Published Nov. 14, 2013
My name is Pam, I have a therapist
My name is Pam, I have a therapist
I’ve gotten some interesting reactions when I told people I might write this column.
“You’re kidding!” one friend said, then revealed that she, too, saw a therapist.
“But I wouldn’t tell everyone.”
My favorite response came from my husband.
“I think it will confirm the suspicions of a number of your readers,” he said with a mischievous smile.
Perhaps he’s right. I know a few you think I’m off my rocker because you’ve told me so. I’m sure this will only deepen your convictions.
I’m willing to take that chance, because I have a greater purpose here. I’m writing this column as part of our Making a Difference partnership with The Community House, which offers an outstanding counseling department.
Although I do not see a counselor there, I am writing in support of therapy and counseling in general.
I first went to see my therapist, whom I affectionately refer to as “The Genius,” a little more than a decade ago. My father was very ill with diabetes and I found coordinating his care with my mother (they had divorced) emotionally exhausting. My therapist was instrumental in helping me to manage that situation. She also helped me recognize that his quality of life was minimal and that it was time to let go. When he did eventually pass away, I was far more at peace than I would have been without her insights.
I’ve continued to see her over the years to help me cope with various issues, some of them day-to-day struggles and others, like infertility, a bit more significant. I’ve seen her more frequently when my challenges are greater and less often when I only need, as she likes to call it, a tune up.
She’s introduced me to a number of brilliant concepts. One is that things are multiply determined, so it’s not worth my time and energy to figure out the exact reason a particular person behaved in a particular way toward me. There is likely more than one reason, perhaps many. Most or all might have nothing to do with me.
The second is that good enough sometimes is good enough. I’ve written about this notion before (attributing it at the time to a “friend”) and admitted that this philosophy can be abused. But sometimes my perfectionist side starts to take over, and this little motto is a good reminder to keep things — and their relative importance — in perspective.
Some people see therapists for much more serious reasons, such as diagnosed schizophrenia or for help with addiction. And perhaps it is for that reason that others shy away from admitting they have sought help from a professional.
But no one is embarrassed to say they’ve called a plumber for help with leaky pipes or an accountant for help with taxes or a teacher to help them learn a foreign language.
Seeing a therapist is essentially the same thing, in my opinion. A therapist is a professional who is trained to do the kind of work I lack the experience and skills to do easily and efficiently on my own.
I’d like to think that people are open-minded enough in 2013 that individuals would be applauded, not judged, for trying to achieve optimal mental health. I fear we’re not quite there yet.
And so I write this column to help in whatever small way I can, to stand up and declare I am not ashamed to say I see a therapist — whether I’m talking to my friend, to my husband or to all the readers of The Hinsdalean.
If any of you think you could benefit from some professional, objective, unbiased insight on issues big or small you are facing in your life, I encourage you to seek out one of the counselors at The Community House. You might just find your own genius there.
Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean
Readers can email her a email@example.com