Friday, February 25, 2011

My First day of Counseling

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that I played the message that a counselor left on my voice mail. In it, the counselor asked me to call him back if I was still interested in counseling. At the time I left his clinic a message, I was not in a good mental state. The message was very late but I guess when you go to the free or "affordable" clinics, you get what you pay for. Beggars can't be choosers.

I decided to get counseling because I have struggled with depression all my life. At first I just thought that I was different and I never really felt like I belonged, especially in social settings. I'm a little bit better now but In my early twenties I can recall showing up to social settings and feeling ackward. Many times I just sat in a corner and people watched.

I have had problems with insomnia as well. For many years I have felt the typical symptoms of depression; the isolation, anxiety, and feelings of despair. I have had every dark thought imaginable.

I applied and got accepted to Chapman Law School. Acually I got accepted to every law school that I applied for including Pepperdine, Whittier, and Chapman. My first year I was overwhelmed. I was taking five classes and the reading was immense. During this time I had several traumatic incidents that shook me up. I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, I was a full time law student, and my father passed away.

I was put on academic probation and was ultimately dismissed because of grades. I rarely tell people that I attended law school because I never finished. When I did attend, I noticed that I had difficulty focusing epecially during exams. My anxiety prevented me from focusing and so I sought counseling after I was dismissed and I was diagnosed as bipolar depressive. I was given medication namely Paxil which I took for several years.

The medication did help me to sleep but my depression seemed to worsen. I finally got off the meds and have been med-free. But I take natural supplements and I seem to be o.k. However, I never sought counseling.

Having been unemployed recently increased my depression and I was starting to lose hope until I got work but I have always had this nagging suspicion that my depression has taken alot from my life. Too often, I am ambivalent and I just felt that talking to a professional may help improve my life.

I show up to the center and it is in a residential area. The building looks like an old house and because it was dark when I arrived at 7:00PM, it was kinda creepy.
"You need to sign a few forms and it's $10 for the intake meeting," the recptionist tells me.
"Can I have a key to use the restroom?"
"Sure let me buzz you in"

I return and I wait in the waiting area when a little Mexican dude opens the door smiles and says, "Israel Carrasco follow me."

I walk down a small hall and I enter a little room in the back. I see a couch and a chair. I yell, "Sigmund Freud!" The counselor giggles.

I'm asked to sign all these disclaimers. I read and sign privacy forms, confidentiality forms, and am told that our conversation is confidential unless he feels I'm a threat to myself, I intend to hurt some one, Or I'm abusing a child or elderly person. I sign away.

"So why counseling Israel. Why are you here?"
I explain to the counselor that I think counseling could help me and I also explain my history with depression and while I'm explaining my story to him, I get fixated on the fact that he is tiny and has a big head. Those two things are my obsessions: Tiny people and Big heads. He had both! I had to look down.

I talked and talked and I mentioned some of my interests including poker,chess, comedy, and blogging.

"The time is up Israel. I will see you here next week", the counselor tells me.
My next appointment is Thursday at 7:00PM. I have no idea what to expect but it seems like counseling is just listening to myself speak. I could have saved $10.


  1. Many people are skeptical about counseling for that reason - you do most or all of the talking; yet I hope this turns out to be legitimate and that subsequent sessions will yield breakthroughs. Keep an open mind and give it a chance to work. Here's wishing you the very best, Israel.

  2. He does have to get caught up on an entire life in one session before you can get to the heart of the matter. I used to run an anxiety disorder self help group and have for the past 20 years sponsored folks through these issues. I totally get it. I am hoping the counselor uses some cognitive behavioral techniques because those are actually tools you use for life and can completely change everything for you. I'd suggest the book "A Guide to Rational Living" by Albert Ellis and Robert Harper. It was the "Bible" I used for my self help group, along with "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns. These teach you how your internal dialogue about what's happening your life creates your emotions. Once you get to interpreting events more rationally, you have more rational emotions. It sounds weird, but it completely and totally changed my life and I came from a family of people trying to off themselves, so for me to survive and thrive in spite of having learned poor mental hygiene, it says a lot about the therapy. Every single person gets it. We've all been in that boat. It's a rather crowded life raft, so you will never run out of folks you can talk to. I have yet to meet someone who hasn't either done counseling or struggled with issues. Welcome to the human race, buddy. We are all beside you and let your humor be your release.

  3. I think this is outstanding! Wishing you the best of luck in getting to a better place, in mind, body and spirit! Chin up buddy!!! :)

  4. Hey, I have something to send you. Shoot me your email!

  5. The first few meetings are going to be like that, soon the guy will start offering suggestions on how to help you get better.

    Trust me I know.

    The Adorkable Ditz' Missteps

  6. Just keep hope alive homie and don't give up! The sessions will help me I know all too well about what you are going through.

  7. Keep going for a while. They like to take it slow and it takes a bit to get into it. Eventually, things will start moving forward though. Hopefully.

  8. He giggled at your joke. Good sign. Excellent sign. Talking is one of the most therapeutic things you can do. Did you hear me? It is absolutely one of the most therapeutic things you can do.
    I too struggle Israel with depression, a roller coaster of emotion. It gets better with help and persistence. Hang in there dear one.

  9. I never would have thought you have been dealing with so many of those "less fun" emotions since you are such a funny guy. Good luck with future sessions. I've experienced some of that too and blogging has been a great therapeutic outlet for me.

  10. Tiny people with big heads kind of creep me out, too. I know it was difficult to spill your soul to a bobblehead. I think counseling is a good thing though. Over time, you'll see that it's worth the money to discuss things and get stuff off of your chest. Good luck with everything!

  11. That's really hard. I'm sorry it's been such tough times. I hope you can really find what you need in the sessions. Been considering going back to a counselor myself these days.

    I love what Autumnforest said. Intruiging. Those books may be something to look into. I know I might.

  12. I'm glad to hear you are going to counselling. I have been many times and I always benefit from it. It does really help to know yourself and to talk about your life with someone. I'm sure he will give you some good ideas on what to do.

    I am taking an anti-depressent and it helps a lot. It is called Celexa. It quit working one time and they just doubled the dose and I got better. Sometimes drugs are a great help.
    God bless you, Israel, and may you feel a lot better soon.

  13. wish you well with your bouts of depression....I thought about law school as my undergrad studies came to an end but realized it just wasn't for me, hence my awesome blogging lifestyle was born! haha

  14. Sorry for the late comment, dude, been all MIA due to headache madness.

    Shrinks. Never sure what I think of them, but having had friends have success with them, I can only assume that just having an outlet of someone to listen to you whatever you want to say or vent, can be therapeutic. Maybe that would help you in itself? They might not have magic answers for you, but they might help you work through things and feel you have a voice and a support group. But really, I don't know much on the subject myself. Good luck!