My first therapy appointment and finding a therapist

I paced back and forth in my kitchen as I shook while holding onto the landline. I dialed my nurse practitioner’s office. “Hello, this is Florida Blue Medical Center, how may I help you today?” the receptionist answered. “This is Amanda. I had an appointment last week, and I am calling to find out why I haven’t heard anything from the counseling center that my nurse practitioner had given a referral too.”

While I waited for a response I started to pace even faster in my kitchen. I was eager to hear back from the counseling center that my nurse practitioner had given the referral to, so I could start to get treatment for my anxiety and depression. However, the weeks flew by and I had heard nothing from the counseling center. Come to find out my phone number was given incorrectly to the center. I had to call the counseling center and explain that I wanted an appointment with a therapist that offered cognitive behavioral therapy. I remember the receptionist asking me if I knew what kind of therapy that I was asking for and how I thought I would benefit from it. I remember saying that cognitive behavioral therapy was a way to change my thinking from a negative outlook in life to a more positive one; and I felt that I would benefit from it because I thought it would lessen my symptoms I was feeling from my anxiety and depression. To better understand what the definition of cognitive behavioral therapy is according to Psychology Today, cognitive behavioral therapy is, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.”

The receptionist made me an appointment. A week went by and I found myself waiting in the waiting room. Soon a woman called me back to a large office. I sat down, and she asked me what my problems were. Like a gushing water fall I began to spill out how sore and sad I was. The woman stopped me and asked if I wanted medication or therapy for my anxiety and depression. I answered, “No medication; I want therapy.” Come to find out someone had listed me to talk to a psychiatrist and that I was wanting medication instead of therapy. She took me back to the front desk, and checked on the availability of their therapists. There were no appointments available until November. She canceled my insurance process, and gave me back my co-pay. She then handed me a list of therapists in the area.

I felt disappointed that I was not able to get help, and that my friend had to drive all the way to downtown Pensacola and back to my home.

Over the next few days I looked at the list that was provided. I knew there were a few concerns that I had when it came to picking out my new therapist. 1. How far away was the office from my house? Since I use paratransit, I needed the office to be in city limits. I also needed the office to offer appointments during the times that the paratransit ran. 2. Did the therapist take my insurance?  The list did not state which provider took my insurance, and I had a fear of getting a bill that I could not pay, so I wanted to be sure that my new therapist took my insurance. 3. Was my therapist female? I had worked with female therapists in the past and some of my depression and anxiety issues, I felt, were connected to my period. Because of this I felt that I would be uncomfortable talking to a male therapist. A few therapists I had to cross off the list right away because the office was too far away from my house. From there I was down to three candidates. The first one I called the office and found out that the therapist was already full and was not taking new patients. That left me with two more to check out. The first one did not work on depression and anxiety which is what I needed.  I called the last one on my list. I was very lucky. I found out that the office was somewhat close to my home and offered appointments in times that worked for me, the therapist took my insurance, she offered cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety and depression, and she was female.

I was able to make my appointment fairly quickly, and I was able to see a picture of what my therapist looked like and a little bit more about her background on the office website. This helped lessen the anxiety I had before the first appointment.

I am glad that I did not give up on finding a therapist. 😊

Author’s note: I am not a medical professional. I am just sharing my own personal experiences. If you are concerned about your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care.

 

The symptoms I felt before going into Therapy

I can clearly remember the pain that I felt before going into therapy. These symptoms were both physical and emotional. The physical signs I had were a rash on my belly, arm and behind my ear. I had tried all different kinds of over the counter creams and lotions. Some of the creams only helped a little bit. It never went away. I kept scratching which made the rash worse. I was under a lot of stress because my dog, Noodles, died in March. On top of that, I was in a temporary job that I did not care for because their was a lack of public transportation and accommodations.

I had wide spread body pain. I hurt all over my body. The only thing that helped some was a hot bath, which also made my rash hurt.

When it came to the emotional pain, I had waves of sadness and hopelessness. I had very little motivation, and I was crying a lot. Since I was having so many problems my family and friends encouraged me to see a doctor and to get a referral to see a therapist.

It took me a year to get the courage to make a doctor appointment. The reason I did not want to go was a fear of getting a bill that I could not afford.  While I sat in the waiting room, I was shaking. I feared that my rash was uncurable. However, my biggest fear was the stigma that went along with getting help for mental health.

When I actually got into the exam room my anxiety went even higher. I felt like I was either going to throw up or start crying. When the nurse came in I started spilling out all of my problems from the pain from my rash to the pain I was having from the heartbreaking past I was feeling. The nurse was caring. She sat down and listened to me. She let me get all of my nervousness out of my system before she even did the exam.

She asked me some questions about my health and gave me a simple exam. Before I left her office, she gave me a prescription for my rash and a referral for counseling. She gave me some strategies to help me cope and to start feeling better on my own until my first appointment.

When I left the office, I felt good that I had reached out for help. I just had to wait a few days before I would be getting a phone call for my first appointment.

Author’s note: I am not a medical professional. I am just sharing my own personal experiences. If you are concerned about your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care.

Mental Health Series: Let’s kick it off during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health is important to me. I have learned through volunteering for SANE: Changing Mental Health for Good that Mental Health Awareness week is celebrated May 13 through May 19th. I feel passionate about mental health, and I decided to start a series on my blog and YouTube channel dedicated to mental health. I want to share some of my mental health journey with you. I hope that opening up about my health will get more people talking about their own mental health and about the resources that are available to help in healing and to sustain wellness. I have had a range of mental health issues such as low-grade depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I learned through therapy that my self-esteem and wellbeing could improve through the use of different coping techniques and positive self-talk. It took a lot of hard work and time, however I am now a happier and much healthier person because of it.

I hope that you enjoy this series. I feel ready to be open on each topic I discuss.   Together we can talk about these topics down in the comments and I hope that this helps others in their own journey.

I am no longer afraid or ashamed to talk about my mental health journey. I find it very beneficial and healing.  Here’s to a new series and to Mental Health Awareness Week!