In February my therapist, whom I've seen off and on for like ten years, moved. At the time I was seeing her every two weeks and, despite the fact she reminded me numerous times in advance about her departure, I quite honestly was in denial about it. So when she did actually leave, it was a bit of a blow to me. This is probably stating the obvious here but I was upset about it. To be fair she did try to convince me to let her set me up with a new therapist town. Taking my stubbornness, trust issues, and issues adjusting to major changes into account, I obviously declined. Honestly I don't know why she seemed so surprised by this. Instead I decided I'd cut back to one visit a month and make the drive to see her. Naturally, Mom thought this would be a terrific time to lecture me about being "too dependent" on my therapist and how ridiculous it was for me to even consider continuing my visits with any therapist, much less Sarah. A few weeks after our last visit, much to my mother's protest, Penny and I made the two and a half hour drive for another visit. I'm fairly certain the first words out of my mouth when I got to her office were, "I'm still mad at you for leaving. At the worst possible time, no less". For the most part I was just giving her a hard time. I wasn't actually mad about her moving. I was still upset, but it was more like a feeling that yet another person had walked away. Kinda, I don't really know how to explain it. It was a bit unsettling being in her new office. It's drastically smaller than the prior office and, ironically, is too small for a couch. Perhaps that was what I found so unsettling, whenever I felt particularly vulnerable in the past I had a habit of pulling my knees up to my chest on the couch; it's much harder to do so while sitting in a chair. "What kind of therapist doesn't have a couch? Isn't that like a requirement or something?" I asked, eyebrow raised. That visit occurred in March and while I emailed her from time to time, that was my last visit. That is, until Friday of last week.
Tuesday of last week I finally accepted the fact that I was barely holding myself together, and that alone warranted a trip to the therapist's. So I made an appointment for Friday and Mom was surprisingly more pissed than I expected. "Mom I haven't seen Sarah in seven months". "Exactly," she replied, "and you've been fine. Besides, this is just a social visit anyway". Then she started ranting about this being a bad time to pull a "stunt" like this and then I went and banged my head against a wall for an hour. Figuratively speaking, of course. It ended up being really well timed too because that Wednesday my online American Lit professor recommended I drop her class since all of the family issues I've been dealing with were obviously affecting my work ethic. I had dropped the ball on so many assignments that at this point I would have had to make an A on every assignment for the rest of the semester to pass. And even then I would pass with the lowest grade allowed. I had never dropped a class before, and to say I felt like the worst failure in the world is putting it mildly. I was in tears in the business office when I went up there to file the paperwork. Thursday afternoon after my education class I was talking with a fellow student about it as I walked to my car when my breathing had changed. I couldn't take a normal breath; just short, rapid ones. Then my chest started tightening so bad it felt like someone was sitting on me. Like I was drowning. Yep, you guessed it. Panic attack. It scared me to death because it's been a long time since I had one that bad.
I'm pretty sure that Friday I, once again, started the session off with, "I'm still mad at you for leaving me. Just so you know". She sighed, "I know, but to be fair I did try to set you up with someone locally before I moved," I laughed, "And you really thought that would happen? Seriously, how did you think I would respond to that?" "I don't know," she said, "I didn't think about it". I raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean you didn't think about it? Isn't that like your job? Geez, Sarah". It didn't take Penny long to find a comfortable spot in the office to settle in for a nap. What was only supposed to be an hour and a half session ended up being two hours and it was exactly what I needed. I caught her up on all the hospital and family stuff, told her about meeting Jenny Lawson (and convinced her to read her new book, win), and talked about Doodle Buddy a little bit. At one point, when the conversation had turned more serious, she stopped me and asked, "Have you noticed how you change the discussion to Penny whenever something makes you stressed or it's something you don't want to talk about? You're deflecting". Damn, she's good. Granted it is her job to pick up on that type of stuff. I wasn't aware it was something I was doing, so it's good she brought my attention to it.
On my drive to Sarah's office I spent a lot of time debating on whether or not to bring up one particular thought. In the end I decided to mention it towards the end of my session, "Do you think it's possible for me to have like PTSD from that whole high school mess? Because it's always in the back of my mind". She nodded, "It's very possible actually. Do you have flashbacks?" I nodded, "Yeah, sometimes. And thoughts about it will randomly pop up". She said she wished I could see a doctor in the area that is trained on how to deal with PTSD, but we all know how that would go over with my Mom. It was oddly comforting to hear it could very well PTSD, it's like being told, "You're not crazy. You're not purposely thinking back to all of that to stress yourself out. There's a legitimate reason for it". It was after this conversation when I had a small breakdown. I told her how my anxiety had me so wound tight I walk around tense 100% of the time, "I literally have no idea how I'm functioning or how I'm holding it together, Sarah". She asked me when I might be able to come visit I told her that it probably wouldn't be anytime soon due to everything going on at home and the financial stress. And that's when the tears started. When she gave me a hug bye she said something like "I wish there was more I could do" and then I was really having to try hard to keep from crying more when I, basically begging, asked her to come back to town once a month so I could keep having sessions. And that's the moment when I think she realized how hard her departure was on me, and how I was only half-joking anytime I told her "you left me", because then she started tearing up and I was like, "Nooo, don't. If you start crying then I really will". Basically I'm saying I made my therapist cry and that's definitely a first for me. Hopefully I can make another appointment soon.
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