Sickness as Abandonment

All week long my therapist has been sick. Not severely sick, just a head cold. But when I got to my first session of the week, I immediately realized she sounded congested and I asked her about it. She said she has a bit of a cold, but it was nothing major.


Except, it totally freaked me out. In the past year and a half, she’s never been noticeably ill before. She’s never cancelled or rescheduled a session for personal reasons at all. So I don’t know if I was worried she would get more sick and then take time off from work or what, but it really upset me.

Then for our second session of the week, she called me an hour before my session and left a voicemail. I was nervous that she’d called to cancel, but she actually just had a client cancel their session, so she wanted to know if I happened to be available to come in earlier.

I was a little irritated with her for unidentified reasons (probably her head cold, to be honest) so I’d considered just not showing up for session at all. I almost stayed on the train when it stopped by her office. But then I told myself that I didn’t have to go to session just because I was in the area, so I got off the train.

That’s when I got her voicemail. I considered just ignoring it and showing up at my scheduled time, but then I thought about her being sick and realized it would probably be nice for her to go home a little earlier. So I called her back and we were able to start my session a half hour sooner than planned.

Which was fine, but I felt distracted.

Then she called the next day to ask if I could move my third session from Friday evening to Thursday evening. I was available then so I changed the session, but I realized she probably had another opening in her schedule and figured it would be nice to leave work early again, especially on a Friday when she’s been sick all week.

Whatever, this is dumb. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it really bothers me. Something about her being sick feels like an abandonment to me. It’s like she’s somehow less available because she’s under the weather. I know she probably would disagree, but since I spend so much energy attuning to her and trying to make sure I’m a good client and not pushing her too hard or “over-staying my welcome”, so to speak.

Plus it makes me think about how she could get terminally ill or die from some random accident and it’s intolerable to imagine what I would do and how my life would change if she was suddenly missing from it. I mentioned this to her and asked if someone would tell me if she was hurt or dead and she laughed (but she did answer my question and say that yes, someone would notify me). I asked her why she laughed and she said she just has a cold so she honestly wasn’t thinking much about her own death.

Fair enough, but nothing about it is funny to me.


18 thoughts on “Sickness as Abandonment

  1. Sirena says:

    I had that very same “if you die…” conversation with my therapist. I figured that it looks like me she might not willingly abandon me since she’s put up with all I throw her way so then my brain decides to fixate on if she dies!!
    I totally get feeling annoyed at her humanness and vulnerability to getting sick. We need them to be strong and healthy and available.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. alicewithptsd says:

    I don’t like it when Bea isn’t feeling well, either. Once she had a bad cold, and had to cancel Kat’s Friday session. I spent the whole weekend worried she wouldn’t be there on Monday, and feeling abandoned. You aren’t alone. I hope she is feeling better this week and things can be feel stable again. All those changes are hard. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. manyofus1980 says:

    I can see how it triggered abandonment. I think similarly to you when my therapist is sick. Its very hard to think of life without my therapist, I am not sure why she would laugh at what you said either, it isnt funny in the least. XX

    Liked by 1 person

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