shrunk

The
therapist kept calling me ma’am. He said, "Ma’am? My name is Dr. Whosis.
Welcome to Clinic Whatsis. Why don’t you follow me in here?" and I
almost shot out straight the other way, because how would it be
possible to talk about your deep dark secrets and the way your life is
a sucking hole of despair with a man who keeps calling you ma’am?

I
don’t know why I’ve decided to try therapy. What the hell am I talking about? Of course I know why. When
you’re sad, and it goes on and on, there’s a point when you decide that
being tough and silent and strong isn’t quite cutting it any more.
When you think maybe that the small, nagging feeling that says it’s kind of
like surrendering–to deliver yourself and your issues over into the
hands of someone else and asking her, essentially, "fix me?"–isn’t
really important anymore. That maybe asking for help doesn’t make you
weak, necessarily, but is in fact a strong and brave thing to do! I
guess.

Crying in front of strangers isn’t something I am really a fan of, either.

All
the other times I’ve been in therapy, I have been herded by family. My
mother, back in the day, decided that what our family needed most was a
dose of good old-fashioned head shrinking. I never really asked her
why. I was around eight or nine, I think, and the only thing I remember about
it is how much I liked the stuffed ostrich the therapist had in her
office. She asked me questions that I thought were stupid, and I spent
most of the time secretly hoping she would think I was so sad that I
deserved to have her ostrich. Once I lied to her, and told her that I
had a dream that I rode it into the desert, and then it sank into the
sand crying "Help me! Take me home!" She nodded thoughtfully, and noted
it down on her pad. She did not give the ostrich to me. My mother
stopped sending all of us shortly after that.

This did not, as you might imagine, leave me with glowing feelings about benefits of therapy.

The other two times, they were not especially enlightening either. The lasting benefits: a copy of The Road Less Traveled (now kindling), and a deep hatred for the movie Deliverance (long story).

So
therapy is useless, pointless, purposeless, and for weak chumps who are
fond of helpless weeping, I’ve been thinking. Yet I’m going anyway.

And
maybe because this time it’s all my decision, that will make a
difference. I don’t know. So far, I’m not especially cured. I’ve just
answered questions about hearing voices and feeling persecuted (no, and
no, for the record). And I’ve already burst into tears. He looked at me
and said, "So what brings you here, ma’am?" And there I was, wailing.
But not because he called me ma’am. Mostly because I am a delicate
flower, after all.

  6 comments for “shrunk

  1. August 27, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Yep, I’ve aired my issues in therapy. Truthfully? I got a lot out of it – I’ve been angry for a long time, about things that I couldn’t control. I’ve learned that the only control I have is control over my reactions to the things I can’t control.

    I have control issues, can you tell?

    Seriously, it has helped. I found a great body-image therapist who has been fantastic. I suspect our days are numbered, though, unless I stoop to inventing problems… But let’s not borrow trouble.

  2. August 28, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I’ve done therapy many times, and psychiatry many times, and medication many times, and finally found a combo that worked for me. I went to cognitive behavioral therapy for several months, felt that it helped, and now I see my APRN several times a year and take my medication (finally one that works).

    I think it’s just one of those things that is about right time, right person. Sometimes you’re just not ready to do the work it requires, and sometimes the person you’re meeting with isn’t the right one for you (ma’am??? I hate being called ma’am!). And sometimes, it just works, it clicks, and you feel yourself healing. Trust me on this, though, sometimes medication helps. I feel so different now that I found one that works for me – I can feel it when I get sad, it’s a less deep, less awful sad than it was before medication. It’s not dark and hopeless, it’s just sadness, and for me that’s amazing. I hope you find your own combo that works for you.

  3. lulu
    August 28, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Surrendering feels hard but it can also be life-changing, in a good way, just look what your choosing surgery has done for you! Sure it brought out issues but don’t the positives outweigh the negatives in that you’re so much more healthy physically now?

    Not all types of therapy and therapists are created equal so there’s a lot of research involved and it’ll be a pain for you to screen/select what works best for you, not to mention the work you’ll have to put into it. What you have done is NOT the easy way out. You’re choosing to do hard work on and for yourself and that is hugely healing already.

  4. anon
    August 28, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Good for you, and I hope you found a good one. That, I think, is the hardest part. I have tried therapy several times and never found someone with whom I clicked.

    And I don’t think it was because I wasn’t willing to do what I had to do, because I sought therapy on my own, with an open mind, actually eager to peel back whatever parts of myself that might help reveal some answers.

    But I never found anyone who seemed able to do that for/with me. I have since done a lot of it on my own, or as much as one can do on one’s own without the help of an impartial outside eye, but I still think about giving therapy another try sometimes, and if I could find the right someone, I would not hesitate to go for it.

    If this guy doesn’t work out (“ma’am”?????) try someone else. And please share as much as you’re willing to share about your therapy with us, because hearing about someone else’s insanity always helps make me feel a little saner.

    KIDDING!

  5. Teri
    August 28, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Oh my god, you are going to LOVE therapy! Well, you’ll love it while you’re not doing it. While you’re doing it, it’ll feel like a chore and you’ll wonder why you’re throwing away good money. But wait until you or your therapist goes on vacation or until you have to skip a week or two. Then you’ll realize the true joy of paying someone to watch you cry for 50 minutes every week. Ah. Such sweet relief.

    My only advice to you is, find someone you like. I’ve had about three or four therapists over the years and only one was a dud. She wasn’t as supportive as I would have liked – I would leave her sessions feeling like I had just had my head shrunk by a family member (i.e., “Just suck it up already!” She never said that; it just felt like she had). I stayed with her a lot longer than I should have because I convinced myself that I was making excuses to quit therapy. No, it was, as they say, a bad personality fit.

    Here’s to your burgeoning self-esteem!

  6. C
    August 29, 2007 at 8:02 am

    I know therapy is one of those things people generally don’t talk about but since I’ve had surgery and started going – I’ve hailed it as the second greatest thing (next to surgey obv) that I’ve done for myself. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *