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.
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!