Apr 28, 2008

Starting therapy - my story

In 2004 I was not sleeping well and not feeling well. I visited my doctor and she diagnosed anxiety, prescribed Clonazepam and suggested that I start seeing a therapist.

I felt great on Clonazepam, but I hated that i needed more and more to sleep better. I took it for 3-4 months while I was under a lot of stress at work and then got off of it. The weaning was scary. My anxiety shot up very bad. I didn't sleep for a night or two. I resisted starting it over and after a week I was fine but I started being scared of medication.

I looked for a therapist and it looks like there's one at every street corner. I had the sense that I shouldn't just pick one, but I had no clue how to find the right one. At that time I had no idea that social anxiety was even defined. I had no idea what was wrong with me in the first place. I called a couple of therapists and found out they are really busy. I finally found one near my house that reluctantly found a time for me. I went there for 4 weeks and left disgusted. The therapist seemed to be more interested in my $10 copayment than my well-being. It did not go well.

I had the idea to search the web for extremely shy or something along these lines. I found books and I found that a disorder exists and it has a name. I ordered the books and started reading. I was not alone anymore... there were people that knew what I felt.

I got pregnant and momentarily dropped the idea of "fixing" the social anxiety. In April 2006, I decided it's time to attack it and get it over with. It took me two years. I am not over with it, I just accept myself and my social anxiety as part of myself. It's there, but it doesn't stop me from important things in my life.

I first went to a CBT (cognitive-behavior therapy) specialist. He was teaching at a big New York university, so I figured he must be good. I went there for 5 weeks. I didn't feel we were doing enough, and he felt he can't help me. He suggested that I see someone else, but did not offer any help with a name or anything. I failed again.

A month or two later I called a number that my new doctor gave me. It was supposed to be my last effort with therapy before giving up and asking for medication to help me cope. I was not optimistic. On the phone, this new therapist mentioned all the reasons why I shouldn't see her: too far away, no time, etc. but I said I don't know what else to do and that I need to talk to someone.

I went in once and was hooked. She had a few soundbites that I loved, among others "oh, men, my dear...". But the most important one was: "Ileana, no matter what will happen, I will be here for you." And she was there for me, even if it was difficult at time for me and her.

Next post will be about what I'd suggest that someone does before starting therapy... we all live to give advice, don't we?

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