Sunday, July 8, 2007

Is therapy the key to true mental hygiene?

As I have mentioned before, but of course I wouldn't expect would be remembered, I have started to see a therapist. It all started when I seemed to have some rather serious memory problems at the job. My boss, being kindly and also responsible, gently suggested I "talk to someone" about my divorce. She thought for sure that I wasn't dealing with my divorce emotionally, since I didn't talk about it at work, I never took any time off, and I never had any of those midday breakdowns I've seen so many others succumb to.

I said, "Sorry, I'm fine, what can I say? You WANT me to have a nervous breakdown and try to get a month off work because my personal life isn't perfect? No thanks, I'm just handling it better than most people." I said. I really believed it, too. I thought I didn't need any therapy, and frankly, I still believe that people in general don't NEED it. But I guess she did have a point.

Anyway, my memory/concentration problems have plagued me for a couple of years and I know it is directly related to my reaction to stress. In particular, the stress that I put on myself for no good reason at all. I've done it my whole life, but the second I started having more stress than I could handle, my poor little pea brain most likely went into meltdown mode. Poor little pea brain!

So therapy. I started with some lady who diagnosed me with PTSD after 45 minutes of hearing my life's adventures. I knew for certain that
I would roll my eyes for an hour straight every week if I had to keep going there. So I decided that this therapy crap was not for me. Then I received my last employee review, which I found to be a very disagreeable experience. I don't want to spend one more hour of my life being a disappointment in any way to my boss, so I decided FINE, I'll find another stupid therapist. I feel so immature putting it that way, but it's the truth. I said to the referral service, "I don't care, just give me anybody."

Enter my new therapist, Marty. Marty has been a tremendous help. He makes me see things about myself that I never knew. For example, I strive to be perfect because I feel guilty. I'm a tree which does not get any nourishment. Or rather, I'm a tree whose roots are fed with the waters of guilt! I liked his metaphor, and elaborated, exclaiming, "A cesspool of guilt!"

"So, MH," purrs Marty. "What have you been feeling guilty about all these years?" I thought and thought. I came up with an answer, a pretty good one. Marty came up with a splendid personal affirmation in order for me to "give myself a break." And I tried for weeks to meditate. First I didn't do it correctly. I was not "meditating," according to Marty. I was "visualizing." Fine. Still, I have not been able to quiet my mind. It's always talking about something. Usually, I'm poking fun at myself. I find the state of myself hilarious, usually because I think of myself not as a person, but as a cartoon character like Wile E Coyote. Always jumping off the cliff with a damn stick of ACME dynamite in my hand and blinking confusedly after the explosion.

Then yesterday, I tried it all again. I had a breakthrough. I was actually able to pull off that meditation thing, and then I immediately remembered to dutifully pontificate about what a wonderful being I am. Sigh. It was great.

I began my day this morning in much the same manner. Slowly, I found myself saying the most out of character things. Instead of calling a collectively despised client a "F-er," I heard myself blurt, "Troubled young man we have here!" when a colleague came to me to confide that she was ready to rip his head off. My colleague blinked confusedly and was rendered speechless.

When I got home from work today, I was still on my little psychosomatic high. I thought I'd jot down a few words in my written journal, as directed by Marty to do. I had nothing. I realized that I didn't want to write anything because I didn't have anything inspirational or kind, or loving to say. I thumbed through the pages and pages from over the past year or so. A jeremiad of self disparagement and slanderous gossip, much like what is written in this online journal. I loved it all. I began to giggle and blush at my foibles and public humiliations, which have been many and varied.

What do I feel guilty about? I don't know. But I don't want to lose my ability to laugh or at least snort (silently, of course) at myself. Marty will not be pleased with this recent regression. We have hit a brick wall, perhaps. I am positive there was something very serious that he must have said, which presumably would have assisted me in averting this setback. If I could just remember what it was.

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