What To Remember When Choosing a Therapist

Picking a therapist isn’t easy. Whether it’s price, compatibility or nerves, sometimes it takes longer to find the right person to listen to our thoughts and feelings. It’s especially difficult if you’ve never been through therapy before. When I first started therapy there were plenty of things I didn’t think about that would have helped. Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’ve never been to therapy before.

Pick someone you like. This is an extremely important, and often underrated, point when selecting a therapist. Not only are you going to have to be with this person for a significant amount of time, but you’re going to have to share a lot of yourself with this person. If you don’t mesh with them at first that’s one thing, but don’t routinely go see someone who you actively dislike. It doesn’t do you – or that person – any good.

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable…at first. Look, therapy is weird. I won’t pretend it isn’t. The concept of paying someone to listen to you talk about your life is, as far as humans go, one of the weirdest things we do. But it can also be one of the most rewarding, worldview-changing things we can do. You might feel a little strange about it at first but trust me, that goes away. And if the worst thing about therapy is that you’re not willing to be as vulnerable as you could be, maybe you could bring that up…in therapy.

Insurance, Insurance, Insurance. Whether you like it or not, this can be (and often is) a dealbreaker when deciding what therapist to see. You should not only rely on my experience, but there are many therapists I’ve crossed off my list because they didn’t take my (or often any) insurance. Know what your insurance allows you to do and act accordingly. And yes, some might say that the perfect therapist is worth it and that you should pay out of pocket to see them. I don’t agree with that because I believe that these people are here to serve YOU – not the other way around. Therapists can be wonderful, but they are still people. And no one is perfect, no matter how much they cost.

It’s a process. I cannot repeat this one enough because of how true it rings. Therapy really is one of those things that takes – unfortunately – takes time. You won’t see some insane change in yourself after your first session, though I suppose that is possible. It’s more likely that you’ll see a change in yourself, or in your life, over time. As Sixers fans say, #TrustTheProcess and continue to put in the work. You can’t get better if you don’t put in the work!

Everyone is different. This is something that took me a bit longer to learn, but it’s vital to personal success in therapy. Just because someone is doing amazing after a few weeks or months in therapy, that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen to you – and vice versa! Just because you feel better after a short time in therapy, that doesn’t mean that someone else’s experience should be the same. Understand that your experience is unique to you – once you do you’ll begin to approach this time in a much better way.

There are tons of other tips I have for people who are just starting therapy, but in my opinion, those are some of the most important ones. Have any tips for someone starting therapy? Let me know in the comments!

What lies behinds us, and what lies before us are by tiny matters compared to what lies within us

Five Things I Learned in El Salvador

There are tons of things I want to accomplish with this blog, but one of the big ones is to share my life, my experience, with you guys. If I should subject you to some of the lows of living with mental illness, I owe it to you to share the highs, too!

Two weeks ago I touched down in El Salvador to visit family and see where my brother-in-law is from. What I love about traveling is that everywhere I go, I find unique things that turn it into a one-of-kind experience. Whether it was cutting down banana trees, flying down a hill while standing in the back of a pickup truck, or using my high school Spanish to tell my new family how nice it is to meet them, El Salvador gave me a ton of memorable experiences I will carry with me for a long time. The experience also taught me a few things as well.

1. You can’t have it all. Whenever something wouldn’t go according to plan, this is what I would tell my sister, and it became our mantra during the trip. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to achieve all you can or do your best in everything you do. Absolutely do those things. But when something goes wrong, it’s not the worst thing in the world. If things went as they’re supposed to, life would be very boring.

2. Be where you are. This is one of my favorite things about being in a new country. You’re transported to what sometimes seems like another planet with new customs, cultures and languages, and it all seems so new and interesting. ‘Living in the moment’ sounds like the biggest cliche in the world until you experience it. Once you have, it seems like you’ve been doing things wrong all your life. Don’t be afraid to absorb things as they’re happening to you. Sometimes those make the best experiences.

3. Happy places exist. You probably heard it as a kid when you’d get angry: “Find your happy place.” I used to think a happy place was made up, that it couldn’t exist in real life. But I remember the first time I looked down on a town from the mountains above and realized I’d found my happy place. There are so many mental snapshots I remember from El Salvador that will bring me joy for years to come. Realizing that happy places are not only real but attainable is one of the best things traveling has taught me.

4. Just go with it. Before I touched down in San Salvador, my sister warned me that the culture there would be very different than the U.S. Even though I was prepared for it, I learned that ‘going with the flow’ was a necessary part of life there. For example, since my brother-in-law grew up in a rural part of the country, it took a little longer to get from one place to another. As I learned one thing after another about this new place, I realized that ‘going with the flow’ didn’t simply mean being easygoing or adaptable. It meant adjusting to a new culture by involving yourself in that new culture, which allowed you to see what it’d be like to live in that place.

5. We’re all human AF. This is one truth I’m always reminded of when I go to a new place, especially where the culture is so different from my own. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by another language or country for sure. But when you meet the People and see the Places, you see that they aren’t all that different from your own experience. I reveled in that shared humanity, and it brought me closer to this beautiful place – and my beautiful new family – than I had been before.

It took me 20 years to discover that I loved traveling more than anything else in the world. It is my hope that you find those things worth doing in your own life. Once you find them, DO THEM! I promise – your life will never be the same.

 

 

That Little Bit of Doubt

Last time we talked, I was telling you about reality-based problems. My ceiling caving in. My computer breaking. My car being towed…you get the picture. But we’re moving on from that and focusing on something new because while all that did happen, other incredible things happened to me in the past week that I would love to share!

Last week, I took a trip out of the country to El Salvador. It was the first time I’d gone abroad in more than two years, so needless to say I was extremely excited – but I was also nervous because I hadn’t traveled like that in so long. Would I still enjoy myself as much as I had when I traveled in the past? Would I want to embrace the new culture and lifestyle that was sure to be in this place?

Though I felt confident that I would adjust, I have to be honest with you – I was scared. But the moment the plane landed and I looked out the window, all that fear went away. I became immediately excited to tackle a culture that was brand-new to me, with so much to see and explore. And I did. I packed more into five days than most people do in a month, going from one place to another with a clear head and a smile on my face. The people I met, the food I ate, the places I went to…all of these experiences will be ingrained in my mind (and my camera roll!) for a very long time.

But why am I telling you this? Because even though I was incredibly excited to go to this new place, I still had some doubt, some fear in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t enjoy the experience as much as I used to. I was afraid that too much of me had changed since I last traveled. Though I am extremely grateful that I could NOT have been more wrong, I recognized that, no matter how happy I was, that fear and doubt still existed.

Wherever this post finds you, I’m sure you’re nervous about an upcoming decision you need to make. Maybe you have doubts about a decision you just made. I’m not here to validate or invalidate those choices – I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in those feelings of doubt. Everyone has them! Whether they’re big or little, important or insignificant, that kernel of doubt is a very real and human aspect of everyone one of us. But you do have control over how you handle it, how you face this doubt. And if you learn how to handle it, that can make all the difference in the world.

P.S. I’m hoping to share my trip to El Salvador on the blog next week. It was a one-of-a-kind experience, and I am very excited to share what I saw and learned!

Shakespeare Quote

Problems Based in Reality

I had a blog post all set and ready to go last week when some things happened. For one, rainwater leaked into my apartment and ruined my computer. Then, that same rainwater pooled up in my ceiling and caused a portion of it to collapse on my bed, ruining my room for the foreseeable future. As I type this I am sitting on a mattress with a gigantic hole in my ceiling with a time TBD for when it will be fixed. This came on the heels of having my car towed and getting a speeding ticket. I know, I know, that’s a lot of shit to be thrown at someone in a week and a half. But I’m okay. Truly, actually, I am fine.

With a well-documented history of mental illness (re: this blog), I feel like it would be understandable for these kinds of problems to freak me out. If I have anxiety about nothing, wouldn’t I feel worse when something bad actually does happen? I thought it might. But it didn’t happen. Instead, something interesting happened: I actually became calmer. I was more accepting of what happened to me and took each necessary step to correct these missteps and fix what was broken. Why did this happen? I have a theory.

As someone who lives in their head constantly, these problems threw me headfirst into reality. I had to deal with real problems that have real consequences, and therefore I had to come up with real solutions to solve them. I emphasize the word ‘real’ because oftentimes, my problems are not reality-based. They are fictitious concoctions that I spend my days thinking about, and while they may have real consequences they are, in another sense, my own machinations.

However, taking up residence in my head allows me to better attack real-world problems. It’s funny, I think nothing of waiting in line for hours at the DMV or having to sleep on my floor for weeks, which might bother the hell out of someone. On the flip side, some people go through life without negative thoughts about themselves and I…do not (you have to smile at that – I personally think it’s pretty funny). But these real problems remind me that I’m human, that I’m a real person that has real things happen to him. And for someone who can spend his days living inside his head, it’s nice to be jolted out of it every once in a while. So I might not be entirely happy with my situation, but I am grateful. It’s nice to be reminded that I’m a person sometimes. We could all use that every now and then.

Muhammad Ali Quote