I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was a kid. I first started in second grade when my parents told my sister and I that we were moving from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, and my wee nerves couldn’t handle it. It was a short-lived experience that involved puppets and learning how to deal with the idea of making new friends at a new school. By high school, when my depression really started to kick in, therapy became a fairly consistent component of my life. Since then I haven’t gone more than six months without seeing a therapist.
My relationship with my therapy is one of love and hate. I love that I get to sit there and talk about things in a safe space free of judgement and filtering, but I also hate it because, despite how much it helps, it’s actually narcissistic. You’re paying someone to sit there and listen to your “problems.” What’s more narcissistic than that?
Growing up I was the only one I knew in therapy. Now, as an adult and a New Yorker, I know far more people who are in therapy than those who are not. A lot of us are in it for depression issues, but then there are those who go because they really just enjoy speaking about themselves for a full hour. Granted, everyone’s favorite topic is themselves, but one would think that some quality time talking to yourself in the mirror could pacify that need to be so self-involved. I mean, that’s what I do when I’m not getting enough attention.
When things aren’t going well in my life, I can justify going to therapy but I’m still at odds with it. If you look at my life, I don’t have much over which to be depressed. My depression stems from the chemicals in my brain that are fucked up and not because of some childhood tragedy with which I’ve been forced to face. So even in my darkest moments, as I sit there on my therapist’s couch, I can’t help but feel like an asshole. I easily walk past a dozen or so homeless people in the 33 blocks from my apartment to my therapist’s office, people who are far worse off than I’ll ever be, and there I am pissing and moaning about the trials and tribulations of my upper middle class existence. It really is a struggle for my conscience and one that vocalize to my therapist only so she can tell me that I shouldn’t feel bad.
“Not feel bad?” I’ve often asked. “I just walked past a man sprawled out under some scaffolding on 24th Street with apparent gangrene on his foot and I’m paying you a near-fortune so I can talk about how ‘terrible’ I’m feeling today. When I leave here, he’s still going to be passed out and I’m going to head home to my apartment and probably have champagne and pizza for dinner so I can quit feeling so ‘terrible,’ and nothing about the situation is going to be fair or right!”