Finding a Therapist Who Moved Beyond My Blindness
I have had several times in my life when, either through my own bad decisions or the occasional unfairness that is a part of it, I have needed the assistance of a therapist. Finding one isn't hard; finding a good one can be extremely difficult.
I needed to talk with the therapist because of an impending divorce. I wanted the therapist to understand the failure I felt at not being for someone what I thought I could be. I made this quite clear. I say to them that I am more than just sad. I am almost paralyzed by thoughts of me and only me. I say that I believe I am depressed. The first three therapists I saw said something very much like this, "of course you are depressed. You deal with all kinds of stress in your life because you are blind. People don't generally understand you. Your reaction to blindness is quite normal." It did no good to tell them that I spent the first thirty years of my life happy and that my concern was over a relationship taking a turn I didn’t anticipate or feel good about. Finally, after visiting my fourth therapist, I found a guy who said, "I can see why you are depressed. You are dealing with the fact that you are not as strong as you thought you were. You are dealing with the fact that you can't save people from themselves. You are learning the hard way that you cannot engage in a relationship with the hope that you can change someone. You see that there may be an alternative to frequently walking on eggshells. I can help you through this.”
This therapist that I saw for more than six months came with a life full of experiences. He was a former physicist, had a degree in philosophy, was a former priest, and had his PhD in clinical psychology. Blindness wasn't off the table; the stresses and strains that it added were real. But the tremendous thing is that it wasn't central to why I was feeling worse than I had ever felt in my life. When I told him that my depression was exacerbated by significant changes in technology in my work as a computer programmer, he knew about digital technology, the opportunities it could offer, and he understood that using a screen reader brought with it problems not encountered by people looking at the screen. He understood when I talked about the difficulty of getting my daughter to daycare, getting to work on time, working a salaried job that didn’t always end at the same time, and trying to handle all of this without a waiting car outside.
Recovering from depression and anxiety isn’t easy, but it is better when you have someone who listens to what you say, asks questions to clarify what they don’t understand, and then lays out the options you have as they see them. Finding the right therapist is important; avoiding the ones that get hung up on blindness and will not move beyond it is essential.
I can’t provide closure to this article by providing tips to make it easier to find a good therapist. As frustrating as it is, I think that looking for a therapist is much like “try before you buy.” If you feel open enough about needing a therapist that you are willing to talk with friends, take advantage of their adventures and misadventures. Finding the right person can be time-consuming and somewhat expensive, but the results you get will be well worth it.