This is the second 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.
Trouble in the Attic
I have always been open to counseling, recognizing that there are professionals out there who get paid the big bucks to ask probing questions, taking copious notes on the responses, while demonstrating how pointless it is for us to pay health insurance. Well, I have a lot to say, so keep that notebook handy.
I had an episode while in Ireland, last September, that was completely unrelated to the travel experience, and which resulted in a mental collapse, to the extent that I spent 24 hours in a hotel room, pretty much catatonic. This was a clear indication, even to me, that I was still in need of additional therapy, to accompany that which took place when I was seeing Dr. Jill, at the Health Center. At that time I succeeded in extricating myself from panic attack syndrome.
My better half had been viewing the “enemy” emerge for a while, nameless, unlabeled, and undisciplined. Having lived with me for thirty years, she said to herself, that there was trouble in the attic. Regardless of the specifics, what occurred in Ireland, escalated in her mind, the need to get some tools in hand, to contend with what she saw developing.
I was aware that my episode in Ireland was profoundly distressing, and saw the benefits of additional counseling, but wanted to go through the process concurrently with Annie. I felt that if the same counselor, who was working with me, could apply what he/she was learning, to the two of us as a couple, then that would be the best course of action.
However, in delaying my entry into a follow-up therapy program, I exacerbated my own shaky ground, by spiraling downward, in an ongoing march towards recognition, that I was not as cured, from my original therapy, as I might have thought. That was a huge stumbling block for me. I saw my ridding myself of panic attack syndrome, as the cure-all, the end-all, if you prefer, and that all was well with Luxury Liner Mark, fresh out of Belfast, Ireland, and steaming for parts unknown.
I wanted “credit" for the forward strides I had taken, without realizing that the new problems cropping up, made the old one seem like a tea party in the park. How could this be happening, when it seemed as though there was so much good to be found from my original therapeutic journey? *
I was incapable of distancing myself, from myself, to the extent that I could be objective. There is nothing wrong with subjectivity, that being what criticism is all about, until it clouds issues, which are already shrouded in mystery themselves. I think it reasonable to assume, that I am in a lousy seat in the bleachers, to be evaluating my own mental stability.
I am as stable as the luxury liner, Titanic, and a lot of people believe in me, just as a lot of people believed that the Titanic was unsinkable. Even the pros were on board, in both instances. How could something that iconic, that indestructible, be stoppable, as I might suggest the same about me, a model of consistency, in terms of honor and integrity? But we’re not talking about honor and integrity, we are talking about mental instability, regardless of whether it takes a more benign form, in that it only physically harms me. There are other forms of harm, that come under the realm of emotional and psychological, which do not include a physical threat, but pose a threat, nonetheless.
In conjunction with my campaign to heighten awareness of panic attack syndrome within our community, I phoned the Long Valley Health Center, in order to determine the individual, to whom I would refer those people who asked me for a reference. That nice Katie told me that Dr. Norm Bigelman was the Man, and that one had merely to contact the health center to secure an appointment.
In a cosmic event, the importance of which I refuse to diminish, I took a box of books out to my workshop, to store them, when I came across a crumpled copy of the local newspaper, with a picture of Dr. Norm on the front page. Intrigued, I read how, besides anxiety and panic attack syndrome, he also treated an array of other mental issues, including bipolarism and family therapy. I determined that this was my replacement to Dr. Jill, so I phoned that nice Katie back @ 984-6131, and my appointment is for this Thursday. After I have explored my own mental maze, then Annie and I can continue the process together, while we learn how to confront the “enemy” that is me, and how we can work together, to tame this most unwelcome beast.
* I narrate the seven visits to Dr. Jill, in the summer of 2010, and my subsequent work with panic attack syndrome and negative self-talk, in Six Days a Week, the first piece of writing, I posted on my blog, last July.