Transformation: The Pains of Therapy

I left an easter egg in the first post of the year that I was seeking help for my depression, and I found a counselor.

Luckily, my employer offers an employee assistance program (EAP) that covers up to five counseling sessions free of charge.  These counseling sessions can be for anything, depression, grief, marriage, etc.

Take it from an HR professional, don’t snub your nose at EAPs! If an employer has a good EAP, use it! They’ll help with dependent care, child care, legal assistance, health concerns, financial assistance, you name it! They’re designed to people balance their work and personal lives.  Better call them!  ೕ(˃̵ᴗ˂̵ ๑) 

It took me a loooooong time to commit.  I just felt embarrassed and insufficient for therapy, like my depression wasn’t heavy enough for a counselor.  I literally was measuring how critical my depression is compared to what I believed warranted therapy.  If it’s not that serious, why waste the counselor’s time?

Also, I have a fear of being vulnerable.  I’m nervous and tense every day to the point that my shoulders always ache.  Usually, I’m anticipating being rejected by someone who doesn’t like what I say, how I think, what I do, etc.  If I can’t be transparent or if I’m nervous about the counselor, how was therapy going to help me?

Swear, I’ve been working for the same employer for the past 15 years and no matter how many staff meetings we have, I’m ALWAYS nervous to speak.  I mean lip quivering, hands sweating, word fumbling nervousness.  It’s actually at a staff meeting that the co-worker complimented me on my style.  She did it out of kindness because it was painfully obvious my anxiety increased 1,000 fold when I had to explain to her, the new girl, and all (EIGHT!) of my other co-workers (that I see almost EVERY DAY!) about my job functions.  She helped complete my sentence and gave me a compliment to calm me down.  By then, most of the group was having side conversations.  She effectively ended my nervousness without anyone noticing. ٩(๑˃́ꇴ˂̀๑)۶

A mood swing at work stopped my over-thinking and I reached out for help.  It was all web-based, through their client portal.  I had to submit a request for counseling and describe why.  The EAP then sent me approval via email with the name and number of a recommended counselor… then I requested someone else.

I knew that, with all of my anxieties and inhibitions, I’d never open up to someone I didn’t feel comfortable with.  I really feel social prejudices and systematic racism also affects my depression.  I needed to confide in someone that could understand, so when I learned of an African American counselor that helped a co-worker through the loss of her father, I asked the EAP to connect me with her.

Now that my fifth counseling session is tomorrow, I can say it’s been an incredibly tough journey.  I cried a lot and had two anxiety attacks, but the fourth counseling session reeled me in a depressed state for three days.

Like usual, the counselor asked me how I was doing and conversations lead to me stating that I question my self-worth.

“Do you call it that?”

I said yes, and she asked why.  I couldn’t be honest, so I summarized my value amounted to the usual issues of self-image, feeling valuable…and I trailed off.  I started to get emotional thinking of all the horrible things I’ve told myself over the years.

The counselor stood, got a whiteboard, told me we HAVE to explore what I’m upset about and instructed me to write it all down so we can discuss each one.  I cried badly because I felt I was laying myself bare to be ridiculed.  I had to face in writing that I’ve told myself I’ll never be pretty, intelligent, strong, interesting or loving enough for anyone else AND that no one loves me.  The counselor, another human being, was going to judge me for it.  It hurt like hell.

I cried my eyes out for at least 15 minutes and tried to stall until the hour was up! I was like 8-year-old destroying tissue and hiccupping over something I didn’t want to do.  I didn’t even finish the list.  I just wanted the whole notion to disappear.  The counselor reassured me that I could take my time and that there’s nothing wrong with expressing emotion (cause I was legit crying all over the place!).  She even gave me privacy…which may not have been a good idea if I didn’t have some self-control.  I almost erased the board before she could see it! “Ψ(≧ω≦)Ψ“ *cackles*

“You wrote ‘pretty enough.’ You must think you’re pretty, but not pretty ‘enough.’  Define pretty.”

What do you say to that? I didn’t have a good answer.  I mumbled about being fat, not having an attractive face, that my aesthetic isn’t portrayed in media, that black women aren’t seen as desirable.  She dispelled the rest, but not the fact that the odds are stacked against black women in dating, “I’ll give you that.” But, she challenged me to define pretty and to tell myself that I am pretty and why then we’ll begin tackling the rest of my list.

I remember crashing in my bed and crying myself to sleep.  I was so emotional and downtrodden at work the next day that I really could’ve called off and stayed burrowed into my bed.  When I tried to affirm that I’m pretty, oh my god, the tears! How could I say that?!

But, after pacing myself and steadily trying,  I had a breakthrough.  It started with just, “I’m pretty,” without choking up.  And over a few days, I realized that I can’t trust and force myself to measure up to other peoples’ definitions of pretty.  This was probably why the counselor wanted me to have my own definition.  So many people believe certain things are attractive, how can I be all of them at once? And, if people aren’t being honest with themselves, I can’t wait for them to validate me.  Some people think fat people are sexy, but they’ll never introduce their fat lover to their friends or family because they’re embarrassed and fear being shamed.  How is this a healthy measurement?

I realized my definition should be absolute:  I’m pretty because I am.  I’m not limited to other people’s standards and I can’t counter this logic with negativity because as long as I’m alive, I’m pretty.  I can choose my own standard so I choose something infallible.  I’m just pretty.

“You need to love yourself.”

I began to connect, “I’m pretty because I am,” AND because, “I love myself.”  It’s the icing on the cake.  It’s that added touch that will make accepting my new-found logic a bit easier.  Not only can nothing take away my prettiness from existence, but loving all parts of me will make the work ahead with the counselor a bit easier.  I’ve by no means conquered these issues.  I’m not cured.  I’m making progress.

So tomorrow is the fifth and final session covered by the EAP and we’ll have to decide if I should continue therapy with the counselor on my own.  Although these sessions have been rough for me, and almost felt counterproductive, the progress, even by this much, has me hopeful that I’m on the road to recovery.  I’ll hold on for a bit longer…hopefully the price is right lol.


 

It’s my desire that anyone reading this will learn that therapy is great at any moment in life.  Attend as many sessions as you see fit, but don’t ignore the signs.  Recognize when you need help and don’t discourage yourself.

Also, the purpose of this entry is to give a realistic depiction of the hard work necessary for therapy.  Therapy is not an immediate solution, but a way to guide you to recovery.

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully, there are some takeaways.
(੭ु´・ω・`)੭ु⁾⁾

Transformation: I Choose…Piercings!

*in the key of out-of-touch adult* I remember when bar piercings were aaaaaall the rage! My friend had gotten one and damnit, I wanted it too.  The bar earring crossed the upper portion of her ear at an angle, one cartilage piercing to another, and it looked rebellious.  Not sure if my friend knew I wanted cartilage piercings, but she definitely wouldn’t have told me to wait over ten years!

But, that’s what I do.  I have no concept of the length of time that has passed and I ruminate on the endless possible outcomes of a decision I have yet to make.  There were so many worries that I dragged my feet.

“This isn’t appropriate for a business environment.  Who will take me seriously?”

“I’ll look silly when I’m old.”

“Last thing I need is to be perceived as immature.  I’m a grown ass adult!”

“With my luck, I’ll finally get a keloid.”

“I gotta wait a year before changing the earring?! But, but accessories!”
(
ノಥД)ノ︵┻━┻

What I needed was spontaneity.  So when my niece happened to ask me to take her for her first tattoo, I got the chance to stop my decade of mulling it over!

What’s funny is I didn’t act nervous or indecisive.  I walked right over to the piercer’s studio without a care.  This was not at all ten years in the making! *dismissive laughter.* “One here, one here and one here.” is what I told him and emerged, after GREAT EXCRUCIATING PAIN, with one helix and two matching earlobe piercings.  Ridiculous lol.

Notice that I’m so into KPOP that I wanted a cartilage piercing AND enough ear lobe earrings to feel like an idol.  Plus! I can switch out the cartilage stud with a hoop to feel closer to Jimin. o(≧∇≦)o  #kpoptrash

Am I worried? I’m actually quite excited! I finally took a chance and bet on myself.  During all the wasted time, I became extremely comfortable avoiding as many fears as possible that’s why I’m in a dead-end job or so my 19-year-old niece tells me.  All of my visions and inspirations were easily overwhelmed by unnecessary anxiety and defeatism.  Now I have to believe in myself AND my choice.

There’s more to life than what my eyes can narrowly see.  Most likely I missed out on plenty of rewards.  Although these piercings are a small step, perhaps by gambling with the fate of my precious left-ear, I’ve learned that…it’s not so bad.  I’m having fun and enjoying the endless possible outcomes cause I still got a year before this bitch is healed.  I’ll just adapt if necessary and keep it moving.

So was it worth it? Absolutely.  I’m wearing what I want to work WITH a bomb ass helix piercing.  It was finally time well spent!

Helix Piercing


Photo Credit:  Davepiercer (instagram)

Transformation: I’mma Wear What I Want To Work!

In my quest to have fun and enjoy life, I’ve been making little choices to try to be as much of myself as possible at work.  You know what it’s like in a business environment, you have to play the role and dress the part.  Luckily, I work for a public agency with a business casual dress policy.  I’m taking some liberties! *cackles*

Shout out to the new employee that literally told me she liked my style and asked where I shopped.  She’s about as big as a minute so my response was completely unhelpful, but she got my head swole. My fashion must be right!  Thanks! ( •ॢ◡-ॢ)-♡

In preparation, I donated a large portion of my wardrobe to the Salvation Army.  They came with a truck to pick-up what must’ve been about 16 bags of clothes, housewares, and random media.  Then, I called up my girls Torrid, Forever 21 and H&M cause their plus sizes fit nice, but I realized I was wearing more of the same.  I needed something different, so I went to searching and found Shein, The Limited and Zulily; I got reacquainted with Modcloth and SimplyBe clearance; then, I took a chance with my bank account on Eloquii and ASOS cause they’re hella expensive.

Lord Jesus, save me from Shein.  They have everything I could ever want for the cheap.  The sizing can be unreliable for bottoms, but all of my tops fit perfectly.  *Rambles* Why is their jewelry so cheap?  They must know I love earrings.  I have more hair accessories now than I know what to do with.  Help me! (ó﹏ò。)

After charging half of my credit card limit, I look fly as hell, but there is a method to my madness.  If time is a resource, your job has already taken much of it.  When do you have time to be yourself?  When I shop, I have two categories: work clothes, and weekend clothes.  Work clothes are generally conservative and look like your coworkers.  Weekend clothes generally express who you are.  Why should I only express myself on the weekend?

In terms of self-care, by the end of the day, there’s very little time for yourself.  For me, treat yourself got very real.  I was also tired of my job dictating my life, not only my attire but also my behavior.  As someone that felt that I was living in a box, my inner self couldn’t take the restraints any longer.  I needed to express myself!

It’s most difficult for parents to manage their time.  They have to take care of their children before themselves.  Any time after work concerns their children be it feeding them, cleaning up after them, helping them with homework, running errands for them, administering medical care, doing their hair (braiding that natural hair!), the list goes on.  Self-care and time for other necessities take the backseat.  The love between parents and their children is beautiful, but my heart goes out to parents.  Don’t neglect yourself! (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ

So take a chance! Embrace your inner self.  If your job requires a uniform or business professional attire, take some liberties.  Get that trendy hairstyle you’ve wanted!  Put on some statement jewelry or wristbands.  Match some bright ass pumps with your suit.  Wear some hipster socks! What’s your coat look like? It’s drab. Buy a new one that sets you apart from your coworkers.  As you can see, there are many ways to express yourself through fashion at work.  We all live once.  We should be able to enjoy ourselves and our time here.

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Transformation スタート!

So, I just celebrated a birthday, and I came to the realization that a third of the year is almost gone and I have yet to enact my 2017 vision board!

New Year’s Eve, me and my geeky, funny and totally creative friends got together to bring in 2017 with booze and crafts! Perfect combo.

Hindsight is 20/20:  I should’ve used glitter.  ( ु⁎ᴗ_ᴗ⁎)ु.。oO

This brilliant, fluorescent, awesomely curated vision board is indicative of a person fed up with a stagnant life, of not taking chances for fear of spontaneity and the unknown, and is ready to admit she hasn’t acknowledged her potential.

I’ve dreamt of losing weight most of my life, of traveling the world, and when I was a kid, I would pretend I was multi-lingual. (Alone! Cause that would be embarrassing.  I could’ve grabbed a book, but what’s the point in that? lol)

This is ingenious.  It’s golden! Please take a minute to imagine a kid randomly saying, “Bajaba, it-kapa jaba bahaka. Gah, JAHAGA!” It could’ve been happy, or angry, or whatever a 10-year-old feels LOL! (๑˃́ꇴ˂̀๑)ノシ))

It helps, too, to become financially stable and, above all, to just love being myself.  I’m done.  It’s time for something new.

Transformation Attack has been years in the making (especially with my slow Ent-like track record lol).  This blog is a celebration of embracing who I am through health, life choices, geekiness, random exclamations and reactions to experiences, both personal and political, and hopefully I’ll make some connections along the way.

This page will transform with me, over time.  I hope you enjoy.