This is what I’ve always imagined a meeting with a psychologist would be like.
Doctor: Wears lab coat and overlarge magnified glasses, peers at clipboard. “Hello, Luna. I’m Doctor Something-Generic. Let’s get started. Now, can you give me a numeric value of how crazy you think you are?”
Doctor: Scribbles something intelligible on board. “Alright. On a scale of what?”
This isn’t, by the way, what a meeting with the psychologist is like.
I found my psychologist while I was crying behind a couch at the Calgary Convention for Suicide Prevention. I distinctly remember hiding behind a plastic plant and wiping my face on my sleeve before realizing that I didn’t have a sleeve and then crying harder because I was covered in snot.
That’s where I met her. I can’t recall her name, but I do remember her compassion. She wore glasses but no lab coat, instead crazy high heels and a big smile. She helped me out from behind the cave of snot I’d set up for myself and sat me down with a box of tissues that I effectively ended up exhausting before the end of the conversation.
And the conversation was…intense. It wasn’t anything miraculous or unparalleled—don’t let anyone tell you that; it’s probably a marketing ploy. But it did help me resolve a lot of my issues. I can’t say that the advice she gave me was spot on and wonderful, mostly due to the fact that she didn’t give me any advice. She just sat down, listened to me, and let me talk it out.
Now, this isn’t to say that that I don’t have any of those problems today, but talking to her made me realize how valuable it was to be able to just talk without having judgement or ‘helpful’ advice thrown at you. Something that we as friends or family tend to forget is the fact that sometimes you just need to talk. And sometimes you just need to listen to that person. The person is already presumably in a very fragile state of mind, and criticism or something that you might consider helpful could in fact be a setback to them.
My psychologist and I didn’t talk again after that, and even though I’ve bounced around on plenty of self-help centers, she taught me something invaluable.
The power of listening, and shutting the heck up once in a while.