Yesterday a I spent the morning freaking out about going to therapy. I had myself convinced that my new therapist was probably going to have me committed. Because I was loosing my mind, it took me extra long to get ready. So, I ended up leaving late, with not enough time to get there early to fill out paper work. Then I got lost and couldn't find the place. So I ended up getting there right on time for my appointment, which means I was fifteen minutes late.
As I sat in the waiting room I felt keenly aware of how nice the place was, and how utterly out of place I felt there. I had made the assumption that the place I was going would have peeling linoleum and plain white walls, since it was a county facility. I would even have been okay with it being like my last therapist's building where it was nice, but homey, decked out in a southwestern theme with leather sofas and carpet that made it feel like you were sitting in someone's living room. This place was neither of those things. The waiting room was huge with four different seating areas on either side of a wide isle that lead up to reception. The grand half circle desk was positioned directly below the skylight and had an imposing wall behind it. There was still a south west feeling to the room, with the leather bound chairs, and the warm tones, but the whole place felt so magnificent and intimidating. I wished I had worn my blazer instead of my sleeveless hoodie with the zipper up the front.
Still, the people were friendly enough, and no one criticized my tardiness. They had a lady in an office fill out and explain the paperwork to me, which was nice, and they asked for my consent to use audio and video recordings of my sessions for training purposes, which I was more than happy to agree to. She gave me a magnet with the phone number for the hotline, and a punch card for my five discounted sessions. Actually the card is also good for five medical appointments as well. I was too anxious to ask about that, but we'll see if I can get up the nerve to ask next time. I suspect it's so I can get back on my meds and have some follow up visits to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to.
The actual session went nothing like I expected. I came ready to lay out my life story as quickly and concisely as I could so that we could get all my problems out into the open and maybe have a few minutes to talk about how I can go about getting back on my meds. I expected to only have forty five minutes, and that I would feel awkward and uncomfortable talking to him. I expected him to tell me I'm unstable and need to be hospitalized for the time being until such time as I am ready to renter the workforce. I expected him to be just warm enough to encourage me talk, but over all I expected him to be calculating and clinical about the whole thing.
None of that happened. First of all, my new therapist is welcoming and warm. I haven't had a lot of experience with male therapists, and maybe that's why I expected him to act like a robot covered in fake fur. It's not that I've had a bad experience with male therapists, I just usually tell the person setting up my appointments that I have no preference and they usually stick me with a woman. I think this is better. Because he's a man, I don't feel like I need to be in competition with him. That may be a little sexist of me to say, but my last two therapists were very attractive women, who were both very successful in life, and I couldn't help but feel inferior. This guy exuded comfort and acceptance, and he put me right at ease.
Having said that, I don't want to imply that I wasn't anxious, or that the session was light hearted and easy. It was a very difficult session, and I found myself on the verge of tears many times, and getting my uncomfortable twitchy smile when I had to open up and be honest. I promised myself that I am done minimizing my problems, and that I would tell him everything, and I did. I was terrified that he would lock me away in the looney bin, but I was honest anyway.
We started off with just a brief talk about why I was there. I told him it was because I've been more rabidly obsessed with suicide than I've been since high school, and that I've started having panic attack. We focused on the suicidal ideation, and he asked me a list of questions to get a good gauge of what I'm feeling and thinking when I am suicidal. He was a bit apologetic for the phrasing of some of the questions, because they were very harsh and blunt, but I answered as truthfully as I could, even admitting that while most of the time my suicidal thoughts are about avoiding or escaping pain, I do sometimes get angry enough that I want to do it out of revenge.
After we finished the questionnaire, we worked up a safety plan, which I will go into in more depth in a separate post. During the questionnaire, I had told him about my noose. He didn't judge, he didn't look shocked or appalled, and he didn't say a word about how unhealthy it was for me to have it. He did ask me why I keep it, and he asked me where it is. I almost cried as I told him it was because it makes me feel better knowing I have a way already planned out and available to me, and I got my twitchy smile when I asked him if I had to tell him where it was. He said He wouldn't force me to tell him anything, and a wave of relief rolled over me. As we were working up the safety plan he asked me what we can do to make my environment safe. I knew immediately what I should say, but I told him I didn't know. He said, "I think you do know, Jen." Not in a condescending way, but with a gentleness in his voice that brought tears to my eyes again. My half hearted smile twitched, but I told him that maybe I did know, but I wasn't ready to let it go. I was sure this was where he would call in the men in the white coats to take me away, but instead he asked me if I would consider giving the noose to my husband, and, relieved, I agreed to think about it.
The rest of the session was a blur, though I remember letting him know at the last possible minute about the possibility that I may have a few paranoid delusions. He assured me that I did good, and I felt good when I left to go home. All in all, it was a really good thing to do, and I'm really happy to be back in therapy. I'm going back on Monday, and I'm really excited.
I strongly advise all of you, my wonderful readers, to go get a mental health check up. I think we should treat our mental health like we treat our physical health and at least go in once a year, even if we feel fine, just to make sure we're taking the best possible care of ourselves. Also, if you are feeling down, or distressed in any way, please don't be afraid to look for help. Eric Charles founder of Make it Ultra posted a wonderful and insightful article a couple of days ago about how to get help if your strapped for cash (click here to read it), and its full of tips on how to get help even if you can't afford it.
I know I'm not out of the woods yet, but I am looking forward again, and no matter how hard it gets I know help is out there if I'm brave enough to accept it.