I am proud to announce that I just completed my Ph.D. in self-care.  Well, sort of. I went to “class” every week. There was homework and sometimes reading and oh-so-much discussion. You can’t quite call me Doctor, but I am a recent graduate – from nearly seven years in psychotherapy.

At the beginning of my stint on the not-proverbial couch, it was early 2016. I had a two-year-old, a new baby, and a new postpartum depression diagnosis. Things evolved from there – I started medication for the first time, and soon my crisis subsided. My intrusive thoughts faded and sleep came more easily, but being a mom was still freaking HARD. Though I had dealt with anxiety my whole life, I could no longer handle it on my own. I looked forward to my weekly therapy appointment like my kids look forward to birthday parties.

Looking back, it’s unbelievable how much my mental health outlook has evolved. In the early days, I looked at therapy and medication as a “crutch” and something very temporary. It was necessary for a time, but the idea of needing support in the long term made me feel weak and defective. It took two unsuccessful attempts at weaning off meds and literal years of processing in therapy for me to accept that anxiety and depression are just part of who I am – in the same way that I also have brown eyes and size 9 feet. No negative connotation, just personal attributes.

More recently, some things began to change for me. I forgot about a therapy session for the first time ever – slept right through! I was increasingly just talking about annoyances at work or conflicts at home that I had already worked out on my own. Therapy started to feel like more of a burden than a help. It suddenly seemed like every gymnastics class in Fairfield county (the one thing my six-year-old desperately wanted to do) was offered only during my therapy slot. And I would be lying if I said that the cost of therapy isn’t a burden. For years, that expense was as necessary as gas for my car, but it became a line item on my credit card bill that could conceivably go.

It also just started to be a realistic thought that I could go it on my own. I had been stable for a long time, and it had been a year since my last medication adjustment. I also became really good at predicting what my therapist was going to say about a given situation. (“Yes, I need to advocate for my needs. No, my husband/mother/coworker isn’t a mind reader.”)

It was definitely sad to say goodbye to my therapist, but I’m ready. I also know that my mental health story isn’t over. I still see my psychiatrist occasionally for med checks, and I will probably need therapy again at some point in my life. This is not an endpoint, maybe not even a graduation. It’s the start of a new phase – more of a commencement.

2 thoughts on “Commencement

  1. As a therapist, one of the first things I say to new clients is that my intention is to have them “fire me” eventually, because that means that you and I have worked hard and met your goals in therapy. I’m so thrilled you recognized this for yourself. It’s hard to say goodbye but that also means you did the work.


  2. Emily I love this. You don’t have to be in therapy forever. It sounds like it’s given you the tools to be able to handle challenges on your own and that is the perfect ending of a therapist-client relationship. Proud of you.


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