I was sick with dread. I thought I might actually throw up. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. I was trying my very best to put my “grown up” face on. I had not eaten that day, and I was short tempered. I snapped at Kat as I got ready. Thankfully the nanny arrived early, and I was able to finish getting ready in peace. Well, at least peace from Kat; not so much from my own mind.
It was the day of my first therapy appointment. I shouldn’t have been nervous. I shouldn’t have been freaking out. I shouldn’t have been feeling like this. I had been to see Bea dozens and dozens of times with Kat. I was though. My thoughts were circular, going round and round telling me that therapy was a bad idea. My head was beginning to get that subtle pressure in my temples that makes it feels as though someone is trying to crush my skull. My stomach felt nauseaus. I was shaking.
I arrived, and walked into the office. Bea greeted me, like she always had. I sat as quickly as I could. I ended up on the edge of the couch, as hunched into myself as I could be, looking at the floor, covering my face. Yes, that is how I sat. For an hour. Me. The put together-perfect-confident-woman sat like that in a therapist’s office for an hour. To top it off, I said maybe ten words. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get the words out. I was panicking. The longer I sat there, not talking, the more stressed out I got. Silence in a therapy room is stressful to me. I feel like I am supposed to be talking, but I don’t know the right answer. So I sit there, not talking. But I am supposed to be talking. But I don’t know what I am supposed to say. You see? My thoughts circle a round and a round like that, until I can’t calm myself down.
During the time I was trying to desperately get a grip on myself, Bea was calmly sitting. She told me I was in comtrol. She asked if I wanted her to move back farther. She asked if I wanted her to turn around and not look at me. She told me I could turn around. She said I was in control. I’ve never had a therapist ask me those type of things, or give me that type of control. It’s a tangible control, one you can physically grasp. I knew she was looking at me, but when she said “I feel like I want to give you a stuffed animal to hold”, I felt like she was seeing how much like a little kid I feel like all the time. I shook my head “no” at that, though, because I didn’t want her coming that close to me.
Eventually, I managed to whisper (yes, WHISPER! Me who doesn’t know how to be quiet whispered) to Bea “can you please just talk”. So, she talked. She talked about how my multiple diagnosis really are symptoms that point to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), she talked about trauma, she talked about how the body processes and stores trauma. Here is a good article that really explains trauma, PTSD and the body, which is what Bea talked about that day. She also tried to ask me some questions, like what was my body feeling. I couldn’t answer, because I didn’t know.
At one point, she asked me if I was “still here”. I don’t know if I answered her or not, but I thought she was nutty! Of course I was there. Where else would I be? She could see I was sitting right there!
At the end of the session, we decided I would come every week. That’s when I had a breakdown. Hubby thought I had come to that appointment to talk about Kat. He didn’t know I was there for me. What was I going to tell him? I started sobbing, and couldn’t stop.
Since that first session, I’ve often wondered what she thought that first session. I’ve wondered if she thought I was crazy, or if she was surprised that I could be so normal on the outside when she met me, when I brought my daughter to therapy, and so broken when I came to a session for myself. When I emailed her apologizing for acting like a “scared and bratty teenager, and being so difficult” she responded with “You’re not being difficult–it’s a big deal to work on what you’re working on.” So, my best guess is, she wasn’t too surprised at all.