PERSONAL: Therapy, Medication, and Being Faint of Heart

Therapy is a way of life for me. I don’t think I would be here without it.

I started therapy when I was 4 years old, after my parents divorced. My mom just wanted to make sure that I was ok and not severely psychologically damaged. My first therapist was named Mary, and she was a sand play therapist. She had this giant sandbox and lots of toys. I would play with the toys in the sandbox, and she would analyze my actions. This was sort of helpful for me, and she got me through alot of my moms illness and my assault (Read: Stubbenville). When my mom died at age 9, I had to leave my southern California town, as well as Mary. In addition to being under Mary’s supervision in elementary school, I was also a patron of the resource room for kids with learning disabilities at my school and was put on Strattera, a medication for ADHD.

After my mom died, I stayed with my grandmother for the summer and saw someone at Jewish Family Services for that time. I don’t remember much about her, other than the fact that she had an awesome toy in her office that she let me keep when I went to New York. In New York, I had a therapist named Chris for two years. She was really nice and I liked her alot. We still played with toys, but not in a sandbox. I also was in family therapy for a while. We had one therapist that would speak directly to us, and four others (a teacher and three students) who were observing us behind a one way mirror. The teacher’s name was Cathy, and she helped my family alot.

When I switched schools in seventh grade after some severe bullying, Cathy became my personal therapist. We were together for six years. She knew everything about me and she was a shining light in my life. Even though sometimes I hated going to therapy because it interrupted my social life, it helped me immensely and I couldn’t have gotten through high school without it. During the time we were together, I experimented with different medications. When I was put on Clomipramine in 11th grade, I didnt really think anything of it. But New Year’s Eve 2012, I had forgotten to take my medication for a couple days and started throwing up all over New York City, including in a subway car. I also learned that my medication can cause heart problems and now I have to get EKG’s occasionally so they can make sure my heart beats ok.

Last year, when I moved to Philadelphia for college, I started therapy with a new person named Christie. She’s a really amazing person and very different than any other therapist that I have ever had. She’s direct and she always forces me to evaluate myself and who I am. She’s also different because even though she has an MD she doesn’t prescribe medication for a person she’s treating.

A few weeks ago I started noticing that my heart was beating fast. I knew it was fast before, like when I was anxious. But when I was in health services at my college, she told me it was way too fast and my blood pressure was high too. I had an EKG again the other day, and I don’t know if my medication is what is causing it, but I am scared.

After having been in therapy for now 15 years, I can tell you a few things. It is not for the faint of heart. Not literally or metaphorically. You can’t just sit there quietly and wait for something to happen. You have to work hard to change yourself, to manage your feelings, to be who you are. I think everyone in this world needs a dose of therapy. It doesn’t mean anything about you, but it does mean something about the kind of world we live in. There are so many sessions in this day and age that we all need to let things out, maybe some more than others, but still.

 I am so thankful for my experiences in therapy. 

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