To the Therapist I Fired, Thank You
You told me I was faking it — that my suicidal thoughts were elaborate attempts to gain attention. Despite genetic evidence to the contrary, you told me I just didn’t want to take medications. You threw out words like “difficult,” “resistant,” “defiant.” In my despair, I believed you. I thought my treatment-resistant depression, crippling anxiety and inability to experience happiness were all my fault. When I didn’t get better, when nothing worked, when I couldn’t get out of bed, I sent lengthy emails and booked extra sessions with you to figure out why.
I’m surprised it took me so long to catch on (I used to be a therapist myself). But in my vulnerable state, all I saw was darkness. Languishing in yet another dank hospital room, traumatized and alone, I had a sudden epiphany.
You, Mr. Therapist, are wrong!
I am not damaged goods. I am not my illness. I may not be the best at expressing how I’m feeling, but in no way am I making up this horrible disease. I am not lying about my emotions.
At that moment, I had two choices. I could be bitter. I could sit in my cold, lonely room and plot my revenge, or I could forgive. Admittedly, for awhile, I did wish for justice. I was tormented by your actions, filled with shame that I’d believed the ignorant words. But just as there are bad plumbers and bad accountants and bad salesmen, there are bad therapists. You are one of them. So I fired you.
This is not to say you, the reader, should jump ship the minute there is a problem in therapy. This is just a friendly reminder (from someone who has been both a therapist and a patient) that it is OK to find a therapist who works best.
To anyone who feels hesitant about firing your therapist, there are options. Though it may be scary, tell your therapist how you feel. They may have no idea their particular style of therapy is not working. When I had my private practice, I had multiple clients who I could not develop good rapport with, so I chose to start a conversation with them about the subject. For some people, this showed that I, too, was not perfect. There may not be anything “wrong” with either party, but the therapeutic fit may not be beneficial for the client. It is every therapist’s ethical duty to do what is best for the client. I would never buy a car from someone if I knew they were trying to rip me off. So why would anyone stick with a therapist who made their depression and anxiety worse?
Buddhist teachings say holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. So I chose to forgive my therapist. I have enough on my plate to sit around worrying about people who do me wrong. Forgiving this individual was liberating. Every day, I work hard to balance my emotions, practice self-care and continue living despite my mental health challenges.
To the therapist I fired, thank you for teaching me about forgiveness. In the end, it was empowering.
You are now one less thing I have to worry about.
If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.