therapy makes you less crazy

I’m sitting on the train down into Salt Lake City, eating a turkey sandwich and feeling terribly, terribly nervous. The sandwich is fine, the train is fine, the sky is blue, I look cute today, everything is great, but where I’m going, every time I think about it–it’s like I’ve been nailed with the tiniest slivers of dread all along my spine, and they are trembling with every breath I take and sending shivers of anxiety through my skin.

I wish this were a dopey exaggeration, that I wasn’t so nervous about something that isn’t really all that nerve wracking, that I didn’t experience anxiety in such a physical way. That I could sit back and read my book and occasionally look up and admire the countryside sloping by and be getting off the train, in a half hour, to do some shopping. I need to go buy a dress for a wedding. Before that, I need to make this appointment with a therapist. The kind who fixes your head and makes you stop being crazy. Or tries to, anyway.

Why am I so nervous? Because it’s like tearing off a butterfly bandage,
and the sides of the wound are going to gape open and start with the
oozing again and it’s going to hurt and not be pretty and I am not a
fan of blood. I am a fan of hyperbole and imagining
worst-case scenarios, however. But what I mean is this: it’s so much
easier to not think about your problems, am I right? Out of sight, out
of mind is how that saying goes and it is one of my favorites.  Once I
start thinking about them, they are real and true and I have to think
about all the times I have messed up and all the unhappinesses I have,
both real and imagined. Both real and imagined, they’re unpleasant to
think about and unpleasant to deal with and just generally unpleasant.

And so I’m sitting on this train, finishing up my turkey sandwich and
shivering in the air conditioning and with nerves, on my way to talk to
someone about everything that is wrong with me. One of my defining
characteristics is that I don’t want anyone to know that there is
anything wrong with me. I want people to think I am just fine, thank
you. And now I am going to go tell a lady I’ve never met before that I
am so far from fine, I come back all the way around and smack myself in
the head.  And then hope she’ll tell me, you’re finer than you think;
or, it can be fixed, and please don’t despair. And, this session is
free because you are so pretty!

But I need to talk to someone about the eating–the emotional kind, the
mindless kind. I need to figure out why I keep hurting myself when I
know better. I want to know why I don’t ever do the things I am
supposed to do, why everything seems hard, so often, how to let things
go, how to be who I am–whoever the hell that is–and how to raise my
voice, in all senses of the phrase, because that is something I’ve
forgotten how to do.

9 Replies to “therapy makes you less crazy”

  1. Oh my gosh, that’s so brave of you to write this post. I’m a therapist in SF and I work with food and body image stuff and I know how incredibly difficult and isolated people feel when they are unable to discuss this “stuff.” I think it’s so wonderful that you’re telling people that it’s okay to do it.
    I hope that it’s okay to list these things, but I think that these are some wonderful resources for online (free) help with that:

    And also, to find a therapist who specializes in food and body image stuff:

    Good luck!

  2. I went to a therapist for a couple of years and she saved my life. Quite literally. However, every single time I went to her waiting room it was all I could do not to run out and never see her again. Once I got into her office things went well, but up until she called me in I was a complete wreck.

    So obviously I totally sympathize. You just have to remind yourself over and over that therapy works and that is why you are there. (At least it worked for me.)

    Picture yourself after the visit, tissue in hand, eyes red from crying, but feeling so, so much better.

  3. Ok, look – I went to a body image therapist for about a year after my DS. I needed it, because I wasn’t coping well with the way people started treating me nicer after I lost weight. I knew it would happen, as it happened the other time I lost significant weight, and I ate my way back up the scale in rage and fury.

    My therapist moved to a neighboring state, and, though she’s closeby, I haven’t been to see her in a while. I’m dealing. She helped *immeasurably* with the way I see myself and react to other people. Being less crazy (and angry) is so much nicer for me. I’m glad she was around.

  4. I’m glad you’re doing this for yourself; taking care of yourself. When you get into a panic spiral like this (at least when I do) it can be really hard to break the cycle, I know. I understand the fear of the next little attack coming on and the worry about how you’re going to cope. I hear you…I hope this helps.

  5. GO YOU! Take care of yourself, it is the most important thing you can do. I’ve been in therapy for about 6 months now. I don’t get the terrified feeling until I’m sitting in the chair with my therapist staring at me. Then it’s like, “what? what do you want from me?!?!” once we get started it’s all good.
    Don’t let the fear hold you back, it’s so important to take care of yourself and do this, especially if you feel you need it.

  6. You are finer than you think, and smart, and please don’t despair because you are also pretty enough to get therapy for free. You are amazing to know when to ask for help outside of all the talking you do with us here, and are also extra amazing to talk about that too with all of us here. Disclosure is important, and for every person who doesn’t say so, there are 5 who are reading who probably think they don’t have thoughts that are important enough to comment with. We all think you are special.

  7. This is so timely because I finally got the nerve up to call one of the therapists that has been recommended to me today. It is really time to start figuring out why I feel the way I do about food.

  8. Ow. I know where you’re coming from there. I felt exactly the same but I was so so tired of all the thoughts of eating, and weight, and body image taking up the parts of my brain that could usefully have been having fun, or being creative or doing something, anything, less destructive and pernicious than reducing myself to my weight and my eating. The therapy did hurt, and it did rip off a few band aids, but it was so so worth it to get a bit of my brain back. So much luck and good wishes with it.

  9. I completely understand what you’re feeling. Going to therapy is great – and awful. The feeling you’re talking about hasn’t gone away for me. I took a therapy hiatus this summer and I said to my husband the other day, “I guess I should set up a therapy appointment. I’m just not really in the mood.”

    The thing is, if I don’t have that scheduled time to really examine what’s going on and what has gone on in my life, the issues are just waiting below the surface. I can go about my daily life, happy and great, and then something triggers something and my shell cracks and I wind up exploding at someone. I try to have a discussion about a dysfunctional relationship in a completely inappropriate way with the other half of that relationship and it goes nowhere and I feel frustrated and like if I try to bring up the issues again they’ll just say, “Yeah, you said that already.” and nothing will ever change or, most importantly, I will never heal.

    So yeah…

    I am a big advocate for therapy, but it’s not the best part of my day for two days every month.

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