I’m not going to lie. My first year in Seattle over 30 years ago was hell. I arrived not knowing a soul, with no job and no prospects, and oh yeah, no housing or transportation. But I somehow convinced myself that my passion for disseminating the incredible value of the Fertility Awareness Method would be enough to sustain me.
Back then, of course, the internet didn’t exist, and even computers were not that common among the little people. My attempts at educating doctors and clinics proved futile as I found myself feeling more and more like a snake-oil salesman.
I started spiraling down a long tunnel of despair, and couldn’t seem to find a way out. When I got to my lowest, I asked my new doctor for advice, and the next thing I knew, I was attending a group therapy session for people facing clinical depression. Now, I don’t want to disparage the psychotherapy community, because God knows they help scores of people every single day. But group therapy for depression? Really?
In my first (and what came to be my last) group session, as we all sat in a circle and morosely told the group our own pathetic stories, it became clear that the group leader was what you might call ‘inappropriate’ for this particular job. In addition to being irritatingly chipper and full of sunshine and lollipops, she had a perennial smile on her face while the rest of us could barely muster the energy to look up from our seats. When I couldn’t take her flowery disposition any longer, I mustered the courage to raise my hand to ask her if she herself had ever experienced depression. Without skipping a beat, she replied:
“You know, I really haven’t. I’m just one of those lucky people who wakes up in the morning ready to spring out of bed and blah blah blah .”
Obviously, I stopped hearing her before she finished her sentence, and fantasized screaming out: REALLY? Are you kidding me? Do you think you have any credibility to lead a group of depressed people if you don’t even have the sensitivity to respond in a more empathetic way?
But what did I do? I did the same thing as when the gynecologist asked me to make an appointment and return to get my breast lump checked another day. I went home that afternoon with my face flushed with anger, this time mad at myself that I didn’t have the nerve to discretely pull her aside after our session ended to talk with her about my concerns.
Those two experiences within the first few months of my new life in Seattle turned out to be just what I needed to teach me how important it is to be your own best advocate. So now, when I sometimes hear the expression “See something, say something” I find myself also thinking “Feel something, say something.” And I hope you will too.