“So tell me, what’s going on?” My Psychologist asked with a big smile on her face. “Can I get you a coffee, a cup of herbal tea?” she offers before she sits down.
“No, thanks though…Not much going on with me… and you?” I replied, which if you think of it, is a pretty shitty answer when you’re paying someone 150 bucks an hour to talk, isn’t it? I should have at least taken the herbal tea.
She sits down opposite me on a large orange chair. Mine is green with orange scatter cushions I’m forced to move out of the way every time otherwise they’re awfully uncomfortable against my back.
She’s about my height, and similar in age. She wears thick black rimmed glasses, the type you’d expect on a creative sort. Her wild curls fall around her face and land across her brow.
She held out her hand, beaming with pride.
“Argghhhh!” she mock screamed, bobbing her head around with delight. “I’m engaged!”
“Oh, wow…that’s great!” I said swallowing. “Just great! I’m really happy for you!”
Don’t get me wrong. I was happy for her. She’s an amazing human being and she’s been an incredible influence in my life. But today, I was just struggling to feel any enthusiasm for anything. I could have literally won the lottery and still sounded pretty mopey about it.
She pulled her iPad off the table and opened up her photo gallery to show me pictures of the new kitten she and her future spouse had adopted together. I couldn’t even feel a squee for the tiny furball in the photos she fawned over. I hunched over, with my elbows on my knees. She doesn’t like it when I assume that position because she thinks it’s my ‘uneasy’ look. She put the iPad down on the coffee table beside her.
She leaned in toward me and looked directly into my eyes. I felt a sudden pang of vulnerability and embarrassment.
“You’re really not doing well, are you? I haven’t seen you like this in a long time.” she said as she reached forward offering me a box of off brand tissues as if she knew what was coming. I took a few and held them tightly, scrunching them into tiny balls in my fists, tearfully replying “Not really, no.”
My eyes searched around the room. Glancing at the whiteboard with half erased 5 factor model of anxiety drawn upon it, the photos on her desk of her fiance, the gaudy CopperArt era gold and glass clock that times our hour long appointment… anywhere but at her. I could feel her eyes on me peering over her glasses, watching me as I attempted avoid her gaze.
She took a large deep breath. In her sessions, that’s my cue to also take a large deep breath also which I performed on command like Pavlov’s dog. Again, she breathed deeply and I followed suit. Feeling a little more centered, I looked up at her, our eyes meeting. In that moment, I couldn’t fight the tears I’d been holding back, and they cascaded down my cheeks. I dabbed at them with the balled up tissues I had in my palms.
It had been six months between this and my last appointment. In the 6 years I’ve been her patient, it’s the longest I’d been without seeing her. I think what she was seeing in front of her was direct evidence that I should never go that length of time between appointments again. I wasn’t avoiding going. I’ve always been really compliant with doctors and therapists. I just let it lapse mostly due to the fact I’d been seeing my Psychiatrist monthly at the very least, and attending a weekly day program through the Psych Hospital to manage my Anxiety and Obsessive Thoughts. Between those and my regular visits with my GP, I thought I was managing okay but as it turns out I totally fucking wasn’t. I’d really just internalized all my grief and pain and stuffed it way down inside, like you would breadcrumbs into a Christmas Turkey, where I didn’t have to deal with things or feel any pain. It was like the dam breaking. I just bawled. And she just sat with me, like a priest, as I confessed all the insanity I’d been dealing with for the past few months. I told her about my ill-fated attempt to get back into dating and how the prospect of it turning physical sent me into a devastating OCD spiral and eventually into a really dark place. She listened as I lamented the end of a long term friendship with someone incredibly important to me, the anniversary of a loss of a close friend who took her own life and about the troubles I was having with my now former Psychiatrist.
She glanced at the garish clock. Our time was coming to an end.
“Are we okay?” she enquired.
“Is there anything else you want to tell me? Are you sure?” she asked again.
“Yep…pretty sure” I reassured her.
“I don’t believe you, but that’s alright. Make another appointment for 3 weeks and I’ll see you then, okay?” she implored as she accompanied me out of the office.
I silently prayed she wouldn’t throw in a ‘Namaste’ as I walked away.
She didn’t, thank god.
“Take care of yourself, Prue” she advised, comforting me with her hand on my the back of my arm.
All the things that had been weighing on me for the past 180 days condensed into a 50 minute appointment, half of which I cried through or looked around the room avoiding eye contact, so about 25 minutes of actual talk time. It wasn’t really enough time to unpack everything I was dealing with, but I felt less like a saucepan over a hot stove ready to boil over. I sensed relief for the first time in months. I swear, everyone should have a Psychologist. There’s nothing like having someone in your life who you can debrief upon who’s paid to give it to you straight, but is always in your corner. I can’t recommend it enough.