Musings from a Mental Health Facility Waiting Room

“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.”
― Jonathan Safran FoerEverything Is Illuminated

 

I’m waiting to see a new therapist. I love my therapist, but her office is 45 minutes away in Lawrence, KS and she’s cut back hours to raiser her family. Finding a therapist you love takes a lot of work and commitment. Which is the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling low.

There’s a young girl sitting across from me. She can’t be more than 15. The catchphrase for depression is “It WILL get better.” I’m sure this teen will hear it today and probably a million times after. I heard it during my first session with a therapist when I was 16. It will get better. What a pile of bullshit. Sure, you won’t always feel terrible. Some days you’re going to feel just fine. Some moments you’re going to feel amazingly happy. But better? That always made me think that the low feeling that is consuming you is going to go away for good. Like a cold or strep throat. And that’s just not true.

Do you feel like harming yourself? The question is always at the top of the questionnaire you must feel out whenever you seek treatment for depression. I always answer no. I never FEEL like harming myself. I’ve threatened it a few times, mostly when I’ve been coming down from a benzo high. But despite what people say, I don’t have low self-esteem. I’m actually a little narcissistic. I think I’m a pretty badass person. I just don’t think I advertise myself well.

“Do you consider yourself an introvert?” My new therapist has an extra-long nose hair hanging from his left nostril.

“No. I’m just a shy extrovert.” I answer. I love people. I need people. Living alone is the absolute worst.

The therapist nods and pretends to write something down. Or maybe he actually is writing my answer. A long time ago, I became convinced that therapists really just scribble on paper to make the patient feel as if they are listening. The new therapist starts to talk about meds. I already hate him. I don’t want to take meds. They make me feel numb. They make me tired. They make me feel hungry all the damn time. One of the first psychiatrists my mom took me to in my early twenties convinced me that all side of effects of anti-depressants and benzos could be cured with a few Diet Cokes.

I miss Kaitlyn. The only therapist I’ve ever bonded with. I first met her when the first of the two men I ever loved dumped me. I remember sobbing in her office, telling her how I hadn’t talked to him in three whole days and I was so worried he was feeling bad about the breakup too.

“How will I ever know if he’s okay? He’s been thinking about dropping out of college because of money. And he has to go. Being a civil engineer is his dream.”

Some people have told me I was obsessed with him. Whatever. Maybe I was. But all I know is I deeply cared and loved him and still to this day, I wake up some mornings worrying whether he has all that he needs to be content with life. It’s been 11 years since our breakup.

The next time I sobbed uncontrollably in Kaitlyn’s office was December of 2016. My second love had just told me we should take a break from each other. We hadn’t ever had an official relationship, more of a friend with benefits relationship, but I cared and loved him as I had my first love. Maybe more. Okay, definitely more. And just like that first man, this one had told me the way I felt about him was too much. It put too much pressure on him.

“How do I love them less?” I asked Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn smiled at me. “Oh honey, let’s be honest. With you, that’s just not going to happen.”

Scientists have actually studied the sensitive gene. Billions of dollars have been spent on research with the goal of trying to explain how the genes we are born with express themselves in our everyday lives. Anyways, long story short I’m emotionally intense. There are pros and cons to feeling emotions so intensely, but for me, when it comes to feeling love, I love intensely and fiercely. Which should be good. But the problem is, when I fall in love I am so terrified of losing the person I love, that I react in ways that usually hurt the relationship in the long run. I often put the person I love on a pedestal. I’m triggered by even small criticisms or changes in routine. This is ultimately super confusing to the other person in the relationship. And when I do lose them? Lowtown, USA.

I know that a teeny tiny part of the reason I’m here today is because I’m heartbroken. And that’s fine. I can accept that. But the other reason is that I’m just feeling low. Lower than low and I can’t fully wrap my mind around why. Which is why I’m seeking help from a therapist.

Anyways, back to Mr. Nose Hair, my supposed new therapist. He has asked me to explain what has made me upset lately.  I’ve explained in detail my latest friends with benefits relationship and how yes that’s sad but that’s not a new thing and what I’m feeling is new. I feel empty. I feel unsettled. I try to answer his questions but also convince him that I’m not just some heartbroken girl.

“And you’ve tried dating other people?” He is completely ignoring my other issues.

Yes, I tell him and name the three or four other guys I’ve been on multiple dates or even in a relationship with in the past two years. I remind him again that I don’t think that’s the complete reason I’m feeling low, and again, he ignores me.

“So, you’re here because you’re heartbroken? That’s a normal human thing. Let’s work on increasing your meds.”

I sigh and again talk about how low I’m feeling. AGAIN.

“The meds will help.” Mr. Nose Hair assures me. “I’ll work with our doctors to get you some samples you can start increasing your meds right away.”

I go back to the waiting room to wait for my samples. The young girl is gone and in her place is a man with bandages around his arms. A lady paces between the rows of chairs mumbling to herself.

I sit and type this up until the nurse brings me the samples of my new meds and instructions on how to increase my current dose of antidepressants. Then I drive to work where I will pretend that nothing is bothering me, with a belly full of a large amount of meds. I see an older couple walking hand in hand and begin wondering if Love #1 and Love #2 are safe and well before the benzos slowly kick in and I begin to feel

nothing.

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Holidays, Party of One

Holidays can be lonely in the land of the single person. I remember the first holiday I ever spent alone. I was 21 and living in New York City for the summer (sidenote: ohmigosh, opportunities are wasted on the young). I grew up in a big family, meaning holidays were loud, really loud. So when 4th of July rolled around, it felt weird and downright wrong that I would be spending a holiday alone. I was already incredibly homesick that summer, so knowing that I would be all alone for the fourth did not help things. Looking back, I wish I had just scheduled some sort of activity instead of just moping around like the spoiled young adult I was.

Since then, I’ve spent a few other holidays alone. A couple of New Years while I was getting my MFA, a bunch of Valentines, an Easter or two, and definitely more than a handful of Halloweens (does Halloween count when you’re over the age of 18?).  I’ve learned that planning a few activities to keep you busy and not spending too much time looking at all the fun the social media world is having helps the holidays I spend alone pass by without (many) tears. It also helps that I like myself a lot more in my 30s than I did in my 20s. Points for self-love!

Of course, in the age of social media and apps galore (Meetup for the win), spending a holiday completely alone would be my choice nowadays. And I kind of dig that! Buy yourself a Valentines goody, decorate your own dang eggs, and write a list of all your wishes for the New Year.

Cheers!

white paper with yeah signage
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

 

The 5 Guys You Meet on Tinder

The “New to Dating” Guy

The guy who says he is getting back in the dating game has usually just gotten out of a pretty serious relationship. Which means, he isn’t afraid of commitment – or at least he wasn’t afraid. You’re going to have to do some digging early on because if he got too hurt, he may have trust issues. If he’s getting out of a relationship that lasted over a decade, he probably has no idea how to date a 30-something Goddess.

The Hookup Guy

This guy wants to hookup and only hookup. He is probably the kind of guy girls obsessed over when they were 20-somethings who didn’t know any better, but now he has to turn to Tinder for his ego boost. If you look at his profile and think that maybe you could change his mind eventually, well you can’t. If you really want to end your single days, then swipe left, FAST!

The Open Marriage Guy

I don’t really understand the whole concept of an open marriage, but I’ve also never been married. Honestly, this just seems like too much work for me.

The Guy You Kind of Know

It’s always awkward when you land on the profile of the guy you sat next to in US History in high school. Or your brother’s friend who you thought was happily married with two kids. And your ex-boyfriend? Well, that’s just plain depressing. Of course, if you are interested in this almost stranger or getting back with an ex, swipe right. Maybe the Tinder magic is all you needed.

The Nice Guy Who Will Ultimately FriendZone You

Okay, this one is probably way too personal. Two of my former Tinder flames eventually played the old “you’re a really good friend, but that’s all you are” card. Am I bitter? Oh, hell yes I am.