My Constant Companion

I just got off the phone with the Professor, which I highly recommend to everyone who’s feeling out of sorts. I, of course, was feeling quite out of sorts after being called a narcissistic princess by a man whose praises I spent all Tuesday singing, but I chose not to burden the Professor with that.

Instead, I was telling her about my exciting trip to the counsellor. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I’ve been told I need to get a reign on my inner child and possibly some medication for my mildly moderate depression.

It is this mildly moderate depression I’d like to mull over.  It’s not that I doubt that I’m fucked up.  Clearly, I’m fucked up.  I’m not an idiot.  But I don’t feel depressed.  Except for the thing that shall not be named, I feel pretty good about my life.  Exciting things are happening; we’re more financially secure than we’ve ever been (knock on wood); I’ve got good friends who love me; and I’ve got the cutest dog who delights me.

I don’t feel depressed.

I feel anxious.

And that’s kind of two-pronged what the Professor and I were talking about, how I have a ton of anxiety and that, even though it seems to have manifest itself more acutely recently, that’s also because I’ve been doing a lot of new things that are incredibly scary and great sources of anxiety for me.

In the past, I just would not have done those things and so I probably appeared less anxious, but basically just because I stayed in my comfort zone and never did things that would cause me any anxiety.  But now, as I’m doing more things that freak me the fuck out, lo and behold, I am often freaked right the fuck out.

So, it’s kind of a self-perpetuating problem–doing new things makes me anxious but I want to do new things so that I can get over being freaked right the fuck out by doing them.  I mean, folks, I have every intention of making Don Coyote put me back on that fucking four-wheeler and listening to me bitch and cry again until I finally just get the fuck over it, if I can.  I’d like that, anyway.

I hadn’t ever been to a counsellor of any sort before.  It’s not what I expected.  And I felt like I was spending a lot of time just bringing her up to speed so that she could understand me.  I don’t think anything during the session helped me understand me.

But the work I did afterwards, to try to understand what she was saying and to judge it against my own understanding of myself has been amazingly useful.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m discounting her diagnosis.  It’s just that I don’t feel depressed and I rely a great deal on my emotions and intuition to guide me.  I’d be really freaked out to discover that I was so out of touch with the tools I so heavily rely on that I couldn’t tell when I was depressed.

On the other hand, I always feel a little anxious.  Anxiety is a constant companion and one that does get in the way sometimes of me being in touch with my own self–as evidenced by the anxiety attacks and my freaked out response to them.

And the other thing is that I don’t want to patch myself together just so I can continue to do the thing we won’t talk about.  If it takes drugs and counselling to make it so I can continue to bear the thing we won’t mention, it seems to me that I need to find some thing other than the thing we won’t mention to spend my time on.

Is that myopic?

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30 thoughts on “My Constant Companion

  1. I don’t have a ton of experience with counselors, but the little I do have bears out with what you describe: there seems to be a lot of up-front explanations & ramping the counselor up before s/he can be of much value to you. But with any luck, s/he asks good questions, and you’re left to think things through until next time.

  2. I’m not a counselor, but I play the wife of a former counselor and the very close friend of 2 current ones. So take what I say with (obviously) a huge grain of salt or three as third-hand info.

    I don’t feel depressed.

    I feel anxious.

    I think chemically they go hand in hand. At least the way they’re treated. And I know that after awhile too much anxiety becomes depressing. From what I’ve gathered around the dinner table with these counselors, most people who end up in a counselor’s office are pre-conditioned to expect some sort of medication. And If you aren’t seeking therapy because of some sort of court mandate, then the therapists seem to think that odds are the patient is either dealing with depression or anxiety. Around here they call Depression the “common cold of mental conditions”.

    So, all that to say that they don’t want you to leave disappointed so they’ll get you a mild dose of an anti-depressant which can also serve as an anxiolytic. The idea is to get you a little bit evened out so that they have the chance to probe a little more deeply in subsequent sessions. It’s usually the 4th or 5th session–after they’ve had time to build transferrence and the drugs have worked through your system–that the advice gets really good.

    And the other thing is that I don’t want to patch myself together just so I can continue to do the thing we won’t talk about.

    I think more the idea may be to get you to the place where looking for a replacement for the thing we won’t talk about isn’t so daunting. Right? Because if the thing we won’t talk about is the thing I think it is, you could do well to replace it, but that’s a major task involving much anxiety.

    Far worse than 4-wheeling.

  3. Keep pressing to get medication for anxiety disorder if this is what you feel is wrong. K-Co is right that anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but there are drugs for dealing with anxiety – and they work. You may have a level of depression that you CAN handle and a level of anxiety that makes life more difficult for you than it really needs to be. I’ve been treated with drugs for depression – (in episodes from mild to severe) but nothing really made a dent for me until I tried anti-anxiety drugs.

    If there’s a behavior you’ve got that you know is destructive and you want to change – can you talk to the counselor about coaching you toward better behavior? Don’t let the counselor go all “professional” on you. Nothing gets up my nose more. (Well, maybe I Pod leakage from fellow commuters)

  4. What is colloquially known as anxiety can be subsumed under clinical depression, too. It’s entirely possible that the anxiety you feel is the major component of clinical or subclinical depression; the other symptoms may just be less visible. Clinical anxiety disorders are all much more physical in their symptoms than we usually think when we’re talking about them.

    Computer is about to die, so I’ll have to finish the thought later. The above is spoken as the child of a therapist, who spent random chunks of her life intersted in diagnoses and reading the DSM IV for kicks, but who is in no way a licensed therapist on her own, and who also isn’t a mind reader or empath, and is very far away, so cannot comment on the details.

  5. I think you have a pretty good handle on it. The thing that we aren’t talking about isn’t worth getting all crazy about nor is it worth a major reorientation of your head so that you continue to do it without distress. And since so many of your anxiety triggers seem to route themselves through that site…well, some counselling to bridge you toward a change seems very positive indeed.

    You can’t be a narcissistic princess. There’s only one crown and I’m wearing it. Looks good on me, too.

  6. B, the thing we can’t mention will change; you’re doing things about that. If chemicals help making the change easier, that can be a help indeed. I got put on antidepressants once by an MD I saw twice a year for a completely physical problem. When I was moving to Nashville I went in for a goodbye visit, to get some baseline numbers on things and a recommendation for a specialist here, and the guy took one look at me and said he’d never seen me look so awful and what was the matter. I told him he was wrong, that I’d rarely been better, but I had just bought a house, was packing boxes to leave, and working a 2–10 shift so things were just a little busy right then. And he said that good stress was stress all the same, and antidepressants would make everything easier; he said take them through the move and till I felt settled, then for one month more, then stop. I did, and he was right. The pills dealt with the physical effects of the stressful things I was doing, and I got to enjoy everything more.

  7. I don’t know what the unmentionable thing is but if it’s eating at your spirit, and chemicals/counseling can help you find your footing, I respect that you are seeking ways to help yourself.
    Sometimes a little help isn’t a bad thing.
    I took Zoloft during the six months before my mother died. I continued it for about another six months.
    It didn’t fix things but I wasn’t so overwrought in the depths of despair.
    Despair is so completely and utterly horrible. I guess we all know that.
    As I’m going through sort of a rough time right now myself, I’ve considered going back to the doctor and doing this again.
    It helped.
    Your sister in anxiety from the west part of the state,
    ‘coma

  8. Oh, and I meant to say before that I’m kind of surprised; I didn’t even know you knew Lord Voldemort, let alone that he was being such a problem.

  9. But wasn’t this a visit to a [horse] counselor? Maybe there is some cross-training such that she was counselling you more generally too, but part of my concerns about such diagnoses coming right away then and there was as much about her domain as about your symptoms. I respect that she saw something that she thought needed tending to – that’s generous and caring; however, she totally hijacked your questions and needs and made them into her own agenda.

    If it’s the case that much of the early part of counseling is telling your story and making yourself known, which makes lots of sense, then doesn’t the counselor have to leave some room (more than 40 minutes for sure) to hear more before coming to conclusions and prescribing medication? Even if B decides that the anxiety can and should be helped, I want her to feel safe and protected by the person helping her, not prodded and categorized.

    We’ll talk about the narcissitic princess comment later – once I’m done with the damn index.

  10. But wasn’t this a visit to a [horse] counselor?

    Please allow me to say something I rarely say anywhere.

    But….

    Holy Fucking shit. You’re kidding. A [horse] counselor? When you said “counselor” and followed it up with “depression…need drugs…” I just naturally assumed we were talking a mental health professional with advanced training who was seeing you specifically for health concerns.

    then doesn’t the counselor have to leave some room (more than 40 minutes for sure) to hear more before coming to conclusions and prescribing medication?

    Well, it depends on how the patient presents. A good doctor (PhD or MD) has to treat any emergent symptoms with basic attention. That’s the danger of mental health and that’s one of the reasons my husband left the profession. The “when” of the drugs is a touchy question. If you have someone who seems truly depressed and anxious, is it better to give them a small dose at the first visit to see them through the early process or to wait until you’ve got a better handle on the problem before medicating them?

    I’m now very curious to know what level of training and licensure this [horse] counselor has. MSW, PhD?

    Showing my obvious prejudice here, I just need to point out that “[horse] Counselor” is an unregulated profession. It doesn’t necessarily require any medical training at all.

    I would seriously doubt that a [horse] Counselor is much more qualified to make a medical diagnose of B than any of us on this thread.

    I’m completely stymied now.

    I seriously thought this whole time that we were talking MD/PhD. Someone with medical training…

  11. I am not the person to comment on this; were I to tell you my experience with meds and counseling, Kat and magniloquence would climb through the tubes, kindnap me, and burn me alive. I did something everybody swears you should NEVER do. And I would never advise anyone else to do it.

    But your experience mirrors mine.

    Was this really a [horse] conselor? Weird.

  12. Yes, folks, when something cannot be named, it cannot be named! So, I renamed it and prefer we talk about my huge horse problems from here on out, and not the problem that cannot be named.

    So, yes, also, I should say that the horse counselor did not prescribe me any medication, but wants to send me to someone who will. I both don’t want to discount what she’s saying and I don’t want to just jump into medication based on someone talking to me for 40 minutes.

  13. So, I renamed it and prefer we talk about my huge horse problems

    why am I picturing Catherine the Great right now? ::cue nm and bridgett to remind me that it’s probably a myth. even so it’s a saucy myth that I prefer to cherish for the pure sauciness of it all::

    So, yes, also, I should say that the horse counselor did not prescribe me any medication, but wants to send me to someone who will. I both don’t want to discount what she’s saying and I don’t want to just jump into medication based on someone talking to me for 40 minutes.

    Consider this free advice worth exactly that, but I would just find one counselor who is able to dispense any needed medication. Medically qualified people are really good with horse problems, whereas horse counselors are not always good with medical problems.

  14. It’s got a beat to it, you know:

    I’ve been through depression* on a horse with no name
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no shame

    *’anxiety’ just doesn’t scan

  15. KC, you only cherish the sauciness because you refuse to absorb the true message of the myth, which is supposed to be that a politically and sexually self-determined woman is the equivalent of a woman who is into bestiality. It’s like the people who say that if homosexual marriage is legalized we might as well legalize marriage with animals. Catherine was slighly more chaste than the men ruling powerful countries at the same time (well, probably not quite as chaste as Joseph II, but the rest of them, anyway), but no one made up bestiality stories about them.

    /derailment

  16. [derailment]
    I just thought it meant that there was no man in Russia capable of meeting her dynamic needs.
    /derailment

    [derailment]
    BTW, I hate that song. Not your version of it, but the original. So. Okay. Maybe your version too, insofar as it makes me think of the original which makes my eyes bleed.
    /derailment.

  17. I understand your need to not tell the world about your horse problem, but damn if the curiousity ain’t killing me.

  18. W., I’m not happy with my old horse and would like to get a new one, but am worried I would not be able to find a horse any better than this one, which everyone seems to think is so wonderful.

  19. I hate absolutely everything about America (the band, not the country). That song in particular. But it got wedged into my head but good, back in the day. Sigh.

  20. Thanks for the fix. And so sorry for the slip. Although isn’t it even funnier now – people are confused, singing bad songs, and having wild visions of your wild sex life. So, let’s just say I helped more than hurt.

  21. Oh yeah, this also provided a great example in my class, which was all about whether justice produces more happiness than injustice. I am always grateful that B responds to hurt with kindness rather than more hurt.

  22. I am so not good with subtlety. I thought we were talking about heroin (horse).

    My 10 minute reading comprehension delay is getting worse.

  23. What the fuck? I hate it when the signifier dissociates from the signified…but I think I got it now.

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