In Therapy

So I am officially ‘in therapy’. A decade or so ago ‘coming out’ in this way would have resulted in me being branded a Fruit Loop. But fortunately things have moved on. My aunt declares they have moved on too much and uses the example of the kids in school that now get therapy if the curly fries run out before they get to the front of the canteen queue. I am not sure of the accuracy of this but mental health does seem to be much higher profile now and for that I am grateful.

So what prompted this? Well I went for my HRT check up at the menopause clinic. A 30 min session that lasted 90 mins due to very very very high blood pressure. Which the doctor was concerned kept getting higher every 15 mins when they retook it. This may have been because I was anxiously checking with Dr Google between checks and realising a stroke or heart failure was just round the corner.

Anyway – upshot is I may have to go back to au naturel methods. And while I can just about cope with the physical symptoms, the biggest fear (from me/friends/partner/dogs amongst others) is the emotional turmoil. I searched through the alternatives to HRT, skipping past the daily Kale Smoothie/Spoon of Hemp oil etc and landed on CBT – Cognitive Based Therapy. I had a short term relationship about 30 years ago with a psychiatrist and it has always put me off a bit – especially the night out with their esteemed colleagues. All were totally utterly bonkers. It was bit like going out with a Al Anon group while they all got pissed out their heads.

But then in the Summer a friend had a spare ticket for Susie Orbach at the Edinburgh Book Festival and so I tagged along. She was the antithesis of the ex – cool, calm collected and giving an aura of ‘I will fix you’. And she wore the most amazing sparkly shoes. The psycho glitterati were asking highly complex questions so I did not feel able to ask about the glittery shoes. I did whisper to my friend if it was appropriate but got a hard long stare so I took this as a No. But I tweeted after and she replied telling me where to get them.

So on this admittedly rather flimsy evidence of her credentials, I looked her up and although it said fee negotiable, I’m not sure I could persuade her to drop as low as £2.45 which is all I could afford as she is in London so I’d also have to pick up the commuting costs from Edinburgh. So I had a wee listen to her podcasts instead. She seemed to say ‘hmmm’ and ‘ummmm’ and ‘uhu’ a lot. So at least I know what to expect.

So decided to look a bit closer to home. Feck – it is a minefield. First the cost – £75 an hour seems standard! Thats 3 bottles of Jack Daniels and a massive galaxy – and I know for a fact they make me feel better. Therapy is more of an unknown.

I draw up a list of non-negotiable criteria to narrow it down:

* Must be over 50 – am not spilling my guts to any snowflakes
* Must have lots of letters after their name – don’t want someone who just did a 2 hour course on a Saturday afternoon at the local tech analysing me
* Must look quite wide awake (Joan at work went to a therapist and was raging when she realised the therapist wasn’t reflecting on her poignant musings but had fallen asleep half way through the session. To be really fair I often feel the eyelids drooping when Joan starts banging on but for £75 an hour I’d make more of an effort)

I then look through the pictures. In one the therapists is wearing a jumper with bows and kittens. Seriously? I instantly rule her out. And the one with hair pretty much covering her face. And the one that looks suspiciously like a serial killer. And the one that has a very very low cut top on – like so low cut I still wonder if she had another career and got the photos mixed up.

Then I have a panic – what if there is a Loony List somewhere – and I end up on it due to something I say in the sessions. I google again. Apparently the only time a therapist breaks total confidentiality is if the patient says something that may cause them to be a danger to themselves or others. I resolve not to mention the many times I consider banging my partner over the head with our heaviest frying pan. Or the notion I have sometimes to take to bed for a year with just boxes of Galaxy for sustenance.

Finally I find someone who seems to be relatively sane and sorted. I buy Psychologies magazine and have a good read as I want to appear knowledgeable and as if I do this all the time when I rock up. I also treat myself to some glittery sketchers as it seems appropriate.

When I get there I am thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have gone. I am not a Fruit Loop. I am perfectly OK and normal. I might be ay ok without the HRT. I might not resort back to screaming at people who drop litter or don’t pick up dog shit/telling various people at work to eff off/crying at Save the Donkey campaigns and giving them all my money. Maybe that was just a little blip in my otherwise sane and sorted life.

I get in and the therapist gives me a big form to read over and sign. She is talking about data protection and other stuff that goes a bit over my head as I am not really listening as I am thinking more and more this was a mistake. There is an open box of tissues and I look at them knowing I won’t need them as I only cry when it is totally inappropriate and unnecessary. I have forgotten my glasses and for some reason don’t want to say – so do a passible impression of reading the form and sign it with a flourish. Then am slightly anxious that I have just signed up to 50 sessions and will have to remortgage my house to pay.

She doesn’t say umm and ahh like Suzie did… she blethers on for a bit and I am starting to get a bit bored and am digging my nails into my hand to stay awake. I am wanting to tell her that I need her to stop me eating lots of Galaxy; telling people to feck off; bursting into tears for no reason; and wanting to stay in bed all day a lot. But then she says something – and I don’t know what. But I am talking… and talking… and talking… and talking. And by the end of the session I feel I have diagnosed and cured myself. I sit back very proud of myself – waiting for her to issue me a refund and say no point in coming back.

“Hmm Let me just reflect back some of the things you have said” she muses – and starts to say things. That apparently I have said. But she must be making them up to drum up more business – surely I did not say such things. But they do sound a little familiar.

So I think I may go back – the glittery shoes aren’t quite the deal breaker I thought!

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