Tag Archives: therapy

On the Cusp of a Dream

Every so often, the storm firing between my synapses leads me to seek an outside, expert opinion. I met a therapist in an online program, and it turned out that not only was her focus career guidance and work stress reduction, but she also lived locally enough where I could visit her in person. Realizing the online program wasn’t enough for my current needs, I signed off and signed on to her in-person services.

What I appreciate most about this woman is that she has a similar background working for technology companies in the communications field, so she understands some of the rewards and challenges that come with such a career choice. She is different from therapists I’ve seen before as she isn’t afraid to pay close attention to what I say and call me on where I’m getting in the way of my own happiness.

One trend she pointed out, which is 100% true, is that for the entirety of my career (and even college) I chose to be just-removed from what it is I actually want to do. For college, instead of majoring in acting, I majored in design — now, that may have been a good choice (my acting talent is limited to say the least), but it still is the first of many proof points of how I’ve been consistently too afraid to follow my dreams and self-selected to sit on the sidelines. When I had my heart set on directing, I secured a marketing internship at a theatre company, always longing to be in the rehearsals instead of promoting the end result. Then, as a journalist I loved writing human-interest stories for local communities, but I gave up on this in exchange for reporting on business news which had little heart or soul, only data and “scoops.” My work as a business journalist led me to what I thought I actually wanted to do – work in a startup company creating products (later I found out this role was titled “product manager” but I never got there, instead spending years building an impressive resume, on paper, as a career marketer.

What I’ve come to realize is that if you aren’t passionate about what you do on a day-to-day basis, especially if you are just one step removed from what it is you actually want to do, you find yourself in this professional limbo. You’re so close to doing something fulfilling and yet you sit from the sidelines watching others who are engaging in the work that drives them. Of course nothing is perfect, and everyone has their work stress no matter what the field, but I’m all for stress that ties to doing something meaningful. And while it’s important to be able to pay the bills and have savings, it’s time to stop thinking so short-term about my networth growth. Life is short enough, and there’s plenty of time to save.

As we got into what I really want to do with my life, a few different prospects came up. The one which I find most interesting is to become a therapist myself. I actually thinking I would enjoy this in many ways. I love to help people, and nothing fulfills me more than helping others in a one-on-one environment. There are many reasons I’m scared of a potential career in therapy – I know how hard it is, and how draining it can be. Your clients may be psychologically disturbed beyond the point you can help, they may be severely depressed, angry, or worse. As a therapist you hear horrible things and can’t talk to anyone about them due to confidentiality agreements. It sounds like a quite stressful job. But that’s the type of stress I could handle if I knew I was actually helping people on a daily basis.

I’ve always wanted to be known for something, but I know this is largely due to growing up with two narcissistic parents and not my actual inner intention. Well, in a way many people want to leave behind some sort of legacy – so this is just part of being human – but I don’t need to be famous in any way. That said, I believe if I follow my own path and become an expert in that which I am most interested in, I can easily become known for that via writing and sharing advice, should I chose to market myself.

I’m terrified of leaving the tech industry in pursuit of something entirely different – as much as this industry stresses me out I do enjoy being at the center of innovation. Walking out my door and seeing Google’s self-driving cars sweep down the street reminds me how I live here in the future; if New York was the place to be at the center of the future during the Mad Men era, well, that’s Silicon Valley today. When my genetically-altered grand children ask about life in the early 2000s, I can tell them about how before there were self-flying cars, there were self-driving ones that roamed the streets alongside cars that were, gasp, driven actually by people. Companies were only beginning to test drone delivery services, and this was outlawed by most of the country. We could 3D print human cells, but not the human mind yet, or full limbs, though we were rather close to this discovery…

There’s a dynamic pulse of life-changing innovation to living here that is one vibrant ingredient to the taste of the air here, from San Jose to San Francisco. As much as I miss what was a simpler time when I grew up in the 1980s, when one had to actually pause and rewind tapes in order to transcribe lyrics from their favorite songs, and had to pick up a phone connected to the wall should someone give them a call, and even had to write reports for school on a device that was fully mechanical, stamping ink letters onto paper as you thought what you would say versus printing all at once after a series of complex edits, I do love the world of change. Of leveraging technology to change the world for the better – to make processes more efficient, people more healthy, the world more connected…

It’s not to say I can’t be a therapist IN Silicon Valley (in fact, my therapist yesterday noted that she is filled to the brim with clients here, and has to turn down clients for certain days), but I fear not being part of the innovation, which I’ve come so close to tapping. Yet as a marketer my only innovation tapping is telling the stories of what other’s have created, and no say in what is created or how its user interface is rendered for human contact. I do know that I cannot spend the next 30+ years of my career telling stories of other’s creations. Either I find a way to get inside of this, to be the creator, or collaborator in such creation, or I accept that being on a product team is not my fate, and instead I appreciate rapid change from the outskirts of innovation, perhaps in my own maroon leather therapists chair, listening to the embers of innovation behind the privacy of a closed-door session.

 

Art Therapy: A Window into an Unfulfilled Life

Today, my $130-an-hour therapist followed up on her promise to change up our routine and introduce some art therapy into my weekly session. While I was hesitant of the concept at first (isn’t that a lot to pay to make art in front of someone) I agreed to give it a try. It’s been a while since I’ve been creative so figured it would be fun at the very least.

The assignment was quite broad — make a collage that somehow shows what you like about yourself. It was a self esteem project. Something that I could look at to remind me that there are things that aren’t so bad about – me. Well, it took a turn for the… aspirational. I only used the magazines she brought, which were a mix of national geographics and a few random women’s magazines, so that explains the multitude of volcanos and ants. However, I think the end result really speaks to this giant gaping void between where I am today and where I need to be. I know I’m in the wrong career. I’m not certain I’d be absolutely giddy as a professional designer but I’m sure if I could pick up some skills I’d be better at it than many of the people who call themselves designers today plus I’d be much happier doing it on a regular basis than my current job.

collage

 
Ugh, what am I going to do? I’ve seriously dug myself into a hole this time. Grad school seems like a relatively safe way out, but at best that’s still 1.5 years away. That’s not so bad if I can hold down this job and earn both my pay and bonus – if I actually stop buying every last appliance on Amazon.com I might be able to save up for school. I even have a 529 plan I started for myself with about $4k saved up — that’s enough for many my textbooks for a masters, but it’s something.

All I know is I can’t do this for much longer. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic but I am just not a fit for the career I’m in. My personality doesn’t jive with it. My natural talents are in aesthetics, not relationships.

I Fired my Life Coach

Well, I didn’t actually “fire” her — I just told her that I wouldn’t be continuing with my regular weekly sessions at this point.

After years of going to therapy on and off, I thought perhaps what I really needed was a life coach to help me figure out how to manage my time and feel like I was leading a successful, productive life. I sought out an ADHD life coach specifically because I thought they’d be able to help me best focus on the time management issues and all the other things that relate to my being ADHD.

She was trying to earn her certificate, so the actual coaching was on the cheap side — $10 per half hour session by phone, totaling $40 a month. But after a few months of meeting with her weekly, I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere. It wasn’t her fault at all, I just realized that I’m not the type of person who can benefit from a “coach.” I tend to rebel against authority even when I’m paying for it, so the whole concept behind coaching backfired on me.

However, I did get an education in how to think about prioritizing my life, and how over committing is not the right tool for success. Without the authority role in the picture, I am hoping I can take some of the learnings and apply them, perhaps having value out of the months of life coaching yet.

Have you ever gone to a life coach? Do you have a success story?

Group Therapy: Cost Effective, but is it Helpful?

As my loyal readers and those who peek at this blog on any given occasion know, I suffer from anxiety, depression and ADHD. That’s not to say my life is miserable, but I’ve gotten myself into one of those ruts and decided to seek help. Due to refusing to go through insurance for mental health therapy (until a healthcare bill passes that does not allow denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions), I have to be careful about my monthly costs to get help. Because it’s all out of pocket. (*since I have a high-deductible HSA account the only real benefit of going through my insurance company would be to have the fee go towards my deductible. Group therapy isn’t covered anyway, and mental health therapy for non serious conditions (ie ADHD, anxiety, minor depression) isn’t covered much either.)

There’s one doctor who is supposedly an expert in ADHD who, located nearby my work, charges $700 for the initial consultation. What? I know I live in a wealthy area but come on. That’s absurd. I found a career counselor and therapist who offered a free consultation. She normally charges over $200 per hour but has package rates. Ultimately, though, I decided I need to see a psychiatrist first to find out if I need to be medicated. I kind of feel emotionally out of control. And while I had going the pill route, at this point I’m willing to try anything. The psychiatrist cost $280 for one appointment. A short, 20 minute follow-up appointment will be $150. She prescribed me Celexa (which I still need to get and find out how much that will cost me.)

But I know weekly or biweekly therapy would help greatly. And given my current state, weekly therapy would be best. I shopped around and tried to figure out the most cost-efficient option. That led me to group therapy. While the rates were $75 per session, I was quoted $50 per session to get started, with her hope that I’d also seek out individual therapy twice a month.

As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “Group Therapy Offers Savings in Numbers.”

After two sessions of “process-based” group so far, I’m attempting to weigh the pros and cons of this treatment…

Pros:

– more affordable than individual therapy. $50 – $75 per 1 1/2 session.
– can afford to meet weekly, and its sometimes nice to just have that safe space that often.
– the value of your therapy doesn’t depend soley on your therapist
– you get to find out what other people think about you and your actions
– other people are counting on you to show up so you go even if you don’t feel like it
– you’re required to pay for every session in a month even if you don’t go, so you make an effort to go to every session.

Cons:
– even though the session is 1 1/2 hours long, it goes fast, and often isn’t about you
– you’re required to pay for every session even if you have to go out of town or get sick
– the benefit of the therapy depends on the dynamic of the group
– most people in group are also seeing individual therapists, it’s hard when you’re not
– the therapist has an odd role in trying to ask everyone how they’re feeling at the moment, but holding back on actual counseling (that’s for the individual sessions, which cost a lot more per person, after all.)
– while people are supposed to agree to at least 12 weeks when they sign up, people come and go. I can already tell the true value of the group comes from one that has been going a long time with the same people. Granted, bringing in someone new every once in a while and dealing with people leaving (abandonment) is theraputically good. However, too much of that and all you talk about is how you feel about people leaving and joining.

Have you ever had group therapy? What was your experience like?