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Yesterday, at 9 a.m., I no longer was “Meagon Nolasco.”
I no longer was a strong, independent woman who identifies as a lesbian and strives for equality within my community. I was stripped of my love for music, passion for writing, and enjoyment gained by my work within the mental health community. My years of following a path of Buddhism, and finding my inner peace and love for myself and others, became a distant memory.
For 55 minutes, I became Intake Form #4657.
I have worked with and been a consumer of mental health services for more than half my life. For the past few years, I did not dabble in personal therapy, as I didn’t feel the need to. Many years of grueling talk therapy taught me that I have what it takes to cope with extremes like heightened anxiety and night terrors.
During the last few months, though, I experienced many life changes that made me feel less than stable. And a global pandemic showed up as the icing on the chaos cake. So, I decided to take on the task of searching for a new therapist to assist me in assisting myself.
After a couple weeks of weeding out any therapist who was not female (preference on my part, not a loathing for the opposite sex) and working for a huge corporation, like a hospital, and also those who accepted my insurance, I found a woman I presumed to be suitable.
Now, all of us who have attended therapy in our lives know to expect the dreaded intake appointment. This consists of an extensive list of intrusive—and rarely pertinent to the topic at hand—questions that help your therapist figure out who you are.
We fill out a questionnaire that is then used as the basis for our therapist to make many assumptions about Who. We. Are.
Being that I have always blindly followed these (what seemed to be) normal steps, I decided this time I would only perform acts of comfort, and not acts of pressure. So, I did not mail my intake packet until the day of my appointment—knowing that when we spoke for the first time, this therapist would know nothing about me.
I did this in the hopes that, as we spoke, she would organically get to know me and avoid the awkwardness of reading to me about me from a packet of paperwork.
After the most uncomfortable 45 minutes of having this therapist read questions off to me from her computer, say a few “ums” in between my answers—and the time it took for her to type it out as I listened to the keys on the keyboard that signaled her lack of attention, waiting for her to scroll to the next question—I was ready to simultaneously scream and cry.
The session ended shortly after a 10 minute explanation about how my trauma had never been specifically worked on and that she was a trauma specialist who would love to be able to fix this in me.
Fix this in me.
I shut down immediately, thanked her for her time, declined a second appointment, and tapped that red end button so hard I vibrated from the wrist up.
The meditation that followed this train wreck of a session was muddled with constant self-talk that said, “Do I need to be fixed?” And, “Am I truly broken as opposed to being slightly off balance in the chaos of the moments I have experienced?”
It was at this point I realized that no therapist or mental health provider has ever told me what we would be doing during our time together.
Not one provider has ever stated, “This is my work that I will be doing on my end, this is your work that needs to be done both inside and outside this room, and this is the collaborative work we will do when together.”
Also, not one of them ever told me, upon entering or leaving, that my concerns or issues at hand would be “fixed.” I believe it is a strong assumption we all have that entering therapy means you will come out healed, fixed, or any other word you would like to insert that signals therapy is the cure for your mental ailments.
Only in the moment when this stranger told me she would fix me, did I realize:
Calling me broken is a goddamn insult, even (and especially) when you dress it in the Sunday best of “fixing me.” Not to mention, you couldn’t fix me if you tried. Every single mental health diagnosis, as hard of a pill as this may be to swallow, has no known or proven cure.
Impermanence is defined as the state of or fact that something will last temporarily, and not forever. This realization is what healed me yesterday.
The connection between myself and my level of acceptance for impermanence showed me that my feelings and emotions, albeit intense, will not be here in this manner forever.
My meditation after this session helped me solidify that I only need to know that what I felt wouldn’t last forever. Remembering this helped these feelings to almost immediately subside. My connection to Buddhism healed my doubt and negative self-talk, but it did not “fix” me. I am not meant to be fixed. My definition of myself doesn’t include an addendum for how I am broken.
So, to the therapist who knows me as Intake Form #4657, thank you for casting this doubt inside me. Thank you for making me feel so depersonalized that I began to second guess all I am. Thank you, most importantly, for such a disgusting experience because it helped me remember why I haven’t needed you all these years.