Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Standing Up To the Headshrinker

I'm going to tell my therapist tonight that I'm taking a break.

Okay, so I see a therapist. So what? People seem to be so open about the drugs they take to cope, so why shouldn't I be just as free to cop to my non-pharmacological efforts to deal with life's messiness?

I've been seeing therapists on and off since around the time Kevin was born. When Kevin was a newborn, I joined a little Mommy & Me group for new mothers through the hospital where Kevin was born. We'd meet once a week with our infants and sit around a big table in a conference room, sipping coffee, looking haggard, and talking about the ups and downs of new motherhood. The facilitator of the group picked up on the fact that I was in the throes of some pretty heavy-duty postpartum depression, so I began seeing her privately.

Then there was the guy I saw for a few years, beginning shortly after my dad died, when my first marriage was in its final descent, and continuing through the first year or so of Michael and I being married.

Now there's M. Michael and I actually started seeing her jointly because, in all honesty, the first couple years of our marriage were, shall we say, full of adjustments. I totally credit her with giving us the tools to build a strong foundation and a happy marriage.

I began seeing her on my own this past Spring when I received a certain letter from my estranged mother, which sent me into something of a tailspin.

And now it's been six more months of therapy since then, and I need a break. Obviously, I'm all for therapy - I'm all about self-awareness and growth and endeavoring to heal from the things that wound us. But I'm not in crisis at this point, and I haven't been for a while. That's not to say that I have it all figured out, or that I've grown as much as I ever will. It's just that things are going pretty smoothly at the moment; there is, of course, the daily ups and downs, but I'm doing fine. I don't take it as a good sign when I dread going to see M because I don't really have anything to talk about. I don't take it as a good sign when I sit in her office for an hour and listen to her regale me with stories about her in-laws (whom she loathes) and her grown son, and then hand her a check at the end of the hour.

Last time I saw her, a couple weeks ago, she ended the session in the usual way: "See you in two weeks?" I replied, "Do I need to?" "Every session is an opportunity for growth," she responded. A little cowed by this, I went ahead and made the appointment, feeling kind of resentful about it.

Why do I feel anxious about the prospect of telling her that after tonight, I'm not making another appointment? That I'll call her when I need to? Why am I afraid to stand up to her? It's kind of ironic, isn't it? I mean, I'm supposed to have learned assertiveness, among other things. And I'm not knocking her, I'm really not. She's great, she's helped me a lot.

She likes to tell me that she's been seeing her own therapist every two weeks for fifteen years. Holy shit. I don't know . . .

There is a passage in a book I am currently reading:

"'Psychiatrists seemed to feel anyone could be cured by psychoanalysis if one stuck with it and was cooperative. So one went year after year. One year, two, three, four, five and six.'"

While she's a marriage and family therapist (MFT) and not a psychiatrist, this really struck a nerve with me, and really was the fuel I needed to resolve to tell her tonight that I'm going to stop for now. See, I don't want to be one of those people who continues to go year after year, who begins to believe that they need it year after year. I don't want it to become my crutch, like I can't deal with the ups and downs of life without the constant guidance of a therapist. I think often the best growth comes from just dealing honestly with one's life.

Ack. We'll see how it goes.


Anonymous said...

Yes, every session is room for growth but isn't part of that growth and awareness knowing when you need the awareness/talking and when you don't?

I also think that it's completely up to you to control your mental health care. I mean, we are ultimately responsibile for the decisions that we make with re: to our physical health conditions. For instance, we decide whether to have a medical procedure or not. Obviously we talk to our providers about those decisions but in the end, that decision should be ours.

Good luck - I love your blog and reading it. you're an inspiration!

diane rene said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with seeing a therapist ... of course, my opinion may be a bit biased ;0)

I have been seeing a therapist for my bipolar for a few years. because I choose to skip the meds, I get an email every few months making sure I'm still alive (joking). but when I first began seeing her, I was there because the bipolar was out of control and I was worried that my middle daughter had it as well. the two of us went to separate therapists, once every other week for 3 months. both therapists decided that we didn't need them any more and told me to call them if an issue came up.

I have been back to mine a few times, each for issues I felt were out of my control, and each time we mutually agreed that further therapy was no longer needed. I cannot imagine still seeing her every other friday morning for YEARS on end when I have nothing to discuss? oh heck no. especially with the hefty copay attached to my hour!

and if my therapist began telling me about her family? I think I'd ask for a refund - lol!!

if you feel you don't need it, then skip it. if she thinks it's a mistake, then maybe it's time to find a therapist that isn't in therapy ;)