I had posted an entry about finding the right therapist, Appointment with Harleen F. Quinzel . I want to share my experience of going to therapy for the first time. Just a disclaimer, my experience is not like everybody else’s. What I went through doesn’t mean that’s how everyone ends up in therapy. Now that’s out the way, let the story begin **Mary Poppin’s voice** Once upon a time… hehehe….
So as I have explained before on an older entry, Let’s Start From the Beginning, I have stated I had depression since the age of 10. I had to bury a lot of things inside during my tween and teen years. Of course, I had one cry for help during my tween years and another one during my teen years.
I didn’t get the help I needed, because I have Roman Catholic strict Haitian parents. As I have discussed in my entry, African Americans and Mental Health, black people find therapy and any topic regarding to mental health/illness taboo. My parents did not think I needed therapy. I think it’s because they thought they were going to get in trouble and I would be taken away. The other reason can be, they will have to look into their own eternal mirror and take some accountability knowing they are one of the reasons why I ended up this way. And they either refuse to see it or they are not ready to see it. Whatever their reasons, it did not help me.
So here I go off to college. Nervous and anxious, but yet excited and hopeful about my future. What? I was 18 years old! Gimme a break… Sigh. Anyway, my freshmen year was terrible. A month before I started my first semester, I change my major from Nursing to undecided. If you’re Haitian or know about the Haitian culture, you will understand my parents were extremely displeased. My parents gave me 1 semester to pick a major and I know it has to be a major to their liking. The people at my dorm, mainly the girls (big shocker there), were bullies. I had to use transportation to travel from campus to home every weekend to take care of my parents and health reasons. What kind of health reasons? Heart problems. I had 4 heart attacks my freshmen year. Doctor appointments consumed me and as well being in the hospital a lot. On top of that, I was working TWO jobs. Yes, let’s recap everything. I was an undecided full time college student, working two jobs, taking care of my parents, in and out of hospitals, going to doctor appointments, while trying to make it to my classes, study, and do my homework.
Yes, shit were real. That’s why when I started my sophomore year I had a very middle finger in the air kind of attitude. I just wanted to focus on myself. I didn’t care for friends because I didn’t really had any. I stop visiting my parents so I can focus on my studies. As soon as I started to think about myself, I was doing academically better. But when I was acting “selfish” I was also isolating myself from people and then eventually with my feelings. Suddenly one day, I started to feel numb. Everything just didn’t matter anymore. It kinda scared me.
It bothered me that there was a numbness going on with me and I didn’t seem to care. This tug of war of not caring and caring about not caring was extremely frustrating and annoying. This endless circle pushed me into a suicidal depression. I wanted someone to talk to, but I felt so alone at the time. Until one day passing through the commuter lounge on campus I saw a flyer about counseling and making an appointment to see one.
Usually people stall or get too nervous to do it, but I went away. At the time i was 19. And at that point for nearly a decade I was in pain and needed someone to hear me and guide me. This was a wish come true. Why wouldn’t take this opportunity?
I made an appointment and I wish I can say it went well, but it didn’t. This person was a religious person from a strong Christian belief. He used bible references and also psychology to help people out. Not saying anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I then tried someone else, and she was… what’s a nice way of calling her a bitch without calling her a bitch? Whoops! It slipped. Look, I understand in that line of work, you must be honest with your patients about certain things, but depending what kind of patient you have and the circumstance, there should be a certain way to deliver that honesty. This woman had no regards. So I said, “deuces!”
Now, the school only had 3 people and two of them didn’t work out for me. I was really nervous about the third one? What if it doesn’t work out? What will I do? Will I have to try to carry on on my own again? Luckily for me, it wasn’t the case. Third time is a charm! She wasn’t religious but spiritual. She was honest, but knows when to put it gently and when to tell me to cut the bullshit. Yes, I had a Goldie Locks this shit out, lol!
She the one that diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder, then said I had bipolar disorder, just to finally draw the conclusion that I have both. The other diagnosises I have were discovered by therapists after her. I owe her my sanity because she really helped me.
I looked forward to every session with her, even though it would take me 30 minutes into the session to really talk. I don’t know why I did that. Actually I still do! Lol! Instead 30, it’s 15 minutes now. I have gotten better in time. I guess no matter how comfortable I am with someone it will take me time to let it out. And even so, with her I had to force myself because I wanted to get better. So I thought…
I wanted the pain to go away, but when endured it for so long, it’s all I know. Without pain, who am? What my life will be like without it? Though my demons had cause me emotional turmoil, it also “comforts” me. It knows me well. If I let that go, who will be able to understand me? This and many other things I had to sit down and confront. Some sessions were like a heartache and others felt liberating.
Did I improve through the years? In some aspects, yes. Many others? Hell naw! It will take more than 3 yrs of therapy to undo about 10 years of emotional and mental damage. But I will say this, I learned more about myself and realize there are more things I needed to work on.
It had encourage me to continuously seek out help and self improvement. I hope my entry inspire any individual to do the same. The road to mental recovery is a long one, but anyone can do it by adulting one day at a time.