Shrinkapy

Okay, so… first of all, all the people in my shrinkapist’s waiting room are crazy.

Well, no. That’s not first of all. First of all is the fact that my shrinkapist’s office is above a meth clinic. That’s first of all. Administrator on the phone: “Now, when you get here, don’t go in the door that faces the street. That’s the meth clinic. It will totally weird you out.”

Noted.

When I arrived, of course, I couldn’t remember exactly which door I was supposed to avoid going through. I eventually gleaned the correct answer from the various context clues standing outside smoking, and the acronym SHARP on the door, which I knew stood for something something Addictions Recovery Program, and which I also found ironic since I don’t think recovering drug addicts on meth should be around sharps. But then again, some days, neither should I.

I know this brings up all sorts of questions, but I’m not going to deal with those right now.

So, now we walk into the waiting room. (Royal “we.”)  And holy insanity, Batman. The place was packed. Had to be 20 people. I found myself thinking, “Good God… this many people living in my immediate area and available for appointment at this particular time have mental health issues? That is not a good sign.” I casually glanced around, pretending not to be freaked out by the high population of the room (high like number, not high like the folks in the meth clinic… Ba-dum-bum). One question sprung to mind that immediately assimilated the place to prison: “What are you in for?” There was a guy with actual bugged-out eyes googling at me while I was signing in. There was a woman falling asleep in a chair, but not the tired kind of asleep… you know, the crazy kind of asleep. Like the people who fall asleep at the bus stop on a Saturday at 2:30pm but don’t work overnights and may or may not actually be waiting for a bus. That kind of crazy asleep. There was a guy who had taken his glasses off and now held his phone three inches from his face while he manipulated its touch screen. And then there was the very tall, very solidly constructed individual who upon his arrival began continually declaring loudly at no one in particular that he had left his wallet on the bus and his whole day was messed up now (which, in fairness to him, is probably not inaccurate). This 6’8″, athletic looking, definitely 40ish dude actually stomped his foot. The whole floor shook. No kidding. Stomped his foot, declared loudly, occasionally hollered.

I’m guessing he’s in for anger management issues. Could be wrong. Maybe he has mommy problems. Maybe he needs his binky. I don’t know. But it was rapidly becoming clear that I was the sanest person up in this piece.

This was already a very different experience from the one other therapist I’ve had in life. That was lovely. That was a waiting room that might have contained one other person when I walked in. Said waiting room was quiet rather than operating at an apparently routine din. My therapist’s actual office featured a comfy leather loveseat, a wingback chair in soft upholstery, his own leather wingback chair and his swivel office chair. His desk was against the wall and the loveseat was directly on the opposite side of the room, so by definition he never sat at his desk during sessions. There was wallpaper and artwork and bookshelves and pillows. The tissues were soft, fluffy Kleenex. It was darling. It was an architectural hug.

That’s what my old insurance company, United Healthcare PPO, buys you.

Here’s what my current insurance, Value Options, buys you (the name may be a dead giveaway):

My new therapist brought me back to his office and it was four cheapo office chairs like the ones in the waiting room, a cheapo desk that may or may not have been a fake wood plank across two filing cabinets, his office chair, no art, no decor at all really, no couch and no sense of humanity. It was cold and sterile and blank. And the tissues were generic brand.

I’m going to cry in this room, and for the record? I don’t appreciate its lack of empathy or warmth of any kind.

He took me through all the paperwork, including an Advanced Directive for Mental Health, which lets one stipulate who will make decisions if one’s mental health deteriorates to such an extreme that one can no longer make decisions for oneself… which is a troubling bit of paperwork to receive in the office of a person who is supposed to help, and which made me think once more about the folks in the waiting room, but I digress. He asked me a bunch of questions and seemed not to be even a teensy bit judgey when I said that I do have a drink each day, even though I watched him write “daily” in the little box requiring an answer to the “do you drink alcohol” question with the partial expectation that it turn red and softly glow when he was done. (I mean a lot of people come home from work and have a drink. It doesn’t mean they have a problem. It means they have a tough job. Get off me. Have you not seen Mad Men?)

He seems cool though.

Then he took me to see the doc. See, in case you missed a previous post, shrinkapist is my term for the “team” that is treating me as of today: a psychiatrist who is mostly for med management, and an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) for the part where he’s paid to listen to me drone on and on about my little issues that make me have anxiety and/or panic attacks and generally contribute to my feelings of being less than.

In other words: First World Problems.

The doc is maybe a little younger than me (it begins…), pretty and super nice. And she didn’t waste a second saying, “So, it says here it’s been two years since your last relationship…? What’s up with that?” Cue the awkward brief explanation about the ten-year-long not-officially-a-Relationship-relationship I’ve had with Jack vs. the Actual Relationship I had with the guy two years ago, while incorporating the fact that my professional schedule makes dating well nigh impossible. All of which makes my eyes teary and my mouth twitchy, because another chapter of the Jack Thing unfolded just two days ago and is still delightfully raw. She made a bit of a sad face at me about it, which made me feel pathetic, but she was kind enough to keep her eyes focused on her paperwork in the moments after that while I composed myself.

She wrote me the two prescriptions I expected: Lexapro , an SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor) to treat the anxiety at a chemical level, and clonazepam (generic for Klonopin) to handle the anxiety/panic attacks as needed. I’ll need the second one less – if at all – once the first one is fully fired up in my system. Our conversation was perfectly suitable in length, and she explained that, based on my history, my previous treatment and my symptoms, she believes I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (I would prefer that it be less generalized, but whaddaya gonna do?) Then I was back to the waiting room to schedule standing appointments with the LCSW. (I haven’t decided what to call him yet. He kind of reminds me of Ali Velshi from CNN. But I’m a nerd, so I’m probably the only person who thinks that. Or who knows who Ali Velshi is.) The waiting room was much emptier and calmer now. Finished with everything, I walked back past the meth clinic and to my car.

Shrinkapy at a clinic. Here we go.

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26 thoughts on “Shrinkapy

  1. Here’s hoping your mood brightens…I was just wondering the other day about the Jack situation. Your description of the waiting room reminded me of a time I took my son to the Community Mental Health clinic because that is where his ADHD group sessions were held. It was entertaining, frightening, delightful, and fragrant!

    • Thank you. One of the many things I’ve learned over the last few years of being aware of my anxiety issues is that it doesn’t always affect my mood, but it does affect my emotions, which affect my mood. If that makes any kind of sense at all. The waiting room, well… maybe once I stop being scared of it it will be okay…

  2. Well, the setting isn’t ideal, I’ll grant you. But imagine the terrific people watching (and resulting blogs you’ll get) you’ll be able to do! 🙂 I’m glad you’re getting help, though. So many people don’t and life is so much better when you do!

    • Oh, believe me, I was writing this puppy in my head while I was sitting there. I don’t want to mock people who are troubled; that’s unfair and hypocritical. But it does make me feel better to be at least better by appearances. And yes – it is SO much better when you get help. I hope I respond to the Lexapro as well this time as I did last time.

  3. I hope it all starts to get better soon. I have a friend who had terrible anxiety issues; it had profound effects on her life. She finally went to therapy and got on medication, and it made a huge difference. She’s a teacher now, something she could never have done before. My sister suffers with anxiety attacks, and suffer is an accurate word. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’m glad you’ve gone back in for help with this.

    • Thanks Stoney. So far these issues have not affected my life to a debilitating extent. Then again, I may not yet realize how far into my life its tentacles have reached. I am disheartened to have the diagnosis confirmed but at the same time heartened to know that I’m doing alright considering I have a condition that others (and sometimes I myself) equate with more extreme trouble. I just hope mine doesn’t get worse.

  4. Oh boy. I’m not looking forward to the ‘new shrink’ experience that I’m getting ready for. I’ve been preapproved by the insurance company. I’ve heard decent things about this shrink (but then, these were decent things spoken by another shrink, not by actual patients- the difference could be great) And since my last refill on my last prescription from my old shrink in a different city doesn’t run out until August, I’ve not quiiiiite gotten around to making that appointment yet. Your experience gives me hope.

    • It’s a hard step to take. I put it off for too long, I think. Of course, anxiety tends to make one do that! I wish you luck finding a new therapist and being successful in your connection so that it helps you!

  5. You know that it gets better. Hang onto that. My current therapist is a wonder, even though my insurance doesn’t cover her. She’s worth the money every couple of weeks. But bring your own Kleenex – the softest, fluffiiest kind you can buy. You deserve it. And the “architectual hug” concept is priceless.

    • I do know that, you’re right. And I’m not THAT bad right now, but it depends on the day, and I’m realizing how much it may have been affecting me without knowing it. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover all my chiropractic, and I’m still fighting with them over all the bills from the endoscopy in February, so I can’t fork over any more for a therapist (or office, at least) I might prefer. Gah, I sound awfully messed up, don’t I? But I’m taking care. As I should!

  6. Great description of the scene. And I know who Ali Velshi is!! Baldish, pleasant, opinionated. I’ve been to a few shrinks in my time for depression. Never took meds (refused when offered), and since menopause (several years ago), haven’t had a single bout of depression. So hang in there! Hope it all works. If I were you, I’d lose Jack if I could. It might help a lot.

    • Yeah, I don’t think CNN knows what it wants to do with Ali. But I like him. I’m glad you were able to handle your depression in the way you wanted. I wish I could stay off meds, but my anxiety manifests in very tangible ways and it’s the only thing that helps. As for Jack, well… I don’t know right now. I don’t want to lose him completely. I’m “recalculating.” Like a Garmin. 🙂

  7. I feel your pain. Most of my family does. I think it runs in the blood. I’ve been good at soldiering on and faking my way through the anxiety (mostly out of necessity and complete oblivion towards the actual issue), but my baby boy does school online because of it. He did find strength this past year to take one course at the actual high school, so proud of him for that. But it is a battle every day.

    I’ve not read your prior posts about Jack et al, but your writing style is great – you could turn all that into a first person novel.

    • I think you’re right about a degree of heredity – I know it’s true that these things do tend to run in families. In mine, it’s not really discussed and, in most cases, not even diagnosed. I’m sorry to hear that you and your son struggle so much with it.

  8. I just finished reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by the Bloggess and she talks about her diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder and how that name doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Sorry you’re struggling with that – hope the shrinkapist helps.

    And I hope you’re able to keep your sense of humor throughout the journey – because you’re dwelling in a material-rich environment (as you’ve documented in this post). Frankly, if you’re going to deal with the crap that goes with anxiety, you might as well receive some benefit from it.

    Also: your therapist being above a meth clinic? That’s kind of like winning some kind of inspiration lottery. Interpret that as some sort of nod from the universe.

    • Oh, let me be clear: I am nowhere near as badly affected by it as she is. In fact, one of my fears is that it will get worse and escalate to something approaching that. I think she’s amazingly brave. I’m not debilitated really – it affects things I don’t realize just in terms of the way I internally react to what happens in life – work challenges, the situation with Jack, etc., but not to extremes. And I’m not hiding in bathrooms or under tables. Though she’s managed to turn that into something kind of awesome.

  9. Good for you for getting help and keeping your sense of humor about the whole situation. I hope the waiting room provided lots of crazy blog fodder, while the inner sanctum provides lots of peace.

  10. My therapist’s office is in a small suburban office building populated mostly by accountants and paralegals. I always feel like they watch me go by and think’ “Oh, he’s going THERE.” Her office is in an incredibly homey duplex suite that by some coincidence uses some of the same fabrics we have in our family room. I once heard John Bradshaw say, “Oh, I think anyone would benefit from a little therapy.” I must believe that because I’ve been seeing Nancy for over 20 years, though kid problems, parent problems, even marriage problems. I go once a month now because she is the one person I will tell ANYTHING. I don’t even get nervous about telling her ANYTHING any more.

    I hope your new team helps, in spite of the meth clinic entrance and the sterile surroundings. Bring your own premium tissues in those little porta-packs. I’m off the Celexa now and the panic attacks haven’t come back … but I have to be more mindful or I get ungenbluzum. And I’d sorry the “Jack Thing” continues to be bittersweet. Is that a good word for it?

    • I think I will have to bring my own packets of Kleenex! It’s funny – you may find this as well: I have trouble trusting people, but I had no trouble trusting my last therapist and I’m sure I’ll do the same with this one. Really, it’s about trusting myself and forcing myself to be as open and honest as I should be instead of putting up fronts. Glad to hear your panic attacks have abated. As for the Jack Thing: with the way my anxiety has been firing lately, it’s hard to know how much of my feelings are induced by that vs. how much is real, and therefore, exactly how I need to deal with it. One thing is true: I am very jealous of a new friendship he’s developed, and while I find jealousy to be a useless feeling and have always managed to talk myself out of it, I’m having much more trouble doing that this time. Once the meds are “full bore” in the bloodstream I may have a clearer picture of that.

      Thank you for your comment. I know you’ve been busy – I’ve been bad about reading as well – but I’ve missed my friend!

  11. I’m glad that you are seeking treatment. My sister has anxiety/panic attacks. She is in and out of treatment and I wish that she could find someone she likes/trusts and go long term.

    Hang in there.

    • Karen, I’m sorry I didn’t answer this comment until now! It slipped by me. Thank you for your good wishes. I hope your sister finds the right balance for her comfort and long-term health!

  12. Pingback: You Know the Island of Misfit Toys? Apparently I’m the Doll. | thesinglecell

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