Doggone it, could Stuart have been right?
Guest blog from Shelley Calissendorff, mental health advocate.
Maybe I AM good enough, and maybe I AM smart enough and maybe people really DO like me?
When it comes to Stuart Smalley, maybe, just maybe there was some real truth behind all that humor?
If you’re old enough to remember, back in the early 90’s there was a recurring sketch on “Saturday Night Live” featuring a soft-spoken, gentle-soul named Stuart. While the comedian/actor-turned-politician behind the character made us laugh out loud, I recently wondered if it wasn’t time for me to make use of some of this exciting technology we have now and re-watch those skits. While we laughed at Stuart as he poked fun at talk therapy, positivity and the need for a healthy sense of self-esteem, he also touched on some things that are really true! True, AND worth remembering!
I have a long history of clinical depression and anxiety, and a more recent history of PTSD. I currently reside in a small town where therapists don’t exactly grow on trees. As I have said before many times (and I’m not quite sure why because it doesn’t really make that much sense), “I’ve had enough therapy to kill a horse.” In other words, I’ve had a LOT of talk therapy.
Counseling seems to me to be almost more of an art form than a science. A therapist can really know their stuff, but still not actually be therapeutic for a given individual. I have had therapists I felt so comfortable with that I had wished I could’ve invited them over for dinner, and, I’ve had therapists whose approach to counseling seemed more like they were teaching a class. I would leave the latter sessions feeling unvalidated, unsupported and unhappy.
For me, I now (finally!) recognize that what I need is to hear somebody that I view as an authority on the subject tell me that I HAVE been through a lot, and that… I AM good enough, I AM smart enough, and doggone it, people DO like me. Even though on some level I already know these things, and even though I read them on Facebook in posts virtually every day, I, need somebody to tell ME positive affirmations about myself. I need to hear it, repeatedly!
Now maybe what I now know is true for me, isn’t true for everybody. Certainly some people must do well with counseling that is more like taking a class. But, I guess that’s the point—we’re all different and we all need different things. If you have sought out counseling, or are considering it, PLEASE be picky! If the first therapist you start seeing doesn’t send you out of his or her office making you feel at least a little more optimistic than you did when you went in, you may need to consider a new therapist. I know I do. And that’s, okay.
Check out the American Psychological Association Psychologist Locator to find a practicing psychologists in your local area.
Shelley Calissendorff is a long-time advocate for animal, environmental and humanitarian causes; after volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and adopting a daughter with special needs from foster care, Shelley Calissendorff added mental health advocacy to her list. The founder and administrator of three Facebook pages, you can ‘Like’ her work at BIG4MashUp, CoalitionToHonorRobinWilliams and at Smile.At.Your.Baby. She is also the Founder and Executive Director for Smile At Your Baby! Follow Shelley on Twitter @SmileAtYourBaby.