Assertiveness (something I need to work on).  She smiles honestly and says “keep working on your strengths and coping mechanisms- things that you came in with from the beginning”.  I look at her, feeling grounded and grateful, and say to her, as much as to myself: “Thank you.  I’m okay.  I’m going to be okay”.

Walking over today knowing that it was our last session, I reflected on how this all started.  In April, I decided I wanted to go to therapy to help me deal with culture shock (yes, even for us Canadians).  I had noticed how hard it was adjusting to Philadelphia and this new life. I thought I had the tools, awareness, experience, and education- resiliency, community awareness, open communication, etc, etc- so why was I struggling?   Why wasn’t I adjusting faster, and more successfully?   Why was I blacking out for hours at a time where I couldn’t remember what I was doing and when I snapped out of it, felt guilty about how unproductive my day was?  I was excited to have the time to “find myself”… but how can I find myself, if I have no idea where to look?   How could such an optimistic person feel so lonely and lost?

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I have always believed in the idea of therapy and counseling.   We all have mental health, much like physical health.  If we feel ill or break a bone, we see a doctor.  So if I’m feeling off mentally, I should seek support just the same.   I’ve felt content with my ability to communicate my feelings, and with being honest and open, but sometimes having someone who can act as an insightful mirror to my thoughts provides the needed reflection to move forward.   Peeta (my cat) has been a huge emotional support, but I needed someone a little more… qualified :).

As I sat in the waiting room for my first session, I still questioned myself and my reason for being there.  Do I look sad enough, am I smiling too much, was I too friendly with the receptionist, what if my reason isn’t valid enough, is the counsellor judging me and thinking that I’m wasting her time?   Questions that only serve as excuses, but filled my mind all the same.   I needed to let these questions go.

At the end of that first session, after spilling my vulnerable guts, Christine looked at me and said “well, this stuff takes time”.  Ugh.   That’s not the answer I was looking for.

After that first session, I still struggled with my internal voice on if I should keep going or not.  I decided to trust the process, and to stop worrying about my worth.  Our discussions started to move from adjusting to Philly, to getting to know why and how I am the person I am today.  It turned out the reason I started going was not the reason I ended up staying.

Today, I understand that I was trying to fight time all of this time.  I thought I  could be stronger, smarter, faster… better than time.   I wanted to adjust faster than I was.  But the reality, even for the seemingly best prepared, is that it takes time.

IMG_0216 As I walk out of the counseling services office, I note that our busy summer months have ended.  We’ve been on trips to Toronto, India, and the Bahamas.  We’ve been blessed with many visitors, who have stayed anywhere from a quick dinner, to 8 days.  I’ve loved being so busy, because I naturally thrive being busy.   But today, I am back to where I was in February.  Just me and Philly, with no new plans.  I’m grateful that I kept going to therapy, because now I’m feeling better equipped to thrive in this new city.  It’s been 6 months and I am just realizing how much I have accomplished.   And the best part, I believe that I’m a better more authentic me than I’ve ever been before.  I’m happy to say that today I’m okay being okay.

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Thank you all for reading this with an open mind, and remember that you too need to take care of your mental health, and each other.  Listen without judgment, and share without fear.   If you need that extra push, talk to me!  

 

14 comments on “Time’s Up: Me & Therapy

  1. Thank you for posting this and allowing all of us to be reminded that mental heath is important. The more it’s talked about by people like you the more acceptable it will be. You’ve come a long way my friend and embraced a big change in the best way that you can. I’m proud of you and what you have done – giving a chance to reflect on “you” is key. I hope these sessions brought you to where you want to be. You have a whole life ahead of you friend… And I can’t wait to continue being a part of it. Love you and hugs and happy 6 months in Philly. I miss you terribly.

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    • I am so happy you posted the blog months ago. I have enjoyed reading them ever since. Mike you are amazing. Your stories make people think, look within themselves and possibly make changes in themselves for the better. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and happy 6th months in Philadelphia. Enjoy.

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  2. Thank you for sharing Mike. Your authentic prose and honesty is both refreshing and inspiring. I am glad you’re ok.
    Thank you for helping to normalize a topic that so many find taboo!
    Big Hugz
    M

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  3. What a beautiful read! Thank you for being so open and honest about your transition,
    and for sharing your counselling experiences. There certainly is strength and awareness in seeking support and investing the time to work through what’s impacting you. It’s not easy but, knowing you, you can do it 🙂 *big Mike hug*
    Also, you totally hit the nail on the head about the self-dialogue we have in the counsellor’s waiting room!

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  4. Love this blog!! I have seeked help myself and still struggle with mental illness. Love that you had the courage to go before you hit rock bottom. You made me think about going back myself for a little chit chat just like I would an adjustment at the chiropractor. Knowing that you’re not alone and hearing someone else, other than your loved ones, say it’s ok and give your another perspective helps immensely. (We always think our loved ones say stuff cause they love us, even if we know they are sincere) So cheers to your journey and thanks for sharing it with all of us!

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  5. Thanks for you honest thoughts Mike. Certainly a journey which many people can relate to. It’s nice to see that the stigma of mental health therapy being for “crazy” can be lifted, although our society still has lots of work to do on that subject. I have been in therapy a couple times in my life and it helped me work some things out. It helped me believe I wasn’t just “crazy”! You do a great job of telling your story. You should make a living off this talent.

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  6. Mike this is fantastic! Thank you for the courage and energy to share. This made me think about where I am at right now and that maybe I should talk to someone more qualified than my cat or husband – haha.
    Your openness and generosity of spirit are so inspiring! Keep up the great work : )

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  7. Mike, Having worked with you for approximately 10 years. It did not surprise me that you could be struggling in your move to Philadelphia. I’m encouraged you sough professional guidance as we all need it at some time in our life. You had the right approach in seeking help to your adjustment in Philadelphia. Susanne and I often think of you and your partner Derrick. I miss the big hugs you used to give me at work. Well done you, we all will meet up again one day. Take care..
    David &Susanne

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