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Frankly, all those aforementioned deep-seated issues are still very much alive and kicking, therapy be damned.

So when I heard about free "Internet therapy" websites, I was curious.

The site also includes free therapist-run forums where users can air their mental-health challenges; a therapist will respond to up to 5 posts per user before charging a fee. In the "How to Manage Stress and Depression" forum, I spill out a paragraph about how Fear of Missing Out and social comparison are making me miserable (hey, it's true). It does sound like you are struggling with your own self-value. "I write back that I have no "reasons" to doubt myself—instead I've got an exciting smorgasbord of your average everyday depressive tendencies and low self-esteem, yippee!

I write, "I constantly compare myself to other women—not just women I know, but friends of friends, famous people, etc." before acknowledging that my life is fine overall, save for my obsessive quest to "constantly think about how little I have in comparison to some friends and acquaintances (especially when it comes to my love life)."A therapist named Regina M. "It is so difficult to be a woman in our culture these days," she writes. I explain that I've been in therapy for years and have tried a zillion types of treatment.

THE THERAPY SITE: is the slickest of the three sites I tried.

It has the most appealing design, and it helpfully provides sympathetic-looking photos of its roster of online therapists waiting, with bated breath, to help me. For "everyone [to] have real-time, simple, and affordable access to professional advice whenever and wherever we need it."Talktala offers paid online support from legit online therapists—it costs for an "initial help" session; for a one-on-one "chat for a week" service in which you get to, yes, e-chat with a therapist one-on-one for a week; and for a 30-minute one-on-one video session with a therapist of your choosing.

"The dialogue that occurs online is much more shallow and transient.

It's like comparing an artificial sweetener to honey, or instant coffee to slow-brewed." I suspected as much, but I wanted to see for myself.1.

it's like Facebook had a baby with a virtual shrink's office! Like Talktala, MTC features free forums where users can vent about their issues, but if you want real therapeutic guidance (aka "Direct Counseling") from a professional, you'll need to cough up some cash.THE RESOLUTION (OR LACK THEREOF)OK, so the therapist's response seems a bit... I wasn't expecting much more, honestly, so I continue my exchange, explaining more details about my mental-health history.It's weirdly gratifying each time I get an email notification alerting me to Regina's replies, and there is something freeing about anonymously spilling my guts with no sense of concern about how I "look" to the other person.THE RESOLUTION (OR LACK THEREOF)I end up chatting with "Special-Reward" about Life Stuff—our jobs, the site, the few "creeps" she's encountered there—for about 45 minutes.While my new, Colorado-based buddy is certainly no therapist, it feels sweet and genuine, making a connection with a stranger like this.

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