My therapist doesn’t get it. Or maybe it’s I who isn’t getting it? I told him on Tuesday that I struggle through so many simple things most people take for granted, like saying hello, or making small-talk after saying hello, saying goodbye, shaking hands, smiling, playing with children ..
His response: “You went to an interview. Did you shake hands? Did you make small-talk? Did you smile? Did you say goodbye?”
I nodded several times.
“So, you showed up and engaged socially,” he said. “You were there–that’s the most important thing–and it sounds like it went well.”
I usually show up to things. I usually make small-talk. I usually smile. I usually shake hands, hello and goodbye. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I don’t feel comfortable doing any of those things. The problem is that I feel like an idiot while doing them. I think people are watching me closely, scrutinizing every move, and making negative judgments. After I leave, I think people are thinking, Wow. Mike really doesn’t know how to engage with people.
The problem is that I’m 27 years old, and yet I feel like I have the social skills-set of someone half my age.
But then again, I got the internship, so maybe I am okay. Maybe I’m not as bad as I think. Maybe everything will be okay. I don’t feel like it, though, and right now, my thoughts are in control of me.
In other news, I went back to the psychiatrist on Tuesday, as well. Now that my mood swings are a little more stable, the anxiety can be addressed once again. I don’t want to go on another SSRI, so my psych suggested Klonopin. .25 mg, twice a day. I don’t like being on a cocktail of drugs, and I don’t like being on benzos, especially everyday .. but then again, I don’t like anxiety.
So I’m going to give it a try.
Also, he made me feel very little by saying that my problems are minimal compared to others. He even said that it’s like I’m walking around and I get a tiny pebble (the anxiety) in my shoe, stuck between my toes, and I’m too lazy to get it out. So, not only are my problems tiny, but I’m not doing enough to alleviate the problems. Yes, I’m skeptical towards drugs, and, no, I don’t like taking them, but I think I am doing a lot to help ease the anxiety.
I have been told the same things and similiar things, my home and hospital teacher my Senior year of high school said, “you don’t have cancer like my other student, why can’t you get your work done, she does”…..even people who are trained professionals in the field we need help with, it is very frustrating. It is not just a little pebble, they just do not get it. I hope you have a better night.
I’ve said this many times and I’m getting tired of it: Most people either don’t understand mental illnesses, while others don’t even try to understand them. I understand that it’s frustrating there isn’t something tangibly wrong with us. We don’t have a broken bone, we don’t have cancer, etc. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t suffering. It’s a shame that so many people go through life just having to deal with there mental issues without getting help because no one will listen. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to get my voice out there for people. Social anxiety may not be the most flashy of the mental illnesses, but it’s still an illness–and it deserves attention.
It makes me angry that your psychiatrist said that to you. That is really insensitive. And as for your therapist, so it doesn’t matter if you are in colossal pain, because as long as you’re going through the motions it’s all okay? Sometimes they say the worst things…I guess they’re allowed to have off days…except for that pebble comment. He’s calling a completely life-altering, mind-screwing condition a mere nuisance!
As if we don’t already feel guilty enough. Do they not think that we’ve thought of things like this before and that if we are trying to get help it’s not because we’re weak but because we’ve experienced/are experiencing tremendous despair?
Anyway…on another topic…congratulations on getting the internship!
It will be a good way to start your career.
Sorry for the rant.
I think their points were legitimate, although the way they went about explaining them was inappropriate. I believe they were just trying to keep me grounded. I often get so wrapped up in my anxieties, I think there is no hope for me; I think I am worse that I really am, in other words. I do need constant reminders that my life could be a lot worse. I think that’s what they were trying to convey to me. It just came out wrong. I told my psychiatrist that he was trivializing and downplaying my issues, and his response was: “Well, at least I’m not overplaying them.” I think professionals often have a hard time admitting their mistakes.
Thanks! I’m already excited/nervous about the internship and it doesn’t event start until late-January. It just means more social situations! EEK!
I am angry as well, but for my own reasons. I am a Veteran and still denied therapy and sent on my own merry way. I hope to one day make those with social anxiety heard. It makes me so livid to know that equality is lacking. Meanwhile, society continues to get sicker. Something must be done.
I agree. Health care is not a commodity, it’s not a bagel. You can wake up in the morning and decide not to buy a bagel, but you cannot go without health care. It doesn’t work on the free market. I’m hopeful that this is beginning to change in this country.
I actually got a pebble in my sock today .. and left it there out of spite 🙂
…or laziness 😉
Superb blog. Great writing. Interesting comments about how your therapist spoke to you. It would be beyond stupid for me, as a trainee therapist, to question another therapist’s methods but I do know that the success of therapy depends a lot on the dynamic between the client and the therapist. We’re not working on the client. We are working with the client. Nobody’s problem is smaller or less worse than another person’s problem. There is no such thing as a darkness competition. Rest assured, we, as therapists, are listening and as a trainee I certainly am.
I’ve read a number of your posts and you talk about “feelings” a lot. Really touching on a lot of issues. You talk about binge eating to push back feelings. You talk about being able to give small talk, show up, interact socially but being plagued by feelings afterwards. This is really interesting and I wonder how much attention is being placed on this in your therapy sessions?
Trainee psychotherapist and also known as joinmartin.
Thanks for the comments. So, those negative comments came from my psychiatrist, and he said them because he was frustrated. Sort of like tough love, in a way. As far as my relationship with my therapist, all is going well. He’s an intern as well and we’re growing, together. We go on and on about my feelings; he really pushes up against my irrational beliefs. It’s hard in the sessions, but well worth it. I appreciate your concern and your feedback–I hope to hear more from you.
Good luck with your training! 🙂
I don’t think your psychiatrist had any right to say that to you. Things are a problem when they are a problem. If something is a problem FOR YOU, then it should be treated seriously. It doesn’t matter whether the person down the road has cancer, tuberculosis, or athlete’s foot. A problem is a problem.
I agree. I should have stood up for myself. I know a lot of people’s problems probably make mine look extremely small, but all pain is relative. I’m still really upset about his comments, and I’d like to talk to my therapist about it, but my therapist knows my psychiatrist. They’re like buddies. So, I don’t feel like I can talk about one to the other because they probably will just laugh about it over a beer or something. Maybe I should seek a new psychiatrist?