I’m trying to find new therapists – a clinical psychologist for myself and a family therapist for Jacob, Abbie, and me to see together. I hate making the calls.
The calls to find a family therapist are easy enough. Teenagers and difficult relationships go together like Rep. John Boehner and public weeping so I don’t usually have to offer much by way of explanation. “We’re having some communication issues and need help with that,” usually does the trick.
Making calls to find a therapist for me, though, is a whole different kettle of fish. Clinical psychologist’s receptionist answers the phone, “Hello, Dr. So-and-so’s office. How may I help you?”
“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment. I’ve never seen Dr. So-and-so before.”
“Alright. And what can Dr. So-and-so help you with?”
“I have some personal and family problems. Also some mental health issues.”
“Ma’am, I need more information so Dr. So-and-so can decide if she is the right provider for you.”
“Alright, well, I have a long, dark history of depression including one suicide attempt and multiple hospitalizations and I hardly got off my couch all last fall and early winter plus I have acute anxiety and I have had trichotillomania for over 30 years plus my youngest son is seriously mentally ill and my two teenaged children moved away and I’m devastated by their absence and stuck in my regret and shame over the ways I have screwed up the raising of them and full of fear that they don’t have adequate supervision at their dad’s house plus I’m worried that they’ll never forgive me which keeps me awake at night and I’m also afraid that their anger at me is really hurting them bad and also I have ADHD but only the inattentive type so that’s no big deal except that it’s ruining my life and my grandma is dying in slow motion and my guilt about not spending more time with her is chewing away at my internal organs and my relationships with my parents and my sister are really complicated and difficult so we don’t talk much and I don’t have very many friends because I had two who tried to take over my life and I hated that so I dumped them because I don’t want to talk to anyone several times a day except my husband and I had to quit my job to care for my youngest son so we’re always broke which is not so good for the anxiety plus I have this problem with eating too much to deal with my feelings which will be kind of obvious if you ever meet me and I can’t sleep at night and most of the time, I hate everyone so I don’t leave the house much and only talk to people on the computer because that means I can push a button and make them go away instead of like in real life where I have to stab people in their legs with my specially designed leg-stabbing-pickle fork to get them to leave me alone but the only person I really hate is me and I know I should stop but I can’t so I need some help and by the way, to you take Blue Cross?”
Which is not, of course, what I actually say, but really, my life and its issues are not especially easy to sum up. Plus, some of the receptionists seem to think that everyone who calls them should know exactly the information they need, which might be true except that every mental health care provider thinks that different things are important.
Starting every encounter with a potential mental health care provider by being shamed for not knowing the right way to answer the questions? Not entirely productive.
The right therapists are out there. I just wish the finding part was a little easier.