09 May 2007

Help Me Take A Deep Breath, Babe

The word of the day must absolutely be PERSPECTIVE. I had the first appointment with my therapist today, and perspective is what I got in spades. I'm energized, and nearly euphoric, which I know is only temporary, but wow, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Since I'm almost always in "over-sharing" mode, I'm going to tell you about the whole visit and then draw some conclusions.

I got there early, which is a minor miracle. I am always, always, always running late. Laziness? You could argue that, I suppose. Scatter-brained has always been my excuse. I signed in, had a seat and waited for them to call my name. I knew I'd have forms to fill in, and was hoping that by getting there early that I'd actually get in and out of there in a reasonable amount of time. No dice, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first thing I noticed about the waiting room was the fact that there was about an 8 year old boy sitting there completely unattended. I don't have kids, and I certainly don't claim to be a child care expert, but I thought it really odd that this kid was sitting there all alone. I mean, I know I'm buckets of crazy, but really, you don't do that, right? No other adults in the room, and the receptionist behind her glass shield was absent as well. He was playing with a tabletop basketball game, making an inordinate amount of irritating noise. I wanted to rub my temples and shriek a little.

I was really nervous, and when my anxiety is running high, I shake. Tremble. My hands are the most obvious place to spot this, but if I'm sitting with my legs crossed in un-lady-like fashion, the foot that is off the floor will shake as well. When I notice it, I try to stop it, but that usually only makes it worse. So as I sat there, I felt crazier than ever. I joke quite a lot about being crazy, poke fun at my own idiosyncrasies, but sitting in the lobby of my psychologist's office I finally truly felt that I am perhaps completely unhinged. I was all but sitting curled in a ball, rocking. I very seriously considered running out and hiding in my house for the rest of my life. This is a tough thing, to admit that things are bad enough that yes, I need a psychologist.

I waited in that goddam waiting room for almost 45 minutes. Many things irritate me, but waiting in a doctor's office is way up there on the list. MY TIME IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS YOURS, DOC!!!!

The receptionist called me over and told me that my deductible hasn't been met according to insurance company XYZ, and that I'd have to pay for today's session out of pocket. Fucking fantastic. But, wait. That's not my insurance company. I told her, "I don't HAVE xyz. I've NEVER had xyz. I have ABC." In the end, it didn't matter, because my insurance company isn't going to cover therapy anyway. Deep breath...I'm not going to rant about insurance companies today.

When I finally went back to meet the therapist, I was pissed and frightened. Not a good combo to start with. Her office is....stark. Maybe that's not the right word. It isn't clinical, white, sterile. It is devoid of family pictures. There are a few knick-knacks, a seashell, a glass sculpture of fish, a huge pile of folders on her unusual desk. The desk is a slab of white marble, veined with small amounts of black, mounted on a cast iron stand, larger than the average desk. No computer. (No computer? WTF? How does she surf teh interweb?) Degrees, unobtrusive on the wall to the left of the desk, but behind her. An odd enough angle that I couldn't see where she went to school.

She opened a file that had blank forms mounted inside, reminding me of the files that I used to use at ye olde evile bank. She asked me a bunch of questions that in any other situation would have been rude, antagonistic. About my marriage, my childhood, my sisters, my medications, my asthma, my job, my education, why I had come to see her. We spent a lot of time talking about my job. I can't get into that here, so let me say simply that she is familiar with the situation and was able to give me some great, here's that word again, perspective.

After talking for just a few minutes, she said to me, "You're a very creative person. And your creativity is being stifled, that's a big part of the problem."


I've never thought of myself as a creative person. Never. When I'm not being an idiot with low self esteem, I think of myself as intelligent, I think of myself as bookish, I think of myself as blonde, sassy, outspoken. Creative? Not really. But yet, she's right. I create all kinds of things. The cooking and baking are creative enterprises, the novel writing is deeply creative, the knitting that I've been unable to pick up for weeks is creative too. I never follow a pattern or a recipe as written, the urge to put my own spin on everything is far too great.

I answered her questions truthfully, openly, and listened attentively to her opinions. She thinks the sleep problem is a symptom of both anxiety and depression, and she does not disagree with my self-diagnosis of depression, but she thinks I've got more anxiety than I'm willing to admit to. I should have known that...I obtained some Xanax a while back and when I take it, I feel much more like myself, like I used to, before this current insanity started.

I told her how I feel guilty for feeling so despondent, and she interrupted me, the only time she did that through the entire session, to say, "You should absolutely not feel guilty. Let that go immediately. Major life changes are often associated with depression, and your depression is valid. Just because you didn't have a miserable childhood or have one major issue that you're dealing with, that does not mean that you don't have reason to be depressed."

We talked about my sisters leaving the home state, and she said, "That was really hard for you." That gentle acceptance, and insight from someone I'd just met, nearly made me cry. I fully expect the sessions to be full of tears, but I managed to not cry during this session despite coming close one other time, when we talked about my cousin J's death. Everyone in town here knows the story, since there was a television show shot about it, all I have to do is say the name of the TV show and people immediately know. From time to time, though, people I encounter actually knew her before, or knew another member of my extended kin network and are therefore more intimately familiar with the story than the average Joe. Such was the case with the therapist, she knows J's sister.

She gave me some really great suggestions about what to do with the job situation, things that are completely, "Why didn't *I* think of that?!?" sorts of things, which made me feel like my eyes were opened after having been blindfolded for years. She even suggested I job hunt in Texas at one point, which made me giggle. And then I had to explain about the fangirl business. Astonishingly, to me, she managed to not roll her eyes. I could never do her job, that non-reaction face is something I could probably never master. Although I do have to do that sometimes at work. *shrug* I guess you get good at it.

I spent over an hour with her, and the time flew by. "Easy to talk to" is probably too cliche to say about a therapist, but it is true. She had on a lovely grey pinstriped suit, with a skirt just slightly longer than knee length. She sat behind her desk in the exact same manner that I do at work, with one knee propped up against the edge of the desk, the opposite foot en pointe and tapping the heel. Great shoes, a matte black pair of slingbacks with a glossy stripe around the toe, a small bow at the corners of the toes. She's taller than me, but hell, who isn't? Oh, that's right, ten year olds. Her hair is a dark blonde, cut in a businesslike fashion. She had on great glasses that I'm tempted to identify as Dolce & Gabbana, but I couldn't swear to that.

I left there feeling like I was seeing the sun for the first time in months, singing along with the iPod in the car, something I haven't done for ages.

If I am going to continue to talk about the therapy, I need to assign a name to her, I can't just keep saying "my therapist," "my psychologist," "she," "her," because it will drive me nuts. I can't use her real name, and I don't want to come up with something cutsey because I don't want to trivialize what's going on here. I kinda like Dr. Solution, because she's got the solutions, but when you're in therapy, you're supposed to find your own solutions, so that's out. Dr. Question strikes me as dumb, The Interrogator is too harsh. I'm going to have to think about that for a while.

Any suggestions from the gallery?

Finally, as I said yesterday, I'll be offline the rest of this week and part of next. I'll be in California with no computer and no internet. Behave yourselves while I'm gone!

Listening to: Sheryl Crow "It Don't Hurt"


Dawna said...

Very, very cool. I love how you can keep your mind on the details from the very beginning. I get lost, and thus jaded by the end result.

Damned... wait, you're a Capricorn, right? Ah well, you give off earthy vibes any ways. ^_^

Dr. Doolittle? LOL One who gives us humans the perspective of animals.

MotherMe said...

Dr. Know? lol


Lucy Arin said...

Great suggestions, both of you! I'm going to have to think about that some more.

Hey Dawna-

Yep, Capricorn, bday is 12/24.

Kat said...

I'm only a sometime lurker, but may I suggest you just call her "Bob"?

Gets rid of the need for the name to "fit" because it so obviously DOESN'T and you can get on with writing what you want to write, instead of worrying about whether the name you've chosen gives the right feeling...

Just a thought.

Lucy Arin said...

Hey Kat,
Thanks for de-lurking. I get so excited when new people comment! Welcome, welcome!

I'm still thinking about that name thing...I really like MotherMe's Dr. Know, because it is funny, and although some of the crap that is going on in my life is tragic, I like having a bit of a sense of humor about it. If you can't laugh at yourself, and all that. But Bob is funny, too, in reference to the movie "What about Bob?" What was the shrink's name in that? Maybe that's an idea.

Thanks again!