Confessions

CAPS Confessions

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It is clear that the CAPS program needs more attention from the larger administration. The only way we can prove to the University that this is a real problem is if we all come together and share our stories. Share your story below in order to make sure Stanford addresses Mental Health concerns.

**Confession 1: My story (Anonymous) **

A couple of years ago, I was going through a difficult time at Stanford. I was extremely depressed and was forced to spend a couple of days in Stanford Hospital on suicide watch. I am better now, no thanks to Stanford. First, throughout the rest of the year, I heard nothing from my RFs. Not even a nod when I re entered my dorm. In fact, I distinctly remember walking past one of my RFs and she looked away from me, as if she was embarrassed someone in her dorm was having mental issues. Second, in a meeting with the, Residence Dean, cursory inquires about my health soon gave way to veiled questions about whether I blamed Stanford for what happened. I was advised to not share my story so “people wouldn’t have the wrong impression of things around here”. Finally, I went to CAPS. The process began with a “triage call” where I spoke for a little bit with a counselor. They suggested it was urgent I come in so I went online to find an appointment. The rest of the week-no availability. The week after-one appointment available during my midterm. Week 3: I put my name down, knowing that I could power through almost a complete month on my own. During my brief 30 minute appointment, I was told near the beginning this arrangement was temporary- I could only see CAPS on a short term basis. This really set me off. I was kept waiting three weeks and then I had to go find another doctor outside of Stanford. After being sent to another doctor, I never heard from CAPS again.

**Confession 2: The Business Of Therapy (Anonymous) **

The thing about Therapy is that you’re talking about pretty personal stuff with someone that you hardly know. It’s an uncomfortable necessity, but one that CAPS compounds. For a school with an endowment fund larger than the GDP of the smallest 86 countries, it seems odd that Stanford sets a suggested limit to the amount of appointments you can have at their mental health services. Exacerbating this confounding situation is the fact that upon completion of the suggested quota, you’re encouraged to switch therapists and move off campus. Don’t fret though, Stanford has a list of therapists that cardinal care can cover or co-pay. Fantastic.

When I went to CAPS and was told this, I questioned why I would waste my time going to therapy at stanford when I would inevitably be asked to take my business elsewhere. I decided to shift immediately.

Confession 3: Delayed Help from the Unhelpful (Anonymous)

A traumatic event left me feeling near-physical pain everyday, insomnia every night, high anxiety, and constant thoughts about taking a quarter off of Stanford. If it were not for my strong relationships at Stanford, I probably would have gone through with it, or potentially worse. One morning I woke up and couldn’t take. I didn’t want to go to class or talk to anyone, and so I decided CAPS was the answer. Yet, analogous to my tests at the time, wrong answer. The phone call itself was terrible as they put me on hold for an unusual amount of time. They they followed by saying I wouldn’t be able to be seen for another two weeks. Two weeks? I NEED SOMEONE NOW! Just because I was not (thankfully) suicidal, doesn’t mean that I necessarily was comfortable enough to remain stable for the next couple weeks. I finally was seen, and it didn’t help much. If I needed someone to listen I could’ve asked a friend, or even a stranger. I needed someone to tell me what was wrong, what I could do, or if these feelings were normal – not to just listen. That didn’t come after the first session, or the second, or the third, or the fourth. I gave up, and fortunately persevered thanks to friends, family, and my personality in general. I can’t imagine what this experience would be like for someone who didn’t have such a strong support system like I have. A difficult school = high stress. high stress + a rich school SHOULD = great mental health support. Unfortunately it doesn’t, and it really needs to.

**Confession 4: What does it take? **(Anonymous) ****

I remember feeling distressed and needing someone to talk to. CAPS offers walk-in sessions, which I knew about, so I showed up and checked in with the front desk. “Someone will be with you shortly”.

Shortly turned out to be some 40 minutes of waiting. If I wasn’t so desperate, maybe I would have left.

Eventually, I get seen, we waste an eternity going through in unnecessary detail terms and conditions, “Do you understand? Let me explain anyway.” I know you need to protect yourself, but this is too much…

Finally, I get to explaining my situation, which is met with disinterest at best. “So… you’re not thinking of harming someone? Or harming yourself?” It didn’t take long to realize that she wasn’t interested in helping me if I wasn’t suicidal. I needed help. But I still had clarity of mind. I just wonder, what did I have to say to her to get even an iota of help?

I walked out with an hour and a half of my life down the drain. No problems solved, not feeling much better.

**Confession 5: Take the Cap off CAPS **(Anonymous) ****

I am a Junior and have been suffering from depression and anxiety since Winter Quarter Freshman year. When I first became depressed, I sought help at CAPS and began to meet with a therapist once a week. My therapist and I got along very well and I was beginning to feel happier with my life and less anxious thanks to reframing and behavioral mechanisms that she recommended. Then after one session, when we were booking an appointment for the next week, she said that it would have to be the last appointment, as CAPS has a limit or CAP on the number of sessions you can do. Apparently, unknowing to me, CAPS only does “short-term” therapy, with a limit of 5-6 sessions (therefore only 5-6 weeks).

I was very surprised and saddened to hear this and really wanted to stay with my current therapist but I didn’t really have any choice as this was CAPS policy. So, I got referred to a therapist in the psychiatry building over by the hospital and was to see him from now on (with no session limit).

This was the worst thing that could have happened. Not only did I have to bike all the way out to the hospital, but I was constantly getting tossed from therapist to therapist, as one was leaving or going on vacation or something or other. So, I would have to re-tell my story every single time to all of the therapists and never created a close connection with any of them.

I eventually stopped going and didn’t see a therapist for a while because I was so fed up with the Stanford system. Finally, in Spring quarter of Sophomore year, I sought out a private psychologist in Palo Alto who has discounted sessions for Stanford students. I am still seeing her to this day because there is no limit on sessions, as their should not be.

None of this would have happened if I could’ve stayed with my CAPS therapist.

The fact that there is a limit on the number of sessions you can have at CAPS is absolutely ridiculous. The majority of mental health issues and mental illnesses last much longer than 5-6 weeks and to think that somebody can suddenly be “fine” after that amount of time is ignorant.

Take the cap off of CAPS because mental health and mental illness is not a “short-term” problem, it’s a lifetime problem.

**Confession 6: The Trouble with ADHD Diagnosis **(Anonymous) ****

It’s taken me almost 3 months to even get an appointment to be screened for ADHD. There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be done before an appointment can be made – the entire process is very inefficient. I understand that CAPS is understaffed, but that makes it especially important that they be efficient.

**Confession 7: Unadvertised Scarcity **(Anonymous) ****

I’ve dealt with the Stanford mental health system before and was assigned a psychiatrist who told me that there was no official cutoff on how many appointments I could receive, but due to the amount of people seeking help they generally end treatment at Vaden within 6-8 appointments and at that time provide recommendations for outside care.
This doesn’t sound too outrageous at first, but it concerns me: when I was in the heyday of my mental illness I was in therapy two times a week, and I have no doubt that it was crucial for my recovery. Some people require more than that. Now I’m doing a lot better and I was slowly tapered off therapy with my therapist back home, so I come more like once a month or once a fortnight. However, the point is that someone who needed a lot of therapy would be booted out of the program within about a month, their number of appointments used up – not that they could even get two appointments a week at CAPS in the first place, but hypothetically.
So anyway, I had already had around 4 appointments at Vaden and my psychiatrist told me she was moving to another University to finish her training, so she was leaving. She gave me some recommendations for outside therapists and said I could go there. I got home and told my dad this, mentioning of course that as a freshman who lives waaay out of state I have absolutely no means of transportation to an outside therapist. My two options would be: biking (and the therapists are quite far away) or the Marguerite (which is slow and very unreliable, I would likely have to spend ~40 minutes riding the bus there and would also most likely be late frequently). Both means of transportation just don’t seem viable for the busy schedule that the typical Stanford student has of classes, extracurriculars, social life, and personal maintenance like food, sleep and hygiene. There simply isn’t enough time in a daily schedule if you have no access to transportation – once again, as a freshman, I cannot have a car, and I’m sure there are many lower income students who couldn’t have a car even if they were older.
So my dad called Vaden and leaned on them a bit, telling them about my situation, and they told him that I could continue my care at Vaden. So essentially, they’re telling people that they can’t continue treatment after 6-8 appointments, which isn’t a lot especially for the most dire cases that need intensive therapy as soon as possible. Then, when they are confronted with the rather obvious fact that some of us simply can’t do off-campus therapy, they throw out the policy. It seems that this is something they simply say as a general rule, though they know it’s not viable, and you have to make a fuss to get the treatment that you need. What worries me about this is that a lot of students might not feel comfortable asking for that, or maybe wouldn’t even think of it – I know I didn’t until my dad did, and I would’ve been going without care.
Finally, when I contacted them about setting up new appointments in the newly approved continued treatment, I got a triage call on the same-day and an appointment made for two weeks from now, which is quite far, and in fact that time spot was on hold for me because my dad had called in earlier (so if a regular student was doing the same thing as I did, they would’ve gotten an even later appointment).
The people I’ve met at CAPs have been nothing but kind, respectful, and professional to me. The problem seems to be that they’re severely understaffed and therefore simply can’t schedule enough appointments to provide care to the students in a timely, continued and judicious manner. This is a serious problem with potentially grave consequences. I can’t stress enough how severely I needed therapy when I was receiving it during some periods of my life – if that period had come my freshman year in college, I wouldn’t have received it, and I don’t know what would have happened to me. That scares me, and in my opinion it necessitates change.
**Confession 8: Left Alone (Anonymous) **
I’ve been trying to make an appointment with CAPS for the past several weeks. I continually miss my phone screening appointment and therefore can’t go in to see a counselor. It’s really frustrating especially when a lot of times I feel like my issues just go on hold. I’m trying to make another appointment with CAPS but I already feel let down and alone. I feel like no one is here to help me.
**Confession 9: Dangerous Lack of Care (Anonymous)**
Spring quarter sophomore year, at the insistence of my close friends, I requested an appointment at CAPS. I got one within about 2 weeks of my request (not counting the time it took to wait for my phone appointment from when I made it). I saw a therapist, who said I might need medications. I talked to a psychiatrist who didn’t want to prescribe me ANYTHING. “Let’s just wait and see.” Nevermind that I’d been depressed for 6 months. Nevermind I never got over my fear of the dark and still had to sleep with my lights on. Maybe he wasn’t wanting to give college students drugs on a college campus, where I’d probably sell them (??). At least that’s the only rational I could think of.I could hardly get out of bed each day. No day would be complete without crying. I felt so empty but stressed. And the therapist I was provided didn’t seem to understand me at all.During the summer, things didn’t get better. I went home and fought with my parents (we normally get along unusually well). They could all see I wasn’t happy – but I felt like they were alienating me. I heard them talking about me when I wasn’t there, and I felt untrusted – like they thought I was some ticking time bomb.
Which I was. I had a terrible panic attack that built up and lasted hours. I was brought to the family doctor the next day who promptly prescribed me some antianxiety medication. Immediately, I felt the vicious cycle of panic stopped in its tracks.

In fall quarter, I continued to see the therapist who didn’t understand me, only to be told that I was to be seen by him no longer. Here my mysterious “short term” CAPS care ended, and I finally received the most useful thing from CAPS – a referral to someone else.

Nevermind that my parents had to pay for cardinal care to avoid spending horrific amounts of money out of pocket. Nevermind that I had to spend months trying to get to know a new person – and have them get to know me. Nevermind that without my parents, their wealth and their support NONE of this would have been financially feasible.

**Confession 10:  Finding Solutions (Erin Ashby)**
I found CAPS to be more about problem finding then problem solving. I left feeling worse than when I got there with no form of resolution.
**Confession 11: Got Higher Quality of Care Through Badgering CAPs (Anonymous)**
I’m a freshman who went to ~6 meetings with a psychiatrist at Vaden and was then told I had to go off campus. I can’t have a car, I have a busy schedule and it didn’t seem feasible.I didn’t think to do anything, I was just going to discontinue care, but my dad called CAPs and spoke to them explaining that I couldn’t access other therapy and they told him that I could continue care at Vaden. They re-triaged me because my previous psychiatrist left to another University. Then, the receptionist told me she had a therapist in mind and had reserved the soonest possible meeting for me, which was in two weeks. They scheduled me for that.However, I got a call a day or so later from the receptionist saying that there had been a cancellation the next day with my therapist and that she had thought of me and my situation. My care actually wasn’t even particularly urgent, but she went above and beyond to help — after pressure was put on them to provide decent care.
In my experience the people there are all very competent, sweet and understanding. They’re not the problem – the problem is that CAPs is ridiculously understaffed and they simply can’t provide care in a timely manner and for continuing periods with the amount of employees they have and the level of demand on campus.
**Confession 12: The Neverending Loop (Anonymous)**
My sophomore year was extremely difficult for me. I was living in a house of all girls, my boyfriend had just broken up with me, and I was dealing with a number of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. My living situation did not help any of those things, and my insecurities with my relatioship only made me feel worse about myself. In the middle of fall quarter, I realized I needed help and decided to reach out to CAPS. I called and scheduled a phone interview, which was then scheduled two weeks later. During my phone interview, I was asked what I suppose are routine questions but felt very impersonal, and she scheduled me for a CAPS appointment two weeks later. The woman I spoke to seemed very disinterested and brushed my issues as “another stressed Stanford student.” So I brushed my problems off because she made it seem like they weren’t anything concerning.
Next thing I know, a week later my RA is checking me into a Psychiatric Ward because I was a danger to myself and was not trusted to be alone. I spent a week in the hospital, only to be referred to another CAPS therapist. This therapist was actually quite helpful in trying to understand where some of these issues might have come from. I even felt like I was getting better and finally beginning to understand how to be happy. Four sessions in, I was extremely disappointed to find that I was only allowed about 7 sessions total with her because CAPS was only for short-term therapy. I offered to pay to continue seeing her but she insisted on referring me out. I saw 4 therapists that she recommended and none of them worked. One was a male that I did not feel comfortable speaking to, another was too far off campus to bike to, another made me feel worse about myself. I almost gave up. I decided to try a fifth therapist, and lucky for me, she was a great match. She worked at the Psychiatry building so the distance was bikable. I saw her for the remainder of the year and she even called to check up on me a few times over the summer. I finally had found someone I felt comfortable with again.
Due to a broken wrist and therapy needed for that, my family’s medical credit card could not afford for me to continue seeing my therapist until January when the money was renewed. I scheduled an appointment with her in February only to find out that to my dismay, she had been hired by CAPS. She told me the same spiel, that her boss only allowed her to see me 7 times but that she could give me a list of names to try out. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. Again, I could not pay to continue seeing her. I was so frustrated that the one person I felt comfortable talking to was completely taken away and I was not allowed to continue seeing her, even though I was a prior patient.
I saw her for the remaineder of the year but since then, I have not returned to CAPS because the system is so convoluted that I would never want to get caught up in it again. Lucky for me, I was able to recover from many of my insecurities and have not needed to call CAPS, but I truely feel for those who have been shut down repeatedly by this awful system. It makes it extremely difficult to seek the help that us students need, that the university promises us. It’s a discouraging system, one that waits too long to act and one that severely minimizes people’s issues, which is not how a psychological service should function.
**Confession 13: 2.5 Years of CAPS (Anonymous)**
I’m a junior with major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. I’ve had these issues for at least five years, but I only started getting treated for them when I began seeing my CAPS psychiatrist in November of my freshman year.My psychiatrist has been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout my time at Stanford. If not for her, I would have almost certainly needed to take time off because I was so depressed that I wasn’t a functional student. However, she’s guided me through my academic career and personal issues, while helping me figure out my medications and enroll in the OAE.

My psychiatrist is not at all at fault for the issues that CAPS faces; in fact, she acknowledges them as well.

Still, the administration could significantly improve our mental health services by INCREASING FUNDING FOR CAPS so that all students can have access to as much mental healthcare as they need.

Some of my friends with more severe mental health issues have been turned away altogether from CAPS. This should never happen. It’s difficult enough to admit that you need help and make your first appointment at CAPS, and trying to find mental healthcare off of campus can be a draining and time-consuming process.

Because I’m on my own insurance (not Cardinal Care), I had to start paying $95 per half hour session with my psychiatrist when she became my prescribing doctor. Eventually I transferred my prescription to another doctor who is covered by my insurance, but this shouldn’t have even been an issue at all. I had no idea that it would be an issue until it happened. All CAPS appointments should be free to all students and unlimited. No more limits on how many free sessions a student can get annually.

Stanford definitely has the money somewhere to give CAPS the funding that it needs. Do it! Instead of ringing bells for wellness (which didn’t help alleviate my depression at all.)

Since the CAPS system currently has a reputation for being so broken, many students who should be getting help are deterred from going. I’ve tried to convince many friends to go to CAPS, and most of them cite CAPS’s mixed reputation as their main reason for hesitating to make an appointment.

Mental healthcare should not be treated as less important than other forms of healthcare. Without mental stability, it is impossible to enjoy your Stanford career and get the most out of it. Before I was stable, I went through periods of crying for hours daily, not having enough energy to complete a seemingly reasonable workload, and not having enough interest in anything to figure out what I wanted to study. Once I became relatively stable, I was able to make significant progress on choosing my major and functioning on every level of life.

**Confession 14: I Need Help (Anonymous) **

I am often depressed. Life hits me like a brick and I crash and I spend the next 24 hours in my room crying because I can’t get up or leave or do my homework. I ruin friendships because I flake on plans because I’m curled up under my bed wishing I was dead. I panic over trivial things, and this mental instability cripples me. I need help. But I can’t pay for a therapist – I can’t go elsewhere. I need Stanford to have adequate mental health resources and CAPS is a sorry excuse. CAPS is understaffed and unresponsive. There is no way that if I called now, I could get an appointment in the next two weeks. And I don’t even care to try getting an appointment because I know that I’ll be shoved out in 6 weeks. Professional services would be life-changing. I don’t need one 1-hour session. I need consistent, high-quality care. Please, Stanford, reform CAPS so that I can live a normal life again.

Confession 15: Mediocre but not the worst (Anonymous)

I went through issues at Stanford my first year, and my staff and RFs were incredibly supportive and handled it very well. CAPS however, could be described as a bit of an annoying experience. They referred me to the Stanford hospital when I came in having a problem with my medication, saying that it would be a “faster way to see a psychiatrist”. It was not. I spent five days in the hospital while people tried to diagnose me with additional disorders. Both before and after the hospital, I kept being cycled around through different therapists, all of whom were nice, but it was annoying to go through three or so therapists during my time here. I ended up leaving and taking the rest of my freshman year off a few weeks after coming back from the hospital due to not doing well/being cycled through pills and therapists and being misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder at CAPS. This year, I can’t get appointments less than two weeks apart, and my current therapist is actually leaving to go back to her private practice so I will be switching, again. I didn’t pay for cardinal care my first year, but I did this year for the unlimited visits, and my family has decided it isn’t really worth it due to the fact that CAPS is such a pain but it is so difficult to find places that take our insurance in the area.

Confession 16: Sane in an insane place (Anonymous)

Somehow I managed to land myself in the ER. On a dry campus. Before classes even started. The best part, is that it didn’t need to happen. During NSO I confided in a friend that I was thinking about self-harming. This is nothing new for me, and my friend knew it was something that I struggle with. Trying to do what was in my best interest, he contacted my RA’s and the RD on call. No one really had enough information to assess the situation, but assumed the worst. The police were called and I was told that because there was concern for my safety I was required to go to the hospital. In the back of a patrol car. No matter how many times I tried to explain I was really ok, it was written off as denial. Once someone decides you’re crazy, it gives them the liberty to discount everything you say. It seemed as if mental illness was now a crime as I was nearly handcuffed because it’s protocol. I was pretty ok when the police arrived, but by the time I was on my way to the hospital I was in crisis. I was released from the ER at four in the morning after finally getting someone to listen to me. All of this could have been avoided if someone at CAPS had been contacted to assess the situation. The disproportionate response discouraged me from reaching out again, and I can only imagine others would react in a similar way. Even for someone who really is in need of hospitalization, a patrol car, synonymous with arrest, should not be the method of transportation. Not only is it traumatic but further stigmatizes mental illness.

Confession 17: 3 days makes a difference (Anonymous)

I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. I’m one of the fortunate ones who is functional and happy most of the time, but last quarter I had one of the quickest and deepest dives in to depression that I’ve ever experienced. I was at a point where the only ways I could think of to drown out my own self-loathing, internal monologue was with netflix, my car stereo, or weed. And as anyone whose experienced depression knows, those are usually not enough. I knew I needed help, but when I attempted to schedule a CAPS appointment, I was told it would be 2-3 days before I could get a phone call to assess my situation. That’s three days not to get help, but just for them to tell me IF they could help me. Sure, I could have gone to the Bridge, but seeing as I have multiple friends on staff there, I didn’t really see that as a viable option. Ultimately, I ended up canceling my CAPS consult in favor of seeing my own ADHD specialist that week. So, on a campus that promises free mental health resources for all students, I ended up paying a $70 co-pay to drive 20 minutes off campus to see someone that has a completely different speciality than what I was looking for. If that’s not a sign that the system is fucked, I don’t know what is.

Confession 18: Dropped Appointment (Anonymous)

By the time I made the decision to reach out to CAPS, I was in a very bad place. I clearly needed immediate help. I contacted CAPS and scheduled a 20-minute phone screen, and then had to wait more than 2 weeks to get an in-person appointment. After my first appointment, I scheduled a follow-up appointment for the next week. The psychologist I was working with informed me that his office was on the other side of campus, in a building near the medical center. The appointment was for 10am. So, I woke up early and went all the way to the other side of campus to make it to this appointment before my full day of classes. When I finally found his office, I he was not there. I checked my email and found a very impersonal, automated message that had been sent at 8am THAT SAME MORNING informing me that the psychologist had cancelled on me. I never received any apology or explanation for the sudden cancel, nor did anyone reach out to me to try to reschedule. I was so busy with my classes and frustrated with CAPS by this point that I never got around to calling them back to try to find another appointment time. I have started searching for off-campus psychiatrists to see, but none that I’ve contacted so far accept my insurance. I get very stressed and frustrated that I have to take so much time out of my school life JUST TO GET THE HELP I NEED.

Confession 19: Soonest Appointment in 3 weeks? (Anonymous)

Coming into Stanford, I was in denial about my eating disorder. I struggled with it for about a year before I took a look at myself and decided to get help. My body was in bad health, but even worse was my mind. The medical side of Vaden was prompt and I got a physician and nutritionist quickly. However more than physical attention, I needed immediate psychological help. I was living every minute of every day in mental pain, but the first available CAPS appointment was three weeks away. Eating disorders are a two-pronged problem – no matter how “healthy” my body got, my head stayed unbearable. I constantly wondered if I could even make it to my CAPS appointment. I was astonished at how slow the process was.

Confession 20: A good experience (Anonymous)

When I was struggling with my mental health over the past year, CAPS was extremely supportive. I found a counselor who met with me weekly and was reluctant to let me stop coming until we both felt secure that I was in a good mental state, and has been open to me to making appointments since I stopped coming. I think your approach to this story is biased and a bad example of journalism.

Confession 21: CAPs saved my life (Anonymous)

When I was a junior with suicidal depression, my CAPS therapist got me the help I needed and cared enough about me to stop me from harming myself.
I know they have their shortcomings, but seeing these types of unsolicited emails in my inbox about how disappointing CAPS is are really unnecessary and insulting to the work that CAPS does. I would like to see what you all realistically suggest that CAPS change about its current system, aside from pumping more money into it. How do you expect to change the fact that there are a lot of students who need help and a limited amount of staff? CAPS explicitly tells their patients on the first meeting that the program is meant for short-term care and that those who need long-term care will be referred to therapists covered under Cardinal Care. If your only answer is “Hire more people,” then good job on the hard-hitting journalism.

Did the Stanford Review even consider what it might mean to a recovering suicidal CAPS patient to see an email about CAPS entitled “This is about you.”? Do you know how much that scared me and brought me back to that time in my life? I didn’t need this inflammatory garbage in my email. There are so many ways this survey could have been disseminated without the emotional charge and you all need to seriously consider your audience with this topic.

**Confession 22: Blow Out of Proportion (Anonymous) **

During winter quarter of my freshman year, I had a manic episode that resulted in being picked up twice by the police, taken to the Stanford hospital for a day or so and then overnight transported to a locked psychiatric unit in SF for a week. I had to take in completes in my classes and take spring quarter off. Had CAPS assessed that I was indeed not a danger to myself or others OR/AND had my parents been contacted earlier, I would not have had to go through the traumatic experience of being in a psychiatric hospital when I had previously no mental health issues. When I returned to school, I went to CAPS in order to see a therapist and make sense of this experience. The therapist I saw was extremely unhelpful. I felt like she was listing off questions, reciting from a book. I now never turn to CAPS and tell my friends to stay away as well if they have issues. Instead, it makes more sense to reach out to helpful mental health professionals in the area.

**Confession 23: Messed Up Meds (Anonymous) **

Towards the end of a very tumultuous sophomore fall quarter, my roommate helped me make an immediate appointment at CAPS. I’d been on medication and in therapy at home before and kept in semi-regular contact with my psychiatrist, but things were very wrong last quarter, and it got to a point where I was not functioning well. The psychiatrist on call told me that my birth control was making my mood stabilizing medication half as effective, so she recommended taking double my mood meds dosage. Trusting a doctor’s advice, I started taking double dosages. For two days, I barely slept, had numb extremities, lost my appetite, had trouble seeing, and ended up throwing up multiple times. I knew this was because of the medication, so I stopped taking it all together for two days and got major headaches, was lethargic, and started feeling paranoid. When I finally talked to my psychiatrist from home, he was very concerned–the medication I’m on should never be increased by more than 50mg over a two week period, and I had doubled a 150mg dosage. I upped my dosage by triple what is a healthy increase. Now, I should have checked with my home doctor or maybe researched online to be sure, but in a crisis mode, I shouldn’t have to be concerned that a doctor is giving me incorrect information that actually made my mental and physical health worse for a period. I don’t know if the doctor at CAPS wasn’t well-versed in my particular medication or what happened, but to top it off, even though I made an immediate, urgent appointment, no one ever followed up with me. I did not, nor will I ever, go back.

Confession 24: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]">Manic/Depressive (Anonymous) 

Just two weeks into my experience at CAPS, my therapist told me (very out of the blue) that she thought I was Manic/Depressive. As if a (supremely) premature diagnosis wasn’t enough, she followed by asking me if I knew what that was in a way that I really just felt was demeaning. Did not improve anything over the duration of my time w/ her.

Confession 25: CAPS Frustration<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> (Anonymous) 

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"When I was a sophomore I was severely anorexic. I finally decided I needed to get help so I decided to schedule a CAPS appointment. When I called in, I was was asked over the phone to describe my issue. At the time I had never discussed my eating disorder with anyone, and I found it very difficult and upsetting to discuss my anorexia for the first time over the phone with an appointment coordinator. CAPS should be far more sensitive to the fact that many students may have never discussed their issues before, and a cold intake chat is not the place to broach such a sensitive topic for the first time.\n\nThey booked me an appointment for a few weeks later. When I went in, I nervously explained my eating disorder to the counselor. He told me that was not the eating disorder specialist (he specialized in working with LGBT students) and that I would have to make another appointment with a different doctor. What was the point of that intake call if I wasn't even booked with the right doctor??? So I had to schedule another appointment with a different doctor for a few weeks later. Overall it was a completely frustrating and upsetting experience, and after that second visit with the other doctor I never went to CAPS again.\n\nHonestly I had a far better experience with The Bridge, and I wish Stanford would give more funding / publicity to that service. Fuck CAPS."]">When I was a sophomore I was severely anorexic. I finally decided I needed to get help so I decided to schedule a CAPS appointment. When I called in, I was was asked over the phone to describe my issue. At the time I had never discussed my eating disorder with anyone, and I found it very difficult and upsetting to discuss my anorexia for the first time over the phone with an appointment coordinator. CAPS should be far more sensitive to the fact that many students may have never discussed their issues before, and a cold intake chat is not the place to broach such a sensitive topic for the first time.

They booked me an appointment for a few weeks later. When I went in, I nervously explained my eating disorder to the counselor. He told me that was not the eating disorder specialist (he specialized in working with LGBT students) and that I would have to make another appointment with a different doctor. What was the point of that intake call if I wasn’t even booked with the right doctor??? So I had to schedule another appointment with a different doctor for a few weeks later. Overall it was a completely frustrating and upsetting experience, and after that second visit with the other doctor I never went to CAPS again.

Honestly I had a far better experience with The Bridge, and I wish Stanford would give more funding / publicity to that service. Fuck CAPS.

Confession 26: Counselors: Excellent. Funding: Poor. <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> (Anonymous) 

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"I had an overall-good experience with CAPS. But I wish to clearly spell out its strengths and weaknesses. \n\nStrengths:\n\u2022 CAPS has some of the best counselors on Earth, bar-none. The one I work with is kind, caring, compassionate, and highly trained. There should be far more of them! These professionals deserve the utmost respect for the work they do. In many cases, CAPS literally saves lives.\n\n\u2022 It's convenient because it's right on campus. \n\n\u2022 Usually, your first ~5 sessions are free!\n\n\u2022 Sometimes you can get an appointment in less than a week.\n\nWeaknesses:\n\u2022 CAPS doesn't really take outside insurance, and only a few students have Cardinal Care. After your ~5 free sessions are used up, you'll have to pay ~$95/half-hour.\n\n\u2022 CAPS mostly only has capacity for short-term ('crisis') cases. For longer term cases, they send clients to outside providers. Essentially, they've been forced to ration care.\n\n\u2022 Long wait times. \n\nFinal note:\n\u2022 Most schools with on-campus counseling/psychological services have similar issues as CAPS's. So I wouldn't necessarily say CAPS is "failing" or "broken" compared to the norm.\n\n\u2022 However, Stanford's top leadership should take the financial ($$) initiative to provide the best student counseling services in the world. Please Stanford Administrators, unlock the funds needed to expand CAPS!"]">I had an overall-good experience with CAPS. But I wish to clearly spell out its strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths:
• CAPS has some of the best counselors on Earth, bar-none. The one I work with is kind, caring, compassionate, and highly trained. There should be far more of them! These professionals deserve the utmost respect for the work they do. In many cases, CAPS literally saves lives.
• It’s convenient because it’s right on campus.
• Usually, your first ~5 sessions are free!
• Sometimes you can get an appointment in less than a week.

Weaknesses:
• CAPS doesn’t really take outside insurance, and only a few students have Cardinal Care. After your ~5 free sessions are used up, you’ll have to pay ~$95/half-hour.
• CAPS mostly only has capacity for short-term (‘crisis’) cases. For longer term cases, they send clients to outside providers. Essentially, they’ve been forced to ration care.
• Long wait times.

Final note:
• Most schools with on-campus counseling/psychological services have similar issues as CAPS’s. So I wouldn’t necessarily say CAPS is “failing” or “broken” compared to the norm.

• However, Stanford’s top leadership should take the financial ($$) initiative to provide the best student counseling services in the world. Please Stanford Administrators, unlock the funds needed to expand CAPS!

Confession 27: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Losing my Uncle Bert"]">Losing my Uncle Bert <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> (Anonymous) 

Last year was a difficult year. I lost a number of family members, but one of my role models passed away as a result of heart failure. I’ve lost someone significant every year that I’ve been here, but this was especially difficult and having CAPS staff that care about people from the community centers like me really makes a difference. Burdening my friends can be difficult on them and their free time, so having that designated staff to talk to is ideal. Hopefully Stanford will invest a little more in the mental health of students, considering how long the wait time is.

Confession 28: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Anxious and Turned Away"]">Anxious and Turned Away <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> (Anonymous) 

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"I went to CAPS my freshman year while dealing with academic anxiety, panic attacks, a break-up and family issues. I was a huge mess and did the only thing I knew to do: called CAPS. After waiting 2 WEEKS I went to an intake and was reminded repeatedly that I would only be given a few sessions and with "all of my issues" I should seek outside therapy. I was 18, had never sought a doctor by myself, and terrified at the thought of triaging these difficult issues multiple times. I cancelled my second CAPS appointment with the intent of seeking a private therapist. Instead, I was crippled by anxiety and never did. Now, as a sophomore, I have preemptively acquired a weekly therapist to work through issues that arise, but I am still so upset that I was let down so completely by CAPS. It made that period of my life much rougher than it needed to be. I seriously do not understand why Stanford refuses to fix such an obvious, important problems. Mental health care is NOT a place to scrimp and I ashamed that this is something Stanford has chosen to do."]">I went to CAPS my freshman year while dealing with academic anxiety, panic attacks, a break-up and family issues. I was a huge mess and did the only thing I knew to do: called CAPS. After waiting 2 WEEKS I went to an intake and was reminded repeatedly that I would only be given a few sessions and with “all of my issues” I should seek outside therapy. I was 18, had never sought a doctor by myself, and terrified at the thought of triaging these difficult issues multiple times. I cancelled my second CAPS appointment with the intent of seeking a private therapist. Instead, I was crippled by anxiety and never did. Now, as a sophomore, I have preemptively acquired a weekly therapist to work through issues that arise, but I am still so upset that I was let down so completely by CAPS. It made that period of my life much rougher than it needed to be. I seriously do not understand why Stanford refuses to fix such an obvious, important problems. Mental health care is NOT a place to scrimp and I ashamed that this is something Stanford has chosen to do.

Confession 29: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"The Silent Culture"]">The Silent Culture <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> (Anonymous)

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"><span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Coming into Stanford, I was excited. A lot of my friends had already started school, some at state universities and others at schools ranging from Virginia to Florida to North Carolina to Ohio. I had heard their accounts of college life, and I was excited to begin my own adventures. Unfortunately, college was not what I thought it would be. Within a week of arriving on campus and starting classes, I began to suffer from panic attacks and severe anxiety. I was homesick all the time, and I had no idea how to adjust to the college setting. A family member helped me to seek help at CAPS, although it took nearly three weeks just to get an appointment. I do not blame the system entirely. The stress level at a school like Stanford is incredibly high-unhealthily so. To all Stanford students: know that your mental health is important. Know that you are important, and that your happiness and health should not be deferred. The "silent culture" and "duck syndrome" attitudes so commonplace on campus do little to aid those who are struggling. It's important to be able to talk about mental health issues and to actually have time to relax and de-stress. Stanford needs to understand that offering a great education should not be synonymous with hindering students' mental health. We didn't work as hard as we did just to be unhappy. And for those who do need help, more needs to be done. CAPS needs to be improved, students need to be more open, and mental health issues need to stop being shoved under the rug. It took a while, but I finally decided to take a leave of absence from Stanford to improve my mental health and see a therapist. The decision has been one of the best I've ever made. Am I fixed? No. But I'm working toward a better state, and i hope that others will do the same. It's time for a change. We all deserve to be happy."]">Coming into Stanford, I was excited. A lot of my friends had already started school, some at state universities and others at schools ranging from Virginia to Florida to North Carolina to Ohio. I had heard their accounts of college life, and I was excited to begin my own adventures. Unfortunately, college was not what I thought it would be. Within a week of arriving on campus and starting classes, I began to suffer from panic attacks and severe anxiety. I was homesick all the time, and I had no idea how to adjust to the college setting. A family member helped me to seek help at CAPS, although it took nearly three weeks just to get an appointment. I do not blame the system entirely. The stress level at a school like Stanford is incredibly high-unhealthily so. To all Stanford students: know that your mental health is important. Know that you are important, and that your happiness and health should not be deferred. The “silent culture” and “duck syndrome” attitudes so commonplace on campus do little to aid those who are struggling. It’s important to be able to talk about mental health issues and to actually have time to relax and de-stress. Stanford needs to understand that offering a great education should not be synonymous with hindering students’ mental health. We didn’t work as hard as we did just to be unhappy. And for those who do need help, more needs to be done. CAPS needs to be improved, students need to be more open, and mental health issues need to stop being shoved under the rug. It took a while, but I finally decided to take a leave of absence from Stanford to improve my mental health and see a therapist. The decision has been one of the best I’ve ever made. Am I fixed? No. But I’m working toward a better state, and i hope that others will do the same. It’s time for a change. We all deserve to be happy.<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Manic/Depressive"]"> 

Confession 30: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,""I'm Sorry, That Sucks" is Not a Therapy Strategy"]">“I’m Sorry, That Sucks” is Not a Therapy Strategy (Mia Li Farinelli)

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"It was winter quarter of my freshman year, and I was less than prepared to return to school after a winter break that seemed too short. My transition to Stanford had been rocky, and a number of incidents concerning me and members of my freshman dorm had put me in a dark place. I needed to find a safe space to share my thoughts and emotions, and the natural solution was to visit CAPS. I scheduled a phone appointment, and within a week I was scheduled to see one of their therapists.\nDuring my first visit, I learned that my therapist was a grad student studying psychological therapy, and I had to wonder if they had placed me with a grad student because I wasn't ready to jump off a cliff. I gave her a short summary of the problems I had been experiencing, she responded with, "I'm sorry, that must be really hard to deal with," she gave me a worksheet to fill out, and I left feeling only slightly better but hopeful that we could begin to work out my issues.\nHowever, each consecutive time that I came back, I felt like I was starting at square one. She would repeat questions from week to week, she would forget that she gave me homework assignments and would barely reference them, and the consistent answer to all of my woes was something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, that must be hard to deal with". I consistently asked her at each session to give me some concrete tips and tasks to help me begin the process of reflecting, and each time she would thrust various flyers into my hands and send me on my way. I kept wondering if this was effective, and I kept wondering if this was the way CAPS operated. After five sessions of essentially no improvement, I stopped going. It wasn't until I began to hear the stories of other people who had tried CAPS that I realized that the therapy they had tried to offer me was inadequate and nonconstructive."]">It was winter quarter of my freshman year, and I was less than prepared to return to school after a winter break that seemed too short. My transition to Stanford had been rocky, and a number of incidents concerning me and members of my freshman dorm had put me in a dark place. I needed to find a safe space to share my thoughts and emotions, and the natural solution was to visit CAPS. I scheduled a phone appointment, and within a week I was scheduled to see one of their therapists.
During my first visit, I learned that my therapist was a grad student studying psychological therapy, and I had to wonder if they had placed me with a grad student because I wasn’t ready to jump off a cliff. I gave her a short summary of the problems I had been experiencing, she responded with, “I’m sorry, that must be really hard to deal with,” she gave me a worksheet to fill out, and I left feeling only slightly better but hopeful that we could begin to work out my issues.
However, each consecutive time that I came back, I felt like I was starting at square one. She would repeat questions from week to week, she would forget that she gave me homework assignments and would barely reference them, and the consistent answer to all of my woes was something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, that must be hard to deal with”. I consistently asked her at each session to give me some concrete tips and tasks to help me begin the process of reflecting, and each time she would thrust various flyers into my hands and send me on my way. I kept wondering if this was effective, and I kept wondering if this was the way CAPS operated. After five sessions of essentially no improvement, I stopped going. It wasn’t until I began to hear the stories of other people who had tried CAPS that I realized that the therapy they had tried to offer me was inadequate and nonconstructive.

**Confession 31: Dismissed **

I went to CAPS to get some guidance on something going on in my family that was affecting me deeply. Someone in my immediate family was going in and out of treatment for an opiate addiction. I was struggling with how to be a good child/sibling in this situation, as well as get guidance on traumatic experiences that I had as a result.
I was nervous going in because, as my colleagues have mentioned here, it’s incredibly difficult to tell something so personal to someone that you don’t know.

I shared my story. The therapist asked, “What exactly are they addicted to?” When I told her it was opiates, she responded “OOF that’s a tough one. Really bad.” The insensitivity in her response was almost comical.

I asked for some suggestions of things I should do to cope. She said, and I quote, “Well, it’s not really your problem. It’s theirs. I don’t think I can help you. Have you tried writing in a journal?”

With that, I cried and left CAPS with no intention to return. I felt like my problems and feelings were completely dismissed, as they were literally scoffed at and reduced to my face.

Something absolutely has to change with CAPS.

Confession 32: Surprised but Hopeful (Anonymous)

Recently reading about the let of downs of other students by CAPS has left me deeply disappointed and sad. By my sophomore year I had been struggling with an eating disorder essentially since arriving at Stanford. When I finally built up the strength to ask for help I turned to CAPS since was so heavily advertised it seemed like the obvious path. My therapist there literally changed the way I think and helped give me the tools to pull me out of a disorder in ways that I could have never accomplished alone or even with the help of the most supportive friends. Making my appointment was easy and confidential, and my therapist was truly the most professional and compassionate individual that I could have hoped for. I went to weekly sessions for a quarter and then started to spread them out to monthly until we decided together that I did not need to keep seeing her. She recommended I participate in the new “Body Positive” program in the form of a one unit class in the spring (which I believe was also rolled out by CAPS?). I took her advice and this program was also really powerful for me. I have so much gratitude for CAPS and my therapist there, and it hurts me to realize that others have not had such amazing experiences. Every single student deserves the kind of care that I was, apparently rarely, fortunate enough to have. Making the decision to reach out for help should never be an added source of distress for anyone, and I strongly believe that the administration needs to fix this problem efficiently and immediately.

**Confession 33: Bad Experience (Anonymous) **

My story details my experience with CAPS as an RA in a freshmen dorm.

Staff training, for those who have not experienced it, it dense. It’s basically two weeks of nine-to-five lectures, discussions and presentations. Subject matter ranges from the trivial (my roommate won’t take out the trash) to conversations deeper than I had ever had before (I’m seriously considering suicide.) It’s emotionally and physically draining and frankly I was exhausted by the end of it.

But despite the intensity of staff training, I felt like I came out of it well-equipped to deal with most any situation I could conceive of. One of my biggest fears coming in as a soon-to-be RA was not knowing what to do when a resident came to me with something serious. But now I knew – if something was out of my scope, all I had to to was refer my resident to the right resources on campus. Chances are, that resource was CAPS.

CAPS was marketed to us as a sort of one-stop-shop for all of our residents’ potential problems. Struggling academically? CAPS. Broke up with your girlfriend? CAPS. But most importantly, CAPS dealt with the things that were out of your scope as a freshly-trained RA. Things like mental health and self harm. CAPS had our back.

So when a resident of mine came to me early on in fall quarter and confessed that they had struggled with depression throughout their life and had previously considered suicide, terrifying as it was I knew what to do. QPR (basically in-the-moment suicide prevention) and then CAPS. I convinced my resident that talking to CAPS would be a good idea. As per protocol, we called the CAPS after-hours number. (There was no immediate risk of harm coming to my resident so there wasn’t a need to speak with the on-call psychologist.) A man answered and took down my resident’s details. CAPS was going to call them the next day and organize an appointment.

The next night, I checked in with my resident. They hadn’t been contacted by CAPS. I suggested that they call again, but tonight they weren’t convinced that was a good idea. They had a lot of work and more important things to do.

I was shocked. I had done this by the book. Convinced my resident to talk to someone. Connected them with CAPS. And the outcome of doing this by the book? CAPS, the supposed solution to everything, had dropped the ball completely and let a golden opportunity to help my resident pass.

I was, frankly, pretty pissed off. Not only because my resident had been denied the help they needed but now I had to continue to prod at a sensitive issue in order for them to try again. I emailed CAPS and asked them to reach out to the resident and they told me that they would.

End of the story? Not quite. My resident did not hear from CAPS for several days, and when they finally did, it was an email sent to him late at night with an appointment for the next morning. My resident slept through the email and the appointment. (Surprising behavior for a college student? I don’t think so.)

At that point I was thoroughly disenchanted with CAPS and took matters into my own hands. To avoid giving CAPS another opportunity to screw up, I arranged to walk with my resident in person to Vaden. And that’s exactly what we did. Finally, my resident would get a chance to talk to a professional.

When we arrived, my resident was directed to fill out some paperwork and arrange a future appointment.

In subsequent appointments, my resident found CAPS to be thoroughly unhelpful.

I understand that no organization can be perfect. Mental health is a difficult thing to deal with even for trained professionals. But the fact that my resident was failed both at an organizational level and a professional level is unacceptable. To say it was a frustrating experience from my perspective would be an dramatic understatement. I can imagine that my resident felt similarly.

Above all, I hate to imagine how this story could have played out differently with a student in more immediate need of help.

I sincerely hope that these stories spark the overhaul that CAPS so desperately needs. I don’t pretend to be a medical professional, or an expert in the inner workings of student services at Stanford. But what I can say with certainty is that the current system is broken and fixing it should be a top priority for this university.

**Confession 34: My Story (Anonymous) **

I was suffering from severe depression this fall related to issues with my family and my coming out. Unfortunately I was unable to access therapy in September since I was at home, so I called CAPS immediately to request an appointment when fall quarter started.

Since so many of my issues were related to my queer identity, I requested an LGBT-friendly therapist. Stanford heavily advertises that many of the staff members at CAPS are trained specifically in these issues. I had to wait a week (!) for my phone screening, and the person I spoke to told me that there were no appointments available with LGBT-friendly therapists for the next MONTH. I knew that I could not make it a month.

I ended up getting scheduled with a man (requested a woman) with no experience in LGBT issues, and who was not officially licensed as a therapist. And I still had to wait a week and a half, on top of the week I had already waited for the phone screening.

I used up my six free appointments, then had to move off-campus. I spent the rest of fall quarter riding the Marguerite to my non-Stanford therapist. It was extremely difficult to schedule appointments with her – the Marguerite could not get me there before 4pm since it only ran evenings on weekdays, and I had to spend 40 minutes after my appointment waiting alone on El Camino in the dark at the bus stop to be taken home.

I am now seeing a therapist who is in (far) biking distance from campus, but I’m extremely disillusioned with the Stanford system. As so many others have said, it would have made an enormous difference to be able to see a therapist on-campus, and to be able to access that care when I needed it most.

Confession 35: Only Twice? (Anonymous)

I had suffered for an eating disorder for five years before entering Stanford, but for various reasons I had never sought treatment. Freshman year I decided it was finally time, so I arranged an appointment at CAPS. At the initial phone call I mentioned I was coming in for an eating disorder, so I expected to see a therapist trained in dealing with EDs.
My eating disorder had varied in intensity over time; when I scheduled the appointment the disorder was in a less intense phase. So when the counselor asked me how many times I’d purged in the last three months, I told her twice. “Only twice??” she said, incredulously.
This was very hurtful to me, and I would assume a therapist who specializes in eating disorders would realize this was a terrible thing to say. In my warped disordered mind, I assumed that meant I was not “sick enough” to be worthy of treatment. In the next week my symptoms got way worse; triggered by the therapist’s statements my ED brain decided I needed to purge more often if I was going to deserve treatment. The next week when I went in to my appointment with the same counselor I told her how her statement had affected me. “I know that’s not what you meant by it,” I said, “but that’s how my brain took it.” She looked at me like I was stupid. “Of course that’s not what I meant.” She didn’t apologize for her comment or accept that what she said had been hurtful.
I was thankfully able to switch to a different therapist at CAPS, who turned out to be much better and more helpful for me.
Unfortunately, I had not yet told my parents about my disorder and did not wish to reveal it to them. But I was on their insurance. So when CAPS cut me off after 5 appointments, telling me my issue was too long-term for them to deal with, I ended up without therapy. I could not go to an outside therapist at that time because my parents would find out through insurance. I spent the next year or so without treatment, and my eating disorder got worse.
Eventually I did tell my parents, and luckily they were able to afford a private therapist for me. I’m now doing much better and I love my current therapist. A lot of students are not so lucky….

Confession 36: Untimely Help (Anonymous)

I found myself contacting CAPS out of personal obligation after telling a friend that if I didn’t go to CAPS, he should slap me through the computer screen. I’ve had what I suspect is bipolar disorder for a long period of time, which reached its’ worse over the break. When I got back, despite feeling better, I kept to my promise and called CAPS. The process was remarkably tedious—it entails scheduling a time to receive a phone call, only to be asked questions over the phone that might as well have happened in the form used to schedule the call (phone calls, by the way, are unhelpful in dorms in which you are constantly surrounded by others. There are few truly private places). After the call, I was able to schedule an appointment, but only for a week later. By the time of the appointment came, I was in a place psychologically where I felt as though talking about my problems only made them worse. I cancelled the appointment, and am feeling better, but am afraid for the next time I reach a low point.

Confession 37: Two Weeks (Anonymous)

Making the call to caps was very hard. It felt like an admission of weakness, that I am fundamentally flawed and that I can’t control my own brain. As someone whose always taken pride in independence, the idea of having to rely on someone else to gain order in my life is terrifying and discouraging.

It took two weeks of depressive thoughts and self-hatred before I finally realized that I needed to reach out. And now that I’ve climbed this hurdle, I get to wait two more weeks until I can finally meet someone. It’s as if this system was designed to reinforce my feelings of worthlessness and isolation (if it was, its doing an excellent job.

Now I feel more confused, lonely, and scared than ever. I’m stuck in this purgatory of negative thoughts and it feels like it will never end.

Confession 38: Too tired to go elsewhere (Anonymous)

I came to Stanford after a year and a half of crippling clinical depression. After months of basically closing myself off in my dorm room I sought a therapist at CAPS. The first person I was referred to actually asked me to “promise” her that I would stop hating myself. That was her idea of therapy. I asked to see someone else and was referred to a marriage counselor. After five or six sessions of scanned depression “workbook” pages I was told that I would need to find help elsewhere in Palo Alto to “keep the wait list for CAPS open” for emergency visits. After seeing a couple of exorbitantly expensive psychologists in town I’ve resigned myself to seeing my old counselor from high school in San Francisco. I’m too exhausted from being depressed that I can’t make these appointments and I don’t know what to do.

Confession 39: You’ll be fine (Anonymous)

During high school I had to deal with severe bullying. Part of the bullying problem stemmed from an emotional abusive friend who abused my trust to undermine my sense of self worth. My only use was to make sure that she got good grades.

The aftermath of my escape from that situation left me an emotional wreck. I was 16 when I had my first panic attack, and certain locations still cause me to hyperventilate and tense. My parents got me out of the school for my senior year and allowed me to skip graduation. And for a while, things were good. After all, I was going to Stanford of all places.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I slipped into a deep depression over the summer. I couldn’t move, no activities seemed pleasurable, and I had such an overwhelming sense of boredom and pointlessness that it physically hurt. It was like nails driving into my skull, making time crawl and everything actively painful. I had no friends to help, I was isolated, and my parents were getting frustrated because they didn’t understand what was wrong with me. Was I being purposefully obstinate? Was this disrespect and disregard of their person a form of teenage rebellion? And so the yelling started and the hole became a little bit deeper.

I was lucky that school started up before the feeling became overwhelming. I never hated Stanford’s September start date as much as I did the summer between high school and freshman year. And for a good while, everything was good. I would distract myself using academics and dive into my work. I had no friends Fall quarter that year, and barely had any by the time Winter rolled around. But Spring was when I realized that I had a problem.

A friend of mine asked me to start a relationship, which I was initially excited for. However, as we began to interact, I realized that I was emotionally numb. My laughter was fake, my smile was fake, everything was fake. I couldn’t feel pleasure or displeasure, it was a crazy limbo. Then I had a panic attack.

Turns out, having your trust abused for a decade makes you panic at the possibility of opening up again. Who would have guessed.

I realized that it was not fair to continue the relationship and broke it off a week in. To put a good person through my emotional garbage was not something I could do in good conscience. After a tearful call to my Mom, I set up an appointment with CAPS.

This was possibly one of the most damaging things I have done in a good while.

When I went to my appointment, my assigned therapist seemed disinterested at best. She was very blatantly trying to look interested, but the second I started explaining my story, she got a bit of a glazed look. It was the look of someone who has heard similar things multiple times and found my issue to be boring, for lack of a better word. The session was not bad, but it was not good. She made no effort to help me understand my experiences or feelings. She also made absolutely no attempt at a diagnosis.

She told me to set up another appointment, and so I met with her again next week.

The second appointment was arguably the worst. Again, it was incredibly one-sided, and I was starting to feel judged and alienated. At the end of the session, she told me that the feelings would pass with time and that I should set up another appointment two weeks down the line.

I never made that appointment. After all, if it was just going to pass with time, what was the point? Therapy just seemed so useless.

My experience with CAPS gave me a poor outlook on how therapy treats its patients. When my life took a further downward spiral my sophomore year (prompted by a depressed drinking episode that ended with me in the hospital), I insisted I was fine. I’ll be fine. It just is going to take time. Right?

It took me another three months before I actually started to get therapy. This therapist is off campus, and is one of the most effective, wonderful people. Thanks to her and my psychiatrist, we were able to accurately diagnose my severe depression and anxiety.

But this took a year longer than it should have. If I had received adequate treatment at CAPS my freshman year, I would not have needed to experience many of the crippling lows of my sophomore year. I was dismissed and my story written off as me being overly-sensitive.

I will remain anonymous, but there is not a soul out there that would describe me as “sensitive”.

The inadequate treatment at CAPS not only prevents people from being able to receive proper treatment conveniently and easily on campus, it also undermines therapy to those that experience poor treatment. Those that are dismissed will not look further for help, thinking that they are overreacting. To someone living with a mental health issue, it is all too easy to blame yourself for “blowing something out of proportion.”

Furthermore, off campus treatment is not an option for many people. I was incredibly lucky that a therapist that took my health insurance was within biking distance of campus. As it stands, I still have to take a half hour plus out of my day to accommodate for travel time. What about the students that don’t have therapists nearby? What if they do not have an easy mode of transportation? Are they supposed to rely on the very same people that dismissed them?

We don’t want adequate mental health care on campus, we need excellence.

Confession 40: CAPS brief and dismissive (Anonymous)

This past several months, I’ve been struggling with a sense of purposelessness and mild depression. I reached out to CAPS for an open ear twice; the first time I called, they told me they were overbooked and unable to fit me in by the end of the quarter. After winter break, I contacted them again, and was able to meet with a therapist this time. He was curt and very insistent on the fact that he could only meet with me up to 6 times. I felt I needed more open-ended therapy, and told him as much. He recommended I seek help elsewhere, from practitioners outside of campus, and so I did just that.

Note: Confession 41 was removed for privacy reasons.
**Confession 42: First Weeks, Worst Weeks (Anonymous)**

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"I entered my first quarter and year at Stanford depressed. Despite the immense effort it required, I maintained a happy fa\u00e7ade to meet acquaintances galore and start friendships with dormmates. However, in my first few weeks, I couldn't escape the relentless feeling of emptiness that flooded inside. I felt hopeless, trapped, and miserable. Whenever I found myself alone, without new people to focus on pleasing, I succumbed to the sadness that lay waiting under every smile. I had heard of CAPS from my dorm staff. One of my RAs was nice enough to help me book an appointment with CAPS when I came to him and explained my dilemma, asking for help.\n\nAt CAPS, I was allotted a 30-minute slot with a therapist whose desktop screen, when live, showcased her full schedule of countless other 30-minute bookings. I immediately knew that my assigned therapist would be invested in my well-being to the extent of her paycheck, which was defined by her time spent with the many others who may also feel as cheated of their mental well-being as I do. I spent a large portion of my 30-minute session explaining my life-story, interjected with my therapist's too-scientific-sounding theories that attempted to make sense of how I started feeling this way. Each of her theories gave me the same feeling one gets when a child of a living heart and soul is referred to as "it" or "that thing." I felt distant from any help she attempted to give me by her responses that made me feel more of a result of a series of events rather than a real human being. The session ended abruptly with her telling me that "time is the best healing" and that I should follow-up with her during an appointment later in the quarter. Needless to say, I felt like I wasted my time cooped up in an artificial office filled with artificial compassion. \n\nI didn't end up "following-up" with her, since I canceled my subsequent appointment, and continued to find therapy in naps and food. Eventually, the inescapable presence of my inner monster dulled to a flicker as I found the support and therapy I sought at CAPS in the same RA that helped me make that first appointment."]">I entered my first quarter and year at Stanford depressed. Despite the immense effort it required, I maintained a happy façade to meet acquaintances galore and start friendships with dormmates. However, in my first few weeks, I couldn’t escape the relentless feeling of emptiness that flooded inside. I felt hopeless, trapped, and miserable. Whenever I found myself alone, without new people to focus on pleasing, I succumbed to the sadness that lay waiting under every smile. I had heard of CAPS from my dorm staff. One of my RAs was nice enough to help me book an appointment with CAPS when I came to him and explained my dilemma, asking for help.

At CAPS, I was allotted a 30-minute slot with a therapist whose desktop screen, when live, showcased her full schedule of countless other 30-minute bookings. I immediately knew that my assigned therapist would be invested in my well-being to the extent of her paycheck, which was defined by her time spent with the many others who may also feel as cheated of their mental well-being as I do. I spent a large portion of my 30-minute session explaining my life-story, interjected with my therapist’s too-scientific-sounding theories that attempted to make sense of how I started feeling this way. Each of her theories gave me the same feeling one gets when a child of a living heart and soul is referred to as “it” or “that thing.” I felt distant from any help she attempted to give me by her responses that made me feel more of a result of a series of events rather than a real human being. The session ended abruptly with her telling me that “time is the best healing” and that I should follow-up with her during an appointment later in the quarter. Needless to say, I felt like I wasted my time cooped up in an artificial office filled with artificial compassion.

I didn’t end up “following-up” with her, since I canceled my subsequent appointment, and continued to find therapy in naps and food. Eventually, the inescapable presence of my inner monster dulled to a flicker as I found the support and therapy I sought at CAPS in the same RA that helped me make that first appointment.

Confession 43: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"CAPS has sucked for a long time..."]">CAPS has sucked for a long time… (Anonymous)

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"My experience with CAPS was over 30 years ago when I was a grad student. The sexual harassment and exploitation of female graduate students in my department was doing a real number on my sense of self-worth. The counselor I got a CAPS was a man who really didn't have a clue about how men could hurt women this way; just didn't get it. He also made a lot of assumptions about me based on cultural stereotypes, which really pissed me off. After two sessions, I quit. How someone working at a university could be so insensitive and incompetent when it comes to gender and culture is beyond me!"]">My experience with CAPS was over 30 years ago when I was a grad student. The sexual harassment and exploitation of female graduate students in my department was doing a real number on my sense of self-worth. The counselor I got a CAPS was a man who really didn’t have a clue about how men could hurt women this way; just didn’t get it. He also made a lot of assumptions about me based on cultural stereotypes, which really pissed me off. After two sessions, I quit. How someone working at a university could be so insensitive and incompetent when it comes to gender and culture is beyond me!

Confession 44: <span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"Nothing's changed"]">Nothing’s changed (Anonymous)

<span data-sheets-userformat="[null,null,513,[null,0],null,null,null,null,null,null,null,null,0]" data-sheets-value="[null,2,"As an alum, unfortunately these painful stories do not surprise me. When I was a freshman in 1999, I had a minor breakdown in a professor's office. I was depressed and my parents' marriage was the brink. This professor was the only person willing to listen to me. Afterward, he promptly got on the phone with CAPS and explained my situation to them. They were supposed to follow up with me. Of course they never did. Being the hapless frosh I was, it never occurred to me to contact the office myself. CAPS never did follow up with me for appointment. In retrospect, I'm glad I wasn't so depressed that I didn't do anything rash. But CAPS definitely failed me. Students who are depressed aren't necessarily going to take the next step and be proactive about getting help. Apathy is one of the many evils of depression. It sounds like getting an appointment with CAPS is like fighting the DMV. Shame on Stanford. It sounds like only the most aggressive and persistent students get appointments. "]">As an alum, unfortunately these painful stories do not surprise me. When I was a freshman in 1999, I had a minor breakdown in a professor’s office. I was depressed and my parents’ marriage was the brink. This professor was the only person willing to listen to me. Afterward, he promptly got on the phone with CAPS and explained my situation to them. They were supposed to follow up with me. Of course they never did. Being the hapless frosh I was, it never occurred to me to contact the office myself. CAPS never did follow up with me for appointment. In retrospect, I’m glad I wasn’t so depressed that I didn’t do anything rash. But CAPS definitely failed me. Students who are depressed aren’t necessarily going to take the next step and be proactive about getting help. Apathy is one of the many evils of depression. It sounds like getting an appointment with CAPS is like fighting the DMV. Shame on Stanford. It sounds like only the most aggressive and persistent students get appointments.