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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Talk therapy

I went to a follow-up doctor's appointment this afternoon, and as he was going through his checklist of questions for me he suddenly stopped. He looked at me levelly. "Are you sad?" he said, and my eyes filled with unexpected tears.

"Yes," I said. "I thought it was better disguised."

"No, not disguised at all," he said. "I see it plain as day."

This took us on a tangent, which ended with him handing me a slip of paper with the names of three therapists, and suggesting that I might want to consider medication. I told him talk therapy had worked wonderfully for me in the past, and that perhaps I should try that first. I explained that I was an addictive sort, and so didn't want to fool around with mood meds.

"Mood medication doesn't really work that way," he said. "It really just takes the edge off. But I hear you. Talk therapy might be all you need. But promise me you'll go. It's really hard to take care of ourselves if we're sad."

Someone on outside looking on might say I have nothing really to be sad about, except maybe the fact that I feel utterly imprisoned in a body that isn't working very well structurally, and the extra weight doesn't help. And then of course there are the pervasive social and political things, heartbreaking things happening all over, but let's keep this in microcosm.

"You can't lose weight very well when you're sad," the doctor said gently. "It's emotionally exhausting. You have no cushion."

I wanted to say, Oh, I have plenty of cushion, too much in fact, but I didn't. Problem was, three of the names he gave me were men, and I've never done therapy with a man before. I imagine I want a woman, someone tough but maternal, and maybe also a person of color, someone who gets what it's like to be in the skin I'm in, though none of referrals he gave me were people of color. The fourth name was a women he spoke so highly of, and she sounds amazing, except that she is a psychiatrist, and doesn't take insurance, which means no matter how good she is, I won't be able to afford her. So I'm back to the men. Which leads me to ask: Have any of the women who read here had a male therapist for any period of time? How did that work out? Am I just imagining I need a woman because the two incredible therapists I've had in the past were both women? What do you think?



18 comments:

  1. Well, I'd like to say that a good therapist comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and genders.
    The one who saved my life was a woman, though.
    I will say that another woman I went to was absolutely useless.
    I am so glad that doctor pushed you. Go. Maybe I will too. Maybe.

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    1. Mary, yes, I went to a woman who didn't work for me, too. But the one who just about saved my life was an African American woman. I wish she had been younger and hadn't retired to Atlanta to be close to her grands. Selfish me. Still, she got me started. I don't think I'd have been able to do the marriage thing without her. My husband used to call her St. Eleta because I always came back home from seeing her so chilled out. She was practical and wise. She didn't coddle but she didnt punch holes in you either. Her process was just so common sense. I miss her still.

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  2. I have had good results with both male and female therapists. I think it depends on the what and why of therapy at the time. The most important thing is to find a therapist with whom you are comfortable and who has the knowledge and skill to help with the concern. How great that your doctor was observant enough, and caring enough, to ask. If those referrals don't work for you, ask your friends, or do a search at a professional website (for example, the National Association of Social Works has a link to finding a therapist, and lists credentials and information that can help you decide if someone sounds like the kind of therapist who will be helpful for you.

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    1. Suza, interesting insight about the "why" of therapy at the time. I think I'll meet with all four referrals and see what transpires. thanks for this.

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  3. Your doc deserves some compliments for being both observant and sensitive and for offering more than platitudes or pills. I've had some limited experience with a male therapist and he was both attentive and helpful and opened a door for me to continue working with two wonderful women later. I can also say that I agree with the previous comment and had a young woman once who was worthless in terms of both empathy and experience. There are good people out there but you have to be willing to look around. You might want to ask if the psychiatrist has a sliding scale if she sounds like someone you would consider but for finances.

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    1. e, the funny thing about this doctor was, he seemed really laid back and casual and didn't really appear to be observing so closely, so i was really taken aback when he stopped and asked if i was sad. at that point his eyes were narrowed as if he was peering right into me. the best two therapists i ever had were referrals from friends. the greatest of all time, the one my husband called St. Eleta, had been picked out of the yellow pages (remember those?) by the friend who referred me to her. I cannot tell you how many people i then referred to her, and they all were greatly helped. she had a true gift. she's retired now.

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  4. Your doc sounds great. I would say trust his recommendation. I went to my doc 3 yrs ago because I was losing my mind and my blood pressure was high. He recommended an amazing woman who I still see. He knew we would be a good match. She looked at me today and said "are you scared for your boys". aack

    you can also go to the psychology today website and type in your zip code and preferences and get a pretty comprehensive listing of therapists in your area, what insurance they take, and what they specialize in.

    and btw, you are beautiful

    xoxoxo

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    1. michelle, it always thrills me to see you turn up here! weave light around your boys in your mind's eye. that's what i do. hugs.

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  5. My first therapist was a dude and I remember him quite fondly. Since then it's been women and it's been hit and miss. For me gender isn't as important as other factors but everyone is different.

    Either way, I hope a wonderful therapist finds their way into your life-preferably through your insurance carrier!

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    1. HBF, i actually feel sort of stupid by now, thinking i might bypass thoughtful referrals because of gender. Thanks for sharing your experience and the good wish!

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  6. Color or gender doesn't matter, so it's not a difficulty to find a therapist. But to find a theratpist that suits you is difficult. Try them all and see if the chemistry is right. Often we know it from first sight but sometimes we need a talk to find out. It is perhaps a long way until you find the right one but it is worth the effort. And important is, that your insurance will pay the bill, otherwise it'll set you too much under pressure because you have the costs in mind. He/She can hopefully help you to accept and love yourself. Your family knows, your friends know, we (your reader) know and you must and will learn you are worth it!

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    1. Kaki, I think i should do exactly what you say, try them all and see how the chemistry shakes out. it is about chemistry, isn't it? Thank you for this kind comment.

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  7. Clearly you have a doctor who's on the ball! Bravo to him for being observant and asking the right questions. You might consider going back to him and asking if he could recommend any other female therapists. I'm sure he'd respect your desire to talk to a woman.

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    1. Steve, I did ask, but these seemed to be the three he thought would be best for me and my issues, which we did talk about briefly. I think I'll try these three and go from there. Stay tuned!

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  8. I don't want to discourage your from a male therapist but it has never worked for me. Men make me so nervous. It is just a ripple effect of my life with my biological father. I have seen men that have had some good things to say but in the end all I could be was nervous!

    I am so glad you have such an empathetic doctor. (He is a man and obviously a good one that you feel safe with.) Medication has helped me so much. It is like a light switch. Dark. Light. I am seeing light right now. I know it likely won't work forever and I will have to try something new but I can only look at today.

    Please keep us posted. xo

    PS- How much is the loss of your mom making you feel sad? It has been 5 years this week and I am just now able to say that I am no longer sad.

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    1. Birdie, I have, lately, been very aware of missing my mom. Why now? I wonder. But you might be on to something. The world feels actually different, emptier somehow, without her. love to you, friend.

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  9. It does seem as if simply talking to your doctor about this has done some good. Would it not be good to talk to your female 'friends' about it too. Friends working through a problem might be just as effective as seeing a therapist.

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    1. Cro, i do have the sort of friends I can talk to like this, so I'm lucky there, but the kind of week in, week out excavation that goes on in therapy is probably more what I need. I've experienced the difference and I wouldn't want to burden my friends in quite that way.

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