Some of you know I'm a psychologist, but I'm not that kind of psychologist. I don't deal with people's problems, I try to figure out how the mind works by conducting experiments. You know, making people pretend to be prison guards and keeping them locked in cages with only a cloth mother and so forth. But as a result of my professional training, I do know a bit about basic processes in human cognition. And I've seen a therapist for a few months at a time, a couple of times in my life. So it's my informed opinion that therapy is a good thing. I know it's a very stigmatized activity for a lot of people, but if you think you want help, don't let the stigma stop you. Also, therapy may be covered by your insurance. I've got no coverage for IUI or IVF, but do have coverage for therapy. The common questions that I see in blogglyland are:
- Do I even qualify as someone who could profit from seeing a therapist, or do I have to be super fucked up? I mean, I have no real problems, I'm just miserable all the time.
- How do I find someone who is not scary?
- I hate the person I found. What do I do?
- I think therapy is stupid
1. Do I even qualify as someone who could profit from seeing a therapist, or do I have to be super fucked up? I mean, I have no real problems, I'm just miserable all the time.
Yeah, you totally qualify. Infertility is something therapists specialize in. I know what you mean, though. When I most recently went to see someone because of the IF shit and my dad's death, I had that same sense of not being entitled to take up someone's time. But I shared that with her first thing and she was like, Dude, you have a right to be here. You are dealing with serious stuff. Plus, you're paying me, and if you find me helpful, that's all I need. I guess I also think wanting help and wondering whether you deserve it strangely resembles Mel's Pain Olympics, where we rank the horribleness of different varieties of suffering. If you're hurting, you deserve support.
2. How do I find someone who is not scary?
While your clinic may have a recommendation, I think it's nice to have choices. Go to Psychology Today's find a therapist page. Enter your zip code, select IF from the pull down menu. (Or loss /grief, or do both and see who's experienced with both). Read the profiles of people who are conveniently located, choose someone who doesn't completely creep you out. My personal preference is for cognitive/behavioral therapists. They deal with mind-body relationships, and there's often a scientific basis for their practices. For example, a cognitive/behavioral therapist might tell you that your limbic system (a set of brain structures that deals with emotional regulation) is hyperactive as a result of the stress of IF, which is why you feel so anxious and unhappy. She might give you some coping strategies and exercises to reduce limbic system activity. She might also offer you DRUGS. I personally am not going to take drugs for something that is situational, even though they might make me feel better. This is totally my own deal. There's nothing wrong with drugs. (Hear that, kids?) There are some safe drugs to take while trying to conceive. If you don't want drugs, tell her you don't want drugs. If she keeps forcing them on you, kick her to the curb as she's no good.
3. I hate the person I found. What do I do?
There's nothing wrong with ending a relationship with a professional. But I totally get it--it makes me really anxious, too. I suggest you tell the person, I've gotten enough out of our session(s) that I don't need to come back. That's a bit easier than saying, We're not a good fit, which is another option. Then go find someone else.
4. I think therapy is stupid.
That's not a question. But okay, that's a fair view. The most useful thing I was told by the person I saw about IF was that I was going to feel like shit until the IF was resolved. That while she could help me cope, nothing I could do (unless I wanted some of her DRUGS) would fix me, because the problem was situational. Did I need to pay someone to tell me this? Well, yes, actually, I did. Otherwise I would have continued blaming myself for not being able to snap out of it. And learning about the typical experiences women in my situation go through was very useful to me, as was being told that my distress was real and valid. But therapy is obviously not for everyone, and I'm aware that a lot of people have a negative experience that leads them to the view that it's stupid. I'm not here to change your mind, man, but consider this:
People undergoing prolonged stress need an outlet for expressing their feelings. That sounds all patchouli-scented, but there are good neuroscientific explanations for why talking about your feelings helps to regulate them. Blogland is awesome for expression and support, but the support is only semi-objective and doesn't come with any professional training. For those reasons, a therapist may be able to contribute something.
Want me to express my opinions about anything else? Because I totally will.