One of my first steps to getting well was entering talk therapy. I had seen multiple therapists previously and worked with them for long periods of time. Even after spending an hour a week in an office chair — week after week after week, there was no measurable progress. If there was improvement, it was marginal and short-lived. Nothing seemed to sink in, or make a lasting impact in terms of recovering from my depressive state.
You know why? The therapists never challenged me. They commiserated with me! “Gee, that must have been really hard. I’m sorry you went through that.” That approach was a waste of time (and money) and was not helpful in the least. It kept me in the same, stagnant depressed state and did not challenge me to grow and get well.
After working with me under my beloved retiring psychiatrist I’d been with for nearly 20 years, my med doctor gave me an ultimatum: see a therapist or find someone else to prescribe meds. My first thought was a four letter word that rhymes with duck. I was not pleased. Because I felt dependent on my medications at that time, I thought I had no choice but to begin therapy. I had one requirement though — “Find me someone who will call me out on my bullshit. I don’t need someone to agree with me. That does not help me grow. I need someone to challenge me.” Of course, I can be quite demanding, so that was a pretty tall order.
My med doctor did not disappoint when she scheduled me with Mrs. P. I worked closely with Mrs. P. for two years and initially I saw her a couple of times a week. Not only would Mrs. P. call me out on my bullshit, she also let me know when I was holding back, when I glossed over important details, was in denial — or my personal favorite — failed to admit I was being “ridamndiculous.” While I try to be authentic and transparent, it was hard at first. Having Mrs. P. call me out on these things was imperative in jump-starting my growth.
What I wasn’t expecting, and what’s even better, is Mrs. P. is a lot like me. She’s human. She and I have faced many similar challenges. She’s been depressed and she was a single mom for a number of years. She also knows what it’s like to lose your mom before you’re ready and to lose someone special to suicide. She knows the demands of trying to keep everything together when you feel like the world is crashing down around you.
While she doesn’t struggle now in the way I was struggling when we first met, knowing that she did struggle like me helped me more quickly connect with her. I knew she KNEW. We had similar “stories.”
I honestly think I may have distrusted someone that may have come in trying to portray perfection for three reasons: 1. Perfection isn’t real and therefore is a lie. 2. See #1. If they start with a lie, how could you trust them with your life story? 3. I certainly wouldn’t want to aspire to be like them. Not that you should always want to aspire to be like your therapist, but you want your therapist to be someone who you trust and admire enough to consider and take in their advice and suggestions regarding the situations that are coming up for you.
Give me Mrs. P. over a perfectionist every time. My experience with Mrs. P. showed me that working with a therapist who challenges you yields the following returns:
5. Real-life stories to illustrate concepts
7. Challenges for growth while being called out on bullshit
8. Lasting changes
9. Deep compassion
10. Ability to “graduate” and move forward
11. A Brilliant Transformation
Challenges and growth can be painful. But staying stuck in a situation, job, relationship, town, friendship, family obligation, sport, commitment, or insert any other obligation here ___________ that no longer serves you, is more than painful. It can lead to the death of your soul and a failure to live your life while being alive.
If you’re suffering, I encourage you to find a good therapist who will help you fight through the challenges and GROW to Shine Through Your Brilliance and Transform Your Life Experience.
Woo hoo—Let’s Dance!
Previously published on Shft.us
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.
Photo: Getty Images