Waterproof eyeliner and waterproof mascara firmly in place, I arrived at my second therapy session ready to cry.
Which was good. Because I did cry.
At my first therapy session, I arrived with my water-soluble eye makeup and my shields up, trying not to cry.
That was not so good, but my eye makeup stayed intact.
It takes a while for therapy to ramp up. One doesn’t just dive into it willy-nilly. The first appointment is the “getting to know you” appointment. The second session is assessment.
Oh, he asked me lots of questions ranging from drug use (none!) to energy levels (very little!). From weird things like, “Do you love symmetry?” (You know I do!) to “Have you ever altered your lifestyle because of your anxiety around people?” (Hell ya!)
It seems that if you alter your lifestyle from a fear of other people, you have Social Anxiety Disorder. Oh joy. I have a disorder. For a moment, I felt I had a big, red, shameful “D” hung around my neck. Then I realized, nothing’s really changed except now I have a name for that stomach-clenching, adrenalin-shooting terror I feel at the mere thought of interviewing the “man on the street” for a newspaper article. In retrospect, I’m damn proud of what I’ve done with my life despite this “disorder.” Everything from acting on stage to joining jam sessions. Damn proud.
Speaking of Social Anxiety, that reminds me of a brilliant scene on The Big Bang Theory.
While my therapist asked me questions, I asked a few questions of my own regarding his thoughts on the brief bio I’d provided at Session #1. Specifically, “Is my family hunky-dunky and healthy, while I’m solely responsible for getting myself screwed up?” and “Is it all a colossal misunderstanding or am I correct that something’s rotten in Denmark?”
“Your parents’ behavior is certainly not typical,” he responded, “and I was struck by the utter lack of boundaries in your family. They have no concept that ‘I am I and you are you.’ Everyone is in each other’s business. Also, I’m particularly disturbed by the fact that your father took it upon himself to teach you the minutiae of the the female orgasm.”
That makes two of us, brother.
This led to a brief discussion on the topic of grooming, oddly enough, a topic I’d recently broached in my article Pain, Boundaries and the Narcissist.
But most of the time was spent on assessment. In my first session, I was scared shitless when he said, “This is all about you. You don’t have to make me happy. You don’t have to make me laugh.” After all, I feel like no one, a non-entity without my jolly, funny façade.
As a classic codependent, my life has revolved around other people. Chronically unhappy people. People suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. People with life-threatening illness. When he first said, “This is all about you,” I was terrified.
This time, I relished it. Wallowed in it being all about me. Enjoyed dropping the strong façade to be weak, vulnerable, wounded, transparent. It’s kinda’ nice for a change.
What’s even nicer is that he’s referring me to another place for in-depth assessment. Why? “You’re a complicated case,” he said.
“You’re complicated alright!” my husband joked later.
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I can’t wait. A full diagnostic assessment focusing on trauma and PTSD. And…drum roll please…an IQ test. I’m torn between jumping up-and-down in excitement versus the feeling of, “Damn! I thought I was done with IQ tests when I graduated.”
But he’s also referring me to a doctor for a physical. Seems it’s not normal to have screaming tinnitus and pretty bad hearing loss at the tender age of thirty-six. My therapist looks worried. I’m rather deaf, wildly near-sighted, can’t smell too well and consequently have difficulty tasting. Hell! I’m a mess! 😀
He also wants me to have some blood tests to determine if there might be a medical component to my depression.
DEPRESSION!?! Hold the phone, buddy. Who are you calling depressed!? I mean, if he thinks I’m depressed now, he should’ve seen me when I was fourteen…twenty…thirty-one. Compared to my miserable teens and melancholy twenties, I’m bursting-with-joy now.
But yeah, I could be happier. I wake up happy every morning, but frankly, I could enjoy my life more. And it seems that defines depression.
Once I got past the shock and denial of having another big, red “D” hung around my neck, I looked it up. One word jumped off the screen at me: GUILT. Guilt!? Huh, that’s interesting.
Sadness. Check. Guilt. Check. Low Energy. Check. Shit.
But on the other hand…
In a way, it’s nice to know that I don’t just have “B.O. of the personality” as I was so often accused of, lectured on and persecuted for in the bosom of my loving, caring family. I’m not just a sad-sack. There may be a physical component (Vitamin D deficiency, perchance?), an environmental component, a genetic component…but my money is on narcissistic abuse causing depression. Ya think!?
This led me to ponder on the cruelty of shaming and lecturing someone for being depressed…especially if you have a hand in causing it. Now that is truly cruel.
Arriving home, my husband gave me a big hug and said, “I’m so proud of you for going to therapy.”
That made it all worthwhile.