Therapy allows you to, in a sense, remove all the impacting events in life from its context and take them apart one by one. But even after you meet with the topic on hand, there seems to be this need for time to pass in order for these “kinks” to reintegrate smoothly back into their appropriate context. I didn’t realize this until much later this year. The three weeks spent at home after the summer in Paris sped by quickly and I soon found myself in New York for the fall semester believing that I had dusted my hands clear of my issues after having discussed them, and was ready to take on the city.
Ideally, you would think that was how it worked out. Before I even arrived, I had been approached with an internship offer by a career development firm. Productively, I spent my Tuesday/Thursday lunch breaks at work going to my statistics lecture so that I could nap midday for an hour (though I never really did mean to fall asleep). And the workload at school didn’t bother me at all; it was relatively light (excepting my introduction to human communication class, which was brutal in terms of material and theory). So it sounded as though that I had my life put together. That was it though – it only sounded like such.
It didn’t take more than two weeks for me to wind up in my usual state of lethargy and miserableness. But that was always more tolerable than invoking a change in my life and seeking help. It wasn’t really my decision to make an appointment, it was more so that I couldn’t do more than ruin friendships if I made no efforts to rectify my situation. The hardest part of this process, perhaps, was making the phone call on my own to CBH (counseling and behavioral health). The awkwardness of not knowing what words to say gurgled in my throat before I could even wait for someone to answer the phone. But it turned out, though, that there wasn’t really any right answer because you wound up being set up for an appointment to have CBH call you back and assess your case.
The triage, really, seems to be helpful for them but a pointless exercise for me. The answers to questions, such as “are you sad? or “do you find it difficult to accomplish tasks?” are just so obvious that it baffles me that I can reply in any other way. That and the fact that I didn’t understand why they just couldn’t review the file that the shrink had set up for me.
Anyway, following assessment, I was assigned to someone based on availability. To be honest, I thought you could shop for your therapist (requires an NYU login), much like how you can shop for your classes and find the professor you really want. However, I’m more inclined now to believe that wasn’t the purpose of the staff listings. In any case, I was set up with someone that wasn’t even on the list, so the five minutes that I had spent scrolling through education bios didn’t really result in anything fruitful.
I suppose this the point where I introduce the intern to what I was going to consider a brief anecdote. When I found out that I had been assigned to an intern (who was pursuing an MSW with the Silver School of Social Work), I really did think that my depression wasn’t valid enough to warrant an actual professional (but I later learned that the interns were treated equally in terms of case distribution), which happened to also render doubt in my mind as to whether or not I really needed to go to therapy. In any case, I still went and spent the first several sessions doing one of two things: either rattling off the stories that I had already told to shrink to bring the intern up to speed, or staring at and criticizing the horrible decor of the borrowed office (or instigating some other ridiculous banter). Only after when I had nothing more to add about my circumstances did we begin the “homework” exercises that counseling students are taught to try on their patients (as I later learned in following Kate Thieda’s experiences as a student therapist), including the talking to an empty chair exercise, which was modified into a writing a letter. My reservations toward the intern were still there but I went ahead with the exercises anyway, as silly as I found them to be. In some way, they did help – the planning of short term goals to leave the apartment before a certain time and to fill my day with more activities made me a little more active, and writing an anonymous letter allowed me to communicate emotions that I wasn’t really aware of.
But the problem of my depression remained; I was continuing to sink. It was becoming incredibly difficult for me to hide it all, as I would last minutely roll out of bed and put on whatever t-shirt I had and then head to school. I was also concerned about hiding the fact that I was seeing a therapist; I would often provide dodgy answers as to where I was going and would linger so that no one could see where I was headed. Eventually by late November, someone was able to communicate the problem that I was having to the intern who then proposed that I have a medication consult since things were not progressing as they should (I say this with reservations since progression is a relative experience). With the number of sessions that I had left dwindling, the last several were stretched to only occur once per month for the second semester.
Explaining the events from this point on becomes a little complicated what with the intertwining of the circus, the cat lady and the intern. At the end of the fall semester, I met with the intern once more for a session after having had my medication consult with the cat lady. Even then I already dubbed the assigned nurse practitioner with that title, which the intern couldn’t help but laugh at. And all seemed as though things would be better going forward, but of course when I met with the intern a month later, I had managed to get myself in trouble by then, and subsequently get the intern in trouble another month later.
Image courtesy of Observer.com