My last therapist abandoned me, both physically and emotionally. She had a death in the family and understandably took some time off. At first she said it would be for three weeks. The next email stated she needed three more. It was a bit of a shock, but I figured if I had kept myself alive for the past three weeks, then perhaps I could do it again. What got me through the temporary loss of support was hope. I know from experience that grief has no time line, and however she needed to cope was necessary for her at the time.
The weeks passed slowly and I found my anxiety building up. There was still no confirmed return date, and my gut was telling me something was wrong. I sent her an email and impatiently waited for a response. A week or so later, I received a reply. It went something along the lines of this…
“Dear Jody. Unfortunately due to family circumstances, I will be closing my practice immediately. I will send over your charts. I apologize and I wish you well.”
It took about three seconds before the tears were streaming down my face. I was close with her, and I felt hurt, sad, mad and abandoned. That was it. There would be no goodbye, no closure. There was no referral to anyone. It was ripped away, just like that. I was lost and alone. I had no idea what to do next. She completely broke my trust in people, especially in therapists. It took me months to heal, and as I worked through the complex emotions involved, I found one thought which was a constant during every stage of healing, and I vowed I would never seek help again. I would not speak to another therapist, not in this lifetime.
That was a year ago.
Last November, I started to slip into a depressive state. I changed my meds, tried new coping skills, all to no avail. The days turned into weeks. The weeks melted into months. As time passed I found myself sinking further and further into a vast, lonely darkness. I have been dealing with suicidal ideation for as long as I can remember. My last attempt was over 11 years ago. I had been to therapy for 5 years previous to this therapist, and had started to deal with my trauma. I had a toolbox of skills to make sure the thoughts remained in the background. I tried every single one; distraction, grounding, writing, meditation, workbooks, and every other thing I could think of.
By February of this year, I was in such a negative mind frame that I lost all hope. Suicide moved itself inch by inch, from the back of my mind to the front. Fast forward to the beginning of April, add a few major triggers, and those active thoughts had turned into ideas. Those ideas started to consume me. They affected every thought I had, and every action I took. I took all the factors of my life into consideration. I made a pros and cons list. I thought about it both rationally and emotionally and made an educated decision. I had the control to choose my fate.
On a particularly dark day, I found my mind arguing within itself. The thoughts were rattling through my head; would it be life or death? At this point I was still anti-therapist, but knew that reaching out was my last hope. I googled inexpensive therapists in Ontario and checked out a few sites. I must have read a hundred or more profiles, each one averaging from $90 to $250. I sent about 20 emails explaining a bit about my background, as well as my financial situation, which keeps me in poverty.
The next day I received only five responses, which all basically said the same thing…
“Unfortunately I cannot accommodate your financial situation but I wish you luck in your search”
Honestly, I was hurt and pissed off, but not disappointed because I had zero expectations that anyone would say yes. For me, it simply compounded the thought that my life was not worth saving. I have been falling through the cracks in the system since I was born. It reinforced the fact that finances prevent people from getting help. In no way is this system geared toward the poor, minorities, or people on disability, and unfortunately, that is not going to change anytime soon. All the rejection felt as if the wind was sucked from my sails, and my boat was sinking so rapidly, I couldn’t escape; I was now drowning.
That was it. I had tried my best, but once again, my best was just not good enough. I was just about to close my laptop down when I received an email from a therapy service called Evolve Counselling Services. The email said something about me contacting them to discuss my situation, to which I quickly and defensively replied that no one could or would help me so there was no point in contacting them. I figured it would be another rejection, which at this point I couldn’t handle. Again, I start to shut down for the evening and there was another reply from the same place. It basically said that we could try to work together in regards to finances, and they would be happy to talk with me.
My first thoughts were “what the actual fuck is happening, and what’s the catch?”
She emailed me back and introduced herself as Jackie LeBeau, the owner of Evolve Counselling. We chatted for a while, and in my mind, it all seemed far too good to be true. After all, I had been abandoned and rejected more times than I even remember. Could it truly be possible there was no catch? Could there actually be a therapist who would take chance on me, and not judge me for being poor? As the conversation continued, I was on high alert for any red flags, yet none seemed to appear, even when I went looking for them. I was astonished, shocked and afraid. I was terrified that I had just let my guard down and I was going to get screwed over because of it.
Those of you who know me, and have read my writing will know that I have never done any sort of promotional anything. I write from my heart and soul, and this piece is no different, except for the fact that Jackie literally saved my life. If our paths had not crossed at that moment, I might not be here today; her words, her validation and support, and her giving me a chance kept me alive that night. I had never met such a genuinely kind and caring soul. Jackie is a rare therapist and a rare person. She is someone who helps because she can, and because she truly wants to. She wants to be a part of people’s healing journeys, and provide them with the support and direction they need.
Within a week, I had an appointment.
The day finally arrived, and I would be having my first session with my new therapist. I was beyond nervous, extremely anxious and very afraid. What if she didn’t like me? What if I have had too much trauma for her to want to deal with? What if we just didn’t click? These thoughts and emotions ran rampant in my mind until the minute I opened Zoom for the session.
Enter Megan Snow.
Megan welcomed me with open arms. Instantly I felt pretty comfortable, which frightened me even more. Her eyes expressed true empathy and compassion and her words backed those expressions up. Again, I found myself looking for red flags but coming up empty. There was no judgement. I wasn’t bombarded with questions about my past. I wasn’t told to, or asked to do anything. There was no sense of not being accepted. Instead, I was welcomed with empathy, compassion and a genuine feeling of being cared for. I wasn’t just listened to, I was truly heard, and believe me, there is a huge difference between the two. The session ended with me feeling safe, relieved and even slightly optimistic.
I am able to see Megan weekly now, and maintain regular contact with Jackie. There are not enough words to express the gratefulness I feel towards these two women. There’s nothing I could ever do to repay them for their generosity and time, and I hold both of them close to my heart.
So Jackie LeBeau and Megan Snow…thank you. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for providing me with support and enough hope to carry on. Thank you for giving me a chance. I will always try my best to heal as it would break my heart to let either one of you down. One day I hope you will know how important you both are to me.
Perhaps Paulo Coelho said it the most gracefully…
“Really important meetings are planned by the souls, long before the bodies encounter each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.”
Please, don’t be afraid to reach out, because this time, someone is actually there to help.
Jackie and Megan can be reached at https://www.evolvetherapy.ca