When most people meet me, their first instinct most likely isn't that I'm the kind of person who's in therapy. I probably come off as a generally bubbly, happy person who makes the occasional wise-ass remark.
But what most people — including some of my family — don't know is that I've been in and out of therapy since 2013.
My problems began early on, when I was teased throughout school because of my acne. I had half my group of friends turn on me in order to move up the social ladder — they obviously couldn't do that with a "pizza face" in their friend group.
During that time, while I was experiencing the shock of losing decade-long friendships over a physical affliction I couldn't control, I broke down. While I no longer mourn those friendships, the inability to trust even the closest of friends still follows me to this day, along with several other issues. But it would take me another six years before I was able to confront those feelings for the first time.
Fast forward to October 2013 — it was my senior year of college, my boyfriend had broken up with me for the second time and it just put me over the edge. I knew there were personal issues I needed to confront, and it became clear I wasn't going to fix them myself.
So I decided to seek out a therapist in my college town in upstate New York. The woman I met, Therapist A, was nice, but her methods were a little too relaxed for me, fitting for the hippie-vibe of the town. She was still somewhat helpful, so I stuck with her until the end of the semester. She helped me identify some of my anger issues, and gave me mantras to recite — not only when I was feeling angry, but on a daily basis.
Once winter break ended, I joined a group I found out about through a previous visit to the counseling center — Therapist B. The group aimed to help people like me, who struggled with forming connections and relationships with others. I was anxious to see what a group setting would be like, but by the end of the semester — and my college career — I was able to tell when my aforementioned occasional wise-ass remark was actually perceived as rude or offensive. I was doing well. I was confident in my ability to handle myself in the real world.
But the real world was rougher than I'd imagined. I didn't secure a full-time job until November 2014, six months after I'd graduated, while all my friends were locking in their jobs and moving to the city. While it was the best job I've had so far, I was laid off five months later.
Two months later, in June 2015, I was hired as an intern with a lesser pay at a wine magazine. Even though I had the title of Editorial Intern, I was doing the job of a full-time employee when I was only allowed to work four days a week. On top of that, I had learned that the boyfriend who'd broken up with me had been dating his friend — a girl with whom I'd accused him of cheating on me while we were together. And that sent me over the edge all over again.
So I began seeing Therapist C. Things started out great. We were identifying my problems and attacking them head on. She refused to coddle me, which was a method I responded well to. She had a no-nonsense attitude, and we were in the middle of coming up with different remedies for various problems — until she began missing sessions without telling me. The first time, she told me she'd "forgotten" to write me into her planner. Two weeks later, she claimed she had to go in for an emergency root canal and was unable to cancel any of her appointments. My emotional well-being couldn't afford to have a flaky therapist, and I found it hard to believe she couldn't call or send a quick text in between the six hours between her appointment and our session. So I terminated my six-week-long relationship with her.
I eventually left my internship at the wine magazine for a staff writing position at a blog in New York City. But six weeks later, in November 2015, I was laid off again. That was the last full-time job I've had.
In January 2016, I decided I wanted to begin seeing someone again, Therapist D. No particular event triggered me to do this, but I was having major self-esteem issues after having been laid off from two great jobs in the same year. And this therapist has been great for me. I've been seeing her for exactly a year now.
Not everything has come into place right away. We've made several breakthroughs, but healing doesn't happen overnight. She understands my problems, and she helps me realize I'm not alone, even though I often feel like I am. She helps me see how much I've grown in the last 10 years. I've realized I have more potential now than I did when I first began therapy. I know there are still several things I need to work through and learn, and I'm confident I'll be able to do that with her.
I struggle with self-esteem, anxiety and depression every day. Three years and four stints in therapy later, I'm thankful for it all. No matter how disappointing Therapist C was, or how anxious I felt in group sometimes, it was all for the better. I highly urge everyone to seek therapy if you ever feel hopeless, lost or lonely.
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." — Vivian Greene