I don’t talk about this much because many people have it worse than me.
I tell myself I should be grateful. I am grateful.
I tell myself I am lucky. I am lucky.
I tell myself I should not complain.
I tell myself I should not reach out to friends with my stress and problems because they have too much on their own plates right now to have to be there for me.
I tell myself coaches, counselors, healers and therapists can’t help me either because everyone is stressed and no one is coping well.
I keep telling myself all of this and I keep moving forward and putting my best self out there. Yet, my stress level rises beyond anything I have ever felt. I’ve reached the point where my physical body starts to scream STOP. It tells me if something doesn’t change it will force me to stop. I realize I am almost 50 years old and the leading cause of death for women my age is heart disease. I realize this because my heart reminded me when I paused for a second and noticed just how fast it was beating from anxiety.
My insomnia got bad. I blamed it on hormones.
I was clenching my jaw so tight, I am surprised I haven’t broken any teeth. Maybe I have but I personally am not comfortable going to a non-emergency dental appointment during COVID times in the Bay Area.
The point of all of this is to say it is okay to not be okay.
One night about a month ago when I was feeling extra overwhelmed and sad I tapped on an Instagram ad. For the record, I rarely click on ads. This ad was a video of Karamo from Queer Eye talking about getting counseling. I don’t know what he said and I know it was scripted but those were the words I needed to hear at that moment. I found myself on the BetterHelp* Website. Their tagline is “Therapy from your couch.” Unlimited professional counseling via chat, video or phone anytime. I filled out the form that was supposed to help match me with the perfect counselor. It’s kind of like how I imagine a dating site works.
The next day, they’d made a match. She seemed perfect on paper. We scheduled our first initial consultation. She was not perfect at all! It was a horrible fit and basically made me give up hope in humanity. I used that to justify my thinking that no one is capable of helping me right now because nobody is coping well with COVID, racism, politics, unemployment, fires, smoke, uncertainty, and all the other stresses occurring. We are all in some variation of survival mode.
I got really down after this. I pulled myself up again and said I guess it is just me. I need to help me because no one else can. I put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward each day. I noticed many of my friends still felt very comfortable coming to me for help and support. Calling, texting, crying and needing someone to listen to them and encourage them, to be the light for them. None of them really noticed how dim my light was.
Out of frustration, I pounded out an angry email to BetterHelp telling them how disappointed I was, that I wanted my money back, asked how they even screened therapists, blah, blah, blah.
They wrote me back right away. They apologized for my first experience and offered to match me up with someone else. At this point, I had lost trust in their system but decided to give it one more try and wrote out very specific requests in what I needed from a therapist. The next day I got a message from a kind therapist. I was still very defensive and wrote her back with my expectations and she responded in a very professional way and made room in her schedule to see me right away. She ended up exceeding my expectations! I’ve already met with her 4 times. She is smart, really smart. I realized smart is definitely something I need in a therapist. Someone who can read between the lines, see-thru my bull shit and calmly guide me to create better ways for me to take care of myself. She is fully present during our sessions and offers a combination of compassion and scientific explanations to my behaviors helping me to better understand how to change them.
All of this is to say times are not easy right now for any of us. Comparison guilt does not help anyone. Yes, there are many people who have it way worse. There are many people going through crises and trauma who still show up smiling each day. There is so much going on these days. Isolation. Fear. And, a lot of unknowns.
It is okay to not be okay.
You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
One day at a time.
The BetterHelp link is an affiliate link that will give me one free week of counseling if anyone signs up via that link. I am sharing the link because they helped me and I figure I may not be the only one out there right now who could use a little bit of extra support.
This blog post was inspired by the words written by @adaywelllived on their Instagram post of the image above. Click the image to read their post.
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