We're all fucked up. Sorry if this is how you had to find out, but its true. The only perfect man to ever exist died years ago so that we may have a better life. And we shall never forget you, Thomas Wayne. Through your death, Batman was created. You may be surprised to know this, but I have been to therapy. Yeah, I know. I'll give you a few moments to let that sink in. Deep breaths, everybody. Deep breaths.
A lot of people tend to use their friends as therapy which is good for you but not so much for friends. I was talking earlier with a friend about how certain people in our lives will just dump all their shit on us, feel better, then go about their day causing more mistakes just to have something to talk about later. In this Five Things I Learned Going To Mental Therapy I'll talk about my experiences in getting my brain parts examined...good and bad. These are all actual pictures of me used by the way.
I Didn't Know I Needed It
When I arrived at my new high school I said that I was gonna start with a clean slate. Fuck the past! I'm gonna go by my real name. I'm gonna be more outgoing. Make new friends. If I like a girl, guess what? Gonna tell her. Bam. How you like the new me, bitch?
Of course none of that happened. I showed up a month into the school year and every relationship was already firmly established. Who is this gawky Black kid that has no control over his body? Mind you, I had grown three inches in three months just prior to all this. I walked like a baby deer, bumped into everything, had terrible vision, and now being in an area not called South Central I had to realize that my defenses didn't always have to be up. But as the great poet MC Eiht once said “Where I'm at if ya soft ya lost.” So fuck everything. Climbing into my shell. Mmm. So comfy.
Within a month of being at this new school I was in three different therapy groups. How?! I didn't talk to anyone. Didn't fight. Got made fun of. Kept to myself. Never tried to—oh, lord. I just described a serial killer. Shit. This was pre-Columbine so no one was too worried that I would shoot the place up. But I was assigned to a visit with a therapist for teens, a Black Man's support group because for all intents and purposes I am Black, as well as a group for wrist cutters, drug users, and freak shows. Yay, me! Now...why? What about me screamed “This guy needs help before we end up on the news”?
There Is More Than One Type Of Therapy
The first one I had to go to was one on one. It was this pretty lady that did more paper work of her own than actually talking to me. This was fine because I didn't want to be there and I was sure she didn't know what she was doing. She was a hippy and if there's one thing I can't stand is a goddamn hippy. She would ask me straight up questions and repeat what I said or not pay attention.
Her: “What do you think of you parents?”
Me: “I try to stay away from them. I don't like them but I'm not trying to change them.”
Her: “That's good, that's good. Because you can't try to change them.”
Me: “That's what I--”
Her: “Have you made any friends?”
Her: “That's good, that's good...”
Obviously she was moments away from ending up in the papers for sexual misconduct with a minor. I was about to blow this lady's back out with my smooth talk! Thankfully she got pregnant (not by me) and I didn't have to go anymore. But the Black Man's support group was another thing. It was me and a bunch of bunch of dysfunctional project babies sitting in a small, hot room while a Black guy maybe in his 40's talked about how we couldn't trust White people and had to depend on ourselves.
This guy would get on me because I always had my head down with a towel on my face. I had volleyball 1st period, okay?! I got sweaty and had to come to a hot room instead of Advanced Physical Science to learn about how the White man could do no good for me. I tried to skip this every week but they would send someone to get me. I would be sitting there trying to hold on to the last bit of smart I still had in me only to be dragged out to sit with guys I never talked to outside of this group. There was no therapy involved in this alleged group therapy. Just a Black guy that talked as if he were still drying off from the latest civil rights march.
I Don't Need It
The third group they tried to force me to go to was the one for the misfits. Was I different? Yes. I didn't want to be. I just was. I wish, and still do, that I could be like the boring ass people I see every day that get left alone and seem to enjoy life like some short bus puppy that happily ate a candy bar. But that isn't me. What I also know isn't me is the group of kids they wanted me to shack up with every week in this group.
Whenever I refused to go I would end up having to go to the office and stay for the rest of class meaning I failed his class because I couldn't be there doing work. It was photography, so whatever. And this teacher, pictured above, is the one that started this group! Oh, what a treasure he was. He asked if I was gay. If I did drugs. If I had ADD. He was a peach. I spent so much time in the office that I ended up working there as a class. That's like someone being sent to prison so often they get asked to work security there.
As far as I was concerned I didn't need therapy. Crazy people do and I'm not crazy. I leave people alone. Crazy people seek attention. Right? Not always. Turns out I had all the warning signs of someone that could hurt others or themselves...or write a great novel someday. Little did they all know that I lacked initiative. Did I want to kill myself? Sure. Who doesn't? Life sucks most of the time. But those good times keep me from wanting to die. A girl touching my dick will give me an extra three months of joy. Its like a 1Up when I get a blowjob and sex is like hitting the continue button. But still, there is something about me that says I need help.
Its Not For Everyone Until It is
It pisses me off when I hear someone say they went to one therapy session and it did nothing so they quit. I can understand if you don't click with the therapist or if it is a money issue. But to think that someone you just met is gonna fix you instantly is just stupid and your minds way of keeping you in your punkass funk. A few years back a friend told me about free therapy once a month and asked me if I wanted to go. Ask me to a party, I'll say no. Ask me to go to therapy, I'm there. Go figure.
What I discovered what that this particular type was called Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT as the cool kids call it. Or so I've heard. I don't hang with the cool kids. I didn't know this going in and was pleasantly surprised when I was finished.
“Modern forms of CBT include a number of diverse but related techniques such as exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive therapy, relaxation training, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Some practitioners promote a form of mindful cognitive therapy which includes a greater emphasis on self-awareness as part of the therapeutic process.”
I was in there for about 15 minutes longer than I was supposed to be. That lady had a field day with me. In that one visit, and I'm not saying that she cured me of anything, but she made me see how so many things I do in my life are techniques for just making sure I don't get hurt. I shield myself from the world because fuck you you're all dangerous and want to hurt me in some way!
The problem with this way of thinking is that when I put myself out there in some way and it backfires or someone hurts me it just makes the shield even thicker. This is across the board. If a friend fucks me over I stop trying to make new ones. If a relationship ends it makes me desire no more of them. Just because you know you have a problem doesn't mean that you're gonna rush to fix them. But starting helps.
I know people that flat out refuse to go to therapy. I call them Black. I'm joking! But not. Black folk don't like therapy. I can say that because I look Black. Saying that you don't want to go to therapy of any kind or thinking it is for everyone but you is like saying “I eat nothing but healthy food so I'm gonna live forever!” Its a cute thought but stupid. We all need help. But its a good start when you can also find ways to help yourself.
Time For Some Me Therapy
Some people make fun of the things I do to level myself out. Some people do breathing techniques. I iron clothes. Some do Chinese sand gardens. I did Perler beads. Some smoke weed. I watch hours of Youtube videos of people playing video games. There are things that we can do for ourselves to feel better when we are stressed out. Of course there are times when none of them work so you can either try something new or just get some sleep because obviously you are a mess.
I have a lot of things I do to enjoy myself and relax besides the ones I mentioned above. I love writing, meditating, drawing, recording radio shows, making nonsense, going to movies, eating, and recording myself in wigs giving advice as Pretty Ricky. Growing up it was video games but over time I learned new things and gathered hobbies to occupy myself. I spent so much time as a child being bored or doing things I didn't want to do that I try my best to make sure I don't have to do either of those things.
There are a lot of different forms of therapy and some work better than others. It depends on what is ailing you and how receptive you are to it. Being receptive works both ways. You can't get mad at someone not taking your advice and then refuse to get help yourself. Like I said, we're all fucked up. Some are just better at hiding it than others.
Click here for previous Five Things I Learned.