I saw the look on your face when you walked into the office. I watched you as you gingerly opened the door, as your eyes grew wide as you took in your new surroundings. I know that all of those ads for the myriad of medications are annoying, maybe even daunting. I was sitting by the window, basking in the warm sun of a gorgeous day when I noticed you, noticed your nervousness. Our eyes met for a split second. I smiled at you as if to say, “It’s ok, Newbie. Really, it is.” You looked away, quickly, ashamed. I felt for you. I know that the first time is hard.
That’s not to say I’m an old pro at this. I’ve only been in therapy for a couple of months now, but I know that it probably took you a lot to even get you into that office in the first place, let alone your first appointment. You probably think you don’t belong here. You’re probably here because your friends, your family, your coworkers suggested it. Or maybe you’re here because your doctor referred you. It doesn’t matter how you got here. What matters is that you ARE here. And trust me, getting here is the hardest part.
You'll find that the first appointment is the worst part. It's uncomfortable. It's intimidating. You might even find it difficult to trust a complete stranger with all the personal stuff in your life that might have lead you here. But it gets easier, I promise. Dr. W is a great listener. She has had many years of experience and her expertise might surprise you. She's trustworthy and easy to talk to. And you'll find that, with every visit, you'll become more and more comfortable with her. Just let her do her job. She's here to help you.
When I walked out of Dr. W's office, you were still there in the waiting room. I felt as light as air, as if a weight had been lifted by Dr. W. It's such a great feeling. I wish that you feel that too, very soon. I smiled at you as I shut the door. You looked away again, as if you hadn't noticed. As I walked out to face the world again, I turned away from the door and wished you a good night. You sheepishly looked down at your feet and said, "You too."
What you don't realize is that we have a lot in common. I thought I was normal. I thought I was ok. I found Dr. W because my doctor told me to. I was nervous at my first visit and for many visits after that. I came here for my own reasons, but in the end, I just want to get better. And I know that you do too.
And you will, some day. And one day you'll realize that every person you meet in that waiting room wants the same thing. We all want to get better. We all want to lift that weight--the sadness, the anxiety, the voices in your head. One day, we will lift that weight off all by ourselves. One day, we'll know how to cope. One day, the calm will replace the stress.
But until that day, I'll be seeing you in the waiting room. Maybe one day you'll smile back, completely aware that you are not alone.
the girl in the room with the anxiety disorder
Wednesday, May 16, 2007