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“I don’t know if I need to go to a therapist,” she explained to Todd, “but I don’t think going to a therapist would be a bad thing.”
Todd sat puzzled wondering what was actually wrong. Was it something he did? Was it something he wasn’t doing? Was it the wedding stress getting the worst of her? Did she have too much time on her hands? These were all questions he wanted to ask, but still questions he was too afraid to ask.
He set his phone face down in an effort to not appear as though he was distracted. This wasn’t something she had brought up before, nor was it something he would have ever imagined she would need.
Wondering why he wasn’t answering with a decided tone, she decided to go further. “I feel stuck, Todd.”
“In what way?” he hesitantly asked.
“I… I don’t know.” She ran her hands through her hair in frustration. “Alex goes to a therapist every week and she said she can’t imagine her life without it now.”
This only confused Todd more. Alex, really? She seemed so… together. Again, he had questions about her situation that he was too afraid to ask. Mental health was never something Todd struggled with nor was it something he ever thought she would struggle with.
“I think I’m going to get her number from Alex,” she told him.
Todd, finally breaking his silence, asked, “Is there anything I can do?”
“No, Todd,” she assured him. “This is nothing you’re doing. I just think I need someone I can talk to who isn’t… I don’t know. You. Or Caroline. Or Katie. Or my mom. Or anyone I know right now.”
In Todd’s eyes, her self-awareness wasn’t only uncommon but admirable. Still uneasy because he couldn’t grasp the root of the problem, he couldn’t help but feel a part of the problem even though she gave no indication that anything was his fault. He had several ideas that he thought could help, but none of which he thought would be a sure thing. She already worked out enough, she was as social as ever, and the only thing missing from the regular life of a twenty-something was her lack of a career (which Todd knew was a road he didn’t want to go down).
“I mean…” he stuttered, “If you think it’ll help.”
“It will, Todd,” she told him with certainty. “It will.”
Todd readjusted on the couch and slid closer to her. The mood wasn’t as much of a dark cloud as he ever would have thought it would be while breaching this subject, but he still felt as though it was something he’d done.
“Todd, don’t be, like, worried about me,” she told him after noticing his change in mood. “I’m fine. And honestly, if everything goes as planned, maybe we can even make Sperry an emotional support dog so we can take her to Colorado while we plan the wedding.”
Alex had yet to respond to her text, which made sense because she knew Alex’s afternoons were normally filled with client meetings and occasional yoga classes. She looked at Alex not as someone who needed a therapist, but as someone whose life seemed to be enhanced further by one.
But when the text message finally came through, it was just the number to the office followed by a brief message.
“Seriously, she’s the BEST,” it said. “Like, I can talk to her about ANYTHING and I always come out refreshed.”
If anything, having the support system of a friend was exactly what she needed in addition to a few sessions here and there. She wasn’t trying to dig herself out of a hole of depression as much as she was trying to regain some of her independence.
It wasn’t a mystery to her that there was a stigma around going to see a therapist. There’s a reason people simply say they have “appointments” or they’re going “in for a check-up.” Most people, when hearing the word “therapist” come out of someone’s mouth, default to a state of worry. Even Alex lightly wondered why she was going but knew simply pushing her in the right direction would at least help whatever was on her mind.
“Thank you SO much,” she responded. “I’m going to call her this afternoon and schedule something.”
Alex wanted to know what was on her mind but also knew that through her experiences that she couldn’t just assume she was going to be the right person to solve her “problems,” if that’s what you could even call them at this point.
She thought about opening up a bit to Alex, but she also had hesitations. It wasn’t like she didn’t know what she wanted to talk about with her potential therapist — throughout most of her adult life, she had kept a semi-regular journal and been fairly open with most of her friends. If anything, her biggest worry was people judging her. She was a jobless white affluent girl who skated by on both a college education and credit cards paid for in full by her dad. If you asked an innocent bystander what they thought her insecurities were, they would have told you something between “finding the nearest Lululemon” and “which kind of sushi to order.” They weren’t wrong, but as it goes in these situations, you can’t judge an entire situation by the surface.
It was while she headed to her bedroom to find her journal that another text from Alex came through.
“And honestly,” it began, “if you ever need anything from me, obviously just ask. I’m here for you.” She signed it off with a kiss emoji and didn’t fully expect a response.
A simple “thanks” followed by the blushing emoji was all she sent back before calling the office and making an appointment for 3 o’clock the following Tuesday.
“3:00 on Tuesday,” she simply texted Todd. “Can’t wait to see you tonight! I got halibut.” .