We’re continuing to work on my struggle to balance the urge to do everything with the need to slow it down. We’re working on my need for more patience as Erin and I help Duncan with his issues. We covered all the bases.
I must be feeling better than last week, because I walked in with a large cup of coffee. He wants me off the coffee and I know it. I drink it during our meetings partly to needle him and mostly because an hour sitting on a couch is a good time to sip some caffeine.
He asked me — for the thousandth time — when I’m going to start doing yoga.
“Never,” I said. “I have absolutely no patience for yoga.”
“Just like you didn’t have the patience to stop binge eating, right?” he shot back with a grin.
It’s all good.
I bring all this up as a reminder to those who fear therapy that there’s nothing to worry about.
I don’t think people should be embarrassed about seeing a therapist. And yet people are embarrassed, like they’re being treated for the clap after a reckless night in a whorehouse. It’s the kind of shame that does you no good. Take it from a guy who has been there.
It’s a funny thing when I talk to people suffering from depression, addictionand other troubles of the mind. Folks seem more comfortable about the idea of pills than in seeing a therapist. After all, they’re just crazy “shrinks” in white coats obsessed with how your childhood nightmares compromised your adult sex life, right?
I’ve been to many therapists in my life. I was sent to one at Children’s Hospital in Boston as a kid to talk through the emotions of being sick with Chron’s Disease all the time. That same therapist also tried to help me and my siblings process the bitter aftermath of our parents’ divorce in 1980.
As a teenager, I went to another therapist to discuss my brother’s death and my difficulty in getting along with my stepmother (a wonderful, wonderful woman who I love dearly, by the way. But as a kid I didn’t get along with her).
That guy was a piece of work. He had a thick French accent and wanted to know if I found my stepmother attractive. From the moment he asked that question, I was done with him, and spent the rest of the appointment being belligerent.
That put me off going to a therapist for a long time. I started going to one again in 2004, when I found I could no longer function in society without untangling the barbed wire in my head. But I hesitated for a couple years before pressing on.
The therapist I started going to specialized in dealing with disturbed children and teenagers. That was perfect, because in a lot of ways I was still a troubled kid.
She never told me what to do, never told me how I’m supposed to interpret my disorder against my past. She asked a lot of questions and had me do the work of sorting it out. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what a good therapist does. They ask questions to get your brain churning, dredging up experiences that sat at the back of the mind like mud on the ocean floor. That’s how you begin to deal with how you got to the point of dysfunction.
She moved to Florida a year in and I started going to a fellow who worked from his house. I would explain my binge eating habits to him, specifically how I would down $30 worth of McDonald’s between work and home.
“You should stock your car with healthy foods like fruit, so if you’re hungry you can eat those things instead,” he told me.
That was the end of that. He didn’t get it. When an addict craves the junk, the healthy food around you doesn’t stand a chance. The compulsion is specifically toward eating the junk. He should have understood. He didn’t. Game over, dumb ass.
The therapist I see now is a God-send. He was the first therapist to help me understand the science behind mental illness and the way an inbalance in brain chemistry can mess with your thought traffic. He also provided me with quite an education on how anti-depressants work. Yes, friends, there’s a science to it. Certain drugs are designed to shore up the brain chemicals that, when depleted, lead to bi-polar behavior. Other meds are specifically geared toward anxiety control. In my case, I needed the drug that best addressed obsessive-compulsive behavior. For me, that meant Prozac.
But I don’t necessarily heed his every suggestion. Take the yoga and coffee, for example.
He makes recommendations but I decide what I’m going to do.
Fortunately for me, I’ve gotten smart enough to take most of his advice.