Friday, March 30, 2007

what a shrink should never do during therapy

I was running late. The last thing I wanted to do was to show up late for my second appointment with Dr. W. After all, I’m paying for 45 minutes of Dr. W’s time. Something tells me that I wouldn’t get a discount if I only get 30 minutes with my shrink because I showed up late.

I get to the Metro and wait. Come on, it’s 4:45 pm and I’m paying for rush hour service. I shouldn’t have to wait 6 minutes for the next train. My heart starts to race faster and I can’t stop my hands from shaking (they were shaking only slightly, but still involuntarily). I just really don’t want to be late. I finally get on a train.

I rush to her office. I wait for one of the two elevators to come down to the first floor so I could take one of them all the way to the top. Both of the elevator doors opened at the same time to reveal a brother in one and a sister in another and apparently they were racing each other in the elevators. I choose to ride with the little boy. He apologizes. I accept but I'm still annoyed. My heart was still racing.

I open the door to Dr. W’s office and I sit down. I pull out my cell phone to see what time it is. It’s 5:15. I made it! I’m right on time. Woo hoo. Now if only my heart could stop racing. I get a cup from the water cooler and pour myself some cold, refreshing water. This should calm me down. I look down into the cup before I take a sip and realize that the water in the cup is shaking. Or rather, my hand is still shaking therefore the cup is too.

Dr. W comes out and welcomes me in to her office. She asks me how I was doing. I told her about what happened. How agitated I feel. The rapid heartbeat that just won’t stop. The tension I feel in my hands. The stress headache I just gave myself. “All I want to do is calm down and relax, but I can’t,” I tell her, a tone of frustration in my voice. “Have you been practicing the relaxation techniques?” she asks. “Yes,“ I tell her, “but I can’t seem to get my brain to just stop so I can relax. The techniques aren’t working.” Dr. W calmly says, “We’ll find something that works. I know we will.”

And I believe her.

She asks me about Jesse and how he deals with stress. I tell her, “Jesse is my exact opposite in almost every way. He is always calm and cool as a cucumber. In fact, I didn’t really think there was something wrong with me until I started comparing our reactions. He lets things go easily, whereas I can dwell on something forever.” “How often do you feel anxious?” Dr. W asks. “Often. And I’ve been noticing it more since I started seeing you,” I say.

We start to wrap things up. I get up and she starts to walk me to the front door. I stop and tell her, “You know, I’ve been living this way for so long that I just thought it was normal to react the way I do.” I look at Dr. W and see the shocked expression on her face. “No,” she replies, very slowly. “This is NOT normal. In fact, it’s just horrible to live life that way.”

As I walk out of her office, I think to myself, Wow. She just looked at me like I was crazy. My shrink made me feel like I am crazy. This should be a violation of some shrink code. Like the Hippocratic Oath (do no harm) but for shrinks—Do not make your patients feel like they are crazy.

And like a true patient suffering from anxiety, I dwell on this all night.

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