Sharing My Story

My therapist recently contacted me to ask me if I would participate in an interview about my experience in therapy. He would then want to use bits of that interview in a promotional video for his practice. I said sure. That interview was last Friday at 11 am. I wore jeans, converse, and my Ellen sweater that says “kindness” on it.

When I arrived at the little studio on the westside of Atlanta, my therapist was just finishing up a photo shoot with the two other therapists he works with.

Once they were done, the helpers moved the furniture and replaced the couch with a glass table with a chair on either side that were facing each other. I was also given a microphone to clip on my sweater and on the back of my pants.

Now, days before the interview . my therapist sent me an email with a list of possible questions. I, of course, typed out answers to all of them just in case I got tongue tied during the actual interview.

Here are those questions:

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

“Man, I hope this works.”

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? 

Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

Man, I hope this works.

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about going therapy but is unsure?

It never hurts to get a second opinion. Maybe this isn’t as good as it gets- go find out. Except for the co-pay, you’ve got nothing to lose.

So, the actual interview went well; it was a lot shorter than I thought it would be. I don’t know when the final version will be completed, but I was told I’d be sent an email.

They gave me flowers, a candle, and a bottle of red wine for my time. There was also a thoughtful card from my therapist.

I guess I feel fine about the interview. I was nervous about too much personal information being released, but it was actually very surface level. Whenever it is released, I’ll put it on here or at least share my thoughts on it.

Date Night: The Science Museum

My girlfriend and I are going to the local science museum for a 21+ experience involving volcanos, so I am thoroughly pumped. I’m told there will be alcohol, music, movies, and “adult” experiments. I really don’t know what to expect.

I shaved my legs and armpit for the first time since October 2019 and I think I might have clogged the drain a little.

My mouth (FINALLY!!!) does not hurt anymore. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every day for the past week as well as rubbing clove oil on my gums every morning and night. I didn’t attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and was unpleasantly surprised with a test when I returned to campus on Wednesday.

Today is Valentine’s Day, yes, but it is also my coworker’s birthday, so a few of us brought baked goods. I made vanilla macarons and vanilla cupcakes. My coworkers brought a chocolate cake with coconut frosting and raspberries on top. It was delish.

I had a meeting with my advisor and I will officially be graduation in May 2021. My body is ready. I will also be starting full-time at my current job this summer, so that will be nice to have a little more income.

For those of you in school and for those of you that haven’t done your taxes: make sure you or your parents claim the American Opportunity tax credit if you’re in your first 4 years of college. It could get you $1,000 and I know ya’ll need it.

I am currently baking sugar cookie bars. I’ve attempted to dual color the icing, so we’ll see if it turns out as I hope it will.

I got 4 teeth pulled yesterday.

I woke up at 6:30am and my girlfriend and I worked out for 30 minutes. I made some oatmeal, got dressed, and soon it was time to leave for the dentist.

I pushed off this appointment for an entire month due to me being sick for basically the entire month of January, so it was time.

My girlfriend, Chelsea, came with me to the dentist and I was hoping she’d be able to stay in the room with me, but the nurse said she would not be able to.

They immediately started with the nitrous oxide and that was fine…at first.

Then I got my mouth numbed up with gel so the actual shot [used to numb my entire mouth] wouldn’t hurt, but I could not feel my tongue or throat, so I might have freaked out a little bit and insisted that the mask come off and I would wait for the gel to wear off because I didn’t like not being able to feel myself swallow/breathe.

The gel wore off in about 5 minutes and I put the mask back on. The doctor came in and got ready to numb me up with the shot. She warned me that I wouldn’t be able to feel my tongue with this either and did I want to just be completely knocked out?

I had eaten breakfast that morning, so being put under was not an option. It was also more money [that I do not have] so I opted out. I said it’s fine, let’s continue, let’s get this over with.

She numbed me up with 8 shots in my mouth (she poked me in 8 areas) and I was soon very numb. To my relief, though, I could feel the back of my throat which meant I could feel myself breathe and swallow. I was still nervous beyond belief, but this was better than the gel.

The whole time I was waiting for the oral surgeon to come back I was shaking. I was vibrating a lot and I tried to breathe and count and let my body “shake itself out”, but it wouldn’t stop. It was only when the doctor started pulling my teeth that I stopped shaking.

I must say that the actual pulling of teeth was fine. No pain, just pressure. The most disturbing part of it all was the fact that I could hear right in my ear the crunch of the root being ripped out of my bone. That was freaking gross. Like REALLY gross.

She spent maybe a minute max on each tooth. It was out FAST. The hardest part for me was just getting over the fact that my mouth was numb. Everything else was fine.

I am now at home rinsing with salt water and eating soft foods. I really hope I am able to avoid dry socket. My mother said she got it about 10 years ago and it was not pleasant.

Here are photos for your viewing pleasure 😀