Dinner with that good friend, a great friend actually, who has been through his own personal hell and come out the other side, who I met as we both started a job requiring compassion and empathy and the ability to herd undergraduates at their most naive; helping them navigate their new existence as “adults” (resident assistants, or RAs).
He RA-ed me. And as a lifer (three years an RA), I know when it’s happening. But it also turns out that, at this moment, I’m in need of it. Listening, while I decompress about my father, about family dynamics, about paths forward and this next year. Empathizing, while I calmly and collectedly discussed the current state of my life*. Suggesting, gently and tactfully, that therapy might be an appropriate direction to explore.
Cue a conversation about how I have encouraged countless of my charges and my friends to explore therapy. About how he has done the same. About how helpful it has been for some that we know. About how neither of us particularly believe in therapy. About how I have had the mental health clinic website for Innovation U. open as a tab in my browser for weeks, but have not gone to their offices to fill out a form or ask a question or schedule an appointment. About how I said I needed to head out in about 5 minutes, and then spent 60 discussing my current life, because he is a good listener, and he knew I needed this more than sleep. He is right, he is wise.
Tomorrow I go to the clinic. Pre-tenure, miscarriage, parental quadriplegia , combined with partner long-distance are too much for someone already anxiety-prone to handle without support, and it is unfair to ask any one or any combination of my support network to cover all of it. I do not believe in therapy, but if there are coping mechanisms I could learn, to avoid the random crap my brain hands me**, I would consider it time well spent.
I have reread this post eight times, “proofing” it, despite reeeeally having to pee. I don’t want to hit publish, because my head believes that exploring therapy means I am weak. My head is the problem though, so I’m going to hit publish, and I’m going to go in tomorrow and ask about help, and I’m going to just go from there and see what happens.
* everything is new, and most of it is terrible
** I catastrophize when stressed. I spend endless amounts of time working through horrific scenarios that will never, ever happen. I have many solutions to terrible things, but at the cost of productive and/or relaxed time in my life***. I have mini anxiety attacks relatively often, but have developed coping skills to just let them happen while continuing with life, ignoring physiological symptoms of distress. None of this is healthy in any sense of the word
*** this makes me good in a crisis, which is handy. However, no crises that I have worried about and worked through have ever happened, meaning an excessive time commitment to this particular life skill has been expended