Did I Really Need Therapy? Yep.

Is it obvious enough that the career choices I was exploring couldn’t be any more different from being a dentist?  I mean, cookies and beer are a far cry from drilling and filling.  My knee-jerk reaction stemmed from the need to get as far away as possible from anything related to my current job.  I wanted something lighthearted and not too serious; something that had nothing to do with providing a service to people  having my face 6 inches away from another person’s for 8 hours a day. 

While I was desperately searching, I also decided it was time to get some independence from my career coach.  She had helped me get to a place where I could function at my job while simultaneously seeking out a new future for myself.  I simply needed to do the work to find my next career, so it was time to go out on my own to actually do the work.  It was time to stop talking and start doing.  I guess it was also time for me to hit a plateau, as those 6 months on my own had passed with very little progress toward change.

I was still stuck in dentistry.

Sad face
Giant sad face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then sometimes right when you need it, people come into your life for a reason.  It started at a holiday party in December of 2010 when Nick and I met an old acquaintance he hadn’t seen in years.  We connected with her because she is Spanish, and Nick and I both lived in Spain for a while.  She insisted we join her the following week for a Spanish-style Christmas.

How could we refuse an offer like that?

So on Christmas Day at this event I almost missed, I met Melanie, another guest at the dinner and my future therapist.  I was in a bit of denial about my current emotional state because being only partially miserable was so much better than being completely miserable.  I wasn’t necessarily convinced I needed “therapy” at the time, but I knew I still hadn’t arrived at the answer I was looking for.  I also sensed myself starting to gradually slide back down that slippery slope that I had spent the last year digging out of.  The fear of falling down again propelled me to try out some work with Melanie.

Clearly, this type of therapy wasn’t working.

I’ll never forget my first session with her.  I had gotten into a car accident the night before, and I was an emotional mess.  I walked into her office, trying to hold myself together, rather unsuccessfully.  I guess if there’s any good place to “lose it,” it’s in a therapist’s office; just like if your crown is going to pop off, there’s no better time than during a cleaning.  (Oh, and by the way, for anyone who’s ever blamed the hygienist for this, it’s not her fault when this happens during a cleaning.)

Melanie didn’t miss a beat and immediately started EMDR therapy with me.  One hour and many tears later she asked me if I wanted to review the story again.  I couldn’t do it.  My mind was blank.  Not only was my mind blank, but it was blown away that I felt totally free of this trauma.  I couldn’t even remember the details unless I dug really deep, but why would I do that?  (And just a side note: almost 3 years later, I haven’t looked back on that accident once.)

From this moment on I was sold, and I was ready to start my relationship with a therapist for the first time in my life.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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24 thoughts on “Did I Really Need Therapy? Yep.

  1. Hi,
    Isn’t it amazing when we can look back on past events and see that one moment that changed something dramatic in our lives. I also believe things happen for a reason, sometimes we never find out that reason, but for the times we can work it all out it always amazes me how things just seem to fall into place.

  2. I spent a fair amount of time on this same trajectory. I don’t regret the time spent trying to figure it out; I think some of us just take more time to bloom. You sound like you are on the path to being happy. I wish you luck!

    1. Thanks, Tony. I think it’s hard to take so much time when you’re going through the process, but once you get past it, you can appreciate that it took a while and realize it was all worth it. Thanks so much. It’s cool to hear about other people who went through similar stuff.

  3. It’s a very effective therapy with a lot of research support. Glad you found it.
    There’s also a new book called Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy that teaches people ways to get immediate relief from negative emotions, thoughts and images. It also has guidelines for finding a good therapist if needed

  4. Reading your blog has been therapy for me! I still love keeping up with your latest posting and seeing how your story developed. Just wanted to tell you I found a buyer for my dental practice and the sale should close in a week! Eek! I’m making my path not necessarily to get out of dentistry but at least do something DIFFERENT in dentistry. Time for a major change of scenery and activities. Thanks again for sharing your story and making me see that there are others out there who have felt the same way I do and there is hope to get out of the run of the mill dental office J O B and into something else that fills you with purpose and enjoyment again. You really inspired me and lit a fire under me!

    1. I’m so glad, Natalie. I absolutely love hearing your updates regularly. Congrats to you on taking the steps to do what YOU want with your life. Have you decided what to do? I take it you are moving?

      1. Moving is one possibility of many. I had an interview today at a dental insurance company that I felt went really well so that’s an option. I’m going to try to explore and research many different things if possible to find the right fit. Also considering going back for Masters of Dental Public Health, or doing some time in a public health setting and taking advantage of the student loan payback programs that are out there. Sure would be nice to get rid of that chunk of change hanging over my head!

        1. Oh yes, getting rid of those loans will free you up. I had thought of looking into the insurance thing, mostly for a steady job, but I never pursued it. I hope that goes well for you. I was on a Dentaltown forum, and a guy on there had an insurance job and was very happy– much happier than the practicing dentists writing in on that forum! I also have a good friend who wanted out of dentistry and got a Masters of Public Health, and as far as I know is much happier. Sounds great. Let me know what happens. I’ll have a celebratory glass of champagne for you to celebrate your practice sale!

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