A long time ago, my favorite neighbor told me to stop asking “what’s next?” I would say it in such a way that must have come off as challenging to my spiritual friend. Please stop, she told me. God will oblige if you keep asking for challenges. Maybe she was right, because to say that life is never peaceful is a real exaggeration. I have literally gone from one struggle to the next. Managing my life’s issues has at time left me shaking my head, crying, and frequently wondering if I should re-visit the arena of therapy.
I am an extreme introvert, so the idea of pouring my heart out to a stranger is not something I look upon as positive. I did try therapy during my first divorce. I had “wasted” away to an unhealthy weight, and my perspective was gone. It took me some time to understand that I do suffer from depression, and that a trigger such as divorce, can be mentally impossible for someone who doesn’t struggle with mental health issues. Through my weekly session with a wonderful female psychiatrist, and management of anti-depressants, I was able to live the day to day of my life. Time passed… divorce passed… I survived.
Depression doesn’t leave however. It is a chronic reminder of everything that is wrong.
Fast forward to many years later, I have regretted the decision to stop therapy. Feeling wilted and afraid to begin the process again with a stranger (the previous doctor retired), I pushed the notion out of my mind. Luckily, I was put on a pain management medication also used for management of depression ( Cymbalta), so I wasn’t forced into being brave with a new doctor. I suffered, fought the depressive state of mind, and managed my tears with the medication. I asked the Rheumatologist to leave me on it, in spite of her suggestion to change to a different medication to manage pain from Fibromyalgia.
I don’t know where to begin to explain, but over the past few months, my life and its structure seemed to have fallen apart. Needing surgery for compressed nerves in my neck, much drama surrounding my son’s wedding, and insurmountable problems with a dear friend of mine has all been too much. The anti-depressant has failed to protect me from my frequent tears, and depression had won.
Failing to find the extra time to seek out a new psychiatrist, and making many excuses along the way, I decided to try online therapy. I could not imagine allowing my daughter to see me in the usual ragged state after a therapy appointment, so protecting her from my depression was the final straw. I did a fair amount of research and ended up with Talkspace.
Truth be told, I tried another company first because it was a bit cheaper, but the first assigned therapist was non-responsive, and the next two were male, in spite of stating that I would only speak to a female doctor. Agree or not, that is my preference. I demanded my money back, and filled out the questionnaire at Talkspace.
A few words about how this works- Once you sign up ( It is about $35 weekly, and there are different plans.), you are assigned a choice of therapists, and you can read their profiles to find who best matches your needs. You have your own private chat room where your conversation remains as a running thread. You can stop into the chat room and complain about your day as often as you want, or you can spend however long you want providing background and perspectives. The therapist will respond daily, based on the plan you select. You can use your own name, or make one up. The doctor will respond to you, ask questions, have you fill out a permission to treat form, along with an emergency contact form. I have also completed surveys which have given her an idea of where I am on the depression and anxiety scale.
My experiences so far have been amazing. Not only is she responsive and perceptive, she is caring. She responds multiple times through the day, and is working on helping me through some very tough times with coping strategies where appropriate and a neutral ear and shoulder when I need to vent.
At this point, it is money well spent. I am sure I would greatly miss the little red message icon on my Talkspace app if I were to quit. The anonymity of the process allows me to get past my own fears and be honest and not nervous or shy. Some days, I visit my room multiple times, others, I just check in. I have found that if I do not check in, she sends messages to make sure I’m OK.
It’s a strange world we live in.
My phone allows me to connect to my water bottle to monitor my water intake, speak to my children at any time, do my banking and even manage my pain relief. I never expected it would be my link to a shoulder to cry on, and some good, honest perspective when needed, but it has been just that. Isn’t technology a wonderful thing?!?!