This is the seventh 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.
Disappointment abounds! I had hoped to have plenty of grist for the pulp mill this morning, after having presented myself, as arranged, down in town at Norm Bigelman’s office, fifteen minutes before twelve. We had drifted down that same corridor, to the last office on the left, the one which had previously tenanted by Dr. Jill, my hero from the last time I needed a therapeutic tune-up.
I had prepared an introductory presentation in my head, that covered five elements that I thought were key to this critically important phase of my therapy. I felt that before Norm and I began to discuss the “problem” which is me, that we needed to have a few agreements, as far as the process of fitting into a therapeutic groove is concerned. I am a firm believer in setting up expectations, on both sides of the table.
I thought at the outset, that I had a conventional “hour” of Norm’s time, and I was determined not to fall into the pit which is amping. A key criticism by family members, this past couple of months, is that I tend to overwhelm them by presenting too much of what I am working on/thinking, and it becomes uncomfortable.
I began by introducing myself, and filling him in on a few details about my role as teacher and long-standing community member, bare-bones details, because I was trying to pack in a lot of content. I told him I had participated in the counseling process at three different times in my life, and that all three had been highly successful, and I had walked away from the table in each instance, feeling I had accomplished the goals I had been aiming for.
I felt that this current situation was no different, in that I had goals and objectives, the primary one being to shore up sagging components of Annie’s and my marriage. We had agreed in December, when we were trying to line up a therapist for the two of us, that our partnership was a good one, that we both wanted to continue in it, and that we were both committed to seeing the process through, in an attempt to keep us strong. Unfortunately, none of the recommended professionals were accepting new patients, either in Humboldt County, or Mendo.
It’s not as though there is no need in these two counties, for mental health issues to be addressed. But it’s an element of the process, that one must be able to fit into the machinery that is in place, to accommodate people’s needs, and that you have to be flexible.
I protested that not seeing various family members as often as I used to, meant that I had to cram a lot more information into a shorter period of time. In retrospect, of course, I might have just chosen to pass, but then that smacks of a salty attitude to begin with. I was only a third of the way through this prepared statement, when Norm interrupted me to inquire, if I was aware I had only ten minutes left. It turns out that all I was given as an appointment, was an introductory period of time, to establish that Norm was not accepting new patients, but that I could place my name on a waiting list. No thank you, I replied, I’m trying to salvage my marriage, and putting my name on a list, does not work for me.
Having only been at it for ten minutes, I was bummed. No one had hinted that this was not a conventional fifty minute appointment. I had informed Norm that I had a severe case of “potty mouth” happening, because after a lifetime of curbing my language and that of those around me, I had suddenly discovered just how satisfying it is, to use the exact word for a given situation. For once, I failed to notice how many letters were in the words that I frequently choose to employ, because four-letter words leap to mind, as seeming to fit the bill, more often than not.
I told him that I had struggled much of my life with being able to assert myself, but that those days were over, and that if I did not feel that Norm and I were a match, as far as the therapy process was concerned, I would bail. I wanted that up front, so that I would not find myself mired in a wheel-spinning situation, from which I could not extricate myself.
The third thing I told him was that I was a pretty sensitive guy, as far as that went, and that I was unwilling to either put down him, nor to feel that I was being put down. Again, this was just one of those expectations, that I wanted to put right out there, so that I was completely comfortable with the ground rules.
The fourth thing was that even though my family felt that I had mental issues, that went beyond the panic attack syndrome, I was reserving judgment on that topic, and that I was not going to cop to anything until the process of diagnosing me was completed. I still maintain, that passion, and “amping” are suspiciously alike in nature, and hard to differentiate between.
The final stipulation was that I was opposed to taking meds of any type, and would adamantly resist, unless it was deemed imperative. Even at that, I continued to maintain, that if the meds were required, I might still consider their use, as long as they did not interfere with my ability to be close to Annie. That was a deal-breaker, because physical closeness is an essential component of our marriage for both of us, and I was not willing to compromise that aspect of our relationship. I always believe in putting my cards on the table, until the house deems that the hand is over.
This hand is only in the process of being dealt, and as me father used to say, “It’s a poor dealer, who can’t deal himself a good hand.”
Since the therapeutic “casino” I have chosen, cannot meet my needs at this time, I must go in search of another. Maybe it is time to seek help south of us, down in Sonoma County. It may be that I must do a little migrating, in order to bring an element of stability back into our marriage. I am a fan of stability, even if my mental outlook is anything but.