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.”
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.