So this is what it feels like
I’m not really sure what I imagined when I walked into this office. I knew better than to buy into the whole leather couch, one lamp sort of thing from the movies. I do work in one of these places, after all. Still though, it wasn’t quite what I expected. The therapist had a very messy desk, which felt kind of familiar and put me at ease. The walls were decorated and the furniture was like anything my grandparents would store in the attic for 30 years untouched. It all seemed so informal.
I sat in this chair that had no business being as comfortable as it was and waited. After a few minutes this guy walked in, sat down, and jumped right in. Since I was just there for my intake, I didn’t think much of it. We talked about the symptoms I’ve been struggling with and why I decided to “refer” myself to outpatient counseling. I filled out some of the standard anxiety measures, some depression scales, answered a ton of questions about suicide and self harm… I’m guessing this stuff is all pretty standard.
Next we talked about some coping skills that can help to get through high stress situations, or to mitigate at least the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic. The first was breathing. Pretty simple stuff really, you inhale for 5 seconds, hold…….. exhale for 5 seconds, repeat. It works great when you’re sitting in a sterile clinic with nothing around to bother you (I’m not discounting this, it’s just much harder to do anything when you can’t control your thoughts).
The next skill is something called progressive relaxation, which I had heard about in my psych classes. You start at the top, your head/neck, and focus on clenching and relaxing certain muscles one at a time until you get to your feet. It looks very dumb. This is not something you want to do in any sort of social situation until you have practiced a lot. You may find yourself assuring strangers that you know where the bathroom is, and you’ll be sure to use it if you need it. However, the research says it works, so I’ll try it at home.
At the end of the session I was expecting a referral or for the guy to say “Okay so you’re going to be meeting with ___ next week.” That’s not what I got though, because I could never be that lucky. The guy instead says he’ll be seeing me. Here’s a complete list of reasons that’s a huge issue for me.
- I am not fond of this man. He is arrogant and assumes that I have no idea what he’s talking about, which is certainly not the case
- I would prefer a female counselor. I don’t feel that I, being a dude, can open up to this other dude with the same confidence that I would have with a woman. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but the whole point is to feel comfortable
- This jackass never took time to build rapport. He jumped straight into the business. He didn’t make me feel welcome, he didn’t get to know me, he didn’t let me know him, and he expects me to trust him and share all the thoughts and feelings that I hide from my family and friends. Rapport is the one thing I pride myself on in my work, because without that relationship you get nowhere
I’m going to stick with this for now, but after the next session I will evaluate my other options. I definitely need the support. And at least now I can look like I’m crapping myself in public.