Have you ever sat in the office of a psychiatrist or a therapist or a counselor? I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle it. Sitting across from a cheap wooden desk in a plastic chair in front of some kind of Walmart wisdom motivational poster. I always felt like I was in my high school guidance counselor’s office again, trying to avoid eye contact with someone with a shaky grasp on an AA degree trying to tell me what I should do. No thanks.
The issues which brought me into a therapist’s office didn’t magically melt away after the one half-assed appointment I did before I quit yet another activity that required me to regularly show up somewhere at a given time. No shocker. I was still a mess. The broken engagement, dead end job and nearly-dead mom still hung heavy on my soul. It was all a thick winter coat I couldn’t take off no matter how hard the sun shone in the Texas summer sky.
The problem was that I was a modern creature of the Internet. Other than a few very close friends, the only people I actually talked to in-person anymore were all clerks who I didn’t get into it much further with than a “Hi,” “How are you doing?” and “Good, you?” If lucky.
I find it funny that life has been reduced to two people asking how each is doing with both lying by saying “good.” It’s probably why I have withdrawn into my computer. At least trolls are honest about their sentiment.
Given my dwindling social interaction capabilities, I did research into online counseling. I was thrilled to find that there were numerous options available. Most let you do something as discrete as have an IM chat or exchange emails. Email sounded like the setup for me. I hated Skype and Facetime even more than talking to people in-person.
Once I put in my credit card information into a site called OnlineCounselor.com for a very reasonable monthly amount, I was able to send an email to the counselor of my choice (some guy named Evan who had a degree from UT, like me) to get things started.
My initial email could be about anything, but the site suggested doing a general introduction with a little about why you are seeking counseling. Here goes…
My name is Phoebe. I am a 27-year-old woman who lives in a small town in Texas. I work doing data entry remotely for a company in Houston and spend most of my free time on social media, watching TV, and working out at home on my workout bike. I live in the same town where I grew up, and have only left the state of Texas once to visit family in Oklahoma.
I think I have depression and that I have had it my entire adult life, but never addressed it. I think the reason I never have is because I had an ignorant understanding of depression from TV and movies. I thought depression meant you laid in bed all day, crying your eyes out, thinking about killing yourself and listening to sad music. My depression was always more of a slow malaise, a disinterest in life. I only realized it when I got so deep into it that I realized I am basically living my life underwater. While I might not feel stereotypically sad or depressed, I am never really happy. I think I need to do something about it.
I want to say I am really excited about this email format. I have tried in-person counseling/therapy, but it has never worked for me.
Look forward to hearing back from you.
I anxiously awaited an answer from my counselor “Evan.”
I received my response before the end of the day.
Nice to meet you and I look forward to being your counselor. It was very nice to hear a little bit about you and I look forward to learning more.
I hope I am able to help you. Your submission is currently being reviewed and you should receive feedback from me (Evan), shortly.
I wanted to throw up my afternoon string cheese and carrots. The whole thing felt like a form response. I was worried I had been swindled. I assumed Evan’s real name was Robot and my credit card information had already been compromised. I thought about cancelling everything, but figured I would give it at least one day.