August 20, 2010 § 3 Comments
After weeks of anticipation, my psych evaluation finally came. I know for the poo eaters out there this isn’t such a big deal, but I’ve been waiting the better part of 26 years to have an adult conversation with a medical professional who has the power to save me from myself. Every MF person I know is on some cocktail of joy and patience that makes life easier to handle and I couldnotwait to get me a cocktail to get this crazy out of my head.
No one in the history of the world has ever been better prepared for a psych eval than I was. Not only did I fill out the twenty page form, detailing my most intimate thoughts for the benefit of science, I began keeping a notebook two weeks before the appointment. I would write down things that I thought we should chat about, things that made me anxious (everything), nervous (everything), unhappy (most things), or bored (everything). I brought my paperwork and notebook to the meeting, ready to have a conversation and get the healing ball rolling.
In hindsight, my first mistake was made a few weeks prior, when I called to make the appointment. They asked if I had a preference between a male or a female. I said I didn’t. That was a complete lie. I hate women. I guess I was trying to play all gender neutral in hopes that my choice wouldn’t be documented in a file that would later be used to determine whether or not I deserved to get my meds. Right, well, mistake. What I should have said was, “put me in a room with one of those Chaco-wearing, pseudo lesbian types and I’ll just pay off Juan in maintenance to ask his brother to ship my pills direct from Juarez.” Instead I played it cool and said whoever was available would be fine with me.
I don’t even believe in women gynecologists. I tried for about a year to change my spots by going to see some big shot OBGYN at the Fresh Pond Women’s Health Plaza or some such nonsense and what I ended up getting was some spiteful woman who didn’t care about my ovaries since I wasn’t going to give her a new picture for the wall of babies. FINE. I don’t need you to give me my tune up. I’LL FIND SOMEONE ELSE. And I did. And I now have the most gangbusters gyno EVER. (There’s actually a post somewhere on this blog about him and the conversation we had about whether or not I should wax before coming to see him. Awe.some.)
Moving on. So I didn’t get a man. I got a lady. A lady therapist. (We’re not even into medical school graduates. The eval is to determine whether you’re worthy of seeing a man with a script pad.) So I show up looking as high functioning as I could manage. I changed shoes twice and made sure to get there early so I wouldn’t be all sweaty and panty and “oh, fuck, I’m so sorry! I had all day to get here by four PM and still couldn’t manage it.” I know that they write everything down. This isn’t my first rodeo.
There I am with Emily, which happens to be my mother’s name, a name that I’m just now getting okay with as an option for one of my yet-to-be-confirmed children, trying not to cross my arms subconsciously because I don’t want her to put a note in my file about how I start off defensive and haughty. I end up fidgeting instead–which definitely wasn’t part of my plan. I almost told her I was sexually frustrated to explain away the ticking, but I was scared she’d take that to mean I liked ladies and then we’d have a whole new issue that would distract from my mission: prove functioning incompetence and graduate to a psychiatrist.
The whole thing was supposed to be 45-50 minutes and Emily couldn’t help but look at the clock obsessively, which made me wonder if I was being so entertaining that she was sorry to see the time go, or if she was wondering how much longer she had to be in the room with me. Or worse, that we weren’t going to be able to cover everything in the allotted time because I got hung up on my family psychiatric background. Which is so fucked up to begin with, BTW. I don’t have enough time in a 45 minute session to cover my family. You want to know about them? Make four additional 45 minutes sessions and we’ll begin to crack that egg. She keeps doing this obnoxious nodding thing, which leads me to eventually tell her she doesn’t have to make awkward facial expressions and nod with encouragement, I know she just has to listen and I don’t need her to pretend that what I’m saying is normal. If it were, we wouldn’t be spending the afternoon together.
Bad move. She immediately wants to explore that. Why do I care what facial expressions she is making? What I want to do is tell her that as far as I am concerned she is like the backstage body guard at a live taping of Oprah. You think you matter, but no one else thinks you matter. I’m only entertaining your presence because I know if I fuck things up with you, there is NO CHANCE I am getting to see Oprah. So quit making this so hard. We both know our places. You want out of this room and I want to see your boss. Let’s do this thing.
But no. Emily is young and helpful. She wants to give me tools. She wants to get to the heart of the problem and then help me work through it. I can feel myself getting annoyed and I’m doing my very best to remain attentive to the questions and ignore her textbook discoveries about my personality. “Oh. You had a brother with a serious medical condition? It must have been very hard for you to get the attention you needed. How do you think that’s effected you?” “I don’t know, Emily, I guess it gave me this immaculate sense of style and ridiculously great job, super husband and personality that people are flocking to. Or perhaps it was responsible for my resiliency and sense of humor. Or maybe you have picked up on the one thing I’ve said in the last forty five minutes that means absolutely nothing. The one and only thing I haven’t lost sleep over. Maybe.”
Emily decides that I don’t need medication. I need therapy. Group therapy. I try to explain to Emily that I don’t do well in groups because I have a hard time connecting. Really? she says. Yes, really. I once tried OA and all I could think while I was there was how those people were a bunch of losers and if being well meant being friends with them… I’d rather be sick. Emily didn’t understand. I imagined that her boss would, but it wasn’t the right time.
So Emily reached into her Masters degree and pulled out some more assessments. Why did I think I ran when I didn’t like running? Why did I feel that clothing and shoes mattered? I took a second to try to figure out how to explain it to her in a way that made it clear that she was not touching on my psychoses, she was touching on the fundamental differences between us. The ideal response would have pointed out that, unlike her, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to air dry one’s hair and wear Chacos to work. I don’t feel that every female figure is beautiful, in fact I’m quite horrified at the majority of them and therefore feel very strongly that exercising is imperative, whether or not I like it. Instead I told Emily that I thought it had something to do with depression, anxiety, OCD– a host of things that could be easily cured with a nice mood stabilizer, a relaxer, and a little something to take the edge off flying.
She gave me the number for the group leader for the CBT Group that meets TWICE A WEEK.
I left her office wondering how the hell every person I know is on something so delightful and I can’t seem to get a rec for Advil out of my doctor. I can already tell that this is going to lead to to Munchausen by Proxy or something and Emily will be to blame. Perhaps if she wouldn’t have blocked the door to real, chemical healing my whole life could have changed. Then I would have remembered her fondly, maybe even referred people to her. Not going to happen now.
August 3, 2010 § 5 Comments
First there was the foot incident. Six weeks of no exercise, lots of doing nothing, not to mention that it overlapped with a Hawaii vacation that didn’t exactly encourage healthy, slim living. Follow that up with ten days in Texas and a two week battle with bronchitis that included a four star popped eardrum bonus and you’ve got a hell of a two months. My body composition is tapioca.
I’ve been working on being Zen about the whole thing. My body is clearly trying to tell me something. As a dear friend pointed out, I’ve been particularly “sickly” this year and there’s got to be a reason for it. It could be bad karma, as I havent exactly been inoculating orphaned babies from Haiti in 2010. (I don’t know why I chose to type it like that, in a way that suggests that I was actually doing that in 2009, or 2008.) I know that this body is temporary. I’ve got a half marathon coming up in October which will surely give this fat kid some motivation to sweat off the extra lbs, but in the moment, doing the naked mirror dance, temporary doesn’t seem to matter. It shakes like it’s gonna be there for a looooong time.
I’ve done my best to avoid direct contact with my body. I play a game where I pretend that my body is like Medusa. If I stare at it directly it will blind me. So I don’t. I look myself in the eye as I pass the mirror on the way into the shower. Sometimes I have to face the wall because the temptation is too great. (I was the girl who couldn’t help but clench my teeth when I’d just gotten my braces tightened. It just hurt so… good. There’s a similar psychology here. I dont want to see it, per say, but this sick, twisted, dark part of myself really does.) I also haven’t weighed myself. Actually, that isn’t entirely truthful. About a week and a half ago I did it just to torture myself. I have problems.
But that all changed yesterday. I finally decided to go to the doctor about this killer disease that had the nerve to fuck with my eardrum and wouldn’t you know that they feel as though in order to find out what is wrong with my lungs they need to weigh me. Now, there are two paths to take. The first is just to get on the scale like a normal person. The second is to get into an argument with the GED VoTech nurse about why on earth she needs to know how much you weigh to give you antibiotics. From experience I can tell you that the second is inadvisable. Super inadvisable. Not only does it make you sound crazy, nothing goes to shit quicker than an argument with a person whose job requires that they fill out a form. Their one and only purpose is to fill out that form. If you dare to get in the way of the form filling out, you’re going to get bitch slapped. Ever told one of those ladies (or gents) that you’re “not sure” of the answer to the question they’ve asked? There is a slight twitch that creeps over their faces. You may not even realize the power it has over you, but suddenly you just pick a medication to be allergic to so that you don’t have to endure the uncomfortable stare. Allergies? Err. Umm. Penicillin? Sure.
So then you find yourself at another cross roads. You have to get on the scale, but how much clothing can you subtly remove on your way to the platform? If you’re wearing slip ons, awesome. Done. Kick ‘em off. If you’re wearing boots, you’re going to spend the rest of the day agonizing over how much a pair of riding boots can possibly weight. Ten pounds? Twelve? The truth is they probably weigh less than three pounds and it’s that knowledge that picks at you all day long. The best course of action is usually to just take off all excessive clothing the minute they put you in the room. If you know you have to have your blood pressure taken, go ahead and make a fuss about making it easier for them by removing your jacket. You can try to get your belt off, but be cautious. You don’t want the nurse to think you’ve got the wrong idea about her. If you’ve never been beaten with a clipboard, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
In my experience you’re stuck with your pants and shirt. Even if you manage the shoes, belt, and jacket you’d have to be a pro to be able to get down to your skivvies without the nurse freaking out on you. I’ve been doing this for years and I’m lucky if I even get to take of my blazer. Yesterday I was so panicked about the experience I went into a trance for a solid thirty seconds after she asked me to “hop up on the scale.” I lost valuable time and didn’t even have a chance to kick of my ballet flats. Even worse, the appointment was at 1:30 but I hadn’t eaten breakfast so there was no way to psyche myself into thinking those extra lbs were my breakfast. I hadn’t even had a sip of water.
I tried to do a tricky belt-removing maneuver using one hand, but I ended up just twisting it around awkwardly. In the end I just sat there calculating how much a pair of skinny jeans and a cotton shirt weigh. Nine pounds?
The nurse told me that the doctor “could be a minute” and then closed the doors. It occurred to me that I could quickly remove all my clothes, jump on the scale, reweigh myself, and change the chart all before she returned. I would have done it too, but then I remembered that I wanted to ask her for a psychiatric referral and I was concerned that after a stunt like that she’d give me one unsolicited.
The experience has left me feeling really sorry for myself. My pants, which fit fine yesterday, suddenly don’t fit. (In my mind, of course.) In mourning for my skinny self I decided to dress in a circus tent today and sip somberly on soy berry smoothies. I’m hoping that I’ll have an opportunity for a naked weigh in before I have to go to Chicago. Nothing ruins a vacation quite like starting it feeling like an orca.