Frustration with Therapy


“You’ve said that three times during this session. Did you realize that?”

Mel’s coal-black eyes bored into me. No, I hadn’t realized that. Why should I? Wasn’t this a therapy session?

We were knee-deep in clutter. This place resembled more of a storage closet than an office.

“No, I guess I didn’t.” I put my hand up to my mouth and waited to see what she would say next.

“Scott, you’re not mentally ill.” She let that hang in the air while she kept staring at me.

Then why in the world am I here? Why did I try to kill myself a year ago? Why do I get so deep into depression that I need medication just to stay afloat? All these questions flooded my mind as I held her eye contact.

I decided to play her game some more. “I’m not?”

“No. You are just a little bit off. All you need is some guidance to get back on track.”

“But several psychiatrists and therapists have told me that I suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.”

Mel raised her eyebrows. “They told you.”

What on earth was she insinuating? I started meeting with Mel because 1) she works for free; 2) she is qualified; and 3) she is a faithful Catholic and attends my parish. At this point, though, maybe I should go back to the Mormon Army guy who always yelled at me to have sex with my wife.

I’m the type of person who sometimes plays along just to see exactly where a conversation is going. I call it picking my battles; others refer to it as being a spineless wimp.

Screw the latter ones.

Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve been told that I get too angry and let my emotions get me into trouble. Or maybe I’m just unlucky and am destined to wander around through life, getting kicked and bumped until God says my time is up and I become worm food.

I was getting flustered. “So you don’t think I suffer from depression?” How could she say no to this one?

“No,” she said, leaning forward, her elbows resting on the round table between us. “You don’t suffer from depression. There’s nothing wrong with you. Stop thinking that.”

What the %#$& do you know about me? That’s what I wanted to say, but the timid part of myself won.

But there is something wrong with me. I’ve thought about suicide ever since high school. I need pills just to feel “normal.”

“Stop saying you are mentally ill. Stop saying you have depression. Better yet, stop thinking it. If you keep telling yourself something, you’ll eventually start to believe it. The mind is very powerful.”

I have to admit that my first thought was, Ah, crap. Now I’ll have to change the tagline of my blog. “Oh, wow. You’re right.”

Why did I say that? Oh, I know why: because I’m a wimp. Wait, no. Because I didn’t feel like getting into it. After all, she’s the one with LCSW and M.Psych. after her name.

It all made sense. Sure.

When my wife comes tromping up behind me, I’m supposed to think, I don’t have PTSD. When I walk into a room at work and everybody scatters like cockroaches, I’ll think, I’m not paranoid.

Suicidal thoughts. Nope. I’m normal. Driving on the highway, hands gripping the wheel so tightly because I’m freaking out. No anxiety here.

Maybe there is no such thing as the perfect therapist. Maybe the new shrink that I’m scheduled to see in a few weeks will turn out to be another psycho who boots me to the curb again.

I tried for years to be my own counselor and psychiatrist, and that didn’t work out too well. I realized that while I was riding in the back of a Sheriff’s cruiser as I was being transferred from one psych ward to another.

So now I’m having to ration my medication because I won’t see the new doctor for another week, and I only have a three-day supply remaining. You don’t need them, Scott. Remember?

Oh, yeah. Been there. Done that. Not pretty.

“How’s your prayer life?”

“Um, it could be better.”

Mel raised her eyebrows again and let out a sarcastic Hmm.

After the session, I trudged by the statue of Mary in the church garden and plopped down on the stone bench. “Please pray for me,” I said, gazing at the Mother of God. “I don’t know what to do.”


(photo by Topaz)

About Topaz

I'm a college teacher, writer, and faithful Catholic. I do my best to juggle all of these while dealing with my mental illness -- a constant thorn in my flesh. View all posts by Topaz

6 responses to “Frustration with Therapy

  • Pilgrim Jet

    Now I wonder how come she said that… maybe she thinks you are already healed! And I don’t think you ought to change your blog once you get healed or once you’ve overcome your mental illness. But I personally long and pray for your total healing. And you can still continue your ministry through this blog. I’m sure you will know how once you get there.

    I mean, T, you went through a lot in life. But you deserve to be free and be happy. Sorry but that’s just how I see it. You deserve peace and happiness with your family.

    So I hope that even if you feel frustrated, you won’t be discouraged. I pray you just continue… I pray that your therapist will just be right for you, and that God has made her an instrument for your healing.

    Your sis,

    • Topaz

      Thank you, sis! On one hand, I guess I see her point about avoiding those words since they can affect my mindset. Maybe I don’t quite feel ready to take that next step in the healing process; but then again, I’ve always feared change.

      I feel like a prisoner who has been locked up for decades, and my release date is coming up. How will I function as a “normal” person? Will I relapse?

      Ever since I lived abroad, I have dreaded each day because I’m afraid that I’ll snap and get into trouble.

      Anyway, I’m babbling now.

      With this blog, I kind of expected it to evolve as I change. God will make it clear to me when the time comes. You are right.

      I guess I was offended by my therapist because she hasn’t really delved into my life much, and then she told me I was basically fine. I’ll stick with her, though. I believe God has a reason for matching us up together.



  • Nicole

    I really think you need to find a new therapist. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. I need my medication to live a normal life. I remember the misery I was in growing up. And you tried to commit suicide! I do believe in healing, but you also have to do what’s responsible. It’s like that person you spoke of in trial after being and alcoholic and his punishment had nothing to do with alcohol. I’m not saying you need punishment, but mercy. Mercy on yourself. Your situation. And the normal help a person with depression needs.

    • Topaz

      Great point.

      I liked my current therapist at first, but she seems to be so focused on my walk with God (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) that she isn’t helping me the way a secular therapist would.

      Thank you for your concern and advice! It’s discouraging to begin the search for yet another therapist, but it looks like it needs to be done.

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