Saturday, November 12, 2016

Time To Get Real: A Letter to a Mental Health Professional

HAWMC Day 12:  Time to get real.Write a letter to the best or worst healthcare professional you’ve seen. Don't hold back.

I was really torn on this one. There are some health professionals I'd really like to let have it - like the therapist years ago who insisted I wasn't ill, my only issue was something deep seeded in my upbringing, trying to blame my parents and everyone else close to me, despite the fact that this was pretty much the only part of my life that did NOT cause me stress. How Freudian of her. That therapist didn't last too long. There were others as well who refused to believe I had a diagnosis, despite my insisting this wasn't just "life stressors".  I've written about them in previous blog posts. But instead, I decided to combat the negative energy I've been feeling lately and write a positive letter to my current therapist. Because finding the right mental health professional can literally be a lifesaver, and those people deserve credit. I'm not using her name for confidentiality reasons (i.e. I didn't ask her if I could), so I'll use her first letter only.

Dear D, 

For over a decade I openly struggled with my mental health. I went to therapist after therapist, doctor after doctor. Virtually every one of them decided that I was not ill, I simply was battling situational struggles, or worse, blamed the people in my life and my family when they've been nothing but wonderful. When I first came to you after my divorce, while battling some body image issues, you listened. You let me talk as I needed. You didn't pressure me or jump in with this theory or that without hearing me out and considering everything I had to say.  You took my concerns and my issues seriously.  When I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life and slacked off of therapy, you didn't judge me. A year later when I called you out of the blue, due to some very difficult personal circumstances, you got me an appointment the following day, staying late on a Friday night to make sure I could see you. 

A couple of months later when I was hospitalized against my will by some less than caring hospital staff, you talked me and my family through it, helping to keep me as calm as possible. You again gave me an immediate appointment when my hospital stay was over. In that follow up appointment, you were the first therapist, first health professional of any means, to provide me with what nobody else would: a diagnosis. You talked me through it step by step, discussing treatment options, life changes needed, and everything in between. With your help, I finally began to understand myself and my life, as I never could before. 

One of the things I value most (even if it doesn't seem like it at the time) is your sometimes difficult to swallow, but fair, honesty. You support me, but are not afraid to tell me when part of the problem is me. You call me out, in a gentle manner, on those habits, thought patterns, and life patterns that I need to work on, that are holding me back. And even when I don't want to hear it at first, I know deep down you're right, and I come around. sometimes I take the incredibly scenic route, but you consistently make sure I get there eventually. That helps me more than you know. You consider me, as a person, an individual, as who I am specifically, through every aspect of our work together - from medication monitoring to the "homework" you provide to the insight that you offer. It's not blanketed, out of some book or theory, tossed at me the same as everyone else. 

In your office I have cried rivers, despaired regularly, celebrated breakthroughs, punched your couch (sorry about that one, I will refrain from that again). It is my safe place to be me, whatever me that is in the moment. It helps me immensely, and gives me hope that I can continue to improve my life and myself. 

So thank you for all that you do. So many people struggle to find the right therapist, as I did for so long. Finding one who is as caring and invested in helping me as you are is invaluable. 


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