The Best Advice My Therapist Ever Gave Me–Beth Trissel

Years ago, as a depressed young woman battling anxiety, I went–against my will but under strong advisement–to see a psychologist. Filling out the ‘why are you here’ form unsettled me with questions  like, ‘Do You Think You’re Christ?’ Or ‘Do You Hear Voices Telling you To Kill People?’

No! Does anyone else? I glanced around apprehensively at the other patients in the waiting room wondering, but not daring to ask, ‘What are you in for?’ And zipped past the closed-door where rumor had it they performed exorcisms on route to my therapist’s office, fearful I might catch something–or someone–and thinking I should have worn garlic around my neck and clutched a Crucifix.

Not to worry. As it turned out, my sessions were with a kind older woman who served herbal tea and simply spoke with me.  A wise, motherly soul. Apart from the treks down memory lane and repeated urging to  take care of myself physically and soothe the inner child, the single most important thing I gleaned was this nugget of wisdom: ‘Find what it is you most want to do and give yourself  permission to do it.’

Wow. Powerful stuff. Would you believe that’s what gave me the courage to throw myself into my writing? It all began as therapy and in many ways, still is. Which is why I’ll always write as I feel led, by dreams, spirit guides, my ancestors speaking to me, Divine inspiration, and whatever calls to my heart. I will not and never have gone after what’s popular in the current publishing world.  To sell out in that regard would be to betray the muse. And I’d wind up back at the therapist’s office.

More tea, anyone? Oh, and she advises naps. And eat your vegetables.

About BethTrissel

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles. And nonfiction about gardening and country life.
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62 Responses to The Best Advice My Therapist Ever Gave Me–Beth Trissel

  1. I needed to read this today. Thank you, Beth. Oh. And I hope you don’t mind –I tweeted it. Who knows how many troubled souls your post can help. 🙂

  2. Patty Froese says:

    I’d be a cranky woman, indeed, if I couldn’t write. Such good advice. 🙂 Also the naps and veggies!

  3. Lisa Rayns says:

    Great post. Sometimes the worst of times can lead you where you need to be.

  4. Hellion says:

    I love it. I wish I could talk to a motherly soul. 🙂

  5. It’s the giving myself permission that trips me up most. I know what I want. To write! To stand on my own. To be loved. What most authors want.
    Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to say yes to your dreams.

  6. Great advice! Thanks for passing along what you learned. If I couldn’t write my heart’s desire, I think I’d need the exorcism room. ☺ Certainly, I would not be so happy as I am.

  7. Judy says:

    AWESOME advice. Following it has changed my world. May I share your link over at The Project?

  8. Wow, what great advice, Beth! I was often depressed as a young woman, but everyone just thought it was because I was painfully shy and couldn’t open up to anyone. But even as a young mother, I went through bouts with depression. It took me years, but I finally gave myself permission to take care of myself and do what I felt passionate about. And that’s writing stories I’d like to read, whether or not I earn accolades or money, which are both nice of course. But it’s the act of writing that makes me happy and heals when life throws those inevitable curves. Don’t take naps, but do eat vegetables on occasion, though not as many as I should, I suspect. lol

  9. Hi Beth. Everyone has the up and downs, I guess. After a difficult day at school (which they sometimes were) my therapy would be to immerse myself in a romance book. It had to have a happy ending, and be an easy read, or it didn’t do the job. Now I’m fulltime writing…I just write! I drink lots of herb teas, eat all veggies and drat it.. tend to nap when I’m meant to be doing some serious research for my historicals.

  10. Dayna Lareyna says:

    Thank you for sharing this Miss Beth,
    I’ve worked out several demons of my own as a young, divorced, mother of three while writing in college and the process was so very therapeutic. However, I still have so many things to work through and sometimes feel overwhelmed with where to begin. From dealing with latent issues from childhood such as racism, neglect, and abuse from a bullying older sister, to a lingering struggle with the abandonment I experienced from the two men who were supposed mean the most in my life; my father as a 10 year old and then my husband by our son’s first birthday. Of course too, the many dissapointments, distrust, and disconnect this abandonment has caused me and my children for many years after. I graduated 6 years ago and haven’t written since but, I know I have several novels to tell. I just really don’t know where to begin. I actually started my first two pages after spontaneously waking from yet another restless sleep but, I’m afraid it will all sound too convoluted for anyone to actually want to read. (Heavy sigh) Any words of advice?

    • bethtrissel says:

      First, my deepest sympathy Dayna. And ((Hugs)) Yes, continue with your story, just let it flow–stream of consciousness kind of writing–and listen well to the characters who emerge along the way. They will guide you. Now, they are hidden in the mist, but as you get to know them, they will grow more clear. Character driven stories are the best. Write from your deepest center place, and let me know how it goes. Have faith in yourself and may the muse be with you.

      • Dayna Lareyna says:

        Thank you so much Miss Beth for your words of encouragement! I will continue to write my stories and worry about editing sequence later. Regarding characters, I’ve also learned that I’m most comfortable telling my stories in third person which allows me to disconnect somewhat from the painful memories as it also transforms my catharsis into a story-telling experience and allows me to love on that little girl that still needs a hug! I’ll do my best to be brave now that I have given myself permission to do what I really want; express myself reverently! (Of course, some names will need to be changed to protect the innocent.) 😉

        Indebted to your wonderful wisdom and inspiration!
        Thanks again Miss Beth!

    • bethtrissel says:

      PS. I should add the advice I’ve often heard: you can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank one.

  11. Wonderful words of wisdom, Beth! Thanks for sharing!

  12. katsrus says:

    Very inspiring post Beth. Thank you.

  13. Oh, I love this news, Beth. A nap has become a must for me because my eyelids almost slam shut on their own every afternoon. Fresh vegies have always been big on our table. Now I can quote you. 🙂

    So glad you found the courage to visit for therapy because if you hadn’t we might not have had you in our lives. That would have been tragic. You are a wonderful writer and it shows you write from your heart. Go you!

  14. maccrowne says:

    Wow. This just made me smile. The tea lady sounds like my dad always did. She must be very smart! And so are you for listening.

  15. Maddy says:

    Delightful. Thank you for sharing this nugget. And yes you’re right, writing is the best kind of ‘free’ therapy there is.

  16. Masha says:

    Right on, Beth. And on the flip side, when the actual writing ceases to be a therapy, keep telling the stories and collecting the plots, the characters, and the potential books. Because we’ll need to step into these worlds again and again as that best of all therapies. I’ve had to pause for a few years in the actual putting-sentences-down-on-the-page writing, but do I ever have half-formed projects stacked up and ready to hatch! A creative mind’s life isn’t an easy one.

  17. Jennifer (JCA Page) says:

    Thank-you Beth for sharing…you are an inspiration! Even though I have changed my profession….I still believe and leave myself open to those seeking. My best friend Diane has been diagnosed with depression.( Even though I have several years helping women and children as a counsellor). I am having a difficult time, first accepting the diagnosis and also the medication prescribed without a complete psychological assessment; diet/allergy test(s); menopausal symptoms; gamer symptoms, since Diane plays almost daily; etc. I pray/scream for a medical system that includes a complete examination for any person exhibiting symptoms.

    To our journeys walking as one,

    • bethtrissel says:

      Thanks Jennifer. I don’t think gaming falls under the positive ‘find what it is you most want to do and give yourself permission to do it.’ I hadn’t thought about someone going that route.

      • Masha says:

        No indeed. While it can be very relaxing in a weekend-away kinds of fashion, it can also suck you in and wring you dry. It’s not a productive “find what it is you most want to do and give yourself permission to do it” and productive should be the key, IMHO. Even if it’s fixing a nice dinner every night and baking cupcakes. Darn, but having a varied and tasty menu requires creativity and effort! Anyone wants to take over my kitchen? Good skills and patience required.

  18. I think I’ve never been successful at saying yes to my own wants because I’ve never learned to say no to everyone else s.

  19. Calisa Rhose says:

    She sounds like a wise woman, indeed, Beth. My stereotypical therapist, however, was not. He asked “Why do you hate your mother?” when I was sent to resolve my depression issues at 17 yrs old. *Sigh* I hit the jackpot with that guy! lol No, I didn’t hate my mother.

  20. Gerri Bowen says:

    Very good advice, Beth. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  21. Jennifer (JCA Page) says:

    So true! Perhaps it is an escape/comfort for her. Not sure. This has been great. Has opened up a few more ideas for my best friend with her recent diagnosis. Thank-you Beth and ladies!

  22. Pingback: Blog for heading into the weekend… « The Project: Me by Judy

  23. Pj Sanders says:

    we are all still children in our hearts and at times still need motherly comfort from some motherly one… to assure us that we are ok and we should find some creative outlet to distract and refresh us.

  24. Great advice Beth, and even better advice to the respondents! Its wonderful to have a published author let her hair down and show her human side. So many are just the name on the front of the book. You give so much of yourself to us!

  25. Linda Banche says:

    Good for you, Beth. Keep writing what you want. There are way too many me-too books out there. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are desperate for something different.

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