Thursday, November 20, 2014

Family Feud Therapy

I'm in the waiting room and there are four women in here, including me. Two of them are around my age and one is elderly.  We're all well dressed, quiet, unwilling to make eye contact, and a bit uncomfortable.  We also all keep our gazes down.

It makes me wonder what they're here for.

Family Feud is on the TV and all of them are now talking a bit, commenting on it. I'm not though. Now I feel even more strange. At least there was a tentative kinship in silence.

I think group therapy, if there becomes one,  will be difficult.  But still I wonder what their stories are.. what struggle they need help with.

I'm babbling.. nervous I suppose. One of the women is from Atlanta, she's definitely chatty now that the Feud broke the ice. And as much as I get curious why they're here, I wish everyone would be quiet.  I'm afraid they're going to expect me to join in.


Those were texts messages from yesterday, sent to Tony while I waited to be called back to my mental health therapy session.  The clinic actually calls that department - Behavioral Health.  I don't like that term though, it makes me feel like a naughty child.

I wonder if pretty much everyone struggles with going to see a therapist.  I know I do.  The only way I can get my head into it (pun intended) is to think about mental health being just like physical health - if either or both are unwell, they need a doctor.

I've had three therapists in two years.  The first one was not a good fit, to say the least, and it nearly put me off ever going again.  Only the fact that I knew I needed help dealing with being sick made me try again.  I liked my second therapist, a female Psychologist, but she ended up leaving the practice a couple months ago.  So, here I am with the third therapist and she's someone I could see myself being friends with were circumstances different.

As we were walking through a maze of hallways to reach her office yesterday, she pointed out this little nook with a couple chairs, a small table of magazines and said to me, "You can wait in there the next time you come, if you like.  It's a little more secluded and quiet."

I guess after only one session with me, she was either the Jody-whisperer or she noticed that while the three women looked like long lost friends by this time, I was staring determinedly at my phone, trying to conjure up a mute button that would work on them.

Talking with strangers is difficult for me and in a setting such as that, all of us being there for a reason that is probably private and uncomfortable to begin with.. well, it's not much different than having your legs hiked up and feet in stirrups while Dr. Awkward checks over your lady-business.  Thus, I was truly grateful when the therapist offered me the peace of that closet sized waiting room.

Liking your therapist is a pretty big deal.  Just as we need our physical doctors to listen to our symptoms, to believe us even when those symptoms sound crazy, and to realize we know our bodies better than they do, so do we need our mental doctor to simply let us talk and validate the sadness and anger that comes with disease.

She asked me what I need from her and the sessions and I replied, "Just for you to listen.  Be the person that doesn't love me, the person that I don't feel the need to protect from how awful being sick is.  Let me be selfish in this room, let it be about what I'm going through because out there, I'm fiercely proud, I'm still trying to hide it the best I can and I put everyone else first."

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