Friday, May 3, 2013

Holy Crap, I Think I Might Have Mental Health.



Yesterday, I had a really irksome consult with a potential therapist. A few weeks ago, I crowd-sourced for depression advice and a facebook friend recommended a lady in the area who’s supposedly progressive.

It’s hard to compress 38 years into a 10 minute phone call, especially since it’s been such a complicated year. First, the lady said I couldn’t be depressed if I was having a good day—fair enough. Then she remarked that I sounded much younger than my age—maybe she thought I was pranking her? But who pranks by appointment? She was bothered by the fact that I sounded too cheerful: “You’re telling me these terrible things, but there’s laugher in your voice.” Jeez, I told you, I was having a good day and plus, what was I supposed to do, break down and cry about it to a stranger recommended by a facebook friend? Plus, in such a short conversation, I didn’t see there being time for histrionics.

Anyway, I wish this lady had just said “I don’t like you.” and left it at that, but she had to get a judgment in.  She said “I just don’t think I would be a good fit. I’ve worked with gay and lesbian clients but I don’t really work with polyamory—I think you have to be EXTREMELY mentally healthy for that.” The poly friend who recommended this lady can be proud of her squeaky-clean psyche, I guess!

I thanked the therapist for being honest, wrote her a strongly worded email (I really am becoming Greenberg…) and argued with her in my head all evening. Sweetie, being Sweetie, thought the lady was so wrong that she shouldn’t even warrant a mention, but she accidentally got me to some fantastic conclusions. Sometimes therapy happens in spite of incompetence, I guess.

First of all, having gone through a bunch of stuff doesn’t mean I’m not mentally healthy. In the past year, I’ve worked my ass off getting certified to teach, got hired right after graduation, and navigated several new relationships and breakups without major aftermath. By writing through it, I processed a lot of junk from the past on my own. My job is a nightmare sometimes but I end most days feeling happy anyway. I may need to find a better school but I know teaching is what I was meant to do.

And what The Man did was shitty, but it came nowhere close to breaking me. Yes, I cried, I freaked, I had pointless arguments on FetLife, but I also fought to change something that wasn’t right and I’m proud of that. When the fight was over, I walked, slept, read, hugged Sweetie, and went back to yoga and church.

I think that’s what mental health looks like. As I write this, I get a warm feeling in my back and shoulders that tells me it’s true. What I took for depression is just a transition, just a fucked-up breakup and a hard job.

There's nothing in my past or present that makes me unqualified for love, however I want to express it. It’s probably okay if people who don’t know me want to think I’m nuts. Yes, I have a lot of work to do. I have to practice hearing myself think, adapting to and working with jealousy, and being kind to myself in the presence of man-smell. But those things won’t be accomplished by delving into the past or by taking myself away from people. They’ll be accomplished by getting closer.

As a new teacher, people want to give me lots and LOTS of ideas to try, but I don’t need a mountain of ideas of how other people think I should be. What I need is to stop drowning out the voice inside me that knows what to do and how to get where I need to go. So thanks, mean stranger therapist-lady, for helping me realize that I had what I needed all along.

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