Bipolar Diary: “Clocks”

I’m trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my mind. (Is there ever any figuring it out, though?)

The clock is driving me crazy. It feels, quite literally.

That Damn Clock

When the kids were babies, watching the clock was the worst thing I could do. I would look at the clock to see how long I had been asleep before being awakened again to nurse. With Tristan, I would get angry seeing it had only been 15 minutes… or 30… or 50… or even 3 hours. I believed I couldn’t get enough sleep.

Meghann was born when Tristan was 19 months old and I started the same frustrating cycle, feeling my anger rising again. Being angry at a baby isn’t a proper emotion with a newborn/baby/toddler/child especially when it is 100% their innate behavior, so I reached out and asked for help.

Best Parenting Advice Ever

My experienced-in-natural-birth-and-parenting friends had The Solution.

Cover the clocks.

If I did not know how long I had slept, I could stay in the moment and be the mom I wanted to be: present and relaxed.

I’ve since shared that advice hundreds of times, knowing the benefits first-hand.

Clocks Meghann
Meghann sleeping with newborn Gabriella… without a clock.

If There Were No Clocks

If we lived in the wilderness, the jungle, the desert, hundreds/thousands/millions of years ago, we would look to the sun, moon, and seasons for the passage of time. If the sky was covered with clouds, we would be guessing. Nursing moms would look into the eyes of their babies when they cried, not upward to watch the passage of time in a 24-hour day.

“Watch the baby, not the clock,” was a mantra I shared with all new parents.

Clocking the Time

My job requires a clock. I have to know the time a call starts, then look at the work timekeeper to see how long I have been talking. I have to write the time down for each call three times. While I can clock in and out when I want to, I have to “clock” in and “clock” out.

I look at my (now) blue glowing digital clock dozens of times a day for a variety of personal reasons pertaining to health and household needs.

The clock hangs heavy around my neck. Especially the digital one because it does this fluctuating weird shit I can’t explain. Sometimes it glows. Sometimes it’s 3-D. Sometimes it’s flat. Sometimes the numbers float.

Clocks

I thought when my hallucinations stopped, the clock was going to chill, but it has not. Instead, it’s taken on a new design of continuous motion within its metal container.

Disconcerting doesn’t begin to explain how it feels.

I wish I could cover it. I really wish I could yank the plug and throw it away. I’ve thought about getting a new clock, but the idea of a strange resident is scarier than what I have looking at me right now.

I’ll look outside the window as much as I can.

“Confusion never stopsClosing walls and ticking clocks, gonnaCome back and take you homeI could not stop that you now know, singing”

“Clocks” – Coldplay

12-Year Old Nandi Bushell Drops “The Shadows”

If you have not discovered Nandi Bushell yet, now is the time. Nandi’s YouTube channel will introduce you to her amazing talents that include incredible drumming, great guitar and bass playing, time on the piano, and now professionally showing us her singing skills.

Not only singing for us to hear, but she is demonstrating her beautiful songwriting talents, too.

Nandi Bushell Shadows

Nandi Sings for Her Father

As she tells it, her father fell into a depression earlier this year so she wrote him a song to let him know how loved he is and how he is not alone. What 12 year old understands the depths of depression in a parent so intensely, she writes a love song to him?

“When your fears have taken their toll
When the demons have gotten control
When the shadows won’t leave you alone
I’ll be there
When all your rainbows turned into black
When the sun has turned its back
When all of your power bled itself dry
I’ll be there
For you”

Nandi is that child.

Her family is so blessed to have each other.

Listen and Pass It On!

Bipolar Diary: Sharp Edges Being Rounded

My hypomania is fading and I am quite cranky about it.

I’ve been gloriously productive the last three weeks and now to have this needing-a-nap bullshit again is pissing me off.

My clock face is still glowing some, but nothing like the 3-D it was giving me last week. The blue color is almost flat.

Like me.

My Color Draining

For most of my life, I’ve been able to detect my mood just by looking at my imaginary mental health watch. I could look down at my wrist and gauge where I was at any moment. Good? Depressed? How depressed? (As if I could measure the depth by the minute hands on the face.) I have not thought about my mood watch in ages… until the clock on my bookcase became that touchstone.

Just a few days ago, I wrote about my digital clock glowing a 3-D azure blue, it having once been red. Today, the numbers are not dancing as much and the blue is less glowy. I am watching my mood’s colors dribble down the drain.

Bipolar Diary

And In Comes the Flatness

“Flat” is a term used with depression. “The lows can be flat and devoid of colour…” (It does also mean a flat affect, but that isn’t how I am using it.)

Like the clock face, I am becoming flat.

I’m still early in losing the hypomania, but I can already feel the pressure on my mood. It’s slight still, but it is most certainly there.

I’m crying knowing what is coming.

Hallucinations Vanish

The hallucinations have all gone. Nothing.

No random scents.

No ants crawling on me.

No seeing things.

All gone.

Would I rather have the bugs crawling on me and around the room? Probably not, but you see, there is a trade-off. I would take the bugs if I get the great energy and wonderful productivity.

Now, I have neither.

Too Short and Very Sweet

This episode was very short, but so wonderful, even if for only three weeks. Now I am left with the memory of that time and it, too, will fade. My words here in the blog will be the way I can recall where I was and when. If I had not written them down, they would have been erased by my brain within a few more days.

I’m so glad I did not agree to the Risperdal. I would be headed to a major depression at this point. I’m hoping to avoid that, but know it is always a risk and that I have very little control over the depths into which I will fall.

My Status Quo: Low Level Depression

I will most likely fall back into my baseline which is a low-level depression. Not terrible despair. No suicidal ideations. No inability to move or think. Just a place where I exist without fantastic joyous feelings. I feel love for people, family, kids, grandkids, but it isn’t an overflowing power I feel when I am not in my everyday skin.

That makes me sad.

Writing

We’ll see how much I continue writing. It was so nice writing a lot those few days.

Why isn’t there a pill to keep me in hypomania?

Bipolar Diary

Psych Visit Hilarity

Psych: “How are you doing?”

Me: “Great! I’m in hypomania.”

P: “Tell me about that.”

M: “Oh, just some funky olfactory, tactile, and visual hallucinations, but they are no big deal.”

P: “Okay. No auditory?”

M: “Nope, which is unusual.”

P: “Okay, just watch for them.”

M: “I quit taking the Risperdal. I hate it.”

P:  “No problem.”

M: (whew)

P: “Do you have any obsessions happening?”

M: “Oh, no… doing fine.” (completely avoiding YouTube and Queen)

P: “Are you sleeping?”

M: “Some. A couple three hours a night.”

P: “Well watch that and try to sleep more if you can.”

M: “I feel fine on two or three hours.”

P: “As long as you’re feeling good. We can up your Latuda for the hallucinations if you want.”

M: “Naw, they don’t bug me. (haha how punny am I?)”

P: “I think you’re doing great. No med changes. See you in three months.”

M: dancing like Disco Deacy

Disco Deacy
John Deacon of Queen, aka Disco Deacy

Hypomania. Oh, How I Love Thee!

I am a cleaning dervish.

My vocabulary is exemplary with clients. My mouth is pouring out words I rarely use. My brain is on fire!

I am writing like mad.

Writing Like the Wind

I am lost as to time. I thought yesterday (Friday) was Monday all day long. I have appointments on Monday and was ready for them wondering where my connections were… why were they so late? I still barely know what day it is. I keep looking at the calendar to see where I am.

I no longer care one whit about the hallucinations. They are worth this glorious activity and brain power.

I’m tempted to cancel the psych appointment next week, but I can hear all of you now… “NO!” so I won’t.

But, oh my Goddess, is this so delicious!

I can do anything

“I’m Going Slightly Mad”

Good News

My Cardiac Stress Test came back no blockage in my heart. I am ecstatic about that! I’ve tortured my heart since I was 11 years old, so it’s actually shocking. The summary suggested “Lifestyle Changes.”

Doing it!

Crankiness

I fucking hate Risperdal. I hadn’t taken it in a few (many) days and took the 1mg prescribed and was so groggy all day as if I had taken Trazodone. I hate dreamless sleep. Still was only five hours total, but felt horrible when awake.

What is the price of non-compliance?

I will see if there is something else I can take when I talk to the psych next week.

What Does “Slightly Mad” Look Like?

Maybe I am just in Hypomania with teensy bits of manic hallucinations. 

(Can you hear me laughing as I try and rationalize my behavior and thoughts? If I was listening to myself, I would be shaking my head and saying, “Stop it!”)

Thankfully, I am not listening to myself.

Fun with Hallucinations (Cardiac Stress Test)

I had a Cardiac Stress Test today. The ants came along with me. It’s ever so much fun trying to ignore hallucinations in a medical setting. More on that in a bit.

Besides being a fat girl, the COVID I had late December fucked with my heart and lungs. I had heart palpitations from early January until I went to the ER mid-April. (“They’re going to go away! Dr. Google said they are transient.” They were not.)

While in the hospital, a full work-up also found swollen lymph nodes in one lung. They weren’t too worried about that and said to go for another CT in six months. Easy peasy.

The heart, though. Well, let’s just say when I talked to the Electrocardiologist from my hospital bed at the end of April, he gave me an ultimatum.

These Are Choices?

He said:

“You can either completely change your life or you live in a nursing home.”

See, when people said I was going to die, that was pretty much saying, “You get out just like we all get out.” So what? I could not have cared less.

However, a nursing home?

I had pictures of myself at 400 pounds with some nurse’s aid wiping my ass. I could smell my life of urine and shit. I saw the rows of wheelchairs and my super-sized one in the corner waiting for me to go to a dinner of mush and slop.

(This might not be your view of nursing homes, but it was what my mind flashed to.)

Nursing Home

Life Changing

Well, the idea of a nursing home was less than appealing, so I decided the other option of changing my life wins that argument.

Breeze

  • I quit eating from Uber Eats.
  • I threw out the salt. Mind you, I put salt on salt, so not having salt was the most challenging change.
  • I only buy low-sodium/no sodium foods. (No lowER, sodium, I shoot for less than 1000 mgs salt daily.
  • I now drink Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.
  • I upped my vegan game, but the cardiologist said, “You might want to eat salmon for your heart and kidneys.” I eat a small bit of salmon three times a week and take Omega-3 supplements daily.
  • I take Metoprolol Tartrate for my heart palpitations (PVCs).
  • I take Lasix to keep the water from flowing up and squishing my heart.

What’s Changed So Far

  • The heart palpitations/PVCs are gone.
  • The Lasix has stopped my retaining fluid. Good LORD, salt sure had me retaining fluid. I had so much in my body it was actually squishing my heart! That is a fuck ton of fluid.
  • I’ve lost 60 pounds since the beginning of May.
  • I just got permission to start walking again. Woo hoo!

Today’s Cardiac Stress Treat

The stress test was a chemical one instead of the treadmill.

It took wayyyyyy longer than expected because I am a hard stick for IVs and they had to bring in the PICC team woman to ultrasound my arm. She found it quick and easy after 4 pokes from the nurses. “I am a hard stick. You might want to get someone with a sono to do it.” <ignore Barb/>

Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log

Yeah, I brought the ants with me to the hospital. I closed my eyes and meditated to my Queen mix, deciphering the different vocal and instrumental parts to keep my mind working and not seeing or slapping the ants. I could still feel them, but worked to not feel them as much.

“Oh, listen to Deacy’s bass. That goes well with Roger’s kick drum.”

“Listen to Brian, Freddie, and Roger’s harmony. That’s Roger up there. I hear Brian better on this section. Freddie sure has range!”

I laughed thinking what they would think if I demonstrated my hallucination dance. I might be put on another floor of the hospital. At least I recognize my hallucinations. I know I am lucky that way.

Sniffing… Well, Sometimes Glue (I think)

At the hospital, I realized my olfactory hallucinations (phantosmia) are back, too. They have been for awhile, but it didn’t hit me until I began smelling the scent of a rotten animal at the hospital, too. It has been an on-again-off-again smell in my room. I have torn it apart looking for a dead animal, not finding anything. My room is sealed! There is no way for anything to get in. Why that didn’t hit me sooner is beyond me.

My olfactory hallucinations have been the most frequent hallucinations I’ve had over the last 30 years. Even when I am fine and balanced, I still have them. I have not had them for over a year; no idea why not. But here they are again.

Usually, when I am depressed, I smell gross things like vomit, something burning, shit or… dead animals?

When I am doing well, I smell great things like the plumeria in Kaua’i, strawberries, and (this is hilarious) the scent of the paper fresh off the ditto machine.

Ditto Scent
Smelling the ditto sheets. Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Am I Sliding Into Mania?

Yet, here I am, not depressed but having hallucinations.

I’ve sat for awhile and thought about the last couple of weeks. I also scoured Dr. Google.

I have:

  • Written a LOT of posts
  • Written things I regret writing (blessedly not on the blog that I can see… yet, anyway… but sadly to someone who I love very much)
  • Am sleeping way less
  • Am talking louder than I need to be
  • Saying things that are out of character

Fuck. Maybe I am sliding into mania again.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

I have an appointment with my Psychiatrist in one week. I will let you know how it goes.

Crapola.

Mania

Afterthought: I started off this post all happy and almost silly. Now that I am in this place with new light, I am not so giddy.

Dentures: 4-Months Out

I’ve learned I hate my bottom dentures. 

So much so, I never wear them anymore. They, the $1000 teeth, sit in the container with water on them. I cannot imagine wearing bottom dentures until I can get the $3000 to anchor them down permanently.

I could not even eat one bite of mashed potatoes before they fell out. I have not eaten anything remotely hard since early April. If I’d have known I would never eat sushi again, I would have eaten a hell of a lot more at the beginning of the year.

Uppers Only

I only wear the uppers now and those suckers stay in fabulously. They get looser at the end of the day, but from what I have learned, that is typical. 

I use my bottom gums as the “plate” upon which to rest my food as I chew with the uppers. I don’t lose my teeth. I don’t worry about them falling out in my plate. It’s just the best solution all around.

And the weight loss side effect doesn’t hurt either.

Dentures

No One Even Knows

The best part is no one can even tell! Even people with dentures couldn’t tell, even after I told them. So, I just don’t care anymore. If I can go out securely, eat fine (relatively speaking), and no one tell, then why worry about it?

I spent a long weekend at my daughter’s, have been going out to doctor appointments, and even went to lunch with my family, no worries whatsoever. The lowers just stayed at home where they belong.

Refitting?

Many people have said they need to be refitted, but I swear to you, I really do not want to fuck with them at all. With how many complaints there are on the Internet about lowers falling out and never fitting right (“they ‘float’ on the gums, they are just going to fall out”) I have just given up on them.

Suits me just fine.

Fibonacci Therapy

I’ve decided to abandon Talk Therapy and have been led to a different type of therapy.

Through working on my Psychological Thriller, I found the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The subtitle is: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Within 2 chapters, I realized the book was not just for my character, but for me.

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Vastly Different Healing Modalities

Van der Kolk, in wonderfully scientific ways, explains how we now know that actual physical changes are occurring in the brain when there is abuse, neglect or trauma. Well-known in the mental health/psychiatric field, he’s found that people can heal their brains… physically and chemically… through Yoga, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), EFT (Emotion-focused therapy), neurofeedback (biofeedback) and activities such as theater and Tai Chi.  

He has done extensive research with Veterans, abused children as young as 2-years old, elder adults who thought they would never feel better, folks with PTSD and C-PTSD and any number of others with trauma histories.

Van der Kolk does not believe medications and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/talk therapy are as helpful as therapists have believed for decades.

I concur.

So Many Strikes

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I’ve been in therapy since I was 18-years old, almost continuously. 41 years. I feel I am at the same place I started all those decades ago. I’ve tried CBT, DBT, sand tray therapy, art therapy, angel therapy, crystals and many more I can no longer remember, that’s how useless they were. I’ve been in a dozen different types of group therapies as well, most of which seem to have been created to see who can tell the worst abuse story.

DBT comes the closest to changing my thought processes, but that is because of the Mindfulness aspects. DBT has a lot of CBT in it, so it is all but negated.

Fibonacci

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Fibonacci: an integer in the infinite sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, … of which the first two terms are 1 and 1 and each succeeding term is the sum of the two immediately preceding

Instead of singular modes of therapy, I want one that builds on another, lifting me higher with each step.

Fibonacci in Nature

Nautiluses have long been how I see healing… one chamber being worked on and when that section has been completed/emptied, it is time to move to the next chamber.

I began a new type of “therapy” yesterday. I am not sure how to even explain it except it was beautiful and after the hour and for hours afterwards, I felt at peace for the first time in so long I cannot remember when the last time was.

My body was not twitching. My aches and pains simmered lower than they usually do. My mind was able to focus on one idea at a time instead of a cacophony of many voices so loud, none were even able to be heard.

Finally, there is a shift.

Finally.

Therefore:

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TW: Group Therapy Sucked

I am in emotional pain. Certainly not as much as so many others, but I am hurting. I bargained my way out of being admitted to the psych hospital by agreeing to attend an Intensive Outpatient Program online. I ended up going for 8 days and then left because it was causing more distress than healing.

Group Therapy Navelgazing Writer

This is my Farewell Letter with minor distinguishing factors left out:

There was a time when I loved Group Therapy. I was in several at a time sometimes. Knowing myself now, it was 1) because I loved to talk about me and my issues 2) because it was voyeuristic hearing others talk about their issues 3) because, eventually (after 30 years or so), I knew enough to help others.

I cannot do any more group therapy.

I am meticulous with what goes into my brain. My tipping point for my Bipolar and Depression (and now PTSD) issues are low. I cannot watch the news, scary movies, hear scary stories… you get the gist. The world is filled with terrible things and I can only help in fractions of fractions of fractions of .000001%. The feeling of helplessness is a constant low hum in my existence.

In Group, I did not have control over the input into my brain and psyche. The PTSD trigger, we already talked about. But yesterday, the group was talking about someone who had been “Baker Acted”… as if she was some ‘thing’ to be acted upon instead of “helping her get treatment.” And when I asked that we not talk about someone who was not in the room, I was chastised that 1) it was not HIPAA non-compliant (which was not why I requested they stop) 2) that I “need to get used to these kinds of discussions because that’s life.” When that second statement was used was when the group had informally begun to discuss suicide and ways it can be done. I had to log out. That comment was also said to me when I had the PTSD trigger last week. No, I do not have to get used to people talking about exploding body parts or the terrors of war or looking at meat in the freezer and seeing their friend’s thigh.

I do not need to get used to these kinds of discussions because they do not happen in regular life. When someone talks about killing themselves, action occurs. If someone is put in the hospital for their safety, they are not “A Baker Act,” they are a human being in pain who needs help. The issue was not HIPAA, but kindness and understanding for a person unable to defend themselves in the room at the moment. When someone talks about the horror of war, I can find them some help to be in a safe place to unpack those memories. These topics are not in my every day world.

I talked to my therapist last night as well as my adult girls about what I should do and they all agreed with my self-assessment, that I would do better alone.

Therefore, I am withdrawing from the Program and will work on my own to heal. I will do SMART Recovery (which I love… that program helped me detox from opiates 5 years ago) and read… in the rotation right now is The Mindful Way Through Anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation have also been crucial in my substance abuse issues as well as pain relief, mental stability and finding joy in sad situations. I say this paragraph so you know I have a plan. I am not just going to drink or fall into a hole of incapacity. I am strong and power-full and intelligent. I can do this.

Thank you all for trying. I am just not a good fit for Group Therapies anymore and will be aware of that in the future.

Lastly, thank you for being there for those that need your knowledge and support. It is hard, hard work… being a therapist. Thank you.

Please be safe, stay healthy, wear your masks… and know you are all amazing.

As I write this, I am waiting to explain to my psychiatrist why I left and why I no longer feel I need to be hospitalized. It seems standing up for myself had a positive impact.

Solo therapy for me is it from now on.

Therapy Navelgazing Writer

Forgiveness

I have a Rubik’s Cube in my hand… the hand in my mind… working it working it working it, trying to figure out how to change things I have done in my life, how to correct them, make better decisions, hurt fewer people. If I can just figure out the right way to get the colors lined up, my life would not be filled with so many regrets.

s-l300

I have apologized to those around me, including my children, many, many times, yet I still feel horribly guilty for my transgressions. I’ve confessed my sins in therapy for 30 years now, yet continue enduring the weight of guilt, it often weighing me down into depression.

And then I heard, in a book* I am listening to, “How long is the sentence for these crimes you committed in your 20s, 30s and 40s? What is a fair sentence for your crime?”

I am 58 and believe my sentence is now over.

In this decision, I thought, “Does carrying others’ pain lessen their own misery?” It does not. I also do not believe my children want me to suffer anymore.

Pain

I am here to answer the questions people in my life have. I am here to apologize for things I am responsible for, but I will not wear the yoke of guilt any longer. I release my Self from my shame, my pain, my sadness and my grief for the things not done or that I did wrong.

Therefore, I shall make amends… and forgive my Self.

* Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

therapist

How to Find a Therapist

sonowiamhere

Looking for a Therapist?

Looking for a therapist can be a daunting task. I know because I have had to find several over the last 40 years. Finding someone compatible can take time and when you are in a crisis, time is not what one typically has.

Here, I will lay out questions that can help with the screening process for who might be a good fit… and who will definitely not be a good fit.

choose

How to Find a Therapist

Finding who to call can include getting names from Human Resources, your insurance book or Googling “Therapists.”

I find that if you need low-cost therapists, going to support agencies can help more than just Googling. I suggest the LGBTQ+ Center in the nearest town, even if you are not wanting to talk about those issues, they keep a long list of therapists who are low-no cost. You can also search the county’s social services site.

You can call the local college and ask them for recommendations. If it is a school that licenses therapists, that can be a jackpot, asking for newer therapists because they often charge less. It can seem not fabulous to ask for a new therapist, but they are often the ones with the newest ideas in research and are willing to work with you and your desires for therapy.

list

Once You Have the List

It can be daunting to call the long list of therapists you have in front of you. Take your time. Call 3, then take a break and call 3 more the next hour or so. Be gentle on yourself even if you are desperate.

Desperate, of course, means NOT in a place to harm yourself or others.

Suicide_Preventionpng.12132832_std

If you are in a suicidal or homicidal place, PLEASE CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

Calling for an Appointment

You will almost always get an answering machine when you call. That is normal. So plan out what you are going to say… write it down and read it if you want to… and then say what you need to the machine. Short and as succinct as possible. Therapist’s appointments end at 10 ’til the hour, so occasionally you might catch a person between then and the top of the hour, but not usually.

“Hi, my name is Barb Herrera and I need a therapist for depression. Your name was given to me by the LGBTQ Center. I am in crisis, but not suicidal, so the sooner I can see someone the better. My phone number is: xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

If you are in crisis, it is important to say you are. Make sure to add the not suicidal part, please… if you are NOT suicidal, of course.

If you are a parent, needing therapy for a child, you can say, “Hi, my name is Barb Herrera and my 10-year old son William needs help with his ADHD and anger issues. We are having a very hard time right now, so the sooner I can see someone the better. Please help!”

I find the phrase, “Please help me,” brings out the codependent in just about everyone. I use it in the ER, in bookstores, and looking for therapists.

You might need to call 20 therapists to get 3 to call you back. That is the way it goes, sadly. Some will be kind and tell you they cannot help, but good-luck, but that is pretty rare.

Try with all your might to answer the phone when a strange number calls (or a blocked number even) because catching each other can be a terribly frustrating game of cat and mouse.

When You Speak to the Therapist

phone

While it sounds like you want that exact therapist when you left a message, there is a screening process you get to do to see if they are a good fit or not.

I encourage writing down exactly what you want help with:

“I am struggling with my marriage. My partner is distant and I don’t know why./My partner asked for a divorce and I’m scared/I’m having such a hard time getting anything done, my life is shit.” Etc.

If it is for someone else, your child for example, being really clear with what you need is good.

“My 15-year old daughter is using drugs and I don’t know what to do about it/My daughter is 13 and angry all the time. I need help understanding her/My 9-year old son struggles in school and cries a lot. I need help figuring out how to help him.” Etc.

So, when the therapist calls, this is when you bring out that paper and read to him or her what you need. Then ask, “Is this something you work with?” They might say yes (some say yes to anything), but they might tell you that isn’t their skill set and that’s great. Ask if they have a referral, thank them for calling and move on.

If you make an appointment with someone who says yes, WRITE DOWN THE APPOINTMENT DATE AND TIME and keep it handy. I say this because you want to keep talking to the therapists who call you back. Make an appointment with each one, just keep them straight (stars or ** next to the ones you like) so you can cancel  the others when you get a feel for the right therapist. It is rare you will not connect with one of the folks that eventually calls. If you do not, pick the least objectionable and start there.

When you have the appointment with the therapist, please call the others and cancel. You will get a machine again, so no worries on hurting their feelings. It happens all the time. BUT, thank them for their time and that you are holding onto their number for future reference. And then do so so you don’t have to go on the search again in the future if the one you choose does not work out.

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Appointments

The first appointment can make or break the relationship, but I highly encourage having at least 3 before deciding you are not a good fit and moving to the next one.

It is also so so tempting to stay with one that is meh because the prospect of starting over is daunting and can be really challenging when you are in crisis. But, I promise, if you give the therapist 3 sessions and you are still not clicking, the idea that you will eventually is really delaying the obvious. Best get out and start over now. The sooner you do, the sooner you will find the right fit.

When I moved from San Diego after my 28-year marriage ended, I had specific needs because of the situation… needed an LGBTQ+ friendly and knowledgeable person. The first three people I had were very young and I spent those first 3 sessions teaching them about the transgender person. I stayed the 3 hoping after session 1 and 2 that they would learn on their own and come back armed with information they could use to help me. When it was clear I was going to be the educator, I ended the relationship and moved onto the next one. With the 4th, I hit the jackpot and am still with her 3 years later. I did not have to teach her one thing about the trans community or the trans experience. She is older and volunteers as a therapist at the LGBTQ+ Center in town. It took almost a year to find the right person, but it was worth it. (A year waiting for appointments to open up and the down time between therapists when I was frustrated and was too tired to move forward.)

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Lastly

Trust your instincts.

If you are able to be CLEAR about your needs… even if it is merely describing your child’s most difficult behaviors or your most intense emotions about your job… that is a fantastic way to start.

Others who have made these choices, do you have other ideas on how you choose therapists?