Batting aside the passive aggressive commentary from my boss, I left the office at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday for a nondescript "doctor's appointment." On the highway, I brainstormed answers to questions I thought I might be asked. "What brings you in?" "What do you hope to gain from this?" "What's different this time?"
Officially, this is my third engagement with a mental health professional.
The first time, I was 14. My family had just moved from St. Louis to Chicago. I'd spent a majority of the fall of that year sleeping a ridiculous number of hours per day, eating a ridiculous number of hours per day, and "falling in with the wrong crowd." My grades were appalling. I skipped classes all the time. I was sad...always. My mom set up an appointment for me with a very nice lady at the seminary she was attending. I canceled a lot of appointments in favor of hanging out with the wrong crowd, and eventually just stopped going altogether.
Shortly after I graduated from college, the same symptoms had recurred, only more severely. I started going to therapy again - gathered some strength, got some positive momentum going, got out of a relationship that wasn't going anywhere, moved into my own apartment, met someone new, and promptly stopped going to therapy. (My new therapist calls it "new boyfriend Prozac...happens all the time.") My therapist at the time made some weak protests when I explained how elated I was and how I didn't really think I needed to come see him anymore. (P.S. This really is the incorrect time to stop going to therapy.)
Take 3. Tuesday. Driving down 35W, I thought about how really, it had been a pretty good couple of weeks. Maybe I didn't need this after all. Maybe I just need a mentor or something. It's going to cost so much money. What have these engagements ever really done for me, anyway? While I sat in the waiting room, I flipped through the paperwork I'd filled out in preparation for my appointment. Over the past two weeks, how often have you felt "blue"? Had feelings of hopelessness? Lost interest in things you once enjoyed? Had difficulting falling or staying asleep? Had trouble concentrating? Poor or overindulgent appetite? I scanned my answers. Every day. Every day. Every day. Every day. Every day. Every day.
She didn't ask me the questions I'd prepared answers to, but I physically shook as I answered the ones she did ask. She was upbeat. Real. Hilarious. Was more insightful in the first hour than other therapists have been in months while they watched me flounder around helplessly in a tepid pool of my own melancholy and charge me by the hour. If another dark-haired man with glasses says to me, "Tell me more about that," I may have a flashback and involuntarily punch him in the face.
No chance of that with this lady. #1: She's a lady. #2: She's the type who spots your bullshit, calls your bullshit, and/or shows you your bullshit. "See? Here's your bullshit. I've got it right here."