March 5, 2004

Freaking Out

My first appointment with the psychotherapist is in two hours.

I'm scared.

A big part of me doesn't want to go.

I AM going to go. I know that the negative feelings are part of the problem, part of what's holding me down.
Until a day or two ago I felt really positive about this; now a lot of doubt has crept in.
This morning I'm going through all the usual symptoms of anxiety - some shakiness, a headache, some stomach cramps.
Enough to make me take notice but not enough for me to do anything about except try to ignore them and try to expunge them by writing.
All this energy just fighting with myself. I could probably climb Mt. Everest if I knew how to channel it properly.

I found out more about this psychotherapist's methods.
He uses the theory of "experiential therapy". It has to do with tapping into past events that were hurtful, and somehow changing your reaction to them.
I think.
I'm really not too clear on the concept.
I'm under the impression that it involves some intense emotional activity during the session. This page gives an outline of the process.
I don't know if I'm ready for that. I already hurt enough.

Excuses, excuses.

In one way the process seems to be just what I need. In another way it sounds a bit too new-agey and radical.
But I don't really know, yet. I'm just obsessing.

I also know that if I don't want to continue with this therapist I can ask my family doctor for a referral to the hospital's psychiatric clinic, which is the way I went about 12 years ago. I didn't choose that first because it involves some waiting (weeks? A couple of months?) but that is a perfectly viable alternative.

Telling myself that doesn't reduce the anxiety.

I must really want to hold on to my old dysfunctional way of life.

To be continued later today...

Of course it went just fine.

An hour of talk, of the sort that one would expect in an introductory meeting. "Counselling", as opposed to "therapy" which is what I was worrying about, above.
The "therapy" may happen if indicated, but they don't spring it on you, first visit.

The office is up a flight of stairs, over a strip mall within walking distance of my home. There are doctors, dentists, and various other businesses there. Electrolysis, for example.

I hadn't walked up that particular flight of stairs in many years, since I stopped taking the kids to the local pediatrician because I disagreed with the way they diagnosed strep throat:
-Peer into throat
-Utter diagnosis based on look, smell, their mood, what's going around, and what they had for breakfast.
This did not go over well with me, who worked for five years in a diagnostic bacteriology lab doing strep tests among other things.

Anyway, up the stairs, turn right instead of left, and the first person I see is the receptionist/nurse/whatever in the dentist's office, who happens to be the dentist's wife, with whom I served on school committees in what feels like a past life.
She also passed through my bowling league at one time, and often hangs around the restaurant where Annie and I have lunch.

Annie knows about my going for counselling, and I've never made a secret about having depression because I believe it should be regarded as just another condition, nothing that need be hidden; but neither do I relish being the subject of idle gossip by Mrs. Dentist, with whom I was never all that friendly.

She caught my eye but was distracted, so I quickly knocked on the therapist's office door and actually opened it -
to find not an outer office, but the actual therapist in his actual room.
I'm really glad he didn't have a previous patient in there!

So after that nice, awkward introduction I settled into the nice comfortable armchair (the one beside the kleenex box) and relaxed a bit.

A few vital statistics and then the "why are you here".
That wasn't difficult to ease into, although I thought I wouldn't know WHERE to begin.
He asked what bothers me the most, these days.
I talked about being stuck, seeming to not be able to move forward, my mother, depression, my mother…
much like many of the entries here. In fact it was easier for having written all this down.

I talked about this journal, too.
(I figure if he reads it, it might save a few sessions of background detail!)
Well, that, and it's so much a part of me now.

I talked about the false starts at the bank and the tax course, about writing, about the direction I want my life to go.

He asked me what I thought I could do, in the space of the week between sessions, that would put me on the road towards my goals even if only a tiny bit.
What is the easiest most "minimal" thing I could do.

That required some thought. So much to choose from but much of it not seeming "minimal" to me.

"Clean my house" would have been a constructive, if unrealistic, choice.
"Seriously job hunt" was a possibility.
I think (though I'm not sure) he steered me towards pursuing my writing, because we finally settled on "going to the library" (or the mega book store) to browse magazines, something I've had on the agenda for weeks but haven't come close to actually doing.
I also threw in "write every day".
(Not necessarily post, although I will try to, or start up the blog or something.)
Just write.
Who knows, something intelligent might come out.

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