Talk Therapy

My life is currently surrounded by therapy. My father is in anger management, my mom is an aesthetician, and I am going to be a psychiatrist. Never placing aside the therapy of talking with Heather Madame, though when it comes to the role of patient and therapist the roles are comfortably constantly changing.

About a month or so ago I finally convinced my mom to let me see someone about my anxiety. The bad news is that the someone I was able to see wasn’t a therapist, it was a naturepathic doctor. I remember being impressed at first at the modern and professional appearance of the place from the outside, it looked like a stylish two-story office building. When we stepped in we were met with sparkling granite floors, light grey walls and complete and utter stillness in the air. Our steps echoed as we made our way to the doctor’s office. As we sat in the waiting room, I was convinced an attack would hit me (after a while one starts recognizing the signs from the room suddenly feeling distant and an indecisive heartbeat), I told my mom I had to use the ladies room and the receptionist directed me to one down the hall. I kept finding myself shaking my head, perhaps from denial, perhaps that little kid in me insisting I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go! I walked over to the sink and washed my hands longer than necessary, my every move, breath and step echoing. As I dried my hands I realized they were shaking. I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go… I felt like crying for a moment, but a quick glance in the mirror made me straighten up and toughen up. Funny how reflections do that. I’ve been furious and yelling before and one flick of the eyes to a mirror or reflective piece of glass and I was silenced. And we’ve all been crying when we have caught view of ourselves, fighting (and, for some of us, surrendering to) the impulse to throw or cover the surface, blinding ourselves of how others might see us.

About a minute after returning to my seat the doctor’s door opened and a tanned, large, rather round woman walked out wearing a lab coat.

“Sorry about the wait, please, come in. I’m Dr. Sanchez.”

After sitting down in her office she explained who she was and advertised an AM radio program she hosts. Her office smelled of B.O. She asked basic questions about my eating habits, repeatedly expressing approval at my homemade-dominated diet. She then had me fill out a piece of bright yellow paper entitled “Is It A Yeast Infection?” I kept waiting for the stepping onto the scale, the listening of the heart, the checking of blood pressure and the usual doctor looking me directly in the eye and talking to me because it was I, not my mother, who was the patient. But instead her and my mother spoke about the benefits of eating healthy and what a shame it is that America is going downhill. They chatted for a while, making the appointment go over by 30 minutes (to which the doctor said that she would ‘let us off’ without having to pay for the extra time used) she suggested a list of supplements and sent us off. Only once did they directly discuss my panic attacks, it was also the only time I was able to speak directly about my anxiety.

“Can you do it?” I surprised myself by asking my mom, “I don’t think I can talk about it without breaking down.”

She shrugged and looked uncomfortable, “I don’t remember that much.”

I cleared my throat, though I could feel a lump forming. For six months I had been waiting to tell someone who could help me exactly what happened. I explained the first attack in church and the one the following week, along with the dissociation and feelings of general anxiety, periods of agoraphobia and the nightly sense of impending doom. Within three minutes I had explained everything, though, as I expected, at the end the waterworks had started up. My mom joined in to give her side as to why she didn’t take me to the ER when I had my first attack. I had been sobbing and begging her to take me to a doctor that day to tell me what happened, but once I could breathe normally she became very irritated very fast, glancing around the foyer of the church as we stepped back inside, knowing that social appearances are too important to me to make a scene.

“I know she thinks I didn’t handle it the right way…” My mom explained, “But a doctor would just write a prescription and send us away, and it would cost a fortune-”

Cue sob.

Dr. Sanchez looked over, she too now entirely unsure of what to do. She started talking to my mom with clear intent of me hearing it, “You know, that is right, a doctor wouldn’t have been any good. Modern doctors now have forgotten the art of healing.” To which my mom added another bit and Sanchez had another turn. I had gotten out my handkerchief and tried in vain to make the detestable tears stop.

“Do you wish we hadn’t come?” My mom asked as we pushed through the double-glass doors to the outside world.

“It’s too late to do anything about it now.” I said, feeling drained, helpless and betrayed all over again after reviewing my attacks anew and due to the river I had just cried. She just stared at me as the car pulled up, uncharacteristically silent.

Heather Madame has an aunt that happens to be in the nurse profession. After sending her a timeline and a long list of my symptoms she confirmed what I had suspected this entire time. My mental problems began two years ago, in the first mobile home (also when bulimia made its first fierce comeback), and have simply sprouted and manifested in increasing ways ever since. My physical symptoms are all psychosomatic. I remember when I became rather desperate for a therapist, and my symptoms became more extreme. It was only when I thought about why my symptoms were suddenly worsening that I realized that something in me was reacting to my want to see a therapist, that I know I have things I want to talk about, to discuss with an actual doctor – at least the brand of doctor I know I need.

The reason for any of my blogs is so I can be completely honest and have this outlet for everything, because I have so desperately needed it. WordPress has become a safe haven. Blogging has helped me keep my head, writing and reading what strangers and friends have to say has given me new perspectives on my own life, and more than once has redirected a choice I was going to make. I want to remain honest here. That’s right, ya’ll, Classic is a bit of loon.

Yesterday I received my mineral supplements, and I’ve officially started on the regime. It can be slightly inconveniencing, and I tell you that a homeopathic cure is using a stick to unlock a door. I know it won’t work, because minerals cannot silence the past two years, and it can’t erase the fear, the anxiety and the helplessness felt the past two years. My plan at this point is to save up for a few therapy sessions on my own and go to whomever I need to. Heather Madame has stood by me and will provide any transportation I can’t get myself. Again I thank God for her; truly, everyday.

Here’s to the day of the talk and the cure.

–Hannah-Elizabeth/Classic

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6 thoughts on “Talk Therapy

  1. I wish I could give you an actual hug from here, and I truly hope you get to see someone who can actually offer help. Untill then, I’m glad blogging helps and I hope you know that you are an amazing person & I’m here for you darling 🙂 Xxx

  2. My sister has suffered from panic attacks for nearly 20 years now. She has found some ways to make them easier – or at least of shorter duration – but it’s a terrible thing to go through. One thing to keep in mind is that there will be therapists at college that you can see for free. Or at least there were a million years ago when I went to college. Just talking it out will help you identify triggers, and there are techniques that will help you deal with panic attacks.

    For my sister, she realized that just thinking that she MIGHT have a panic attack in certain uncomfortable situations would actually bring one on. She was basically telling herself, “hey, why don’t you have a panic attack when you get to” where ever it was she had to go. By recognizing this was happening, she would stop her thoughts in their tracks and instead tell herself that she would not have a panic attack, that everything would be alright. And just doing that helped a lot and cut down on her attacks.

    I’m sure your Mom means well, but panic attacks are real and they deserve (require) real treatment. Not a chit chat with someone who sounds like she was clearly in over her head and not comfortable with the topic at all. I do not believe a homeopathic nutritionist, or whatever she was, is trained nor capable of helping you. But there is real help out there to be had.

    • I can be the same way as your sister, one time when I was inside of a movie theatre for some reason the thought occurred of how terrible it would be to have an attack – it was my best friend’s birthday and the two of us were having a fun night out – and next thing I knew I was dissociating and that awful thumping in my chest had started. But I firmly told myself that I was not going to ruin Heather’s birthday by running out of the theatre. So I focused on my breathing and it eventually stopped before it reached it’s peak. There comes a point after the fear comes again and again and again when I actually become furious at it if it caused someone to be inconvenienced, so I can shut it down in those moments when I have strong enough motivation. But at first, I felt like the attacks were in control, that there was no way to stop it. Like someone tying a 100-pound weight to my ankle, throwing me into the ocean, and daring me to try to swim to the surface on my own. That’s what an attack can feel like.
      Heather mentioned therapists at college, I’m grateful you reminded me. Thanks for your comment, it truthfully means a lot for you to tell me all of this.

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