May 15, 2018
I see a psychologist. I began on a whim. I had a friend at the time who was very blunt and I was not accustomed to someone like that. Understandably, I got my feelings hurt a lot. I already had low self esteem to begin with, and her words (whether intentional or not) exacerbated things. I seek to be honest with my readers. Actually, I seek to be honest in general. So I’ll tell you.
My university has a sort of announcement email it sends out every morning with different events, jobs, or any sort of happening on campus. When I was a freshman, I would check the announcements every day they sent them. *sigh* I was such a cute goodie two-shoes back then. Anyway, one day during the spring semester of 2015, I see an announcement for group therapy on the subject of mindful eating. Apart from low self-esteem, I also harbor an unhealthy relationship to food. Ha, and I’m a dietitian to be? That’s for another blog post.
Regardless, this announcement lasted a while. Most are posted for a week or so and are then replaced by new events or news. This one, however, caught my attention for weeks. Whenever that friend would say something that made me feel terrible about myself I’d look for that announcement. Why? Well I, like many others, have that delusion that if I were to resolve my food and weight issues that I’d instantly love myself and would be guaranteed happiness. I logically know this is not true, but reality doesn’t make a dream feel less real, does it?
One day, …should I tell you? I don’t want to speak ill of anyone. But it helps give my story context. Fine. The abridged version is that she showed me a gym outfit she wanted to buy her pug. I snorted and, when asked why I reacted this way, I pointed out that her chubby pug was not the exercising type. She countered that by pointing out that I would wear sweatpants a lot and I don’t work out.
Ouch. Yeah, see nowadays you’ll be hard-pressed to see me wearing sweatpants or any type of super sloppy clothes that could be mistaken as gym clothes anywhere besides the gym or my home. At the time, it shut me up. It also was the last, in my eyes, abusive word that I needed to send that email asking about the therapy group.
The counseling center made a time for me to do an intake evaluation to make sure this would be a beneficial group for me and I went to my first group session soon after. I hated it. It was so out there! It was about mindfulness and I mostly remember sitting there with three other people, who were as quiet as I was, listening to a couple of professionals explaining what mindfulness is and how many wonders it works.
It was about living in the moment. Letting go of your regrets of the past or your worries of the future and just thinking about the now. Just breathing. Feeling the cool air enter your lungs and softly, naturally find its way back out. Other than learning how to breathe, we did guided meditations. Luckily, I’d had tried this a few times during my high school days of my own volition, so this was probably the least odd activity we did.
The strangest and, at the time, most seemingly pointless activity was eating a raisin mindfully. We were each given one of those mini boxes of raisins and told to put one, just one, raisin in the palm of one hand. Then we were told to look at the raisin. Examine all of it’s ridges. I can’t remember if we were told to smell it or not. The next thing I am sure about is that we had to put the raisin in our mouths and not bite it. Before doing that we had to move it around with our tongue and feel the ridges we had just seen.
We had to be patient. Only after fully experiencing the essence of the raisin could we take that sacrificial bite- only to chew slowly and savor its gentle sweetness. Like I said, I hated this group. It was too hippie for my taste. Also, I don’t like raisins. You can appreciate them with all the senses you want, but the only context raisins make sense to me, is in the trash.
It wasn’t all a bust though! During my intake evaluation, the therapist that was conducting it asked some probing questions which got some painful answers. I am not yet ready to tell you that. Maybe I won’t ever be. I don’t think it’s important. At least not to this story. The point here is that the intake therapist saw there was much more under my surface and asked if I would be interested in individual therapy. I sometimes speculate that I was so focused on trying out group therapy as the slightly less stigmatized way to try out counseling (with individual counseling being my end goal).
In fact, the first time I even considered counseling was when one of my high school teachers shared a personal story with the class. She taught a class about preparing for college, so everyone in this class was a sort of little family. We were used to sharing real stories, but my teacher’s story that day has to be one of the ones that has stuck with me the longest. Simply put, she shared her experience seeking counseling after the death of a close family member. I remember thinking it was so brave of her to share. It was also the first time I had heard anyone do more than whisper about mental health. In this way she began chipping at the stigma I had for mental health and seeking help. Thank you, Ms. Dar.
Returning to this long winded story, I did take the plunge and accepted the intake counselor’s offer of an individual therapist. That was the moment I fell through the rabbit hole. It turned out better for me than it did Alice though. I grew in character exponentially with the help of my individual counselor. It was the catalyst to the majority of the personal growth I’ve had during my time here in college. My counselor helped me, if not to see some of my self-worth, she made it so I could not deny that I have the potential to change and become whomever it is I want to become. She helped me see my self efficacy.
And for that I must thank my old friend’s chubby pug. Honestly, thank you Ash. It may not have been the kindest way to motivate me, but motivation comes in funny (or cruel) ways sometimes and your comment has done a thousand time more good than harm at this point. So, thank you.
Notes about this post:
(1) All of my blogs are about real events from my life. I do get dramatic or poetic at times like when I was describing the raisin scene, so the details may not be 100% accurate, but know that the events themselves are true happenings.
(2) Any names mentioned are pseudo names. Descriptions of the events surrounding these people are intentionally lacking a lot of detail so as to not make them identifiable, if they do not wish to be. If you happen to know the people I am referring to, please show them the same courtesy that I do by not naming them.
(3) This is only one story about Ash. I realize her bad points, but she did also have good qualities about her. Don’t judge her too harshly nor think of me a moron for having been her friend. Or do. Just remember to be respectful.