Soulful Saturday: Counseling

It’s hard to believe it’s already Saturday, isn’t it? Looks like it’s time for a soulful conversation! I was struggling to decide what to talk about as usual today when I suddenly came upon a youtuber talking about things they won’t promote… and something really resonated with me when they mentioned online counseling.

I’m not against online counseling, mind you. I admit I’d try it- but that’s not what I intend to talk about today. I want to talk about counseling in general, and how counseling and therapy have played a part in my life over the years. I’ve been in and out of therapy and counseling since I was six years old.

I’ve always suffered from notable anxiety, ever since I was small. I think when I went to my first therapist, it was after an incident where my social anxiety made me vomit because it got so bad, but I can’t quite remember for sure what really started me on the journey. The journey only got more confusing and convoluted as time went on though. Here are some anecdotes as to why.

My first therapist was a man- and we often played with dolls and stuff as part of my therapy sessions. It was the good ol’, ‘show me what a typical day is like through these toys’ type of thing. But, one night, I had a bizarre nightmare. The content was something that may be a bit triggering, so be forewarned before you read the next sentence. I had a nightmare that I was raped.

You’re probably wondering, how at such a young age did I know what rape was? I can tell you right now I have no memory of it ever physically happening to me. The thing is, in case you’ve forgotten… I have exceptionally strong hearing. And, it just so happened that around that time, my aunt was telling my dad about a time she was attacked, or so my father recalls. We’re pretty sure it’s from me overhearing her talk about it from across the house, looking back. But, that didn’t change that over the course of a single night I became terrified of men, including my therapist.

So after that, all my therapists were women. You probably don’t see how much more I can talk about this subject- and you’re right, I can’t talk about the nightmares anymore. But therapy has had its ups and downs in my life. I was in a group therapy at school, and one year, I ended up ruining my relationship with one of my cousins through it.

From middle school onward, I was in a special group therapy for kids with divorced parents. It was hosted by my school itself, so we kids in it were taken out of classes for our group sessions. This group continued into high school, when my aunt and uncle were starting divorce proceedings. Our therapist asked us in one group session if we knew anyone that might benefit from the group. Considering I knew how hard it was on my cousin, I mentioned he might.

That was a big mistake.

Someone went up to my cousin at school surprised to hear his parents were divorcing. He got really upset finding out I talked about it, even though he knew my heart was in the right place. For a long period of time, he stopped talking to me. All because I thought he could make use of some therapy like I had. But understand, I knew it was hard on him. He came to my room upset numerous times when visiting our grandma’s house, where I lived, when the proceedings first started. He’d always been there for me during my parents divorce and my father’s illness. He was like a big brother to me. That’s why, when I saw him suffering, I wanted to help him. And I thought I was… But clearly, I wasn’t.

Don’t worry though- we’re on better terms now. I don’t talk to him that much, but when we see each other, we chat. High school’s a stressful time enough as it is, that’s all. As adults, we’ve grown a better understanding of the past.

Therapy isn’t always helpful for everyone. Sometimes, it’s the method the therapist works with that doesn’t work. I’d like to share one anecdote about this as well. You see, I was needing psychiatric and psychological help in 8th grade. Yes, I’m going out of order with these stories, but please be patient with me regarding that.

In 8th grade, I moved across the country to live with my aunt for six months. I’d only just started psychiatric help when it was decided I’d be moving… And my aunt didn’t believe I needed it. She also didn’t think I needed the kind of therapy I was getting, or so I suspect. See, she did get me a psychiatrist- but the psychiatrist wasn’t there to deal with my mental health issues. She took me to him for ‘family counseling’. Also, ‘family counseling’ was just her complaining about the things I didn’t do as she said, and him telling me to do them.

At the time, my aunt truly believed that with structure alone, I’d get fixed up and turn into a perfect mini adult. But what she didn’t count on was the fact I was a teenager… a teenager who needed help. A teenager that would rebel if necessary. And, as I rebelled, the therapy showed it was working less and less. My aunt filled my schedule to the brim with activities she wanted me in, that I had no say over. I admit I enjoyed some of them, but with a packed schedule of school, homework, and extra curricular activities, I didn’t have time for my own thoughts or coping skills that actually worked for me.

I started to do worse in school, I started sneaking snacks (she was very against snacks and sweets, which while understandable, isn’t always the best thing to just stop eating cold turkey as a kid). I felt like I had no say in my own life, and the therapist we were seeing wasn’t making me feel any better about it. It all ended up leading to me returning home to New Jersey after just six months, with me feeling quite aggravated with my aunt. We’ve started to fix our issues together since then- she realizes she could have done things differently, and that I did really need the help she was told I needed. She even started admitting some of her own problems, which I’m very proud of her for.

The truth of the current situation is this: I do still need therapy. I see a psychiatrist, but he can only do so much. I’m working on finding a therapist that takes my insurance with my case manager’s help. I found out, also, about a specific kind of therapy that would help me most likely more than other forms, thanks to a friend. I need to talk to my case manager about that still… But the end of the story is this: everyone’s needs are different, and so everyone’s counseling should be different as well. If you need help, make sure not to give up just because your first therapist isn’t helping you enough. Try another one, who has a different method. Therapy and counseling isn’t one size fits all. It’s a lot of trial and error, and actually trying.

Are you in counseling or therapy? What kind of counseling do you find helps you the most? Share what you’re willing in the comments- I want to learn more about you, and you never know how your story might help someone else!

Soulful Saturday: Socializing

Good morning, my friends! Welcome to another Soulful Saturday, where I tell you more deep, personal things about myself. That said, I’m not always the best at thinking up topics… So, I often turn to other bloggers, challenges and friends. Today’s post was inspired by a few things: a listing to discuss social media, my friends who blog always helping me when I’m stuck… Honestly I could ramble about how I get my ideas plenty more, but I wanna step right into this post now.

I’ve always considered myself an introvert. It’s easy to do that when, at age six, you went to a small party and had to go home because the crowd before you made you vomit. Yep, that’s right- I was six when I had my first anxiety attack. Actually, I think that coincides more with panic- but that doesn’t really matter right now.

I’m always getting people telling me I need to get out in the world more and make ‘real friends’. The thing is, they usually imply ‘friends you can physically hang out with’ more than ‘friends that are truly good for you’. I tend to be a hermit crab, leaving myself sheltered in my home and only going out for doctors and stuff.

And that’s actually where the confusion arises offline: I’m so nervous around large groups, I sit to the back and occasionally talk to people I don’t know. When I talk to these people, I’m always told by them that I’m quite friendly and good with people, which leads to me laughing. To be honest, I talk because I’m nervous. I can’t handle loud noises, but silence in the air doesn’t help me either.

That said, I’m not actually fond of most people offline enough to spend time with them. I have some close friends I’d love to see more often, but I’m just as happy to just text back and forth. It’s this sense of invisibility that makes me love to talk to people on the internet. I’m on five or six forums, I have many friends on discord… And to me, they’re all precious friends, even some that I’d trust with my life, somehow or another.

It’s as if offline I’m introverted by far, but online I’m a clear extrovert. That, or maybe I’m just lonely. All I know is the internet is the only way I managed to find romance most of my life. Even my boyfriend, who I’ve since met offline, was originally just a friend on a forum I roleplayed on. I fell for him steadily in time, and the depth of that love is a whole other topic. But this is just what I mean by my being truly happy with my online friends- they’re as dear as offline, and I couldn’t be more thankful to all of them.

Before I finish up, since I think I wrote enough about the quandary I have of whether I’m an introvert or extrovert. Really quick, I’d like to ask you to really look at the Sites to See page. You’ll notice many things, such as friends’ forums and blogs, as well as my own. Yep, I have a forum! I try to give each link on the page a little blurb based on how I know them- so you shouldn’t find it hard to decide if they might interest you to look at.

Also, I know some people aren’t always comfortable talking to me in comments. (I at least know I can feel awkward commenting on things, for some reason). If you’d like to chat, I’m always open either by email (juneberrychan@gmail.com) or Twitter (JuneberryChan). So don’t be afraid to contact me, okay? I love all of you! Take care, my precious, precious friends.

Soulful Saturday: My Love

Good afternoon everyone! Are you all having a great Saturday? This Soulful Saturday, I’d like to take a look at something positive- it’ll help counter all the blues from this past week’s pain fest and my related Throwback post on Thursday. I’ve got new meds to get used to and a steroid injection helping my knee be bearable, so I thought I should keep this week’s deep conversation on the lighter, optimistic side. And what’s more sweet than love?

For those of you unaware, I have a boyfriend. He’s a man with a special place in my heart that I never even knew existed until I met him. He’s bad with compliments, so I’m going to pray he never gets to read this blog post- because today, after looking at a list of blog ideas from PopSugar, I decided to go with their ‘things you love about your SO or best friend’ prompt.

This could get long, so I’ll try not to overdo it. But really, I love a lot of things about my honey- things he hates about himself sometimes, even. It’s like a mix of two old sayings: we are our own worst critics, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Only in this case, the person is both his own trash and my treasure. Which sounds weird after I say it… But oh well!

Anyway, let’s start with some of the very basic things I love about him. Things I knew I loved about him before we physically met, to be precise. For starters, he’s helped me grow unimaginably. He lied a fair bit to try to seem older or more suave than he really is, but somehow… I was just that much happier hearing the truth about who he really is. His insecurities somehow charmed me in some way that I can’t comprehend- and instead of my usual switch being flipped into hatred for the lies, I was so grateful for the truth I fell for him harder. Weird, right?

There’s also his creativity. We met on a roleplay forum, so naturally I knew he at least enjoyed communal writing. His writing style fascinates me, because it’s just so different from mine, especially in roleplays. He plans out multiple routes for how his character will grow and bases them on what things happen in the game. The more they feel or experience certain emotions/triggers, the more they’re headed down a specific path. It’s a lot like a visual novel, or a pick your own adventure book- all devised by one person in a group of many.

His natural insecurities both irritate and yet sometimes flatter me. He’s always telling me how I deserve better than him, only to have me remind him better isn’t what I care about. He sees me so highly, it’s sometimes embarrassing because I honestly believe I’m not as great as he makes me sound. That said, the fact he’s honest about his insecurities, and even his jealousy early on, make me feel special in a way I don’t normally imagine or think about. And, naturally, I try to tell him mine just as much, if not maybe too much. I can’t help wanting him to know how much I adore him, and how nervous I get about the idea of losing him.

Now, a bit about things I only learned after meeting him. Some of these were related to things we talked about online, but others were total surprises. Let’s see, where to start…

Well first off, he works hard to be a gentleman towards me. He pulled my chair out at family dinner (I spent the entire week with his family since he lives at home- surprisingly didn’t feel all that awkward after only a couple of hours!). He fought his discomfort with touch to allow me to hug him or hold his hand when my touchy-feely self needed to. He wouldn’t let me pay for pretty much anything, either. Such a charming gentleman- he barely curses at all, too. I feel embarrassed being such a potty mouth when I think about it…

There’s also some of his skills and habits. For starters, even in real life, he doesn’t get as upset as most do for my self-deprecating humor. When I asked why he was staying with an old lady like me, he pointed out it was because he loved her/me. His skills at tending to dogs I knew at least a bit about before we met as well- he often talked about his own dog, Nyx. He knew her well enough to know when it was safe for her to be out of the cage around me midweek, versus the start when she was apparently growling angrily at me for existing at first (honestly I hadn’t noticed, so I was extra impressed!)

He has some great talents, too. His pancakes were absolutely delicious, he has a smile that, to me, lights up the room… and he has a positively adorable Stitch impression that I will never get over.

And my favorite thing about him? Aside the lies at first and the gentlemanly moments, he was the man I was made to expect he was. We spent most of our time in his room- and a lot of that was me watching him playing one of various video games. Luckily, I personally enjoy watching people play games, though only really in person. He was more than willing to explain things about the games to me as he played, and wouldn’t get upset if I suddenly fell asleep while sprawled out on his bed. Basically, he’s a laid-back man with a clear view of what he enjoys, and he doesn’t try to be someone he’s not with me anymore. To me, that’s the perfect catch: someone who won’t try to act more like a ‘regular person’, or like someone that does a lot of different kinds of things. He readily admitted to me he was what he considers a ‘boring person’… But based on my just writing a thousand words about him, I think there’s proof he’s not boring in the least!

I think I’ve rambled enough. Now you know more about my beloved than ever before… So why not tell me about yours in the comments? I’d love to hear all about the ones you love!