At the recommendation of a friend who told me that they were ill equipped to answer my life questions anymore, I sought out a therapist this week. I’d seen one before. They wanted to dope me up. And I feel the same way about psychological meds as I do with pain meds. They aren’t “fixing” anything as much as they are masking that there’s a problem. I’m not into it. I’m not about it. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous all day yesterday before the appointment. Might this be a good thing? Could it be someone that would really help me figure out how to better cope with this life that has engulfed me? It was good nerves. Because maybe I could talk to a professional who could help me sort it all out. I’m no stranger to therapy. I had a GREAT therapist in College. Dr. Edna Van Harte. She was a native South African woman still with a very full accent but it made her even more so tender. She really reminded me of my mom. I think that’s why I gravitated towards her so much. And she was careful and gentle with my emotions. She gave me suggestions and exercises to do by myself that opened up how I felt and allowed me to think freely. It was a positive experience. Even in the last 5 years, the counselors that E and I went to see seemed attentive and thoughtful. Maybe a bit too passive sometimes. But not bad people. I was ill equipped for the experience that was to come.
I buzzed the door and they let me in. I walked in and to my left was a reception desk staffed with about 5 or 6 women who all looked at me like I was crazy for being there (not a good feeling when going to see a psychotherapist). I announced my name and what doctor I was there to see and the time for my appointment. They handed me a single sheet to fill out about insurance and emergency contact and asked me to have a seat. I got there about 4:00. The appointment was for 4:15. I’d seen a picture of this doctor online when I booked the appointment so I knew what he looked like. Kind of a skinny, cheesy version of Christopher Meloni. I saw him walk out while I was filling out my paperwork. Seems he was working with someone who was waiting on something… but neither of them could find it or wait for it any longer. I heard the doctor say “sorry… better luck next time. see you,” and walk away. I did think nothing of it at the time. Now after the appointment I had, I think I can pick out one million things in that interaction that could have warned me about what I was going to encounter.
Finally at about 4:27 (remember – the appointment was 4:15), the doctor emerged and said “Victoria?” I stood up and confirmed. As I walked toward him, he turned and walked away. Unusual. Usually a doctor shakes my hand “Nice to meet you, I’m Dr. so and so” but maybe that will happen in the room. I got into the small corner room and sat down in the little restrictive chair. Still no handshake. Still no introduction. First words were him instructing me that I’d be paying my co pay to him directly and it looked like he was using some version of the Square plugged into his phone to take payment. So… more minutes ticking away on the already constrained 45 minutes on this appointment. My Benny card didn’t work. Needed to use a different card… discussion about how benny works .. how it comes out of my account… right…okay. Finally the payment goes through. He picks up his clip board and states “Alright, Victoria, what brings you here today?” I answered with an honest, “A lot of things, actually. I’m having some trouble coping in life.” He responded, “Well, we don’t have time for ‘a lot of things.’ Pick one.” Stopped me dead in my tracks. And please believe, he said it as curtly and rudely as it sounded. I guess he heard himself and back tracked to start asking some questions. But in my mind, I already decided he’d never see me again. Asked me about work. Asked me about home life. Asked me about friendships and associations. Pinpointed some people in my life. Asked questions around all of them. Made a bunch of extremely judgmental statements about them. Basically calling them jerks or assholes. But I had not inferred any of that. I just replied to his questions with facts. Basically called me a dumbass for some of the decisions I’d made. Complete with smirk and roll of the eyes. When he was done with his limited pontifications on those items he asked me, “well what else?” and I stated that I probably would like to talk about things that happened when I was small… (the rest of the statement would have sounded like – while I believed that I’d grown past what had happened it’s come to revisit me in my adulthood in a way I didn’t expect and I’m not sure what to do about it… but I didn’t get to say the rest of the statement)… he waved his hand off and dismissed that. “We don’t need to talk about your child hood. What for?? If we could fix the current main problem in your life, you wouldn’t even think about that stuff from your child hood, am I right?” What are we… at a comedy club???? I had completely given up at this point. “Fine. You’re telling me.” I responded with abandon. After a few more stupid questions and my empty answers he put the clipboard in his lap and shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know what to tell you…” he said with complete lack of responsibility. And he was comfortable in it. Like…. Psychologists are ALLOWED to say shit like that. He made some suggestions to me about what he would have liked for our next sessions. In my head I was telling him he’d never see me again. Ever, if I could help it. But I nodded and collected my things while he talked. He stood up and opened the door and told me to “have a lovely day.”
I don’t know how any of his patients find comfort or solace in him at all. I’m not sure how he got a license. Maybe it’s because he accepts health insurance so he’s just jaded by the volume of people coming in and out. I wish I’d known he’d be that way because I would have spared myself the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that washed over me while I took the train back to work and tried to make sense of the hour of my life that I’d just lost.
I used the $10.00 Amazon gift card Zocdoc sent me as an apology for my terrible experience to pick up a book entitled “How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying To Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention”
Hope it’s a good read.