When you are sick or injured, you go see a doctor. At least, I hope you do! These folks are highly trained and studied in their field. We may not have a personal relationship with them, but we trust they will do the right thing and get us better. We trust the MD or DO behind their name means they are now able to put all of the years of school they spent, learning their craft, can now be put into action. Make us feel better. We don’t always know them, especially if what is going on has caused you to go to the ER, but we trust they will make good decisions and get us on our way to healing and feeling better.
In the mental health world, we have Psychiatrists. Do not confuse them with a Psychologist or a Therapist, the two professions Psychiatry and Psychology, practice what they have learned in a totally different way from the other. A Psychiatrist is a doctor of the mind. These folks are most similar to your General Doctor. They are the ones who will examine you and form a diagnosis based on your mental health symptoms. After forming a diagnosis, they will then prescribe the appropriate treatment you need, including starting you on medication if your situation calls for it. They may, also, implement other means of treatment as well.
They may recommend you to go see one of the biggest players in getting you and your mind back on track. The ones who will encourage you to make necessary changes in your life and help you figure out how you can go about implementing such changes. Help you see your strengths. These wonderful folks are Clinical Psychologists and Therapists. There is a difference between the two and how they go about studying to earn their degrees, but these are the people that really bridge the gap in the mental health game. I feel their overall goal is really the same. They want to help you get better and help you develop the tools you need to succeed in strengthening your mental health.
I mean no offense to anyone as I combine the two and go with the term therapist for my description throughout what I write. I have the upmost respect for what you do and how you got there!
While I was in the hospital, I was encouraged to seek out a therapist when I was discharged. They even helped me make the initial appointment, while I was still an inpatient. Seeing a therapist was a brand new concept to me. A concept I really had never thought about. I knew these people existed, but I never saw myself as someone who needed to utilize their services.
Of course this was the old me. The stubborn me. The old me who tried to do everything himself. Well, if you have been following along with my previous blogs, you know this old me method didn’t work out so well. Hence, why I was in the hospital and why they encouraged me and helped me to get set up with a therapist for me to start seeing upon discharge.
This was a major change for me. While in the hospital, I learned methods of reaching out to others and how to utilize others to get me back to a healthier and stronger mental health status. We talked about a lot, but it doesn’t mean the change in front of me was going to be any easier.
I have to admit, I was worried what people would think of me when they found out I was seeing a therapist. Enter the stigma we are trying to tear down here. I was worried about how I would look if I went down this path. I wasn’t one to hide anything from anyone, but it still gave me pause. I was insecure about seeing someone. I was insecure about what people would think of me when they find out what I was doing.
I knew I needed to do it. My brain at least was functioning more logically than it had been before my hospitalization, but I was still nervous about this change and I was nervous about my image to others.
I was nervous the first day I walked into the office to see this person who I had never met before. I’m not going to lie, it was nerve racking going in and seeing someone whose name I basically pulled out of a hat. Will we gel? Will I be able to open up? Will I like this person? Will I feel like I was truly being listened to? These were some of the questions going through my head as I walked into the office. Especially since this was a whole new world to me.
So, now I’m waiting to be called in. I had checked in at the front desk and was waiting for my turn. My turn came up. I got up and walked into her office with her. I sat down in one of the chairs. I was nervous. This was about to happen. She shut the door. Probably a good thing. The shutting of the door, solidified in my mind, I couldn’t run out and escape from this new situation.
We began to talk. The first visit was more of a “get to know you” kind of visit. I described a bit of my childhood in the sense it was a normal childhood. No abuse or anything out of the ordinary. I talked about what I did for a living. I talked about my wife and our relationship a little bit. Just “getting to know you” kind of stuff like that.
She described herself and what she did and told me a little bit about her profession. It was a two way street kind of conversation. Nothing too crazy was discussed. I did get a little bit into my story, but that wasn’t the point of this visit.
I feel, as I look back on it now, the point of the visit was, yes, get to know each other a little bit, but also to break the ice. Not rush into everything too fast. The point was to make me feel comfortable. I did feel comfortable. I was surprised how quickly the nervousness left me. This was going to be no big deal, as compared to the apprehensions I formed in my mind. I knew I could do this.
I kept going back. We dove into my story. We dove into some of my past. We talked a lot about how I feel now. As important as it was for me to talk about my past, it was important for me to talk about how I felt now. The topics of the past are important. It helped to give her a sense of what I needed to develop to aid the present me. It is an interesting process to be a part of.
She didn’t so much as tell me I had to do “this, this and this”, but she helped me form a plan on how to accomplish the “this, this and this”. It was never like I had to do this or I had to do that. Everything was very much a collaborative effort. She helped to guide me down certain roads, but I was always in control of what I needed to do to build myself back up.
I was being an active participant in my treatment. What good would it really do if you go into one of these sessions and just listen to your therapist talk to you the whole time? I know I would probably zone out. I would answer when I needed to, but I know I would zone out. Become passive in my treatment. Passive doesn’t work. Being passive, honestly, doesn’t work in any of the mental health game. We have to be active in helping ourselves!
These amazing people will not cure you. Curing really isn’t the goal and is an unrealistic expectation to put on anyone, especially your therapist. We are never cured from mental illness. We do what needs to be done to strengthen our resolve. Strengthen our mind. My therapist and I formed ways to strengthen my mind and develop the tools I need to ward off the bad times. The bad times come back, we don’t get rid of them, or “cure” ourselves from these thoughts.
What we do is form ways to battle these thoughts when they arise. Knock them back down before they can get out of control again. My therapist was and is pivotal in helping me develop the processes I have now, and what I will need down the road, for battling these demons that can and will try to rise back up.
I no longer see my original therapist as she moved away and had a new opportunity elsewhere. I respect that. I now see a new therapist, whom she recommended, and I have grown to like him as well. I liked her chill manner she used to go about things and he has a very similar chill manner as well. The chill manner works for me. It may not work for you.
Thankfully, there are all types of therapists out there, as far as finding someone that fits your style or fits what you need. You can find some are laid back and some are more in your face and everything in between. We all need a different style as long as it works for us. For some it does take a while to find the right fit. Please be patient with that part of the process and please continue seeking the right fit for you. I have been lucky in that I’ve had two people, the only two I’ve seen, that I like. It, unfortunately, doesn’t always work out this way. Be patient.
Seeing a therapist has been one of the best changes I have made in my life. Change is hard, but change can work. This is one of those changes I have made that has really worked.
Yes, I have days where I am not in the mood to go in and see my therapist. I sometimes have to force myself to go. I don’t go skipping in there every single time saying, “Let’s go!” I can tell you I’ve never left the office thinking it was a mistake to go or I should have listened to my brain and stayed home. No matter how I feel before I go, I leave the visit knowing it was the right thing to do.
It’s not like we have a super major breakthrough each visit. The good feeling comes from just talking to someone. Talking to someone different than who you talk to normally in your life. Keep talking to your core people. They are important, but I feel good after just talking to my therapist. Changing it up.
There is an added bonus with a therapist. They listen to you. They listen well. They also have studied a number of years to then be able to offer advice and steer you down the right path. This is what they do. This is the career, the living they have chosen.
I chose to be a nurse, because I care about people and I want to help them. You cannot fake it. It is not a profession you can “ho-hum” your way through. These people, these therapists of ours, the Clinical Psychologist or Therapist, have made the same decision. My guess it is nearly impossible to “ho-hum” your way through this chosen career path. What I am trying to say is these awesome people truly care about what you are saying. Truly want to hear about what you have to say and they truly want to help you get better.
Let’s also remember they are human like the rest of us. They have good days and they have bad days just like the rest of us. They hear a lot of stuff and they still have to make everything work in their regular being- human- life. They have to balance a lot. It is a big sacrifice to give so much energy to someone. The only way I can relate or try to relate to this is from my dealings being a nurse. It is taxing. But they do it. They do the job. They love what they do. They want to help you. I believe this. They want to help you.
So I encourage you. If you are on the fence about this, give it a shot. You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. No one can make you do it. Just give it a shot. We need the different avenues they help us to navigate. We need the different points of view we don’t come up with ourselves or by talking to our loved ones.
I, for one, am glad I started to go. Seeing my therapist has been a game changer for me. Seeing them further drives home the fact I can’t do this alone. You have to go in and be honest with them. Be honest with yourself. They can’t help you fully, if you can’t be honest about what is going on in your life. You have to be active in your treatment and with the recommendations. I believe you will not regret going once you make the decision to go!
Therapy is wonderful. These therapists are wonderful. The power of mental healing you can achieve by working in tandem with these folks is wonderful. Remember, it is not a cure you are seeking. It won’t happen, but the abilities to further strengthen your mind is what you are seeking. The abilities, by being active, to ward off any attack that comes our way from our minds. The attacks will keep coming, but we don’t have to let them spin out of control anymore. We can change, and this particular change, has been a game changer for me and how I continue to fight. How I continue to get stronger. How I achieve better mental health.
You can do this! We can do this! It’s OK to not be OK! Let’s keep walking this path, this journey together.
Have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started:
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
This group is meant to focus on an “everybody in” type of focus. I share my music and also this blog there amongst other things. The music I share is instrumental (I am not a singer). I try and attach a positive message to each tune. I also encourage others to share their hobbies or anything that they like to do that makes them happy. Or share anything that is working for them. A place where we can get away from things for a while. A group approach to improving each others mental health!
I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
Also on Apple Podcasts and Spotify
Please check it out!