The new office I was referred to was in a nearby high-rise office building. Despite the fact that the building has probably ten floors of multiple offices, I always felt conspicuous going into the lobby. And their actual suite was dark, cramped, and the therapists had to share offices. There was a tiny front desk and an equally small waiting area (considering the number of therapists working there), that was completely full when we first arrived (not hard to do–four leather chairs and one weird wicker chair).
I was just barely on the back half of my panic attack, still trying to come down off my Prilosec side effects, and feeling overwhelmed. When I walked into the suite, I was feeling edgy and panicky. I checked in at the front desk and was told I could wait in their waiting area, We were early, but I was feeling so on-edge that I couldn’t have stayed at home any longer. I found a seat–the weird wicker chair–in the corner of the room, isolated from the set of four chairs in the middle of the room, but in an area where I could see all the comings and goings. I could see the door leaving the suite and I could also see the door to each individual room inside the offices. Hub finally settled into one of the leather chairs that were set up into a conversational area, though no one was talking. The room was full but quiet, except for the music they had playing from an iPhone.
We waited, and I jiggled my foot constantly, part of the adrenaline that was rushing through me. I couldn’t help it, I was still hopped up on the chemicals from the Prilosec in my system. I kept making eye contact with my hub, though he was sitting facing a different direction. It was like a security blanket, even though he wasn’t right next to me. In fact, I had sent him to go sit down, because otherwise I would have felt guilty that he was having to stand while we waited the thirty minutes for my appointment. So while I jittered and jiggled, the time crawled by. I actually saw the woman I was meeting come into the suite and head for one of the interior offices (I had seen her picture on their website). And so I thought, “whew, she’ll take me early since we’re both here early.” Enh, nope, but thanks for playing! Instead, I sat…and sat…and jittered…and jiggled…and sat. Finally, ten minutes past my appointment, I went back to the desk to ask if they had told the therapist I was there. They said “yes” but promised to tell her again. When the new therapist came to retrieve me from the waiting area, she apologized for the delay, saying she didn’t know I had arrived. I tried to explain that I’d been there for over forty minutes, but I don’t know if she ever heard me.
We settled into a small office, crowded with three chairs, a small bookcase, a console table, and a small filing cabinet. There were pictures on the walls and a few knicknacks on a ledge next to the window. I learned later that only some of the items were hers since the therapists shared offices. The woman I was meeting with was doing the initial intake and evaluation, so she could then discuss my situation with the other available therapists. They would then come to a consensus on who would be working with me. I was a bit disappointed, because I felt like I’d have to tell my story all over again, and considering I felt so edgy and depressed, the thought was somewhat overwhelming. Meanwhile, ever-present in the back of my head was the cost of this evaluation visit.
I was surprised once again at the connection I felt with the woman across from me. As it turns out, she is not too much older than I–maybe five or six years I later found out–and she also suffers from a chronic illness (fibromyalgia). The more we spoke, the more I wanted her to be my therapist. There was something about her demeanor that made me feel contained and safe. Not safe like my husband makes me feel, but in some other way that I cannot completely define. By the end of our evaluation, we were discussing which of the therapists she felt might be a match for me. She suggested two other names and then included herself in the list. But there was a caveat to her and one other therapist…they were both fairly well booked, so finding appointments might be a struggle. I assured her that if she could find time for me, I would commit to whatever appointments she had open. She told me she would be in touch in the next day or so to let me know what the final decision was.
I am fortunate that the therapist–I will name her “T”–called a day later to say she would be willing to fit me into her schedule. Without even asking the fee–I was still feeling fairly crazed–I took the hand she was holding out to me and scheduled my next two appointments. I was told when I came in for my next appointment, I could get onto her calendar with the front desk for future appointments. And that was what I did.
I’ve been seeing T since January, once a week in the first six weeks, now every other week. With my “Prilosec fever” gone (I just coined that phrase!), and some new ways of coping with my anxiety under my belt, I’m working more on how to move forward in my life rather than dealing with abject panic and terror. I do feel connected to T in a way I was not with my first therapist. Additionally, I feel challenged in a way I was not before. We have not really spent time delving into my childhood or my past, but are concentrating more on what is happening right now and where I want to go from here. We do work on anxiety issues as they arise, but we’re also looking at other aspects in my life that might be contributing to my anxiety.
I don’t know how long I’ll see T (who also has a cute little dog who is with her in the office most days) or how much will actually come of it. I know I’ve made some interesting discoveries and I know that I look forward to seeing T for each session. I don’t feel nervous or like I’m being judged…and based on my last session (and first), I know that I can show my emotions without holding back in front of her. All of that is good for me, so I feel I have found a good place to be. The therapy offices have moved to a new location, no further away from me but into a building better suited them. The waiting areas are plentiful and bright, and the therapists all have their own offices…though they are still rather small.
I still struggle with having to pay for sessions, even though there is some reimbursement for them. As anticipated, it’s a pain in the ass to deal with, but I’m trying to get past that. I would like to be seeing T once a week instead of every other week, but doing this was her suggestion and I’m willing to try it. I know if I really need to change that, she would be willing. And when I had an issue last week (an “off” week for us) dealing with my aunt’s hospitalization, I emailed T and she responded pretty quickly. Just getting a response was enough for me, so at least I know she really is there when I need to touch base.
Finding a therapist is hard, I know. My hub has never been able to find one who works for him, so I feel extremely lucky to have come across T.
I did see the psychologist for her evaluation, several weeks after starting therapy with T due to the psychologist’s schedule. It was an okay meeting, ending with me not interested in medications at the moment…and the therapist agreeing. Her only thought was to keep cymbalta in mind to help with my poor sleeping and the pain I deal with from my myofascial pain. However, I am really not interested in taking medication. I’ve lived with the myofascial pain for all these years, I can continue to deal with it. As for my sleeping issues…well, they’ve been around for many years as well. I try to improve my habits as best as possible and hope that things will get better in that arena.
Some days I wish my appointments with T were more than an hour, because on the way home from my appointments, while I’m mulling, I often come to an AHA moment. Then I have to wait two weeks to discuss them with her. Though now, to some extent, I mull them over here on the blog, which is turning out to be helpful to me. I hope it is helpful to those who are reading as well.