When Mary moved from Philadelphia to Nashville, she knew she needed to find a new therapist who could help end the cycles of pain from her childhood wounds.
Mary’s Story Transcript
I recently saw a photo on Instagram. Its heading says, ‘This is what depression looks like,’ and underneath it had photos of celebrities that have committed suicide: Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Lee Thompson Young. What was jarring was the contrast between their smiling faces and the struggles that we now know they experienced. We look at them and we think, ‘How could they be depressed?’ Because we were all shocked when we heard of these news. They were loved, right? They brought beauty and joy, the light and laughter into everybody’s lives. They were successful. They overcame odds. They were living their dream. They were also wearing a mask, and behind that mask, they were suffering. And I know that because I was just like them. I know that because I am still like them.
My earliest memory is of missing school because we couldn’t drive me to school. Now, I’m from Philly, and it snows all the time there, but this particular day, I remember feeling fear of falling behind, of upsetting my teachers, of missing that perfect attendance mark. I was in kindergarten, and I was already showing signs of depression and anxiety at that young age. And the lesson that I learned is, ‘I need to shrink myself to make others more comfortable.’ And what I didn’t understand is that these seeds were being planted and watered that would bear fruit of inadequacy, of emptiness, of loneliness. And over and over again, these seeds were watered to the point where shrinking myself became my rule of life.
Through an abusive and alcoholic stepfather, bullying, sexual assault, and living in a household that ignored instead of addressed, I made it through because I retreated inside of myself. I buried things so deep it took me a long time to find them again. And from that, more fruit was born. Fruit of shame, of self-loathing, of a self-critic, that inner critic, it is relentless and persistent. Because even as I’m standing here right now, what I’m hearing is, ‘You’re being overdramatic. It wasn’t that bad. You are not as bad off as others.’ Because, after all, I have friends, right? I did well in school. I’m doing well in my career. I have interests and hobbies and passions. What do I have to complain about?
I was 31 when I attempted suicide, twice. I didn’t plan it, and I didn’t understand what was happening in that moment. I just knew I wanted that pain and that hurt to just stop, to feel some relief and some peace. And thankfully, God sent small interruptions to snap me out of it. And the next morning, I went to work. But it wasn’t until I was in a meeting, crying in a corner, that I thought, ‘Help is not negotiable.’ And within a week, I was working with an incredible therapist who started this recovery process by addressing my nature and my nurture. My nature of a complex brain chemical imbalance and my nurture of decades. I can’t believe I can say that. Decades of unprocessed grief and unresolved trauma that process reached all the way back to six-year-old Mary, who was terrified of missing school, and started the healing process bit by bit.
When I moved to Nashville, I could no longer continue seeing my therapist, and I was anxious to start over again with somebody new. But I knew I had to keep going. And when in doubt, I Google it out. So, I Googled ‘Christian counselors’ and found Insight Counseling Centers. And on their website, they have videos, the talks that different therapists have given, and I watched them. They were all great, but the one that resonated with me the most was Monet Shell’s ‘Cycles of Pain.’ And I thought, ‘That’s what it is. I need to stop these cycles of pain.’ And from our first meeting, I knew I had found the right fit. And that doesn’t happen often. Sometimes you have to see different therapists before you find the right one, but I found the right fit with Monet. She’s supportive, she brings comfort and wisdom as I’m walking through this journey. And without Monet and without Insight Counseling, I wouldn’t have made the progress that I have made. My quality of life has increased, even as I’m walking through difficult times now because of this organization.
From the financial sliding scale to the intake process to the interactions that I’ve had, I feel like I’ve been handled with care. I feel like even Abbie is rooting for me. And I just met her in person this morning. And I’m rooting for Insight Counseling. I’m on their side. My prayer, my sincere prayer, is that they have everything that they need to continue their mission. Every resource, every personnel, every tool and knowledge, and everything that they need will be provided for them, so that they can continue reaching out and growing and helping more people. Because they are doing essential work. They are changing individual lives so that communities can flourish, so that cities can be restored, so that this wave of wholeness spreads out through our country. And I know that because they have changed my life, and I know that they are going to change others. Thank you.