I only picked up this book because of the title: my sh*t therapist. There is just something so intriguing and comical about it. Written by Michelle Thomas, the book is Michelle talking about her experience of living with a mental illness, and how she copes with it in her life. She suffered from a major depressive episode and wnated to ger her hands on everything and anything to come out of the miserable situation.
I love how she opens up the book: “First of all, no one ever lies down during therapy. There’s never anything to lie down on. It’s always a chair, most often an IKEA special. There’s alwats a table with a prominently placed box of off-brand tissues. Clocks are cunningly placed so that you can’t see them from your seat, but the therapist can from theirs. ‘This is your time.” You’ll hear that lot.”
When I read this, I knew how accurately she described this experience, because this is exactly how my therapist office is like. At times, my clients even asked me where the clock is!
Michelle is very open and honest about her mental health illness. She finds it scary and wants to hide it from her family and friend, for fear of being judged. She talks about how depression cannot always be seen in a person, for at times, it’s all hidden internally. “I just want to share what it’s like to navigate a life with mental illness, not just in the pole-to-pole journey from illness to wellness, but the day-to-day admin in between.” This is where the book really excels as she takes inside her life on what life is like on a daily basis. This is not sugar-coated book about how smoothly she sorts herself out. This is scary, gritty and downright messy but then she does go through some hard moments before she starts to heal.
“…Hearing stories from people from every corner of the mental health specturm, has taught me that while we can seek help from a million sources, we each have to find one that’s right for us, for our particular brand of madness.” This is something I say to a lot of my own clients or people who are looking for a therapist: you need to be able to find the right one for you, in order for you and therapist to do any kind of meaningful work together. Not all therapists will click with all kinds of clients.
She breaks down the book into the following aspects of her life: poor diagnosis, the last decade of her life, her job, medications, love life, her body, her haits, her home and her brilliant sh*t brain.
The book reads like a diary entry. The interesting she’s done is got some words from some of her friends from the online community she belongs. So we have a wide array of people from different backgrounds sharing their experience as well, which gives it a nice mix of input, along with the writer’s own.
The chapter that I read with most interest was about her experience with the different therapists she went to. In the UK, where Michelle is based, your therapists are assigned to you by the National Health Services. You don’t have the luxury of choosing your therapists, unless you go private. So her first experience with the therapist went horrible, as did her next one. She suffered for a year trying to find the right one, but then she found Elaine, the psychotherapist who just connected with Michelle instantly and vice versa. Elaine becomes that perfect springboard on which Michelle would throw everything at, and then getting it back, which allowed for Michelle to really see what’s been going on in her life.
She lists down several things on how to choose your therapist:
- Ask around: check with your friends who are in therapy, ask around how their experiences are with their therapists.
- Check their credentials: what have they studied, what are they trained in, how long have they been working for and so on
- Check your budget: can you afford a private one? Or will a government one suffice?
- Free Services: there may be some free therapists available (some NGO or government offices may provide free therapy services)
The other highlight for me in the book was her chapter on Habits, and how she managed to work her way around to getting her chores done, and cultivating positive habits.
This book is written by a woman, so some of the chapters, like the one on her love life, may not really resonate very well with the men, but it will give them a good insight into her mindset.
Over all, I enjoyed reading this book- I enjoy the wit and humour, the blatant honesty and the courage that shines through her as she struggles to work her way out of her depression.