This past November I ended a 4-year relationship and I want to talk about it.
I broke up with my therapist.
I had been seeing my therapist since 3rd year university and she changed my life. I can say with 100% confidence that the person I am today is in part because of my therapist. She was a sounding board, a source of logic, and an incredible source of advice over the last couple years. However, it was time for that relationship to end.
This past weekend I attended Boots and Hearts – a country music festival in Southern Ontario. It was everything I love – loud music, strong drinks, and sociable people. The atmosphere was lively and despite the scorching heat, people had a fantastic time. The festival featured some of the world’s top country artists and was headlined by music icon Shania Twain.
And I was miserable.
I had two panic attacks – one in preparation for the event and one during the event. The number of people had me on edge. The heat and the sweat aggravated my eczema. I spent one particularly colourful afternoon crying beside the car while I desperately tried to calm my brain, so I didn’t feel like I was going to explode in a field in front of thousands of people.
Late August, my sisters sat me down and we talked about my growth over the last 4 years. Where I was, where I wanted to be, and what might be a barrier in my life. They brought up that over the past year, maybe I had reached an end with my current therapist. My older sister phrased it this way:
“If you’ve never run before and you’re training for a marathon, you’re going to need some help, possibly a coach. At first it will just be about how to run. How to run in a way that is safe, so you don’t hurt your knees and ankles once you start taking on longer distances. You need to train incrementally. However, as you get to longer distances, you may need a new coach. Someone who is more experienced with long distance runners. It’s not that the first coach isn’t crucial, it’s that you’re needs have changed.”
And at first, I was horrified. It took me forever to find my (at the time) therapist and I never had any intention of leaving. Therapist shopping is long and exhausting and I didn’t want to explore that path. But as autumn came, I started to realise there were a couple more breaks in my brain than I had originally thought. One week in October brought three panic attacks and a sick day at the office to recover.
Which brings me to the breakup. I talked to my parents, my sisters, my friends, and my boyfriend to make sure I was making any rash decisions (also because of my inability to make a decision on my own). But here’s where we landed – I was breaking up with my therapist for 3 reasons:
So, while visiting Vancouver for my birthday I ripped the band-aid off. Like any good breakup, I did it in person and brought flowers. I cried like a baby and thanked her profusely for all the support she had provided me. I left with a heavy heart, but knowing it was the right decision.
And all this brings me to today, less than a month until the end of 2023. I am without a therapist for the first time in about 6 years and I am terrified. I feel a little bit naked and it’s unsettling. But I am sharing this uncomfortable experience because I think it’s important. Finding a therapist is hard. Mental health is hard. And realising you need a change is hard.
Part of me has thought about chronicling my experience finding a therapist. In a world that lacks enough mental health resources I think it may be important. But I’m split between that and my desire for a touch of privacy. I believe only time will tell which side of the argument I end up on.
But for now, wish me luck. I’m not just shopping for Christmas gifts this season.
From me, with love, to you,
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