A few weeks ago I wrote about changing my therapist. Today, I’ll tell you my impressions after two sessions with a new counselor. Two 50-minute conversations with someone is not going to give you all the information you need to judge them or their skill level. With that caveat, I proceed.
The first session did not go well because she did not show up. She told me one day and time and wrote down a different day and time for herself. This was both disappointing and discouraging. I spent time preparing for my session by filling out paper work and editing and printing some of my previous articles in order to give her a more complete picture of who I was and at what stage I was. My anticipation and expectations were high. After being told she wasn’t coming, I was sullen. I went home and went to bed at 8:00 PM and slept till 6:40 AM the next day. My wife encouraged me to reschedule, so I did. I was seen the next day amidst some embarrassment and groveling.
For our next session I expected my therapist to read what I had written about myself. But, she read only one page. Admittedly, I gave her enough material to make a small book, however I emphasized to her that I did not want to start from the beginning with a new therapist but progress from my current status. Once again, I reiterated the importance of getting familiar with my story and the work I have done to get where I am.
She said a couple of things during that second session that made my eyebrows lift. The first statement she made was that I should be over this episode of depression already. My first clinical depression lasted four-and one-half years, my second five months, my third four months, my fourth two years and four months, and my current episode is into its tenth month. In her defense, studies report that the median length of a depressive episode is 20 to 23 weeks or roughly six months.
Notice the word “median.” It does not say “average,” which is the addition of the months that each individual was depressed in the whole study group divided by the number of people participating. You will not find an average length of time in the literature, you only find the median.
“Median” means that half of the people in the study were depressed for longer than the other half. In other words, it is the person in the middle that determines the standard. If the study included 301 participants, 150 people had shorter episodes and 150 had longer and number 151 determined the expected “normal” amount of time to be depressed.
I wanted to scream, “I AM NOT NORMAL!” I have a severe recurrent major depressive disorder which only happens to .025% of the world population according to the World Health Organization. Hey, lady, I’m a rare bird. BUT, I know what she was trying to say although she said it awkwardly. If I were working my plan (she specifically mentioned having friends and giving back by volunteering), I should be better.
The second thing she said was that people do not fundamentally change. I strongly disagree. People who are sick can get well. The irresponsible become responsible. Angry, peaceful. Addicted, sober. Abusive, respectful. Envious, contented. As a Christian I believe people can come from darkness to light and sinfulness to righteousness. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone, the new is here!” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Although I have some constructive critiques, I am hopeful that this relationship between therapist and client will be rewarding for her and challenging for me. I reserve my lasting judgement for later.
I want to thank everyone who read, “like,” and comment on my submissions. You may have noticed I added a couple of new features. That makes four predominate subjects.
I try not to be prescriptive, but descriptive in my writings. My desire is that those who have a mental illness may find solace in that they are not alone, feel some comfort, and renew their hope.
I am primarily concerned about Christians who have embarrassed themselves, their families, and their church through some sinful or troublesome act that may require public discipline (correction) and private confession and repentance. There appears to be a systemic problem in the Church universal with ministering to the above-described individuals. If I could spark a conversation or goad someone into thinking and acting because of my experience, then I will have been successful. It is not my intent to solicit sympathy or cast blame, I simply want to bring the issue out of the shadows into the light.
- Monday’s Prayer:
This is new. I was inspired by what my former professor, Dr. Matt Friedeman, said about Psalms and Proverbs. He reported that he reads the Psalms in order to learn how to praise God and he reads the Proverbs to learn how to pray for his children. This past December I started writing prayers for my children and grandchildren in my prayer journal. Now that some months have passed, I wanted to share them with you so that you too can pray the Scriptures over your posterity.
- Friday’s Journal:
My second new addition. These are my thoughts during my fourth depressive episode. I offer them to you as insight into the life and thoughts of someone experiencing severe depression. Perhaps they will help those who have never had a clinical case of depression to understand a little better what their loved one or friend is experiencing. It also may help someone know that they are not the only one thinking these kinds of thoughts.
Again, I am very grateful for you all. May God make my humble submissions reach and help those who are in need.
The LORD be with you.