"When one door closes, another opens but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." - Alexander Graham Bell
As I brainstormed what to write about, the benefits of therapy emerged as a clear winner. As many of you know, I was a disc jockey on the FM radio in the 1980s. My career was cut short by the schizophrenia. I looked so long and so regretfully upon that closed door that I couldn't see how the SZ opened on to a better future.
In the 1990s, I took jobs in business to pay the rent so I could kiss life in the mental health system goodbye. One summer I returned to the radio station. It wasn't the same, and that era had passed me by before I left it. What helped in the early years? Therapy-the traditional, one-on-one in chairs kind, and other forms.
Having my own apartment was therapy: "a place to call my own, have a conversation on the telephone," to quote New Order, a band I loved. In those years-when the advent of another Friday night signaled existential distress-I stayed up late on the weekend listening to FM 106.3, "modern rock at the Jersey shore," an alternative music station. For about six years, I saw a therapist-from the time I was released from the hospital until three years after my relapse.
In 2005, I returned to classic therapy sessions with a therapist in my neighborhood. Every Monday night I walk five blocks to his office in a brownstone. It's not a sign of weakness or a character flaw to talk with someone trained in counseling. Indeed, through therapy you "get the root"-as the Buddhist technique espouses-to resolve your problem. What matters most is that you find an empathetic person you relate to and can be honest with. I tried out two therapists, and quickly chose the guy I see now. I recommend that you interview two or three people before choosing someone you'll devote a fair amount of time to.
The woman I nixed was located in the City. She came into the reception area clutching her pocketbook-not a good sign if she didn't trust that her pocketbook would remain in her office if she left it there briefly. The room was the size of a closet, and there was barely a 25-watt bulb in the lamp. It was dark and dreary, and as I talked, the woman kept smiling at me non-stop in a saccharine-pink smile. Though I made a second appointment, I canceled it three days later.
Max-the one I also interviewed-I knew at the first session I would see again. For one reason, I had an uneasy feeling after we talked. A friend, V., suggested it was because Max brought out feelings in me that I needed to get in touch with. I've been seeing him going on four years. That's the beauty of therapy: you can cope better with the SZ and how it affects you. Sometimes, therapy isn't right for some people and doesn't help, yet I believe it could benefit most of us. Cognitive therapy has been shown to aid greatly people with SZ. I haven't tried that, yet I can vouch for it because I hear it helps people cope with their symptoms.