I’m Seeing Someone. . . My Therapist

You guys! I’ve been going to weekly mental health counseling for the past 5 weeks and I have never felt better. I’ve also been avoiding the news and social media which helps a lot too.

I went to a therapist who my psychiatrist recommended and so far, we’ve been doing very well. She’s around my age, I think (I’m awful at guessing age), and she’s got Gumpy Cat chotchkies in her office which I consider to be a good sign. It’s like the modern version of the old school “Hang in there, baby!” kitten on a tree limb poster. These days nobody has the time or patience to sugarcoat things sometimes so it’s just a big fat NOPE. I like to think of it as a motivational NOPE though.

hang-in-there

So far Ms. Therapist has helped me calm down about the way that I’m usually torn and paralyzed by the amount of goals I have. I’ve realized that although I really do want to get my masters in psychology it isn’t going to help on my immediate goals and therefore it’s ok to put on the back burner and not feel guilty about “ignoring it”. I even created worksheets so that I can track the planning and success of individual goals! Have I filled them out yet? Noooo. . . But shh. . . that leads to my next therapy-driven revelation.

I am trying to stop saying “I should”. I know, it seems like a trivial little action to have an impact on my mental health but holy Hannah it has helped! Because I’m prone to juggling 5 goals at once I have usually been guilt-ridden at my lack of action toward all of them- even when making steps toward achieving one or two of them I would negative self-talk about how I SHOULD be doing a million other things. Even just now thinking about it I’m getting an anxious feeling. But now, I’m training myself to say “I will” which helps to relieve that self-imposed pressure. Like, I should be working on my She Should Run incubator material. But. . . and reference my point in the above paragraph. . . that is not my immediate goal and one day I WILL complete it. BAM! Such a tiny change creates such a grand shift in my emotional state.

I also went on a date last week (ok, I’m not entirely sure if it was like a double date or a chaperoned date or just hanging out with a someone and another couple – I have no idea – this is being single at 32 apparently) and that led my therapist and I into a discussion about relationships and where I’m at with what I want. It was nice to talk about that with someone other than a friend because of course my friends are going to say nice things, meanwhile my therapist asks probing questions to help me figure out what I’m looking for exactly.

She has also helped a TREMENDOUS amount in my house-buying adventures. And by adventures I mean like hiking a really difficult mountain with an overcast sky so that the view’s not even worth the struggle yet. I’m hoping that my struggle will pay off soon. . . March 14th to be exact but apparently this whole house buying game is unpredictable even when there are contracts involved. My therapist has helped put my stress in perspective and appreciate how much I’m doing/progressing. BOOM! Yeah, you’re right Ms. Therapist, I am doing a lot of big things and learning from them!!!

So there you have it, a brief synopsis of the first five sessions with my new therapist.

Hilarious moment from my first appointment – as I’m leaving our session she tells me to check out with the front desk and asks:

Ms. Therapist: You can schedule your next appointment with her. How often were you thinking of coming?
Me: I was thinking like every week.
Ms. Therapist: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

Hahahaha, yes yes, I am in need of weekly mental health tune-ups because ya know what? I’ve been neglecting myself for far too long and it’ll take some time to get my poop in a group (a friend of mine’s replacement for “get your shit straight” when she’s around her kids).

Playlists for EVERYONE this V Day!

Oh geez. . . I started this idea two weeks ago and I neglected it so that I could paint instead – which isn’t to say it’s been a waste.

I planned to write out a quippy little playlist for the lovers, the steadily singles, and the recently departed duos out there this Valentine’s day and I got maybe 1/3 done with that goal. Since this blog is about how my life REALLY is rather than how I could make it seem all pretty and perfectly wrapped in a bow – I shall share with you the rather unfinished work in progress that shall remain a work in progress. . . not a failure so much as an “attempt”.

I hope you enjoy! And if you’d like to listen to them, I’ve linked to my Spotify playlists so you can hear them on your chosen media players!

 

Love-ish Playlist

Open this playlist in spotify by clicking here!

Divinyls – I Touch Myself
Aside from the obvious sexual statement of this song, it starts out with the line “I love myself, I want you to love me” and you know what? That right there is THE KEY to love! You’ve got to learn how to love yourself before you can love anyone else! Real love wisdom right there.

Akon – Smack That
One for the clubs, this little love song will get your girl’s booty bouncing. It’s not often in mainstream radio rap songs you hear something that sounds like asking for consent but if a dude came up and said ”Maybe go to my place and just kick it like TaeBo” I would totally “possibly” let him bend me over and. . . yeah. . . it’s a good song.

Blackstreet – No Diggity
At its core this song is about an OG and his admiration for a certain playette.  Dr. Dre appears to have a very high level of respect for this woman and rattles off quite an extensive list of qualities he seems to deem very attractive. Now tell me, playettes, who doesn’t want that kind of affection from an original rump shaker like Dr. Dre? I know I do.

Bill Withers – Grandma’s Hands
If you’re taking this list and making a mixtape for your boo, I recommend editing this one out. It’s a different kind of love all together but a sentimental and deep love nonetheless.  And, if you actually give it a listen, you’ll notice it’s got something in common with the song above (oh 90’s, the era of “sampling”).

Mariah Carey – Fantasy
Ever notice that when famous musicians write songs that seem mildly obsessive about a secret crush they have we’re all totally cool with it? Meanwhile you know that if that creepy kid from 3rd period algebra gave you a note with the lyrics to this 90’s gem scrawled on them you’d be making a beeline straight to the cop they have in schools now. Regardless, if you’re a girl (or non-girl who just appreciates really good music from the 90’s) and you’re crushin’ on a cutie, we all know you’ve belted this out in your car at least once or twice to work those butterflies out before you know you’re going to see them.

Radiohead – Creep
On the other end of that “it’s cool if celebrities have crushes” spectrum is Thom York’s version of Fantasy. You’ve got to appreciate a dude who is fully aware of how he comes off though. He’s not beating around the bush or trying to play it cool and he is calling himself out as a total weirdo – I believe both in general and for having these strong feelings. I can’t say for sure, I have not met the guy.

Weezer – Only in Dreams

Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life

Blind Melon – No Rain

The Black Keys – Everlasting Light

Frightened Rabbit – Old Old Fashioned

Pulp – Common People

Mason Jennings – Butterfly

 

 

 

Singles (It’s cool) Playlist

Open this playlist in Spotify by clicking here!

Billy Idol – Dancing with Myself
Whether Billy’s talking about dancing or something more, we all know that being single for a while can lead to a need for some form of release and what’s healthier than dancing or. . . uh. . . love vibrations??

Murs – Pussy and Pizza
I know this sounds legit inappropriate and it partially is, but. . . calm down. It’s good, seriously. Give the lyrics a chance and you’ll see that axe body spray, donut-binging cheat days, douchebags, love, lust, and never giving a “mad fuck” are just all part of the game. Oh, and pussy and pizza.

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
Okay, these lyrics are a little scattered but I’ve always thought of this song as a call to take a break from life and be introspective for a bit. What better time than when you’re single to take inventory of your life? Do you want it to be “same as it ever was” or do you need a change? Or did I just send you on a flashback fieldtrip to the 80’s that we may never see you return from?

Weezer – Why Bother
This one’s a little on the whiney side but the fear of getting hurt again from a new love is likely a universal concern. There’s no real happy ending (thanks, Rivers, for your angsty albums) but Why Bother is super satisfying to sing at top volume and lament your single-ness occasionally. Just occasionally though, let’s not get comfortable being a whiney Rivers.

Montell Jordan – This is How We Do It
This my song, this my song!! If you’re of the “go out and mack on potential mates” persuasion, this is the jam for you. Before you hit the bars gather your crew around as you’re pre-gaming and pull this up on Spotify. I will guarantee that 60% of the time it works every time setting the most mackin’ tone for the evening.

The Streets – Don’t Mug Yourself
We’ve all been there, you met the person of your dreams the night before. You exchanged digits. You really dig them something fierce. Naturally you don’t want to let those digits go to waste so you go to text them and lucky for you, your bestie intervenes because: who likes “desperate pursuers”? If you’ve madly fallen in love after a night out (firstly, no, don’t be that weirdo) play this jam on repeat to remind yourself to PLAY IT COOL. Even if their favorite author is your favorite author and you both think Jack totally could’ve fit on that door with Rose and she was just being selfish.

The Postal Service – Clark Gable
I know, I know. The Postal Service. Gag me with a spoon. Even my bestie hates them. I get it, their saccharine-sweet lyrics and impossible-to-live-up-to sentiments could be seen as nauseating (or adorable and like Ben Gibbard is speaking to your soul) but this song just GETS it, ya know? “I want so badly to believe that “there is truth, that love is real” and I want life in every word to the extent that it’s absurd.” Don’t we all want that?? Well kids, there’s hope. Just look at Ben and Zooey! Oh, wait, they divorced? Dammit. . . Alright, well then it’s time to give up hope entirely.

Justin Timberlake – SexyBack

Liz Phair – Fuck and Run

Ben Folds – Capable of Anything

Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore

Doris Day – Que Sera Sera

Andrew Gold – Thank You for Being a Friend

Marvin Gaye – Got to Give it Up (Part 1)

Ginuwine – Pony

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle

James Brown – Get Up Offa that Thing

 

 

 

The Breakup Playlist

Open this playlist in Spotify by clicking here!

Barret Strong – Money (that’s What I Want)
We’ve all been there, the relationship that’s one-sided and YOU’RE the one footing the bill on everything with no real situational reason. I consider this the classier version of TLC’s “No Scrubs”. On the flip side, sometimes you find that person who cares more about the content of their/others’ bank account than their/others personality and you’d rather have a quality conversation than a fancy car. Either way, get outta there.

En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
Oh snap, this is my break up JAM!

Ben Folds (feat Regina Spektor) – You Don’t Know Me
Gah, to be in a relationship that doesn’t actually mean anything – it’s the worst. Adding insult to injury is when they treat you like shit for this pointless carrying-on! “If I’m the person that you think I am, clueless chump you seem to think I am, so easily led astray, an errant dog who occasionally escapes and needs a shorter leash, then why the fuck would you want me back?” Ouch, Ben, time to move on.

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
Ugh, the struggle of the fragile masculinity! A guy breaks a girl’s (or guy’s – or non-binary’s) heart and then thanks to gender norms it’s just simply not ok for him to cry about it. Thank you, Robert Smith, for declaring your love AND calling out the patriarchy – even if you’re a little late in realizing you done messed up.

Brandy and Monica – The Boy is Mine
To be cheated on. . . it’s the worst. To catch them at it and exact revenge – that’s actually pretty great (I don’t know or anything, and by revenge I don’t mean an intervention-style confrontation with all parties involved because the cheated-on parties teamed up against the cheater. Nope, college Jessie knows nothing about that). However, to be cheated on then argue with the person who played a part in the affair that was NOT your boo? No, your boo is the one to blame – that responsibility rests with them. Take up your anger and disappointment with the partner who failed you – and ya know what, maybe don’t write a song about creating a sort of cat fight out of it.

Tegan and Sara – Where Does the Good Go

Marvin Gaye – I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Death Cab for Cutie – We Looked Like Giants

Alkaline Trio – Enjoy Your Day

Backstreet Boys – Quit Paying Games (With my Heart)

Nada Surf – Popular

Genesis – I Can’t Dance

Murs – Break Up (The OJ Song)

The Clash – Train in Vain

Kate Nash – Merry Happy

Queen – I Want to Break Free

The Midwife of Mental Health

In a very surreal moment, the kind you only see in movies or on TV, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my across-the-alley neighbor’s apartment telling her boyfriend to shut his mouth as I tried to soothe her during a panic attack. I had just hung up her phone from calling her mom and realized I should probably call her best friend back, I had got off the phone with her just a few moments ago and left her likely quite confused.

I have not yet once talked to this neighbor in the last 9 months that I have lived in my apartment. I’ve said maybe 12 words to her boyfriend on two separate occasions – he smokes out on their stairwell so I see him in passing. I was leaving to meet up with a friend at a set time and as I was dragging my stuff out of my place I noticed that my neighbors were arguing – very loudly – I just figured it was the 20-30 something typical couple’s fight of whatever and yeah, yelling’s ok to some people. It didn’t seem to be abusive and I couldn’t make out anything. As I came back out for a second round of my stuff to take to my car it had escalated, I could tell she was sobbing and he was shouting orders about standing up and breathing. He stormed out and I heard him on his phone talking about how she was having a panic attack and he couldn’t handle it. Then she was screaming after him to help her – then she screamed “somebody help me!”

So. . . fuck. . . I gotta do something. The boyfriend was being a dick. I can understand both sides of it because I’ve been on both sides. I’ve had bipolar breakdowns and flipped my shit on a partner before – something which at the time I could not control and was an absolutely horrendous mess. I suppose as a test of if I had learned the lesson life was trying to teach me, I have had the same out-lash inflicted on me. I’ve also had a panic attack and witnessed others try to help me with logic then watched their frustration escalate as their logic or “solution suggesting” failed to improve my condition – which can sometimes even further escalate their reaction to anger.

I believe this boyfriend reverted to the “suggest solutions” then “use logic” and once those two things didn’t work and he didn’t understand why – he flipped and started yelling.

Let’s get something clear. You DO NOT YELL OR ESCALATE when someone is having a panic attack.

If you know someone who has a history of panic attacks, it would be very kind of you to ask them what works FOR THEM when they are having an attack. If they prefer to be left alone – then you leave them alone. If they say they prefer to be left alone when they’re not in a panicked state then once the attack hits and they decide they want you by their side – you go be by their side.

I’ve learned these things (through research and experience) and as a completely unrelated bystander I was much better suited to help.

I knocked on their door – kind of terrified actually – and the boyfriend automatically started talking about whatever whatever at me but I went straight over to her, she was slumped over on the floor, leaning against the couch. I shushed him as he kept trying to explain her panic attack – I DID NOT need him to mansplain HER panic attack – I also didn’t need to escalate or assume anything so I just shushed him and focused on her.

I don’t really do touchy-feely stuff unless I’m in a relationship with someone. Even my BFF gets hugs but like, not all the time. This poor girl though, I just instinctively started rubbing the back shoulder blade area and I might have called her sweetie? I never use names like that. She was hyperventilating and asking to call her mom – she was on the phone with her best friend but hung up. I called her best friend back and explained who I was, and decided to call her mom. I assured her best friend that I wasn’t leaving until her mom arrived. Meanwhile the boyfriend was still talking at us – I don’t know their situation and I’m sure he meant to be helpful but no! I did ask her if she wanted water and when she said yes he went and got her ice water, so that was very nice.

I called her mom and explained who I was (this was so incredibly surreal – “Hi, I’m Jessie, your daughter’s neighbor. She’s having a panic attack. Can you come over? She’s asking for you. How far away do you live? Ok, I’ll wait here with her until you get here.”

It took her mom about 15 minutes to get there. In that time I called my neighbor’s best friend back and told her what was happening, I met the neighbors’ cats and learned that they all (the neighbors and the girl’s best friend) think my cat is very pretty (I’m assuming they see her in the window all the time), the boyfriend is bipolar (it was his excuse for not handling the attack well, I said NOPE! I’m bipolar too and that’s no excuse not to put your own shit on hold to help your partner), and I was remarkably composed for such a weird situation.

When I was rubbing her back I was gently saying that panic attacks, and mental health, are not things we can control and are not our fault. I might have given the boyfriend the stink eye some. But he chimed in with his excuses for not handling it well and how he’s had a panic attack once but then he researched it so he would never have one again. I calmly explained that – there is no logic in a panic attack, you as the partner are there to support the person and get them through it. Talk about solutions for the NEXT TIME when this one has passed.

A very very sweet moment where I felt oddly, proudly helpful – I asked her if she had a blanket or a pillow or some stuffed animal that really comforted her that she’d like to have. She didn’t really respond but her boyfriend hopped to and asked if she wanted her squishy pillow to which she perked up and he quickly went to their bedroom and got it for her. He poofed it up and helped put it under her head. It felt like he was finally calming down, listening, and maybe picking up on how this whole deescalation thing works.

As I recounted this story to my mom I blurted out that I felt like a “mental health midwife” and that’s exactly what it was. I filled a temporary need, pulling resources together, sharing information that will hopefully stick, and then left when the real players came in to really do the healing work.

I have not yet been back to my apartment today. I’m hopeful that they won’t be embarrassed or weirded out or anything when we run into each other next. This morning was not the time to tell them that it’s my own personal mission to end the stigma of mental health, but I did try to make them feel like I was a judgement-free zone.

And there you have it. A very bizarre Saturday indeed.

 

w-w-w-j-e-s-s-i-e-d-o-e-s-l-i-f-e-c-o-m

Also, just now researching it I feel like “psych doula” should be a thing – so I totally just registered that as a web domain and shall determine the feasibility of inventing it. I imagine it may be much like a life coach. A supplement to legitimate LMHC or psychiatric counseling. #bam