For a while now, I’ve contemplated doing a piece on my experience with Psychotherapy but it’s been difficult for me to find the words. There are many different therapeutic coping strategies and it’s important for each unique individual to do what works best for them. My favorite type of therapy, and the route that has been most helpful for me thus far, has been psychotherapy, or talk-therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy are two popular examples of psychotherapy. My experience wasn’t always positive but I continued regardless and it’s been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.
I’ve noticed one thing that is often over-looked, or confused, is the correlation between certain mental disorders and an individual’s tendency to self-medicate as a coping mechanism. Often times an individual is seen as an addict and the underlying issues are ignored. Being judged simply as an addict can leave someone feeling looked down upon and cause them to shut themselves off and deny help. My current therapist never made me feel judged or pushed me to address addictive tendencies. I felt she treated me as a whole person— a complex person.
There are a lot of happenings in my past that give me a sense of shame; but I continually remind myself that I am only human and I have nothing to be ashamed of. Worrying about being judged is the last thing I need to focus on. Things went very wrong in my life before they started going right. In fact, things didn’t start looking up until this past year. Now that they are looking up and I can see things clearly, everything is brighter than I’ve ever known it to be.
The journey began in 2015. I had visited my primary care physician who had prescribed Prozac for depression and anxiety. Though I was on a new medication, I didn’t stop drinking which contributed to me getting myself into some legal trouble— interfering with a peace officer was the charge. That is another long story for another day— a story based on alcohol induced idiocy and the criminal charges that often ensue.
Ultimately I ended up entering a diversion agreement in which all charges would be dropped if the stipulations were met. One of the requirements, along with community service and abstinence from alcohol, was to complete drug and alcohol treatment through Community Counseling Solutions, where I would attend my first mental health evaluation and begin my treatment plan.
I’m not going to use the real name of my first counselor, as I don’t have anything particularly nice to say about her. My first session consisted of paperwork and signatures, nothing overtly juicy—or even mildly entertaining. My second session, in February of 2015, is when things started to heat up. Keep in mind that I didn’t know this woman and I was very guarded with her— whether it was conscious or not, I wasn’t always forthcoming with her. She hadn’t gained my trust and I didn’t feel like I could fully be myself. As I grew and found a therapist I could really trust, my guard went down. That is when the real progress was made, I finally started to find peace.
I debated on how honest I really wanted to be in this blog. Not only for my own protection, but for my loved ones. After a lot of thought I decided that I have nothing to hide. Some people will judge me and my family negatively, but others may actually gain something valuable from my experiences. I’m going to attach the progress notes from my second therapy session—raw and uncensored.
As my blog continues, I will publish more and more progress notes and therapeutic techniques that I have learned. I don’t want to hurt anyone by oversharing but I feel it’s important to be brutally honest at this point in my life. I’m going to publish every detail and every mistake, in hopes that someone else will learn from my journey and a life will be saved. I have over 300 pages of documentation and doctors notes regarding my progress and 6 pages of medications I’ve been prescribed. Keep in mind that I later realized that I was very hard on my parents and was seeing my childhood through a filter. Things weren’t always bad, though at times they seemed to be. I’ve seen a psychiatrist, a counselor and several medical doctors over the past 3.5+ years. I was first diagnosed with PTSD, then came Bipolar and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It has been a challenge not to let these things define me or change the way I see myself.
These notes are close to accurate, though I was older than four when the traumatic event occurred and there was no knife involved, it was a rifle. I have been through a lot since this initial assessment and learned about myself and the filter I was using. There were a lot of factors involved, it wasn’t simply one event that led me down the road of self-destruction and angst. Thankfully, I have found a medication that has nearly eliminated the dreams and other severe PTSD symptoms.
I felt pretty good after the first session, as I remember it, and was somewhat excited to go back. I had always wanted to go to therapy but didn’t think I could afford it. It’s interesting for me to look back on the visit because my most recent sessions are completely different.
The most important thing I brought away from the encounter above, is knowing what it felt like to talk to a professional about the way I was feeling, thinking, and living. Before this I had never had the opportunity to talk about myself in a professional setting. It took a lot of practice before I was able to really let my guard down and talk about myself and my personal thoughts honestly without feeling uncomfortably vulnerable. This was the first step in a great journey and I can honestly say I have no regrets. Everything is working itself out according to plan and I couldn’t be happier or more excited about what the future has in store for myself, my husband and our baby girl.