There are various fees associated with the site's many types of e-therapy—"Email Consultation," "Email Therapy," "Private Therapy," and "One-on-one Counseling," to name a few. The "Depression" section of My Therapy Couch is the second most popular, with 481 threads.Trying to jump in and get going with some feedback, I post about being new to the boards. I check on the post again after 24 more hours, but still no one's replied.By entering the chat, you understand that Blah Therapy is not liable for any advice given."The first time I try to vent, to a "listener" called "Large-Capacity Mountain," I find it awkward—I can't tell if he/she/it is waiting for me to start, or if I should wait for an introduction, or what.After I post a brief monologue about feeling isolated, I can see that my new buddy is typing a response, but then my Internet connection drops off before I can catch a reply.I return a few days later, and finally I have a successful chat session with a member named "Special-Reward." I discover, after blabbing—again—about feeling isolated post-move, that my new friend is female, and all of 19. When I express frustration about not having tons of friends in my hometown, she commiserates, "I'm really shy too.She says she's been frequenting the site for about a week because participating in the chats, as both a listener and a venter, helps her. But I think if you just push yourself a little bit to find people with similar interests, it will be beneficial." She also suggests a couple sites where I might find likeminded people (and not4dating).
It's weirdly gratifying each time I get an email notification alerting me to Regina's replies, and there is something freeing about anonymously spilling my guts with no sense of concern about how I "look" to the other person.Frankly, all those aforementioned deep-seated issues are still very much alive and kicking, therapy be damned.So when I heard about free "Internet therapy" websites, I was curious.I keep getting sucked into sketchy, go-nowhere maybe-relationships. "Again, I wait for the helpful and compassionate responses to roll in. It's pretty unique in its approach—in addition to offering the "completely anonymous" services of a real therapist for ("No therapist will know who you are—no one close to you will know you're getting therapy"), the site has a "venting/listening" private chat function that pairs up anonymous strangers who want to vent with strangers who want to listen. Because, as the site explains, "sharing and connecting with other strangers who are going through a struggles just like you [sic] provides great consolation to anyone in need of healing or a friend."I'm eager to try the anonymous venting thing, because spilling my secrets to some rando who gets off on "listening" sounds, admittedly, awesome.Before jumping in, I must confront a slightly scary disclaimer: "Venting to a stranger can be incredibly dangerous if you are at a very mentally sensitive state.When she asks my age, however, I balk—it seems like Blah Therapy might be aimed at far younger folks than me.Overall, my experiences on the sites were intriguing but not mind-blowing—none of the free forums felt equipped to help me dive into real issues.THE RESOLUTION (OR LACK THEREOF)I end up chatting with "Special-Reward" about Life Stuff—our jobs, the site, the few "creeps" she's encountered there—for about 45 minutes.While my new, Colorado-based buddy is certainly no therapist, it feels sweet and genuine, making a connection with a stranger like this.The site also includes free therapist-run forums where users can air their mental-health challenges; a therapist will respond to up to 5 posts per user before charging a fee. In the "How to Manage Stress and Depression" forum, I spill out a paragraph about how Fear of Missing Out and social comparison are making me miserable (hey, it's true). It does sound like you are struggling with your own self-value. "I write back that I have no "reasons" to doubt myself—instead I've got an exciting smorgasbord of your average everyday depressive tendencies and low self-esteem, yippee!I write, "I constantly compare myself to other women—not just women I know, but friends of friends, famous people, etc." before acknowledging that my life is fine overall, save for my obsessive quest to "constantly think about how little I have in comparison to some friends and acquaintances (especially when it comes to my love life)."A therapist named Regina M. "It is so difficult to be a woman in our culture these days," she writes. I explain that I've been in therapy for years and have tried a zillion types of treatment.