Anxiety in Young Adulthood: Working Through My ISH

Anxiety in Young Adulthood: Working Through My ISH (Photo: Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images )

In this episode of Adult ISH, co-host Nyge Turner shares the story of his months of unexplained symptoms and how he finally got help from a psych department. Then he channels his inner Steve Harvey and shows co-host Merk Nguyen and their senior producer Davey Kim that the journey to finding a therapist is surprisingly a lot like dating apps! Be sure to follow all our socials at @yrAdultISH.

Scroll to the bottom for the full transcript of the episode.

Outrunning Anxiety

“I know I’m here because I don’t feel like myself and no one understands. But I don’t say any of that out loud.”
(Photo: mikroman6/Getty Images)

Before coming to work as a host on Adult ISH, Nyge went through his most intense bout with mental health to date. He tells the story of the bumpy road that led him to seek help, and breaks down how when help arrived, it wasn’t at all what he was expecting.

Therapy Tinder

“Basically the process of finding a therapist sucks. So we’re here to just make it a little bit more fun!”
(Photo: greyj/iStock via Getty Images)

This special segment has prospective therapy clients “swipe” to match with one of three potential therapists including Luis Resendez (CA), Shaysha “Shay” Villa (IL) and Amanda Garcia Torres (NY)! Inspired by “The Dating Game” plus a conversation in Season 2 with Latinx Therapy’s Adriana Alejandre.

Episode Transcript

Nyge: Do you feel like you have had more mental breakdowns as a kid or an adult? 

Merk: Wow! That’s a big question. (laughs)

Nyge: That’s what I’m here for. (laughs)

Merk: I can tell. As a kid — You know I cry all the time. But when I cried when I was younger, it’d be because “Oh, my sister is tickling me! Hahaha! Stop it!” But, as an adult, this is so sad. I make myself cry more. I struggle with self doubt and “Am I good enough?” I ask myself that all the time.

Nyge: Can you give us an example?

Merk: Recently, I was building furniture. I was building a shelf! And I was excited ‘cause I’m like, “I’m good enough for me!”

Nyge: That’s what you said to yourself as you were hammering? (laughs)

Merk: Internally, yeah! I felt badass! And then I hear this voice from under me that was like “Oh my gosh, stop! Blah blah blah!” 

Nyge: What time were you doing it?

Merk: Like 10:30? So then I hear them, then I stopped because I felt bad that I disrupted [their] sleep but at the same time I’m like, “No! I wanted to build this shelf for me. I want to people-please me. Why do you need to be upset? It’s 10:30.”

Nyge: I’d be low-key hot too. If you was hammering at 10:30 in the morning, and maybe it was my off day and I was tryna sleep in? I’d be like, “Yo! Stop!”

Merk: See? That kind of thing. I was thinking, “Oh, they’re mad at me for those reasons,” and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. So I stayed in bed for half an hour and was upset. I waited until the afternoon for people like you who don’t wake up early.

Nyge: Yeah, I understand. 

Merk: Thank you. What about you? How would you answer the question? 

Nyge: At this point of my life, I was a kid for a long time compared to how long I’ve been an adult. (laughs) So, I guess kid wins by default. But I don’t know. I’m low-key making a run for this mental breakdown record. 

Merk: (laughs) You got Guinness on the phone?

Nyge: Yeah. We’re definitely in close contact. We’re just like figuring out the logistics of how we’re going to measure it. But there will be a plaque on my wall pretty soon. Welcome everyone to Adult ISH produced by YR Media. A show where we basically have mental breakdowns, yell at our neighbors and talk about my personal favorite topic, mental health. I’m Nyge.

Merk: And I’m Merk. Nyge and I are both open when it comes to talking about our adulting issues because that’s basically our whole show, but it’s when the mics are off that there’s even more that we struggle with daily. Whether it’s self-doubt, people-pleasing like me, anxiety, depression, all that. 

Nyge: But it’s really not always stuff that’s in your control. You know what I mean? It’s racism, sexism, and basically anything that’s an attack on who I am. 

Merk: Yeah.

Nyge: So last season we talked to people like Demetrius Harmon, and y’all said that y’all related to all those types of struggles with mental health and basically just finding yourself. So, we decided to bring it back with this episode. Working Through My ISH.

Merk: And we are going to have a surprise segment for y’all, and our boss Davey … it’s inspired by a kinky thought that we had in season two: What would happen if therapy had a baby with Tinder? 

Nyge: Yuck!

Merk: I know, I know. But real quick, here’s a clip I found of Davey where he’s tryna be super cool and act like the master of dating apps, which he’s not.

[Teaser Audio] 

Davey: So on Tinder, if I remember correctly, it has been a while but I think you can undo, if you pay for the premium. I never got the premium. Or maybe shake it?

Nyge: Why is Davey in there tryna act like he didn’t pay for the premium? Jawsin! (laughs) Also, I had to Google the undo shaking thing. He was talking about a different dating app. He was talking about Bumble.

Merk: Oh yeah, all my friends are on that! 

Nyge: Yeah but we’re not talking about Davey’s love life here. That’s all for another episode called Bossy ISH. But you will want to listen to this if you have been to or are thinking about going to therapy.

Merk: But right now my bro-host is gonna kick off the show by telling us a story about his very first mental health breakdown. Nyge, we are all ears.

Nyge: Alright, well um … I’m crazy!

Merk & Nyge: (laughs)

[Episode Break]

Nyge: I’m on a run on my local gym’s treadmill, closing in on mile two. This is the part of the run when I feel a bit of cramping. Then there is that slight metallic taste of blood in the back of the mouth. But that’s okay, that’s how it usually is for me. I’ve been running four miles, four times a week since my early teens. So I’m expecting to break into my second wind, that runner’s high. But it doesn’t come. Instead, my heart starts to run out of air. Outside the window, I see a cop car parked out in the front. So, I pull the stop lever on the treadmill and rush out and throw my body on the hood of his car, begging for help. 

The officer yells, “ What is going on?” 

“My heart is beating off rhythm, and it hurts like crazy every time it beats!” 

While we wait for the paramedics to arrive, the cop says, “Hey, I’m not gonna lie to you this is pretty cool, right?” 

“What’s pretty cool?” 

He says, “This. I don’t usually get the opportunity to be the good guy. I’m really glad you even thought to come to me for help.”

“Uh, alright.” 

The paramedics arrive. They rip my shirt open and  hook me up to an EKG in the middle of the street. After 20 minutes of running tests they say, “Nothing is wrong.” For the next year, I go to the hospital about twice a month. Every test comes back saying I’m perfectly fine, which should be good news. Right? But after a while I want someone to tell me something is wrong because my own body feels off to me. My doctor’s questions change from, “What’s wrong?” to “What’s the problem now?” to “Oh, you again.” Then my friends went from: “I hope you feel better” to ”Oh, Nyge not coming out tonight ‘cause you know he got sickle cell.” I start to feel ashamed for not knowing what’s wrong with me. Then angry. Weak. 

My treatment plan shifts from more tests to antidepressants to anxiety meds because it’s all in my mind they say. But it feels real physical to me. With each new symptom, I feel less and less like myself and my world starts to cave in. The first place my mind chooses to cancel is school. I’m sitting in my creative writing class, I take a deep breath in. Then this weight lands on the center of my chest. I can barely breathe. The only way I can inhale and exhale is if I really really focus. Breathe in, breathe out…

The next day, wherever I look, my vision gets blurry. It’s like I can see, but for some reason I can’t get my eyes to focus on anything. The following week, my legs feel like they can’t support my body anymore and that’s it. I drop out of school. This happens at the gym. The movies. My friend’s house. My front porch. The doctor diagnoses me with severe vertigo. I’m told that I need to stay in bed until I feel better. I hate it. I’m a social person. My mom always told me that that was my superpower. But now I’m powerless.

My girlfriend tells me, ”What about therapy?” 

“Therapy? You think I’m crazy? That I’m that weak?”

I shut down any conversation about therapy for four months. Then she says that if I won’t make the appointment, then she will. So the next thing you know, I find myself at the psychiatric department.

The receptionist greets me, “Last name?” 

“Umm … Turner.” 

The nurse takes my medical record number and tells me to sit down in the waiting room. But then I hear another patient sitting in the chair behind me, having a full blown conversation, talking to no one but herself. Not gonna lie, this is one of the scariest moments of my life. Not because this is the first time I’m seeing someone talk to themselves or because of the distant screams down the hallway. I mean, this psychiatric department is actually really nice. What scares me is the feeling that I have no idea what my body could start doing out of the blue one day. How out of the driver’s seat I really am.

“Nygel Turner?”

There is an older white man calling my name. I don’t know what it is about him, but something tells me he has been where I am. It could’ve been because he brings me into his office and literally starts the session off with, “Hey man, I’ve been where you are.” But then he asks, “But why are you here?” At this point, I’m not sure. At first, I thought something was wrong with my heart, then my head. I know I’m here because I don’t feel like myself and no one understands. But I don’t say any of that out loud though. So I decide to start telling him about my experience at the gym, but he interrupts me.

“Get up! We are going on a walk.”

I stand up and follow with him in silence through the building until we reach two more double doors. He says, “I want you to go through these doors and walk outside. Then identify in your mind, all five of your senses. Tell me what you smell, hear, see, feel and tell me what you can taste at the moment.” 

Fine. Whatever. Nothing else has worked, so let’s go for a walk.

I walk through the double doors and as this breeze hits me, I feel like busting out into tears. I came in here trying to be optimistic, but now they got me out in some random garden. I’m so done with hurting. I’m so done with trying. I start to talk to myself.  

“Stay with this baby, we gotta try something.”

So, I slow my breathing. 

“Think! What did he say? Five senses, right? Okay, what do I smell? And let’s be specific … That’s too many different smells! No stay in this moment. Pick just one.” 

(Nyge smells the air)

Nyge: “Honestly, it smells like poop! So it must be the fertilizer. Inhale, exhale. Huh…” For the first time in over a year, I kinda feel present. I’m right here, right now in the garden. I’m back in my body. 

Nothing has been the same since the day I willingly threw myself onto a cop car. But about a thousand walks in the garden and a year’s worth of therapy later, I’m back at my local gym. I walk up to my favorite treadmill and just stare at it for a minute. Then I hop on and start running. I feel good. I start to sweat a little bit. Right after the one mile mark, I start to cramp. Hello cramps, I do not miss you. Then I get this off taste in my mouth. It tastes a bit metallic? Then my heart starts beating off rhythm and that weight returns to my chest and every nerve in my body tells me to get off now

So, I stare at the stop lever. I’m scared out of my mind but I start to focus on the wind breezing past my face from the little treadmill fan. Then I hear the horrible radio music all gyms play. As for smell: easy, my deodorant. It’s working overtime right now. And I feel like crying. So I cry. And at that moment the air starts to taste a little sweeter. And I see … hmm, I know this is cheating — using sight as a metaphor — but I see that I’m not broken, that I can be in control. Even in this moment, part of me knows, there will be more panic attacks in the future. But for now, I reach out and bump up the speed. 

[Episode Break]

Merk: Thanks for sharing that story with us, Nyge.

Nyge: Yup, no problem.

Merk: So it seems like your therapist at first didn’t really want to talk about why you were feeling the way that you were. He just went straight into those mindfulness exercises. Do you have any insight, now that time has passed, as to why he started you out that way?

Nyge: I think it was because he wanted to bring me into the moment. He could see that I really wasn’t present and that I’ve been through this so many times that I was giving him the runaround. So, I think we wanted to bring me back into my body so we could have a deeper conversation of me actually in the moment with him. And it’s not like i just went to therapy, saw him and he was like, ‘Yo! Do these five senses,” and it cured everything in my life. (laughs) There’s years of therapy behind that. That was just the first session. 

Merk: Your girlfriend is the one who signed you up for therapy. So, shoutout to Brandi…

Nyge: Shoutouts.

Merk: Have you passed the torch and suggested professional help to anyone you’re close to that needs it?

Nyge: Oh for sure! I’m the therapy king of like, “Ay you should go see somebody about that.” I’ve recommended therapy to you! What do you mean? (laughs) Now that I think about it … what? We’ve had this conversation.

Merk: You should get a referral code for that.

Nyge: I should.

Merk: And what have their responses been to that?

Nyge: Um, yeah. I don’t know. You were pretty cool about it.

Merk: (laughs) Hey!

Nyge: (laughs) Everybody is usually pretty cool about it. I think when you’ve gone through it, it kind of takes the stigma out of it. Like if I tell you, “You should go to therapy,” you know I’m not saying anything about you ‘cause you know I’ve been there before. So, everybody’s usually pretty cool about it.

Merk: You become the doctor who’s like, “Hey, I know where you’ve been.”

Nyge: Exactly. That’s how you start it off. (laughs)

Merk: Yeah, I mean I know I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate my own mental health. And honestly, it’s just a matter of me taking your advice, getting off my butt and seeking help but … ah, I’m still hesitant.

Nyge: Well it’s like that for me too. I mean, I had a period of time in my life where I was going hard for my mental health. I was putting in all the work that I have but when stuff really starts working out for you, you kinda lax off of it. So I’m not as active on all the things that I used to do. So, I need to get back on it too. That’s how it is with all of this. But hopefully in this next segment you’ll get to do that young Merky Merk! Sort of. Kind of. (laughs)

Merk: Yeah! Let’s do it. I’m excited.

Nyge: Fasho.

[Episode Break]

Nyge: I don’t know how many of you remember this moment from season two, but take a listen.

(record scratch)

Merk: How similar to dating, would you say therapy is? Because like right now, I’m just imagining Davey [our boss] being like, “So do you like long walks on the beach? Like in my mind? Because that’s where you’re gonna be.” 

Nyge: It is like a speed dating type of vibe.

Therapist: I guess so. I’ve honestly contemplated on creating like a Tinder-like app, but to find a therapist. 

Nyge: That’d be dope though!

Nyge: Y’all thought we were kidding huh? Cue the game show music!

(game show music)

Nyge: Original idea brought to you by therapist Adriana Alejandre of Latinx Therapy. We would like to welcome everybody to a show where we find someone who needs professional mental health help and match them to their dream therapist. You’re listening to none other than “Therapy Tinder!” It’s ya boy, Nyge. Basically the process of finding a therapist sucks. So we’re here to just make it a little bit more fun. So with us, we have three therapists and two contestants competing to get a therapist that can handle their ISH. 

Merk: Are we really competing though?

Nyge: I don’t know. Maybe one of y’all might not find an actual therapist. So yes … but nobody cued you yet! Before we bring out our contestants, let’s have the therapist introduce themselves.

Shay: Hi. I am Shaysa Villa. I usually go by Shay and I practice in Chicago, Illinois. 

Nyge: So Shay starts off her sessions by doing a verbal background check on your whole life. She asks about your family, education, career, relationships and all of that stuff. Then she analyzes the patterns about how you talk about yourself and comes up with a treatment plan. 

Davey: It sounds like she’s writing a memoir for you in a way and analyzing it, which I’m into. 

Nyge: It’s like low-key method acting. 

Everyone: (laughs)

Nyge: Then we have Luis. 

Luis: Hello, this is Luis Resendez from Upland, California.

Nyge: Luis has a three-phase process for his clients: the assessment, the intervention, and the conclusion phases. Sounds kind of like the scientific method that you’ve learned as a kid in elementary school. And he hopes that one day, after working together, that you’ll get to the point where you can be therapy-free. Now, our third therapist. 

Amanda: Hey y’all. This is Amanda Garcia Torres from New York City. 

Nyge: Lastly, Amanda is a Chairwork psychotherapist. Psychotherapy is basically a fancy term for talk therapy. And Chairwork is a technique that surprise, surprise, involves actual chairs. And you, the client, sit in said chair and embody your anxiety while Amanda asks you all these questions as your anxiety about, you know, why you’re being all anxiety and stuff like that. Like why are you being so pushy and why are you always poppin’ up out of nowhere? 

Davey: Were you looking at me when you said that?

Nyge: We’re talking about your anxiety. This is not … I am sitting in a chair.

Davey: It’s ‘cause you didn’t turn in your timesheet on time, Nyge!

Merk: Ooh! Ouch!

Nyge: See, this is not about me. This is about you. So those are therapists. Thank you so much for being here. Now let’s bring out our contestants. Coming from LA, it’s Merk Nguyen! 

Merk: Actually, it’s Angela. But professionally, I do go by Merk. 

Nyge: Uh, alright. So we’re gonna go ahead and call you Merkgela. Merkgela, why are you here today? 

Merk: Well, I think that I let my family’s identity take over my identity. So there’s a lot of mind cluckin’ going on in my head. I kind of don’t know who I am sometimes. So like even asking, “What is your name?” It’s kind of hard to say sometimes. 

Nyge: Man, you should like, seek some help. Wait, that’s why you’re here! (laughs) You are in the right place, Merkgela. We also have contestant number dos. You’ve heard his name in our show very often and we hear his voice very often as well. He’s our senior producer, Davey Kim! How’s your mental health today, David? 

Davey: (laughs) It was gonna be a seven until you called me David. But now it’s a rising six. 

Nyge: All righty. Well, that’s why you’re here, because we gotta get you to that seven.

Merk: Or eight!

Nyge: Oh yeah, high hopes! Have you ever been on Tinder, Davey?

Davey: Yes. A couple iPhones ago I was definitely on Tinder. Have you been on Tinder? 

Nyge: This is not about me. I am the host!

Davey: Do you know how it works?

Nyge: No, but I’m about to learn today. So what we’re gonna do is we’re going to get a better idea on what kind of therapist will work best for you and young Merkgela. And by the way, everyone, both Merkgela and Davey are actually planning on seeking real life therapy soon. (pauses) Umm … next line! Cue cards please! (laughs) Alright, great. So here’s how this is gonna work. You’ll ask each of our three therapists the same three questions and hear all their responses. You’re going to indicate whether or not you like their responses with a verbal swipe to the right, indicating that you do like their answer, or nah by swiping to the left on that therapist ‘cause you’re like, not that into them. Anyways, this is a chance for you to get to know the different approaches that some therapists might have. It’s a lot like dating, which is why this is called “Therapy Tinder.” So let’s get started, shall we? 

Merk: Yes, after that beautiful jingle. Sure.

Davey: (laughs) Yeah, let’s do it!

Nyge: So, Davey, why don’t you take it away by starting to ask them some questions? 

Davey: Okay. A question that I was curious about was how do each of these therapists set up counseling goals?

Nyge: Good question! Therapists, how do you answer to young Diggity Davey?

Shay: At Roamers Therapy, I set up therapy goals by utilizing a treatment plan, which is essentially a blueprint of how we’re going to approach some of the symptoms that are interfering with an individual’s life. We also identify other supports and also barriers throughout this process. So not only during the treatment planning phase, I am providing impressions. I am also working with the individual to develop goals and identify possible barriers or supports. 

Nyge: Thank you, Shay. Now let’s hear from Luis.

Luis: During the first phase of therapy assessment, I sit down with the client and explore what they wish to address specifically in their time with me. This can be anything from managing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression to exploring historical traumas. I write treatment goals that are tailor fitted to the client’s needs. I try not to take a cookie-cutter approach where the goals I’m working on with one client are going to be utilized with another client. I really hone in on respecting the individuality of each and every client I see.

Nyge: Luis makes a compelling argument. Now let’s hear from Amanda.

Amanda: Using information I learn in my initial sessions and what my client says they want to work on, together we talk and we agree on a few clear goals for therapy. If I think any of the goals are unrealistic, like they say, “I want to be happy,” I’ll work with them to further define what they mean by a statement like that. Then we find a goal that is realistic and attainable for them. I let clients know that their goals might change depending on how the work’s going and new stuff that emerges. And if I feel that things are getting fuzzy along the way and our work has been getting off course, I’ll let my client know and we revisit their goals. 

Nyge: So since you started off with the question, Davey, whose response spoke to you? 

Davey: What I found interesting was I think Shay mentioned that she had a blueprint for a treatment plan, whereas Luis and Amanda, they wanted to identify individual needs. It sounded like there is a little bit more attention to detail to like your self/individual needs. And I feel like, for myself, and I mentioned earlier, I’m literally this week talking to four different therapists for a free 20 minute consultation plan … I have very specific things that I want to work on, like anxiety, stress, also family stuff. And I feel like Amanda and Luis might be better just based on this first question. So that’s me. What about you, Merk? 

Merk: Well, I know that I’m a goal-oriented person, so it stuck out to me when Shay and Amanda both mentioned that. I did appreciate how Luis was like, “I don’t take a cookie-cutter approach.” I feel like that’s really real and I appreciate that. But I think something that stuck out to me was Amanda’s word choice. Again, this also being the first time I’m hearing their voices. She said the word “fuzzy” and I don’t know. That’s such a small detail. But also, I think that talking with someone who uses the same kind of vocab or same inflections and intonations will just make me, when I talk to them, it’ll be like, “Oh, it’s like we’re already talking the same way. It’s like we already know each other.” And that level of comfortability and familiarity I think is good. Still gonna go with Shay’s answer but…

Davey: So you felt more comfortable with Amanda’s vibe?

Merk: Yeah, she’s my vibe. 

Davey: I actually felt like Luis and Amanda’s response[s] were more … I felt better about those, but I actually appreciated Shay’s vibe the most. I felt like that one was a little bit more warm to me. Luis seemed very practical and straightforward and so did Amanda. But in terms of just like warmth, I think I got that from Shay. 

Nyge: Interesting. So the content of what they said, or like their actual method was kind of equally rivaled by vibe.

Merk: Now I’m wondering, should I change my answer to Amanda? ‘Cause like… 

Davey: No, you already swiped! 

Everyone: (laughs)

Davey: I didn’t swipe, though. So I think I’m swiping right on Shay. It’s like one of those risky swipes where you don’t know, but maybe in the conversation to follow, you might know. 

Nyge: Merk, what are you swiping on Shay?

Merk: I’m swiping right on — Wait, you said I already swiped, though! So can I change my answer?

Davey: So on Tinder, if I remember correctly — it has been a while — but I think you can undo if you pay for the premium, or like shake it? I’m not sure. 

Merk: Shake it? You shake your phone? 

Nyge: Let’s just pretend like you didn’t swipe yet.

Merk: What is this, an Etch A Sketch?

Nyge: How do you swipe?

Merk: I’m going to swipe right on Amansa. Let’s fuzzy it up. 

Nyge: Amansa?

Davey: Amansa?

Nyge: Who is Amansa? (laughs) 

Merk: Did I say Amansa? AmanDA!

Nyge: On Amanda, you’re swiping right?

Merk: Swiping right.

Nyge: Sounds good. Well, let’s keep this thing going. Davey, you got another question for them?

Davey: So I’ve yet to be in a one-on-one therapy session, but something that came up when I was thinking about the Chairwork. If I was in that chair, I imagine I’d be really — I imagine that a lot of thoughts and emotions come up. So what I’m curious is, how would the therapist support me as a client in the event that I actually feel worse after a session?

Nyge: Therapists? Respond!

Shay: It’s a big understanding that therapy does bring up a lot. And at times we are feeling overwhelmed with all that we might need to process and kind of work towards improving. But I think a trauma-informed approach does manage this where we are doing pacing and we are developing a treatment plan that focuses on certain specific things at first. Then we might edit that or formulate a different phase of therapy. So, I think that does really provide comfort to clients that, you know, this is more of a somewhat long-term process that can be up to a year or two. 

Nyge: And now let’s hear from Luis.

Luis: I often compare the process of therapy to pulling out a splinter that’s stuck in your finger. So it’s lodged there and it stings and it hurts, but you gotta do something about it. So pulling it out hurts and stings, but after doing so, you start to feel better as time passes. I also remind clients too that no growth comes from comfort zones, but in at least being able to process trauma and discuss things like anxiety and/or depression in a safe place, they’ve taken major steps to move forward and live healthy and productive lives.

Nyge: I don’t know. I like Luis’ answer!

Davey: Yeah, me too, but I’m gonna hold my swipe. 

Nyge: All righty, let’s hear from Amanda.

Amanda: I’m a big advocate for providing clients with tools so that their lives and relationships are protected while they’re working on the hard stuff with me in therapy. I check in with clients about whether or not they’re actually practicing the self-care and self-comfort strategies and tools that we built and worked on before we got into the heavy stuff. I might add in some extra self-compassion work or safe space imagery work in our sessions. 

Nyge: I like the splinter analogy.

Davey: Yeah, that was a good one.

Nyge: Merk, who made you feel the most supported in this scenario?

Merk: Even though it was visually painful, I would say Master Splinter aka Luis because I really liked when he said, “No growth comes from comfort zones.” A lot of my life I’ve been sugar-coated the truth. You know, being the youngest, people are like, “Oh, you don’t need to know this, you’re the baby.” But, even though it was meant to protect me, it actually hurt me. So yeah, swiping right on Luis. 

Nyge: That’s very Uncle Ben Spider-Man vibes coming from Luis. I’m liking it.

Merk: Yeah, Uncle Luis.

Nyge: Davey, how about you let us know which way you are going to swipe?

Davey: I think I’m gonna swipe right on Amanda this time. I didn’t think I was gonna swipe right on her earlier just from vibes. But I’m really into the idea again of self-compassion, work and safe self-care, and the sweet chair that I bet she has.

Everyone: (laughs)

Nyge: Merk, how about you hit them with the last question?

Merk: Alright. So we’re all talking about vibes anyway and I wanted to know what kind of characteristics do clients have that make them a better fit to meet you as a therapist? 

Shay: Some of the characteristics that clients have that make them a best fit for Roamers Therapy are clients that are highly motivated about therapy, even if they haven’t been to therapy before. So they kind of buy into the therapy process and they’re very ready to explore how maybe their race and ethnicity impacts them. Also how maybe some intergenerational trauma or history of events have impacted their daily life and are seeking to be more self-aware and self-actualized. 

Nyge: Alright now, Luis?

Luis: The client that makes the best fit for me is someone who is invested and dedicated to the process of change during therapy. Someone who’s going to be patient with that process, which can be a little tedious, a little frustrating at times. But, nevertheless, someone who is invested in their overall growth. I make this a point in addressing during my initial session with the client, because many times clients come in and expect to be “cured or healed” after two or three sessions of therapy. So I’m constantly reminding them that it’s all about the process. Be patient. Communicate with me and then we will take this as far as we need to take it. 

Nyge: Alright. Now, Amanda?

Amanda: I vibe really well with clients who are open to working hard and who understand that the work is messy, challenging and can be very uncomfortable at times. I take therapy work very seriously, so I don’t hesitate to call someone out if I think they’re not taking full responsibility for their life and for their progress. All my clients know that I am not down for foolery or flakiness. It also really helps if my clients enjoy laughing and are down to deal with all of my constant pop culture references and corny jokes. I do a lot of trauma-focused work, so it’s really great when clients can appreciate that sometimes we just got to laugh at silly things in order to balance the darkness. 

Nyge: Aw man, Merkgela.

Everyone: (laughs)

Merk: I think you guys know how I’m gonna respond to this! 

Nyge: I think someone really spoke to Merkgela there. 

Merk: (laughs) Well, first I want to say that something that really stuck out to me was in Shay’s response [she] mentioned being self-actualized and exploring your identities. I am second gen Asian-American, but Vietnamese-American. And I think that I do have intergenerational war trauma from my parents and what they faced in the Vietnam War. I get shaky talking about it. So I appreciated that. But, yo — Amanda is so my vibe! With the corny jokes and the pop culture references. This is where, when Luis said, “Growth doesn’t come from comfortable spaces.” The thing is … I’m sure that is true, but I kind of want to believe that in some parts of it, the opposite is true because I feel so much comfort with Amanda already. 

Nyge: But are you truly pushing yourself if you stick with what you know?

Merk: Well, she said she was going to call me out on my BS! So, yeah. She said she’s not down with foolery. So yeah, I think she’d be able to call me out ‘cause again, I’m looking for that. 

Davey: I’m going to jump on what you just said. I was really digging Amanda when she said she’ll call you out if she doesn’t think that you’re taking full responsibility for your life. But when she started talking about pop culture and corny jokes, that’s when I was out.

Everyone: (laughs)

Merk: That’s what drew me in!

Davey: Yeah, y’all know me. That’s not my preferred type of humor. Having said that, I still do appreciate that she said she’ll call you out. I think we really need that in therapy as well. We need some tough love. 

Nyge: Davey, who you swiping right on?

Davey: So for me, Shay and Luis both speak out to me pretty similarly. But I also know that Luis shares the same gender identity as I do. I feel like that does definitely play into my life in terms of the way I approach things at work, my family and my social life. So I feel like for that reason, he takes a tiny bit of an edge. So imma swipe right on Luis. 

Nyge: Ay, alright! Well now I need some like, suspenseful… Cue suspense music! Now! 

(suspenseful music)

Nyge: Well, now we have gotten to the part of the show where we are going to do something called the Super Swipe … (voice fading) Super Swipe … (voice fading) Super Swipe.

Everyone: (laughs)

Nyge: So, Merk… 

Merk: Yes?

Nyge: We will now ask you who you will Super Swipe right on.

Davey: It’s Super Swipe up.

Nyge: Oh, Super Swipe… (clears throat)

Merk: So clearly, you’re on Tinder.

Nyge: Well now, Merkgela. Who will you swipe up on? 

Merk: All the therapists are great. But I think it’s pretty clear, with y’all who know me and just me knowing me, that Amanda — she’s it. I mean, Chairwork? That sounds like such an experiential part of, like a new way of therapy I have never heard about before. It’ll bring me back to my high school theater days, but also just the positivity and the fun, and the real ISH that she will give. I’m Super Swiping up on Amanda. 

Nyge: Oh! Merk got paired with a therapist! (laughs) Congratulations! Woo!

Davey: Dang, Merk. Shoot…

Nyge: Alright, Davey, we will now ask you who you will Super Swipe up on. 

Davey: I am gonna have to go… 

Nyge: Commercial break!

Everyone: (laughs)

Davey: Very nice! Let’s think about this. I’m gonna have to go with Shay, but I would ask Shay if we could do some of that Chairwork stuff too, because I’m really intrigued. I’m gonna have to Google this when I get home. 

Nyge: Alright, well it looks like you guys got your matches! I’m so proud of you two! 

Merk & Davey: Yay!

Nyge: What a beautiful journey! Congrats! Just remember, everyone, therapy is not one size fits all. And yes, “Therapy Tinder” is just a small taste of what actual real-life therapy is like. But when you’re actually doing your real-life “Therapy Tinder” journey and talking to all these therapists, take some of these questions and ask them in your free one-on-one consultations and maybe it’ll help you pick the right one. Find more on each of our therapists that we had today on our game show on our website at I’m Nyge and thanks for joining “Therapy Tinder.” 

[Music Break]

Merk: We wanna wish you all the best on your mental health journeys because that’s what we do here at Adult ISH, a show produced by YR Media — a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation. 

Nyge: Huge thank yous to the people who made all of this possible: our Senior Producer Davey Kim, engineers Cari Campbell and Galnadgee Joe-Johnson, Executive Producer Rebecca Martin, Lissa Soep for editing assistance on my story, Adan Barrera for transcribing all our web and social content and all the talented young people at YR responsible for the art and music of this episode.

Merk: Please, please please go to our website to find info on the therapists we mentioned earlier. Another place you can go to for help is There you can find a therapist in your area, pay a low one-time fee and from there, have sessions of your own that range from, you know, $30 to $60 which is a lot cheaper than most places. 

Nyge: And rate our show with five stars! I’m not asking you, I’m telling you, and follow us on all the socials at @YRadultISH. If you want to follow Merk, she is at @ultraraduberfad.

Merk: And my brother from another mother, Nyge, is on twitter @nygelt.

Nyge: Aye, Nygelt! We’re also proud to be members of Radiotopia by PRX. An independent listener-supported collective of some of the most swipe right-able shows in all of podcasting. Check them out at And remember as Merk’s favorite Seattle athlete Marshawn Lynch said… 

Merk: Uh, it’s definitely not Marshawn. It’s actually Dee Gordon from the Seattle Mariners. Get it right, man! 

Nyge: Well, as MY favorite Seattle athlete said, “Take care of your chicken and your mentals!” And on that note, we out!

Merk: Bye!

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