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When My Therapist Asked How My Boyfriend 'Handles' Me

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Extremely vulnerable, I sat, waiting what seemed like hours for my first session. I was anxious and sad, having realized something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.

You came out with a kind smile looking for me – here I am. I had prepared by asking a friend what to expect so I felt sort of ready. We sat in your office and commenced the typical getting to know you segment. The hour passed and we made another appointment. 

The following week you diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and depression. There we go. I had a name for what was wrong. I simultaneously felt better and worse. In the next few appointments we spoke about life and my family, and I was told I should be referred off site so I could have more frequent appointments.

You asked the most intrusive question.

“How does your boyfriend handle you?”

I’m sorry… handle? Handle me? Handle the fact that I have arthritis, anxiety and depression? He seems to do just fine. He is the one who wanted me to go to therapy most. My boyfriend is still my boyfriend, so I think he is handling it fine.

You proceeded to tell me this is taxing on a relationship and it started to feel like couples counseling. I felt belittled and damaged. A mentally ill person goes to therapy to try to get better, but instead I got lectured about how it isn’t fair to be with him because everything “wrong” with me could be too trying. Well, he is still with me to this day. I think that means I’m not too difficult to handle. 

I want to say thank you.

Thank you for showing me everything a therapist shouldn’t be. Thank you for making me appreciate my boyfriend even more than I already did.

For the inconsiderate therapist who thought I might be “too much,” I’m going to raise awareness about mental illnesses and how they work with relationships because it can work. I’m going to help people because of you.

For the readers out there – a therapist is someone you should feel comfortable with. If they ever make you feel like mine did, it may be time to look for a new one.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a conversation you’ve had that changed the way you think about disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 23, 2016
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