more than you ever wanted to know about my depression

(and I won’t be offended if you skip this post or back away slowly partway through)

I started seeing this particular therapist because he was assigned to me.  I am using the counseling center at the university where I do my admin job, because they have a really good rate for staff.  I think they mostly see students, though.  My therapist is a Ph.D. student.

It took me a long time to get started.  I was extremely depressed over this past winter (strongly related to my experience with Chucklehead RE as well as my annual inadequacy-laden holiday visit to Perfect Brother), to the point I was barely able to function.  As I put it in a previous post, my depression became evident to those around me.  My friend and colleague suggested I start seeing a therapist; in my more cynical moments I think she wanted me to be a better participant in our rehearsals, but most of the time I think she was just worried about me as a friend and for that I am grateful.

I went down to the university counseling center and was seen for an intake session.  I got into the room and I sobbed for an hour straight.  Afterwards it took me 3 full days to stop crying.  It was so incredibly difficult to first of all start to express myself in front of a stranger, and then to have to shove it all back inside to go back to work.  Then they put me on a waiting list.  It was almost a month before they had an opening for me, and when they did it was with my current therapist, not the person I had the intake session with.  So I had to start all over again.

The paperwork I filled out stated that most clients find their problems adequately resolved after 6 or 8 sessions, which is why I am starting to think I have overstayed my welcome.  Also I am just so frustrated with myself for not being able to get past the same old crap.  Certainly I’m not as acutely depressed as I was six months ago.  I am able to get through the days without crying, I am not completely trapped inside a mental fog, I am functioning.

But I still don’t feel better.  I still can’t get away from the same patterns I have always been in.  And now that the crisis I was in seems to have lifted (i.e. I’m not a sobbing disaster all the time), I am starting to think there is something deeply wrong with me that’s not allowing me to get past this depression.  I think my therapist is also getting very impatient with me, and I definitely sort of freaked him out a couple of weeks ago.

I told him in the session that I was grateful for the opportunity to talk with him and to focus on myself for one solid hour each week, and I really sincerely meant it.  He has helped me a lot, drawing connections between thought patterns that I would never have found, giving me exercises that have been really illuminating and centering.  I am appreciative and grateful for all of that.  But when I told him that he got very weirded out, and now I don’t think he’s as comfortable in our sessions.  So I think I definitely stepped over some kind of boundary but I can’t figure out what I did wrong.

So in answer (at long last) to bunny’s question, the reason I’ve stayed is that he really has been extremely helpful, and I don’t know if I would have made it as far as I have without him.  Now I just feel like this is one more thing to add to my list of screw-ups.  Would it be any different with another therapist?  Should I just stop going and try to be less crazy?  I don’t know.

I would love some advice if anyone has any, but like I said I won’t be offended at all if no one is reading at this point.

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8 responses to “more than you ever wanted to know about my depression

  1. I am still reading, and I have a couple of thoughts.

    First, I wouldn’t take the information on your intake paperwork indicating that most clients find their problems adequately resolved in 6-8 sessions to heart. The language that is used is probably most applicable to students coming in for short-term adjustment problems related to first leaving home, relationships ending, etc. I by no means think that this means if a patient takes longer to feel “better,” it means she has “overstayed her welcome.”

    Additionally, bear in mind that your therapist is probably still learning to be a therapist. It is a skill, like any other, that is mastered and honed over years. That doesn’t make him bad or ineffective, but it may make him less able to appropriately mask any personal feelings he may have about the sessions.

    Finally, I’m a big believer in therapy, but I also believe that the right therapist can make all the difference. For various reasons over the course of my life, I have seen a handful of therapists for one or more sessions, and I have found how much each one helped varied greatly based on many variables. Rapport between client and therapist is a huge thing.

    So my advice (or “assvice,” if you prefer) would be don’t give up. If you no longer feel comfortable with your current therapist, consider changing to someone else. Be selfish.

    And don’t be afraid to explore medications if you feel they might help. Sometimes people continue to feel down not because there is anything “wrong” with them, but because depression is a medical condition that is (at least partially) biochemically based.

    Good luck. You have made progress, and that is encouraging.

  2. I am still reading!

    If therapy is helping, I think you should continue to go. I went for quite a few years after losing my brother and only stopped because my therapist went back to school full time to specialize in music therapy.

    As far as changing therapists… here are my thoughts: is it possible to talk to him about the awkward interaction? Is it possible you were reading into the situation? (I ask because I do that ALL THE TIME. If I am feeling insecure/awkward, then I tend to project that on my interactions, and end up thinking people are mad at me or upset with me, when really, it is me that is mad and upset with me).

  3. I think it’s strange that he got uncomfortable. According to what you wrote here, what you said was not in any way inappropriate (and, really, is there anything that is “inappropriate” to say as the patient at your own therapy session? Wouldn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?).

    So don’t take it personally, is what I’m saying, I guess. I agree with Mare, that if you can ask him about it, it may help the situation. And if it turns out he was uncomfortable, and/or if he continues to act weird, don’t give up therapy, just change therapists. I know it’s a pain in the ass to do all the intake- that first appointment is always the hardest. But if you feel it’s helpful, stick with it, even if you have to re-do the beginning work a little.

  4. I definitely think you should continue to go to therapy. I am a big proponent of it! And, don’t worry about how many sessions your intake paper indicated was “normal”. I don’t really think there is a “normal”, everyone’s problems are different and therefore everyone will need a varying amount of time in therapy.

    You are doing the right thing by going!

    ICLW #69

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I think it takes guts to lay it all out there, and I hope you know it wasn’t just idle curiosity that made me ask. Like I said, I knew you had good reasons for seeing this person, and now I know what they are: he helps! I also agree with what the others have said. He’s in training. He’s not used to all situations. This may explain why he didn’t react in a useful way when you expressed gratitude. I think you should raise this at your next session.

    I also continue to think seeing someone who specializes in IF could be helpful, to the extent that IF is at responsible for your depression. I don’t know jack about clinical depression, so don’t want to speak out of turn if something totally different is going on for you.

    I’ve also had experience with doing therapy through a university, and they do try to push you out after a few sessions, but I think that’s a money thing. And I guess I just hope that you’ll believe me when I say a therapist shouldn’t make you feel like you’ve screwed something up. NOT OKAY! And if your depression is related to IF, don’t expect it to go away. Because it might not until you get pregnant immediately after that myomectomy. If you ever want a more direct exchange, you’ve got my e-mail.

  6. Everyone else has said such great things and I’m certainly not qualified to comment on his skills as a therapist but I do know that when I was seeing a therapist I started out being all emotional and overwhelmed and then moved into a phase of frustration because I felt like the therapist knew my problems by now so they should be able to ‘fix’ me. And I kept waiting for some magic trick to be pulled out of her hat that would make me feel better. I think for a while you start to feel worse before you get better, it takes time and its really hard to know if you should ride this out and hopefully reap the rewards further down the track, or if you should cut your losses right now and find someone else to talk to.
    I do think it is really strange that he got weirded out by you expressing your gratitude… that seems like something he should be able to deal with because surely a lot of patients will be grateful for his help in the future so maybe (like bunny and the others have said) its a learning experience for him too.
    Also, I know what helped me the most when I was in therapy was that my therapist specialised in infertility. She was an ex midwife who had gone through IVF and suffered with IF for years. So she really undestood my pain that I don’t believe anyone else could have. That was what i needed… understanding and recognition that what I was dealing with wasn’t normal or easy. I know i’d been living with IF for so long that it started to feel normal and I started to feel like I was just ridiculous for not being able to cope with it… All really terrible self defeating tendancies.
    And PS – you are not crazy.. or at least if you are then there are a whole lot of us in that category too. xx

  7. I just got here, but man, you are pulling all my strings.

    My heart is breaking for you. Your story is familiar. I have seen the bottom. I dont know if you are there, heading there, or pulling up from there.

    Your therapist owes you a lot more than you are getting.

    Can I recommend you head over here:

    http://manapan.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/applying-myself/

    I bet you could give and take a lot at this place. I found it through LFCA.

    I came here because of your comment about the woman who drank in the first trimester at Egghunt’s house. You were so kind in your reference to those who struggle with addiction.

    I look forward to getting to know you better. I dont think it is a coincidence I went to 2 new blogs today – this one and the one I just posted for you. Nutty.

  8. 6-8 sessions huh? That’s beyond optimistic in my opinion, though I am someone who has diagnosed, chronic depression so my case may be different.

    Let me just say, I have been in therapy off and on over the course of 18 years. I discontinue when life is stable (which it rarely is) – sometimes for years at a time- but whether it is once a week or once a month, I have found therapy helpful as a way to reset when my mind gets out of control. I have also been to several different therapists; I can think of 5 right of the top of my head. Not because I didn’t like any of them actually, but mostly for situational, financial, or insurance reasons. They have all had their good points and their bad points – like any other relationship. And sometimes it is worth it to stick it out when things get tangled (as they inevitably do – it is a relationship after all) because they know you and the situation so deeply.

    As for worrying that you have crossed some sort of boundary, I say don’t worry about it. It doesn’t sound like you said anything inappropriate to me at all, and if you did, where else should you be able to do it but in a therapist’s office?

    AND let’s not forget that one of the big reasons for your depression (I assume? and forgive me if I am wrong) is the issue of infertility which is ongoing AND cyclical. You are only human and infertility is a fucking humdinger.

    My last words of assvice and then I promise to stop: if you begin to feel an inkling of incompetence such as what you felt with your first nitwit RE, turn around and run . . . straight to a better therapist.

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