Reflections on Hundreds of Hours in Therapy

The first time I ever went to see a therapist, I was 18 years old and a freshling at BYU. I’d finally gotten up the nerve to admit to my bishop that I was suicidally depressed, and he referred me to the university counseling center. I’d never been in therapy before, and I didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, it turned out to be kind of a disaster from the very beginning. The person who did the intake asked me about my suicide plans. When I hesitantly told him what I was thinking of doing, he said dismissively, “oh that would never work.” I was seriously burned by that brief interaction; years and years later, therapists would plead with me to share the specific details of my suicidal thinking and I would remain reticent, not wanting to re-live the shame of being told that my plans (and by extension, me) were not worth taking seriously. Read More

Some (Okay, Actually Way Too Many) Notes Made in the Absence of Depression, about Augustine, Willpower, and How CBT Failed Me

I recently emerged from a very long depression. While I am quite enjoying this rare life interlude of an existence not characterized by overwhelming apathy and despair, and am wanting to just savor the radical sense of being remarkably and unexpectedly enthusiastic about this whole being alive thing, my therapist keeps pushing me to think about how I can cope better when the depression returns. This isn’t a fun question to tackle, of course, because in my current state I’d prefer to believe that the depression won’t ever return. I do realize that this is completely wrongheaded. My particular manifestation of bipolar disorder is constituted by something like eighty percent down, fifteen percent in between, and a mere five percent up. (To really look at that, which I don’t often do, makes me feel both profound grief about how much of my life I’ve lost to depression, and intense rage about the unfairness of it all. Which is probably why I don’t like to think about it too hard.) But I do know in my head, at least, that the chances of the depression being permanently gone are close to zero, and I’ve thus been reluctantly willing to do the kind of strategic thinking that my therapist is asking me to do.

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Making Space for Myself as an Uncorrelated Mormon–Part 4: Learning to Say No

I’m going to share with you something important I’ve learned in therapy (said the blogger, both of his remaining readers scrambling for the exits). In order to have healthy relationships, we need to have healthy boundaries. And when constructing boundaries, we must be aware that they can be either too porous or too rigid.

First, the problem with too porous: Read More

Self-Motivation

Like all of my family, and most people I know, I get easily addicted to computer games (currently it’s various word games on facebook, but it changes). I can also get very into TV shows, a few video games, and all sorts of books. All of this combines, at times, to make me incredibly unproductive. And then I have to think of creative ways to get myself to do something other than play stupid computer games. I’m kind of like a little kid that way. Here are some of the things I do (or have done): Read More

Sleeping with the Shrink

–inspired by Maria of Ex II.

When my husband was a couple of years into his grad program in clinical psychology, a friend confessed to me that she had been horribly intimidated by him when she’d first met him. The reasons she gave: he sported a beard (post-BYU affectation; he started growing it precisely the instant he graduated) which he liked to stroke thoughtfully, and he often wore cardigan sweaters. This friend and her husband would occasionally come over for dinner or dessert and games, or we would go to their apartment for the same, and she described herself as having spent several uneasy evenings with us, sure that every word she spoke, every gesture she made betrayed her deepest secrets, that my husband’s characteristic calm, thoughtful demeanor meant he could see straight into her soul. Read More