A new weekly column in which Ms. X, a practising psychotherapist, helps readers find their way through this thing called life.
Problems? Hit me with them. I’m here to help.
I have been been a practicing therapist for 10 years and in semi-regular therapy for my own abundant issues for over 20. During that time I have realised that not many issues are unique. I will probably repeat this often, but you are not alone. Even in the urge to be alone you are not alone. Annoying right?
After squirting gallons, nay buckets of tears into thousands of tissues, I have come to believe that the key to mental and emotional hygiene is how we handle the issues, specifically how we summon the ambition to reduce whatever pain (psychic and emotional) we are in. It’s the wanting to feel better that appears to be the key.
That means asking yourself if you have enough tools in the tool box to pull apart and autopsy the problem/s. You might need to try a variety of solutions and be adaptable in your approach but firstly, make an approach.
Ask for help. Ask me. This is a help column. I am literally giving it away.
But wait there’s more: if you ask me and I don’t know enough about your problem, I’ll find someone with superior knowledge in the area and harvest freely from their expensive educations just for you!
Whatever issue has crawled inside your head and/or heart and has gone rogue like an Australian squatter in a posh London house circa 1989, don’t despair. Write it down and give me as much information as you can. This is entirely anonymous so don’t fret. It’s a jungle out there so let’s hold hands and be kind and use our giant brains.
Feel scared or embarrassed? Don’t be. Here’s a cheese platter of the kind of issues I have been hearing about from the front lines of life, which may help you formulate a question:
Are you re-entering the dating world after 15 years in Timaru/monogamy/prison and don’t know what all the spooky acronyms online are? Have you started talking to people online but don’t know how to get past the volley of dick pics so you can ask if they would maybe like to meet for a coffee?
Or conversely, do you want to know if you can use the internet to find a fuck and not get fucked over?
Have the kids started doing stuff that freaks you out (really freaks you out) like selling things on the dark net and you can’t get past their firewalls? Or they really want to play the recorder?
Has a dear friend wigged out? Do you miss them but also worry that they still have a key to your house?
Is your divorced dad hitting on your divorced friends and really challenging your “I’m a totally independent adult who thinks my parent has a right to sexual intimacy” vibe?
Have your flatmates came home and found you hooked up tinder to the big TV because you couldn’t find your reading glasses? Did they try to shame you? (Actually, screw them – that’s the kind of can-do attitude that made this country great.)
Maybe you have been hit with some of the big immovable life events : death, serious illness, job loss, depression/anxiety that can’t be budged?
I can’t magic that away but I know this: Some shit stays messy for a very long time and our culture of “Things will get better/silver linings/positive attitude” is aphoristic bullshit. When bad, bad things happen, you not only have the bad thing to deal with but you also have to watch those around you being unprepared for it. At a time when you really need people the most they are sometimes useless, hysterical or insensitive.
Maybe that’s part that I can help you with. I have experience in the ‘unexpected major life changing events” area and I am happy to listen.
Now it’s your turn. Write to me. Be brave. Ask.
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