A letter to my therapist - What I need you to know.
Today, was our first therapy session together. I drove 45 minutes north to a new city, walked through the doors to a new office, and sat down in a new chair. New. New. New. A word that I have come to hate due to an unwanted adjustment disorder that triggers anxiety when prompted with change or something new. So as I sit down in your chair in your office and we pass back and forth paperwork and discuss the safe places laws you are required to explain, I wonder if you know how much I have overcame to be sitting nervously in your chair, hoping your words and treatment plans will somehow cure the chaos going on in my mind.
So new therapist, here is what I need you to know.
The Initial Call.
I got your name from a friend, you came highly recommended. A quick google search and your office number was displayed on my phone, I was connected to the phone menu within two rings. “Press 2 if you are a new client.” “New”, there's that word again. Your receptionist works quick, I was scheduled within minutes and online paperwork was somewhere in cyberspace headed to my inbox. I felt so empowered as I ended the call. “This is the first step in feeling better,'' I mumbled to myself as I put the phone down and headed back to work. I was going to therapy. I was going to see a new therapist.
One week before our first appointment.
You really were highly recommended. Two weeks out was your first available appointment, I guess you really are the best of the best. The sense of empowerment was still lingering over me from that initial call, I was excited for therapy, I was excited to start healing. I was inviting everyone I knew to seek out therapy services. Sharing mental health posts on social media, using hashtags and statistics to help other see they were not alone in this journey. I was really excited for therapy.
The day before our first appointment.
You called my cell phone while I was alone in my office. I knew it was your number so I let it ring. I wasn’t ready to talk to you yet, and if we are being honest, I wasn’t really excited for therapy anymore. You left a voicemail that told me everything I needed to know about our session the next day. Where to park, where to sign in, where I could sit and wait for you to come get me. You did a really good job at making me feel prepared for our first session, but the fear of new, was still hanging over me. “I won’t be here tomorrow, I have a therapy appointment,” I said walking out of the office that day, letting my co-workers know, hoping someone would remind me of a task or meeting that would require me to cancel our appointment. I really didn’t want to go to therapy.
The day of our first appointment.
Well, today is the day of our first therapy appointment together. I woke up, convincing myself that I don’t feel good. Maybe it’s a stomach virus, I shouldn’t come and get you sick right? Or maybe it’s just my anxiety making my stomach hurt, yeah.. it’s just my anxiety. I drive to my office, even though it’s in the complete opposite direction of where your office is. Maybe when I get there, they will need me to stay, maybe I won’t have to go to therapy today. Greeted by two of my co-workers outside, they both questioned while I was there. “I thought you had therapy today?” I tell them I was thinking about not going, I didn’t really need to miss work, and I didn’t really want to drive that far to come see you. They encourage me to go on and after asking one last time if they needed me to stay, I start to walk back to my car to leave, I was going to come to therapy, but I wasn’t excited. I reach to open my car door, it doesn’t open. My keys were locked in my car and I was sure this was a sign from God that I shouldn’t go to therapy today. The cop comes and goes and after much complaining and swearing that this was a sign from above that I shouldn’t go, I start to drive to your office. Running through every excuse I could think of to get out of going, I start to feel the heat rise against my back. My GPS alerts me that the destination was ahead. I pull into this new parking lot, I put the car in park, and the rush of anxiety hits like a wave. I sit outside for a moment, not ready to walk through the doors and wondering if I made the right choice by coming. I took a deep breath and opened the front door.
It was just like you said it would be. I signed in where you told me I would, I sat where you said I could. And I waited for you to come out and get me, and after a few minutes, you did. I know you could see how nervous I was. My voice was shaking and when I did speak, it was high pitched and very short. My hands seemed to be playing with themselves and my back was lined with sweat. I didn’t want to come to therapy, but there I sat.
Our session went by fast, I watched as you took notes and as you responded to the words I was saying. I’m not sure at what point in our session it happened, but I wasn’t speaking in a nervous tone anymore. My hands were laying calmly in my lap now, and I even found myself laying back, relaxed in your chair. We start to make plans, we talk about goals and ways I can work on my mental health. The session time comes to and end and you asked me how I felt, I looked up with a smile and said, “hopeful.”
I was in therapy, and I was so happy I was there.