“You’ve said that three times during this session. Did you realize that?”
Mel’s coal-black eyes bored into me. No, I hadn’t realized that. Why should I? Wasn’t this a therapy session?
We were knee-deep in clutter. This place resembled more of a storage closet than an office.
“No, I guess I didn’t.” I put my hand up to my mouth and waited to see what she would say next.
“Scott, you’re not mentally ill.” She let that hang in the air while she kept staring at me.
Then why in the world am I here? Why did I try to kill myself a year ago? Why do I get so deep into depression that I need medication just to stay afloat? All these questions flooded my mind as I held her eye contact.
I decided to play her game some more. “I’m not?”
“No. You are just a little bit off. All you need is some guidance to get back on track.”
“But several psychiatrists and therapists have told me that I suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.”
Mel raised her eyebrows. “They told you.”
What on earth was she insinuating? I started meeting with Mel because 1) she works for free; 2) she is qualified; and 3) she is a faithful Catholic and attends my parish. At this point, though, maybe I should go back to the Mormon Army guy who always yelled at me to have sex with my wife.
I’m the type of person who sometimes plays along just to see exactly where a conversation is going. I call it picking my battles; others refer to it as being a spineless wimp.
Screw the latter ones.
Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve been told that I get too angry and let my emotions get me into trouble. Or maybe I’m just unlucky and am destined to wander around through life, getting kicked and bumped until God says my time is up and I become worm food.
I was getting flustered. “So you don’t think I suffer from depression?” How could she say no to this one?
“No,” she said, leaning forward, her elbows resting on the round table between us. “You don’t suffer from depression. There’s nothing wrong with you. Stop thinking that.”
What the %#$& do you know about me? That’s what I wanted to say, but the timid part of myself won.
But there is something wrong with me. I’ve thought about suicide ever since high school. I need pills just to feel “normal.”
“Stop saying you are mentally ill. Stop saying you have depression. Better yet, stop thinking it. If you keep telling yourself something, you’ll eventually start to believe it. The mind is very powerful.”
I have to admit that my first thought was, Ah, crap. Now I’ll have to change the tagline of my blog. “Oh, wow. You’re right.”
Why did I say that? Oh, I know why: because I’m a wimp. Wait, no. Because I didn’t feel like getting into it. After all, she’s the one with LCSW and M.Psych. after her name.
It all made sense. Sure.
When my wife comes tromping up behind me, I’m supposed to think, I don’t have PTSD. When I walk into a room at work and everybody scatters like cockroaches, I’ll think, I’m not paranoid.
Suicidal thoughts. Nope. I’m normal. Driving on the highway, hands gripping the wheel so tightly because I’m freaking out. No anxiety here.
Maybe there is no such thing as the perfect therapist. Maybe the new shrink that I’m scheduled to see in a few weeks will turn out to be another psycho who boots me to the curb again.
I tried for years to be my own counselor and psychiatrist, and that didn’t work out too well. I realized that while I was riding in the back of a Sheriff’s cruiser as I was being transferred from one psych ward to another.
So now I’m having to ration my medication because I won’t see the new doctor for another week, and I only have a three-day supply remaining. You don’t need them, Scott. Remember?
Oh, yeah. Been there. Done that. Not pretty.
“How’s your prayer life?”
“Um, it could be better.”
Mel raised her eyebrows again and let out a sarcastic Hmm.
After the session, I trudged by the statue of Mary in the church garden and plopped down on the stone bench. “Please pray for me,” I said, gazing at the Mother of God. “I don’t know what to do.”
(photo by Topaz)