My parents got divorced last year. My mom gently offered to ask around about therapists in our area, but I turned her down. I didn’t think I needed therapy because as far as I was concerned, I was doing just fine. At that time I was a senior in high school, in the midst of applying to college. I told myself I was just waiting for the right time to talk to someone, but as the days turned into weeks turned into months, that time never came. The irony of it all was that when bad things happen to my friends, I was always there and ready to listen. I would ask them how they were feeling and what they wanted to do going forward. I was my friend group’s unofficial therapist. But I didn’t want that for myself. After all, how does a broken person teach someone else to heal?
You can imagine how awkward it was for me when about a month into school, I ran out of class and straight into Tulane’s counseling office (CAPS) for their walk-in hours. I cried to the receptionist and then to the on-duty therapist. Afterwards, I cried to my mom on the phone. And why was I there in the middle of a regular school day you might ask? Because I hated it here. My support system was quite literally a thousand miles away. I felt like I had no friends here. My boyfriend and I were struggling with long distance. For some reason I’d signed up for general chemistry as an undeclared English major. Everything was hitting the metaphorical fan, and I couldn’t deal with it on my own. Less than a week later, CAPS set me up with a regular therapist. We decided to meet once every two weeks. As time went on, I began to look forward to that hour reserved for processing, pausing, and reflecting.
I understand that CAPS is not always ideal, and if you decide it’s not for you, that’s okay. However, I wouldn’t write therapy off because of a less-than-desirable experience with the school’s service. Searching for the right therapist can be like shopping; you may need to try out a few before you find the perfect fit.
But I’m lucky, my therapist is the best. She knows more about my life than probably anyone else. This isn’t because I’m scared to talk to my friends about my problems, but because I keep any negative energy I’m feeling concentrated in sessions with her. It provides me with a space to speak freely, to ask if I’m doing the right thing, and to be upset about something that I used to just write off as trivial. If sitting down with someone doesn’t sound like something you’re into, another great outlet is writing; I’d say my journal holds the bulk of my misgivings.
Some problems aren’t meant to be solved, they’re meant to be endured. My therapist told me this in a session about a month ago, and it changed my perspective on how I deal with my emotions. I am a fixer, and I went into therapy to fix all of the trauma and sadness that I didn’t realize was silently building up inside of me. When I finally decided to let those feelings go, it dawned on me that I can’t actually fix everything. How would I grow if I could? So while therapy might not be for everyone, it’s helped me more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t necessarily think it makes me a better person, or more understanding, or anything radically life-changing. But it provides me with an outlet and place to consider both the choices I’ve made and the ones I’m thinking about making. I might be a little broken, but I’m picking up the pieces that will make me whole again.
Cover Photo: Dani Stein