The first thing I noticed about her was her boots. Bright green, pointed, perfectly posed, one foot over the other. But I wasn’t sitting opposite her to talk about fashion. I was there for my first session of therapy.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20, my only support consisted of a 20 minute appointment with my psychiatrist to discuss medication progress and changes every six weeks. I decided I needed some support on a more personal level. Somebody I could talk to, who wouldn’t offer me biased or cliche advice. Who wasn’t a friend or a relative who didn’t understand. Who wouldn’t tell me all the things I feared hearing: That other people have it worse.
Not sure where to look, I stumbled across a psychology website online. There were hundreds of therapists available in my area. I didn’t have a strict criteria, but as I scrolled through therapist after therapist, I realised that I didn’t want to book with anyone too plain, too ‘professional’. After hours of searching and voicemails, *Christine finally called me back. She was a therapist I could afford, and based on just one profile picture I knew she was my best bet.
Mid-forties, she looked eccentric with short, stylish, dyed hair, and a warming smile reminiscent of a doting mother.
Upon meeting her, the boots told me that she was confident. Quirky. Loud. Self-assured. They were gorgeous boots, but the type a person like me would hide in the back of the wardrobe, desperate to wear them, but worried that they would draw attention.
Christine was comforting and reassuring as I introduced myself and opened up about my life. The things that were getting me down. The relationship problems I was having (and oh God, there were a lot). I felt safe in the tiny but well-lit room, which featured just two chairs, a coffee table and some pretty lamps.
I knew that she was the right therapist for me. I knew that I wanted to be the person who put on the boots with pride, instead of dreaming about them as they stayed perfectly placed in a box behind a mountain of clothes.
Christine saw me twice a week. At the time, I was in an unhappy relationship and had no nearby friends. Though I have a supportive family, I felt unable to completely open up to them about my personal life. I needed someone to talk to on a more-than-regular basis, to keep me sane - and to remind me that I wasn’t alone.
She wore something eccentric and ‘out there’ every session. Sometimes it would be loud shirts, other times it would be thigh high boots, or a new, bright haircut. There was never a session where she didn’t ooze sass and poise. I would compliment her every time and she would act like it was nothing. It didn’t phase her. There was no insecurity - compliments were a passing statement. She knew she was brilliant.
Hattie Gladwell is the Editor in Cheif for The Breakdown Magazine, Columnist for Inspire the Mind and a freelance journalist who has written for Metro.co.uk, Cosmopolitan UK, LADBible, Grazia UK, The Independent, The Debrief and The Mighty.