What Spring Water Made Me Realize About Eye Contact in Therapy

Spring water.

Those are the two words that were staring back at me. Spring water, written on the label of my CVS pharmacy brand water bottle. I was in my therapist’s office, attempting to have a meaningful conversation, yet all I was focused on was spring water. The bottle was perched on a small table right next to me, and my eyes were fixed on it.

I’ve always had a difficult time with eye contact in therapy. Not just in therapy actually, but rather whenever I speak about intense topics, it is always hard for me to look directly at the person I am talking to. I think it makes it all the more real if I see the other person’s reaction; I don’t know exactly.

I once brought it up with my therapist. I told her I’m terrible at eye contact and it’s something I want to work on. At one point later in our session, I felt I was failing to look at her so I said exactly that: “Oh my gosh, I’m seriously failing at this whole eye contact thing!” She chuckled and said I was doing fine. The next week, we were talking about something especially difficult, and I literally look a pillow and put it in front of my face. This time she was the one to say, “Well now you’re really failing at this whole eye contact thing!” We both laughed at that one.

It’s hard to face your problems head on. It’s hard to look right at someone and say, “I am having a hard time. I am not OK.” But I guess the most important thing is to remember that, especially in the context of therapy, you are not being judged. You are not being made fun of. You are being real, genuine and honest.

So before you become so hypnotized by spring water that you don’t even know where you are, think twice about why you’re really there.

You want to face these things. You want to recover.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Chepko

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

scenic view at Peneda-Geres National Park, northern Portugal of woman watching sunset over valley

'You Are Good Enough' and 17 Other Reframes to Quiet the Inner Critic

Anxiety and depression have a powerful impact on the way we think. You may have noticed your own inner critic lash out in times of stress, attacking your self-esteem, second-guessing your decisions and making you feel hopeless about the future. Rather than participating in the negative cycle of critical thoughts, comfort yourself with positive reframes to help you [...]
image of three women taking selfie and smiling, one wearing a wedding dress

8 Ways Life Is Better With an Equally Anxious Friend

You know what is better than having a “best friend?” Having a “best mental health friend” — someone who can relate to all the ups and downs (and lefts and rights) of navigating life with depression and anxiety. 1. Nothing you say is weird, nothing. “Phone phobia?” That one usually gets some strange looks, but not when you say it [...]
close up image of business team holding hands together on wooden table in warm light

How I Found Mental Health Support in an Unlikely Place

One of the most difficult things I have found about having a mental health condition is the loneliness. For years, I have hidden behind a mask, behind good humor and smiles. I have always been the person to offer support and advice to others, the person who seemed to have my life together. In reality, [...]

To the Friends I've Pushed Away While Working Through My Mental Illness

Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty. I wish I didn’t feel that way. I wish I could easily believe I’m taking care of myself, and that I’m not responsible for how other people feel, what other people are doing or how they react to me. But I can’t. Not yet, anyway. I’m working on my ability [...]