Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Friday, September 11, 2020

And Another One Gone

A few weeks ago, I decided to part ways with my most recent therapist after only a couple of sessions. She was a decent enough woman from what I could see, but she wasn’t really able to offer me the kind of help I think I need. In her defense, I’m not really sure what I need and was resistant to her suggestions, but I also was put off when she suggested things that were counter to what I was telling her about my situation. When I tell you that I often have to use every ounce of my will to do the bare minimum in my life, sometimes even to just brush my teeth let alone the effort of showing up and producing at work every day, don’t tell me about how I need to take a cooking class and start making home-cooked meals, for example. When I tell you that I have spent decades forcing myself into new behaviors in the hopes my mood would change (but never did), don’t tell me that all I need to do is force myself to do things – some of which I have already tried repeatedly – and somehow my mood will magically fall in line. When I tell you that I have days, weeks, months where I cannot find pleasure in absolutely anything in spite of having the means and time at my disposal, don’t tell me that all I need to do to derail a spiraling mood is find something to enjoy.

And speaking of therapy, I really wonder about the current training on self-disclosure by therapists. The past three therapists I’ve seen have, by my way of thinking, overshared personal information. My understanding is that the conventional wisdom used to be that therapists would rarely, if ever, self-disclose. The benefits of therapy arise from the fact that it is a rigid relationship dynamic where one can talk things out in a safe space where the things you say don’t affect that relationship. You can tell your friend or partner about all of your thoughts and feelings but it will inevitably alter your dynamic because they are actively in your life. U.S. therapists can’t even see patients socially (much less date) until five years after therapy has ended because too much closeness can be damaging to the patient. My therapists’ sharing of personal information altered the therapeutic relationship, putting me in a situation where I was worried about the therapist personally and/or felt as if I was being told “everybody feels that way,” which is another cardinal prohibition when talking to those with mental illness. Therapy is, by definition, an egocentric and one-sided exercise. Complicating the dynamic risks reducing its effectiveness.