This is the eighth in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
Ace Up Her Sleeve
I had hard times last night, after dinner, feeling nauseous, and retiring around 6:30 for the night, with alternating sensations of heat/chill, and the big head, usually associated with the flu. I had eaten a simple meal of a salad and a mini-veggie pizza, and Annie and I were playing dominoes. I tried to convince Annie this morning that it was not the fact that she had beaten me the first two games, nor even the manner in which she had done so, that caused me to sicken. In the first game, she had taken a substantial lead, only to face a last minute, furious charge by me, coming up short by a scant five points. In the second game, she had demolished me, 185-30, at one point leading 160-0. Oh the ignominy of it all.
My Annie maintains it was the aftermath of the disappointment of not getting the therapy process started, with Norm Bigelman, at the health center, and attributed my illness to stress. I might have argued, but I am trying to keep a supremely low profile about anything that may be perceived as another amping outburst from me. However, when we talked it over today, I admitted that I had been crushed, but had been afraid to demonstrate my true feelings, because I am afraid to demonstrate my true feelings 24/7, for fear of making things worse. Annie understood what I was saying, and said we would just have to work it out as we went along, but that she was on board for the long haul, so I didn’t have to worry about that. We did the big hug/emotional thing for a minute, and then she went back upstairs to her long-arm, and I went back to my lappie, because that’s what we do.
In fact as I was coming home from Laytonville yesterday afternoon, I was dusting off each of my tools I have on stand-by for negative self-talk and distorted thinking, making sure that I was in control, so that I would not appear to be too shaken up by the seeming unprofessional nature of the whole encounter. The last thing I want to do, is dis on Katie, the receptionist, who has been so friendly and helpful. I must assume that she booked the appointment, based on a cancellation, but that Norm overruled her, because he knew he was not accepting new patients. He simply did not want to allocate me a whole hour, if it was a one-time meeting. It’s just that no one told me.
Nonetheless, I was the unwitting player in an awkward audition, and all I wanted now, was to regroup, and proceed on with the task of finding a therapist. My attempts to maintain mental serenity, always include my tools for dealing with [negative] self-talk, and distorted thinking styles. Briefly defined, self-talk is that inner voice which is always clamoring for your anxieties to raise a ruckus. Self-talk often propels people into making poor decisions based on thinking which promotes indecision and uncertainty, interfering with confidence and forward progress.
Distorted thinking refers to natural defense mechanisms for dealing with the tough situations in life. Much human pain derives from faulty conclusions, made through a process which fails to examine all factors, and often allows one to narrow the viewpoint, as to exclude many valid courses of action. The result is a narrowed course of action, often in lieu of a more effective path.
Actually, Annie took this situation with Norm a lot more personally than I. I could tell she was being cautious, because I had made it clear that I did not want to consider it a big deal, but she kept returning to it, finally declaring that she was disappointed in Long Valley, because she thought that they might have dealt with a patient experiencing mental difficulties, a little more gingerly. I told her that I appreciated that, coming from her. It was OK for her to have that opinion, but not really for me to have it. I was trying to avoid the pitfalls of self-talk.
One example of [negative] self-talk is the worrier. This person creates anxiety by imagining worst-case scenarios. I was not going to fall into the trap of reflecting back on Annie’s unsuccessful efforts to obtain counseling up in Humboldt County, and now our continued efforts in Mendo County also coming up short. I had already decided that maybe we needed to shift our area of search to Sonoma County. Except for JT, in Sebasketball, I did not venture south very often, preferring the more relaxed pace in Eureka, to that of Santa Rosa. However, I was prepared to go to any lengths, not to have to delay that start of this phase of therapy.
Along the same lines was the distorted thinking concept of overgeneralizing. Because we had been having trouble finding therapists that were taking new patients, it was easy to fall into the rut of assuming that it was this way everywhere, which is why I started thinking about expanding our search southward.
Though there are many more examples of distorted thinking, my favorite is catastrophizing, the tendency to expect the worst. Because the therapists in Eureka were booked, and Norm was booked, it might seem to follow suit, that every therapist, in NorCal was also booked. As extreme as it sounds, in the proper light, it sounds very convincing, especially if a person really did not want to go driving all over California, once a week, for fifty minutes.
But before we could spend too much time dangling in the breezes of inaction, Annie came up with one more ace up her sleeve, pretty amazing when you consider that she was wearing a sleeveless blouse at the time.