Why I Avoided My Second Therapy Appointment
My first therapy appointment was like a breath of fresh air.
A breath that I had been holding in for a long time, waiting until the perfect moment- the moment I was ready for healing.
I knew most of my life I needed help. I have been plagued with anxiety, bouts of depression, manic episodes, the darkest valleys and the scariest thoughts.
When I was a teenager, I REALLY wanted therapy. I even told my best friend when I was 16 that I was having suicidal thoughts. I told her to tell no one.
She of course told someone: the guidance counselor at our high school.
I remember getting called from my classroom to the guidance counselor’s office. It was my first year at that school so I had no idea where it even was, and when I walked in I immediately thought I was in trouble.
But I was welcomed with “Rachel, please sit. We have something serious to talk about.”
The counselor asked how long I had suicidal thoughts, and I bursted out crying in her office. The years of pent up feelings that I was dying to tell someone came tumbling out. She listened as I explained some of my life in the recent years. But then she made me stop crying instantly by saying: “we need to contact your parents.”
I begged her to please do not do that. But she told me it was protocol.
My dad picked me up from school that day and I sat in the front seat and stared out the window. He explained to me that maybe we can get someone at our church for me to talk to for free. I understood at the time that therapists were too expensive. So, I dropped it. And so did he.
Years later, after the hustle and bustle of my early adult life, I finally came to the moment when I made my first therapist appointment. And it was so great. I felt finally heard.
My therapist was able to extinguish my most dreaded worry: chronic depression. She said I didn’t have it! But rather a stress response disorder.
I felt the weight lifted. For one, I finally went to therapy! And for the other, I was more normal than I thought I was. So, I felt like maybe... I was done.
Maybe I didn’t need to continue therapy. Maybe I only needed that one session. I’m fixed!
The next few days I kept reminding myself to make another appointment, but then kept forgetting. After a week, I had the thought “hey, I feel fine now. I don’t think I need to go again.” I finally told another adult about my family life, and she really heard me. She made me feel seen. She listened to my cries and gave me good feedback. This was all I wanted.
So I put off making another appointment. I truly thought I was better. And then, two weeks went by, and boom. I woke up and I knew something was off.
It was one of those days again. The days where I stumble out of bed, stare at myself in the mirror for an endless amount of time and not think a single thought. I go through the motions of the day. I sit on the couch for hours. I don’t put any effort into myself. I scroll endlessly on my phone, trying to distract the quiet in my brain. I am passive with my kids. I barely even talk to my son. And then I have an emotional breakdown to my husband on the phone, and he asks what’s wrong and I say I don’t know.
It’s like this weird fog that I get in every few days. And sometimes it lasts a day, or sometimes several. It is such a dense fog that I can’t ignore it, but if I try to figure it out I get confused because I have no idea what is even wrong with me.
So, a full month after my first therapist appointment, I finally scheduled my second.
My second appointment was even better than my first.
I explained this roller coaster of feelings that I have sometimes, and she wanted me to be specific about what goes through my mind on days like that.
I told her I’m not really sure, just that I tell myself I’m a bad mom and that I’m lazy, and I basically bag on myself all day. Then she asked me if I’m ever able to turn the day around, and I said yes, sometimes. She asked me what I do to make that happen.
I tell her that when I finally get off my butt and go brush my teeth, get dressed and maybe run a brush through my hair that I feel better. And sometimes if I’m able to make my bed, or sit down and have a cup of coffee, or work out, that also turns my day around. “But,” I told her, “sometimes this isn’t until like 3pm! And that’s awful. I have spent the entire day doing nothing and feeling like trash.” Then she says, “it doesn’t matter. As long as you did it.”
We continue talking and she explains to me that this is such a normal mom feeling. Every mom wants to be the perfect mom and when they aren’t, their world kind of crashes around. I noticed as she was explaining this to me that my “foggy days” happen after I feel like I’ve “dropped the ball” on being a mom once or twice.
She asked me if I think I struggle with perfectionism, and I said “yeah, I probably do.” She said that we’ll work on that over the next course of our time together. That gives me hope.
She also wanted me to start implementing a small schedule for myself so that it gives me motivation to get up and get ready for the day. She said to start with one thing that you want to do every day, first thing in the morning, and it will set the tone for the rest of the day. She also said I should start setting an alarm and try to wake up before the kids. I will probably start doing this once my new baby has more of a schedule, because she still sleeps in my room with me and isn’t on one yet.
So even though I avoided it for weeks, I went back, and I’m proud of myself. It’s been about a week since the appointment, and I’ve implemented the small schedule she’s told me about. It has made a huge difference, and I have yet to have a “foggy day”. I’m looking forward to having less and less of those.