She told me I had a warm heart, and I started crying. -August 2015
I knew I had been wanting to see a therapist for a while. I had been feeling panicky pretty much 24/7 and also trying to not allow myself to feel what I was feeling. It was a mess. A constant up and down where I would feel up around people and convince myself that I felt good but once I got alone I’d start getting really down on myself for how I had acted. I was drinking a lot and still not really aware of how much that was affecting me.
I remember one day I was in my new break room downstairs. I had decided to bring my nutribullet to work and started to make healthy smoothies for myself. There were people down there talking at a table and I remember feeling so bad that I hadn’t said hi to any of them. I didn’t really know any of them either, but I still felt like I was breaking some kind of rule in not being social. My back was turned to them as I shoveled some frozen berries and pieces of carrot into my plastic container. I had decided I wanted to say something before I started blending because it would be really loud, but I felt weird interrupting their conversation. I finally just started blending and looked over my shoulder and muttered a quick and friendly sorry and pointed to my blender. I hadn’t dared to look any of them in the eyes so I obsessed over what their reactions might have been as I finished blending my smoothie. Then after I was done I said an awkward ‘all done’ while still not daring to really look any of them in the eye again. I washed off my attachment and felt panicked. When I left the room I finally felt like I could take a breath and stop worrying about what they may have thought.
I trashed on myself the whole way up the stairs. You can’t even make a smoothie without getting all worked up. It wasn’t a big deal. What the fuck. Ughhhh. So stupid. It went on and on.
My anxiety seemed to be at an all time high and I really wanted to start working it out.
I wanted to start to feel better about myself. I was sick of having a constant state of panic inside me. I finally had health insurance again and a friend had suggested therapy to me back when I was working at NDX. I thought it had been a great idea, and an option that I had long forgotten about. I knew people that used to go to therapy in high school so I didn’t think it was so weird.
When I had spontaneously quit NDX there was no way I could afford therapy without insurance. The 8 months or so that I went without insurance, I would always think about how I couldn’t wait to get another lab job so that I could go see a therapist. I desperately wanted to start to figure out what was causing my panicky state of being. It was starting to be really hard to live with.
It wasn’t long after starting my new job that I scrolled through a bunch of potential therapists online. I looked and looked until I got a good feeling about one. Her name was Margaret.
Her page said she focused on spiritually based psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral treatment. It sounded intriguing and I thought it’d be a bonus to have someone who had a spiritual and metaphysical background like her. She asked me on the phone why I was considering therapy. I told her I had just started a new job and I had gotten engaged and had just moved and had a terrible experience at my last job and that I was just feeling anxious a lot. We set up a time for my first appointment.
From the moment, I met her I knew that she was a shining light in the darkness. She beamed confidently and positively. She was thin and older and very healthy looking. She had nice short auburn hair that had some volume to it. She was dressed nice, wearing a combination of pants and a nice blouse and relaxed footwear. It was hard to talk to her at first. It took a lot of probing and prying on her end. She told me that a lot of the times good life events can be just as stressful as bad life events. That put my mind at ease a little. We started doing some generic questionnaires.
How often do you feel depressed or anxious? She asked. How often do you drink?
A few weeks or so into seeing Margaret she had told me that it sounded like I simply needed to breathe. I responded by saying that I felt stupid for having to breathe. She responded with the most loving kind response that I’d never soon forget. She easily consoled me and told me that breathing was a basic human necessity. She enthused positively and compassionately. It connects you back to yourself, she said. It’s okay to breathe! It’s wonderful to just take a breath for yourself! She exclaimed.
With tears in my eyes I realized I had placed some weird arbitrary rule on myself that I had to have it together all the time. It was weird. It felt like the first time I could actually be real with a woman who turned and made me feel completely alright with just having to take a time out and take a breath.
Things went slow with Margaret at first and then she opened me up bit by bit. She made me feel safe, and let me learn how to express myself. It was nice to have someone to confide in.
I remember one time early in my treatment I said that I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I only wanted to be happy. She consoled me and asked if it could be alright to just admit that I wasn’t okay.
Yeah I guess so. I never really realized that was an option.
She reassured me that it was okay to not be okay. It felt so good to admit that to myself. That was my starting place for success.
She asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with OCD almost right off the bat. I said no defensively and she seemed to kindly dismiss the subject. Where had that come from? I always thought that people with OCD were the kind of people who had to switch lights on and off so many times before leaving a room. But in a way it felt nice to have her ask me that. It felt good that maybe she thought there was something “wrong” with me. At least it made more sense that I felt panicky all the time.
Over time she taught me what was called emotional freedom tapping where you tap pressure points in your body and face and say what you’re feeling about a certain subject. Tapping started to enable me to get out of my head away from some of my obsessive thoughts and back into my emotions. It provided me a resource that helped me slow down and actually realize I had emotions.
Sure, during maybe a presentation or something I knew I was really nervous to the point where my voice would shake for the entirety of it, but other than that I never recognized myself as a living feeling person. I was merely a person who did good things and felt proud or did “bad” things and felt bad.