The First Half

Today was my first session back after a ten day therapy vacation. I was kinda nervous going into it because it’s always awkward for me. I never know what to talk about. There’s so much I could talk about and that overwhelms me.

I knew I wanted to be pretty clear about how the past week has been for me, so I was prepared to talk about that topic. I opened by asking about how her vacation was and she said it was fine. She asked how it had been for me and I said it was also fine, but that I also did not want to do it again anytime soon. She laughed a bit and said, “Okay.”

Then I told her that I surprised myself with my ability to be resourceful throughout the time away from therapy. After the last session prior to her vacation, I’d told myself that I could call her if I absolutely needed to and I trusted myself to know what, exactly, “needed to” would mean.

That point never came, but I noticed that I was much less punitive with myself about reaching out. Normally I convince myself that I’m a total loser if I can’t get through a break without reaching out. This time I allowed room to need that, but I also allowed room to handle those moments alone. So although I think it’s great that I didn’t need to call her, that’s mostly because it demonstrates my increased ability to cope, not because I would feel like a loser if I had called her.

Which is a pretty big deal and she agreed. I could tell she was pleased that I’d handled the vacation so well and that she was proud of me for being able to see my own improvement from last year. She also noted how balanced I seemed to be and how it was probably good for me to have a true vacation and just rest. I agreed (and this is something I talked about myself in my last post).

But I felt a little self-conscious as we were discussing this – it’s hard for me to feel proud of myself or to have someone else make note of how well I handled something. It causes me to feel an added pressure to maintain that ability and I’m not so sure I’ll always be this adept with handling vacations.

I guess I just hope she doesn’t get her hopes up that this is the standard. It might be, but it might not be. I don’t want to disappoint her (or myself).

Then I told a couple of anecdotal stories about random happenings from the week to break the ice. They weren’t totally irrelevant, but I often interject the more serious stuff to add lighter material. It creates balance, I think.

I also mentioned how I never checked in with the shrink. I told him I would call or text at the two week mark. I didn’t. Two days later, I was talking about this with Wife and I told her he probably wouldn’t even call to check on me and he probably has no idea what medication he even put me on and he probably never called the therapist like he said he would.

Lo and behold, my phone rings an hour later and it’s him.

Not only did he call to check in (since he never heard from me), but he reiterated the changes in medication and outlined where I should be with the increase of Lamictal and tapering of Klonopin. Then he mentioned that he called the therapist and asked me to call or text back just to let him know I was okay.

Damnit.

As I was relaying this story to the therapist, she asked me why I didn’t call and check in. I told her I didn’t want to – I wanted to see if he was paying attention and if he’d keep his word. I needed to know that he gave a shit. It was a test. I’m not necessarily proud of my behavior, but that’s the truth. Then she asked if he passed the test and I was ambiguous in my response. I told her I didn’t owe him anything and she asked what that meant.

“Well just because he’s passed the bare minimum of being a relatively attentive and competent psychiatrist doesn’t mean I like him or owe him anything.”

“No, you absolutely do not owe him anything. But I have to be honest – after all of that, I kinda like him.”

We both laughed and I said, “Fine. You can like him for both of us then!”

It was a nice first half of the session. Probably the smoothest transition back from a vacation that I’ve ever experienced. She’s very good at her job, so she came prepared to work despite being off for ten days. I appreciate that. Some of my previous therapists seemed to still be on a mental vacation on their first days back, which is always hard to deal with.

If only the entire session had gone that well…

ETA: I got a notification after I published this post that it was my 200th post. Woot!

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17 thoughts on “The First Half

  1. Jen says:

    Glad it went well!

    I can relate to worrying that demonstrating capability will make my therapist expect it to be a standard. I’m always telling her, “but you know, next time might be different. I might need to x or y…” We’ve talked about it a lot so now she usually just says, “I know.” We recognize that sometimes I need to know that IF x or y or z would happen, it would be okay–but asking or saying so doesn’t at all predict that I WILL need it. Once we realized that, it dispelled a lot of the shame and feeling bad about myself for potentially needing support –when it was available!

    Ps you can like a shrink but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s any good……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thanks, Jen! Very true about expectations. I think she does a great job of managing mine, so I want to be sure I am managing hers. I need the flexibility to not always be perfect. I may not be able to be so resourceful next time (or even next week!). I definitely need to work more on the shame component. And, yes, liking a shrink (or anyone, really) doesn’t mean they’re any darn good. Excellent point. Thanks.

      Like

  2. La Quemada says:

    I know that feeling, when your therapist recognizes you’ve made progress, and you think: aaah! now do I have to keep this up all the time? But you are also happy that you have made progress. A friend of mine used to say: well, of course we all like to impress our therapists! I do like to impress E. but I want her to give me room to backslide too. I can’t just go forward all the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes, exactly! So much pressure! And I absolutely need that breathing room – the flexibility to maybe not always handle it. A constant back and forth, you know? But I like to think the motion is always moving at a steady forward pace, just not always so linear. Thanks.

      Like

  3. Amb says:

    It sounds like it really did go well! I’m glad that she’s back, but soooooo proud of how well you coped while she was gone. I don’t think you’ll disappoint her if it doesn’t happen the next time. Everyone has ups and downs, it doesn’t make this up any less of an amazing accomplishment.

    Ps. I’ll like the psychiatrist a little for you, too. It sounds like he’s off to a good start. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ambivalencegirl says:

    It’s not until I read it that I realize how punitive we can be towards ourselves. It comes so naturally. That’s unfortunate that it should be such difficult work. You had your brave wings on too. I can’t wait to try mine on!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cat says:

    Nice one Andi, that seems to have gone well, on the first part, anyway. I understand the awkwardness of feeling proud of ourselves or when people praise and compliment… we didn’t receive a lot of it as kids.

    I had to laugh when you said about “hope she doesn’t get her hopes up.” I do the same with Paul and I reckon this is part of us doubting the healing process, the change… and I also put people to test, like you did with the Psychiatrist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yeah, true. Or praise/compliments came as some form of manipulation and were quickly followed up with something awful. Glad to hear you do the same with Paul and with testing people. Always good to know I’m not the only one! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel says:

    Because I have read the other post, too, I know that the session didn’t end as soothing as it started. That said, what a gentle therapy re-entry. Meaning, that you felt comfortable right away, and there was (what I am guessing) a mutual genuine appreciation for the return of the therapy. I think it is so hard for the natural return to happen, when this sense of anticipation has built up, too. I find myself sometimes bumbling at the beginning or end of sessions because of that anticipation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Yes, it was a very good way to re-start after a break. I felt like she was quite prepared to be extra gently and compassionate with me because she knew this would be particularly difficult for me. I really appreciate that kind of effort and attention to detail.

      Liked by 1 person

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