In Aesop's Fables, the moral of the story always came last. I'm going to give you the moral first. It's the reverse order that I learned it, but that way maybe you can have it easier! This is part 1 of 2.
The moral I learned: See a therapist who can meet me on my level.
During my most recent OCD crisis in April (mentioned in another post), I found myself in a predicament. I had an urgent need to see my therapist, who, before now, hadn't seen me for a few years. In the interim, however, she moved on to practice strictly as a high school counselor and alas, I was no longer in high school.
My case had actually been closed. To open my case I'd have to be evaluated again. But who should see me?
I had no idea. Up until now I had always seen women, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I would take the first therapist with a degree and a free schedule. I just needed to start feeling ok, and I thought it didn't matter who I told my OCD stories to. I made the call and set up my appointment for a new office.
Scheduling the Appointment
I found him! The mystery guy who would give me just enough reassurance to send me on my way with a few new OCD tools in my toolchest. I took a day off work to visit the office, which was in a shadier part of town. It looked like one of those trailers set up at a construction site--sturdy enough to handle the sudden onslaught of new cases yet curiously rickety enough to make an anxious person feel just a bit worse.
The Woman in the Waiting Room
I took my seat in the waiting room. I was more anxious than I had ever been. I hadn't slept for days, hadn't eaten for just as long, and was having a 72-hour panic attack. I had never felt that way before. My fears were deeply personal, painful, and all-consuming. But the woman sitting in the chair across the room didn't care.
"What are you here for?"
Really? What am I here for? Is it really any of your business? These were words I didn't speak because I knew if I did the devil would erupt from my soul and this woman would be a casualty.
"What medicine do you take?" I just ignored her.
Understand that the healthy me is very, very compassionate, and I have already told you that I was not myself that day. I love people, and I love to help people. Especially at a mental health clinic the healthy me understands that I could encounter other unhealthy minds, and some probably tragically worse than my own. These people may not behave like me, or understand social mores. I feel for those people, and pray for them daily. But on that day the VERY unhealthy me was not prepared to deal with the anxiety caused by the woman in the chair, let alone the man I was just about to meet.
He entered the waiting room. Of all the 15 empty chairs, he sat right next to me. I was feeling very insecure, scared, and downright ready to jump out of my skin. Why was this man sitting next to me? I could feel him breathing.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm seeing the doctor." (I thought if I answered his question, he might leave me alone. The woman across the room seemed jealous to be receiving such preferential treatment.) Another man entered the room and looked at me.
"Is that your boyfriend?"
What followed was a story I can't remember, probably because I had already mentally run out the door. It was something about getting shot in the leg, and his subsequent fight to chase the shooter down. No doubt was the story true--he kicked his leg into the air to show me the scar. With the story came a reenactment of the struggle, complete with flailing arms and the free-flying spit of excitement (not good for a person who, at that time, struggled with contamination.) I thought he was going to punch me, grab me, or do something really bad.
But it SO wasn't him. It was me. And I hadn't even met the therapist yet.
Click to read the conclusion in Part 2.
4 weeks ago