I had my regular session with my therapist yesterday. First, before I get into anything, I want to say I fully support seeing a therapist. Having someone to talk to, who is trained to help you with your struggles, is incredibly crucial if you want to have more good days then bad. There is no shame in needing to get help. It has helped me tremendously. That said, it can also be incredibly awkward. Or maybe that is just me. Let me explain.
First, it starts with the walk to the therapist’s office. Do the people on the sidewalk know where I am going? I bet they do. What about the people in the building’s lobby? The people in the elevator surely must know why I am there (author’s note: there are many offices on the same floor as my therapist, so they probably don’t know why I am there, but still how can you be sure?).
Then I get into the waiting room. If there is someone there, it always seems to be the same. Quick glance, brief polite smile, then strict avoidance of eye contact. I always want to ask the other person what they’re in for, as if mental illness is somehow a punishment we’ve been given, which of course it isn’t but sometimes it feels that way. I don’t even want to be nosy, I just think people should be able to talk openly about their mental illness. But that is not how people in waiting rooms work. If I walked in and said something like, “depression and anxiety, that’s right two for the price of one!” they’d probably get even quieter and try even harder to avoid eye contact. I’m not even sure how that’d be possible since they’re already avoiding eye contact, but I’m sure they’d do it so I just stay silent and play the eye-contact-avoidance game as well.
Then there are the magazines they put out in the waiting room. I always wonder if I should read one. But I only have a few minutes until my therapist comes out and gets me, so I probably wouldn’t be able to finish an article. Plus, these people are, after all, trained to read into your behavior, so surely they’d draw some conclusions about the magazine I am reading. What if I send the wrong message? Like, I really want to read that article about a new movie that I am excited to see, but what if they think that means I am lazy and just want to sit around watching movies all day? Well, no time to continue dwelling on my magazine dilemma, the therapist just called me back to her office.
There is always a brief moment of panic where I think that I won’t have anything important to say and she’ll just be like, “well you’re boring, get out and come back when you have some real problems” (author’s note: she never does). When I do start talking I am always doubting whether it is relevant or not. Should I tell her about the little fight I had with my wife this weekend? What if she sides with my wife? Even worse, what if she sides with me. Is this relevant? (author’s note: Okay, I totally think this is a valid concern because she always has a notebook with her to take notes, but I’ve only ever seen her write in it once. Okay, admittedly that was when I was talking about a major depressive episode and it is probably important for her to note exactly when I had my major depressive episode so she can do that sciencey thing and track it, but still I’m curious why she doesn’t take more notes. Am I not interesting?)
Inevitably we get through the session without any trouble. She listens non-judgmentally, just like she is supposed to, she asks important questions that will help me be more mindful of my behaviors in the future. But the whole time it still feels super awkward, but the awkwardness means it is working, right?
Maybe I should see if I can get a therapist to talk to about the anxiety I get going to see my therapist.