You know, I’d be laughing if my experience with therapists (other than the nurse practitioner who gives me Zoloft prescriptions) thus far hasn’t been so ridiculously infuriating. I mean, when I got the latest bit of ridiculousness I DID in fact laugh, but it was more maniacal and tinged with tears and a general desire to claw things.
So, some review of my adventures with therapists.
Attempt 1: I dig around on my insurance website and find various options who are covered. I make a lot of calls and leave a lot of messages. One organization calls me back. I go to an appointment (for which I take off work) and the therapist does not show up. After being told by another therapist there that there is nothing she can do to help me, I leave in tears.
The therapist calls me later and apologizes profusely, explaining that the people who made the appointment with me got the location wrong or something. She puts me in touch with someone who has night hours.
Attempt 2: I start going to a relatively useless therapist who not only fails to help me find useful incite, ignores my requests for medication consultation, but also seems to not be able to schedule properly. Out of the 5 sessions I went to, 3 of them were rescheduled from the original proposed times because she couldn’t keep her DayPlanner straight. Finally after a final session where she watched as I tore myself apart, she finally agreed that I might be a candidate for medication and gave me a name.
Attempt 3: I call the person that Attempt 2 told me to. I did not receive a call back for about a month after the initial call (and that was after calling and leaving a few more messages). This one, however, was ultimately a success because I see her regularly for my Zoloft prescriptions and simple check-ins to see how I’m doing with my dose.
Which brings us to the present.
As I wrote about recently, I went to see a new therapist after realized that I never dealt with a rape from a few years ago and also that I have some really painful and incapacitating believes that are keeping me from living my life happily. As you might guess, these are not easy or fun things to process and things have been rough. In short, I need help and I went in search of it.
What I’m trying to say here is that my mental state and emotional well being has been feeling like a disease that needs immediate treatment before it spreads and I have to cut off a leg or something. Like, I’m not fucking around here.
In my last post, I didn’t go into much detail about the session itself other than the PTSD diagnosis. But there were several yellow flags about it. In no particular order:
1. While she was working on the day I called, she did not call me back.
2. Her reason for not calling me back was that she did not have her appointment book with her for some reason.
3. When I went to the session, she once again did not have her appointment book with her, but assumed that the same date and time would be fine for this week.
4. She was intrigued by the concept of polyamory and uncomfortably asked how Wes, Jessie, and I *eyebrow raise, eyes bulge* and I said “What?” More eyebrow raising. “We share a bed. Privacy isn’t really an issue.” This woman asked me to talk in relative detail about my sexual assault but consensual bed sharing (whether sexual or not) is super weird to talk about.
5. She called me Interesting and thanked me for sharing my story. NONONONONONO. I am TIRED of being a speciman. Yes, I get it. I’m not like other people you know apparently but I do not go to therapy to feel weird. I go there to feel better.
6. She said that she was going to get an education talking to me, what with the polyamory and all. NO, YOU’RE NOT.
7. She asked if I was a spiritual person. I quickly and unequivocally said “no”. She then said, “Well, I don’t mean spiritual like religious. I mean like accessing your ‘higher self’. You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.” AHHHHHH! I just told you that I’m not spiritual. DO NOT try to convince me that spiritual but not religious is a good avenue for me.
Finally, we made an appointment for this Wednesday, but since she didn’t have her book (again) we couldn’t confirm right then. That was last Wednesday. She proceeded to text me yesterday (one point in her favor, texts) to say that she had overbooked my appointment on Thursday, could we do Wednesday an hour earlier than we agreed instead. I was annoyed but willing to work it out. I proposed solutions and asked that she confirm and also asked that she please bring her appointment book with her to the next appointment so that we can make firm commitments for the future.
For your reading pleasure, here is what was she said:
Gina. I can tell u already that next week my 630 appts are already booked. I was plan.ing to book several 630 appts with u after that however I do this.k at times we need to be flexible le and open to change. I usually do have my book at all times and I remember saying to u I would call u if there was a problem. Sorry this has caused u stress. It was not meant to
I proceeded to get pretty freaking angry.
First of all, this scheduling horse shit is your fault, ma’am. You are the professional that I am paying to help me with some pretty intense and difficult issues. The fact that you didn’t have your book at the first time I called you AND you didn’t bring it to my first session with you shows that you do not tend to have your book with you at all times and that you generally disrespect people’s time. My aggravation with this is not a symptom of my particular set of neuroses. It is a symptom of being a responsible human adult who has a life to plan.
So, like, just because you are a therapist and I am seeking help doesn’t mean that you get to say that my annoyance and now down right ire is due to my inability to be flexible or open to change. You do not know me yet. You asked nothing to find out the fact that I am, in fact, ridiculous committed to flexibility and change. How dare you text me this as though being pissed off that you were not prepared for my session and that you didn’t consult your book until yesterday (when you had 5 other days you could have looked at it and communicated) is my fault and my problem to solve.
Damn right this has caused me stress! How could it not cause me stress? I am asking for help with emotional issues and am on medication for depression and anxiety. Your JOB is to helpfully navigate the choppy waters of neuro atypical people. It is NOT to make US feel like douchebags (and whack job douchebags at that) when YOU are the one who has caused the problem with your unprofessional behavior!
Breathe. Breathe. Ok.
In response, with a lot of help from a wonderful friend, I crafted a short and sweet text of cancellation of this and any further interaction and this same friend sent me some resources to help me find someone who I can work with.
I will keep trying because it’s important and I feel broken and scared. But seriously, folks, what the fuck?
Therapists: It is hard to not only make the decision to come to you for help, but also to actually make the call and show up at the appointment. Dealing with issues of the mind is stigmatized and undervalued by our society. The most common thing I hear from others dealing with a variety of issues is that we feel like we should be stronger, better, smarter than this. We’re not the sickest we could be, so why should we get help? So, please, do not treat us like what we’re trying to do here is not important. Many of us are working full time, demanding jobs, have families, and have lives that we want to live. We are coming to you so that we can live them in ways that are healthier and happier for us. Cancelling and changing appointments hurts and takes away some ability to trust you. Trust is the only thing that matters when fragile people come to you for help.
Right? Yes. This is fucking obvious and I am sick of people screwing with me when I am brave enough to some to them to fight the good fight.
I am feeling angry and beat up and a little on the hopeless side. But I know that there is a light at the end of all this. The light illuminates a happier more self possessed version of me, without the heavy baggage of self loathing and old scar tissue. I know it will happen because some of it already has happened. I am strong, good, and smart enough to know when doing something alone isn’t the best way and to ask for help and guidance. And there is no magic “How Fucked Up Are You” scale that says when you are “allowed” to get therapy. When you are hurting you get help, plain and simple.
Deep breathes and affirmations. And Dalek Relaxation videos.
5 thoughts on “Adventures in Therapy: D^$&(^@+*(&D*(HFJKHJKG($*)@*”
Oh god, that sounds awful. Showing all that surprise and prurience and so on is so unprofessional!
My friends and I have had to work hard to find therapists that are okay with poly. One did have luck after going through a few people from the Poly-Friendly Professionals list (http://www.polychromatic.com/pfp/faq.php ) — just because they are cool with poly doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you, so took a few tries. Another way I’ve used is to ask before booking an appointment if they’re comfortable/experienced with “ethical non-monogamy”. When a therapist fired back “I have several polyamorous clients” without my having introduced the word, my bell rang!
I hope you have better luck in the future. Finding someone, especially that your insurance will pay for, and doing all the paperwork and scheduling is such a huge task, on top of all the life AND whatever is prompting ones search!
Thank you for the resource, I.R.! I will look into it. I have a few friends putting feelers out for people’s recommendations. I know there are worthwhile therapists out there. I just have to be patient and find one. I’m not giving up.
I’m glad you found someone that works for you. I never thought it would be this difficult, since finding a doc for other things isn’t really. But brains are weird, I guess.
Again, thanks for the support and insight.
Hi Gina: boy, do I feel you! First, kudos on being brave enough to post this incredibly personal story, and even though you probably already know: no, your anger isn’t even a little bit inappropriate… gotta say, you seem to be handling it way better than I would; I know I would be furious.
I don’t know what area you’re in, but a while back when I desperately needed to talk to someone, but was in a difficult situation (no coverage, low income, disabled, with flexible schedule but not always well enough to go out), my housemate & friend, a long-time poly advocate, referred me to an amazing woman who not only has a sliding scale that even I could afford, but does phone appts when someone can’t get in in person. Would be happy to pass her info along if you like. She (& I) are in the bay area, CA. Never commented here before, so don’t know how to go about personal contact info, but am happy to share the info via email if it could help.
Good luck… and keep trying. I went through something similar in Portland, OR a few years ago, and finally hit on someone amazing there (associated with a GLBT center, often good resources for folks who are “alternative” in any form) who I then fought to keep seeing, who helped me enormously. There are people out there who are in the profession for the right reasons, and professional and compassionate to boot. Not enough of them, it seems, but they’re there. The crap of finding that great one becomes worth it in the end (apologies for sounding pollyanna-ish, I’m not really, a lifelong curmudgeon actually!). You’re obviously intelligent and capable, so don’t settle for anyone of lesser qualities…
My ex used to say, “life’s a bitch… and then it has puppies.” Now I think in terms of training those puppies and making them behave properly. Sometimes things suck… but I hope they don’t keep sucking so hard. Best of luck!
oops, please ignore this; made a mistake trying to edit something previous!
Gina, you could also look up the Secular Therapist Project (http://www.seculartherapy.org/), run by the organization Recovering from Religion.
I wish you all the best of luck in your quest for a good/useful therapist.
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