The Shrink


















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It had been thirty-one years since I thought that I needed to have my head shrunk. The first time I had been eighteen and the psychiatrist decided I was a manic depressive, or what they call bipolar these days, after talking to me for only ten minutes. He wanted to put me on lithium for the rest of my life, which I didn't think was a particularly good idea. The bulk of the ten minutes was on me having problems getting laid at eighteen. Though it distressed me, I didn't think being a vegetable for the rest of my life was the right solution. So he gave me some drug that was more potent than all the illegal drugs of the late sixties and early seventies. It cost over five dollars a pill, which back in those days was unheard of. I had a job with a lot of responsibilities and gave up on his solution after just a few days. Needless to say, my opinion the head shrinking business in general was pretty low.

Shortly after turning fifty, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease, that would cripple me and eventually put me in a wheel chair. What it was doesn't really matter. I was having a hard time getting my head around the concept, so I decided to give the head shrinkers another chance. I hoped thirty years of experience had improved their capabilities.

To make an analogy of the LSD trips of the sixties, of which I was too young for, and the head shrinking business is as follows. The psychiatrist is the drug pusher, and the therapist the guide or friend who talks you through the trip. So the psychiatrist tried me on a variety of antidepressants that had the sum total effect of making me sleep all the time. Although it was better than the drug I was given thirty years ago, it still didn't make for a viable solution. At the same time as she was trying me on the smorgasbord of antidepressants, she told me to see a therapist. At the time, both sexes were available, and I was given a choice. As much as I love women, I knew myself well enough that I'd be trying to impress her, rather than telling the truth. So, the guy was the lucky one to get stuck with my problems.

The first time I saw him, he called me from the waiting room by calling for, "Mr. Doug." I thought that was a strange mixture of formality and casualness. He appeard to be in his mid-thirties, and the next thing that I noticed was his tall height and slender frame. It was obvious he wasn't hanging out at the gym each evening, working up a sweat, but that was fine. I don't think the endorphine high is the solution to all problems. I don't think he had to bend down to go through the door of his office, but something about how he held his shoulders forward gave that effect. I didn't know what to expect, but noticed right away there wasn't the type of couch they picture in all the movies. There were dolls, drawing pads, crayons, and hand puppets for the kids. There was a couple of comfortable looking chairs and a regular sofa, that didn't look so comfortable. When I asked where I was supposed to sit or lie, I was given a choice. I chose the chair and have ever since.

The drug pusher finally found an antidepressant that didn't make me sleep all the time, or render the family jewels useless, so we agreed to me staying on that for a while. The overall effect was that I didn't get to distressed about anything, but I didn't get too excited either. I guess that was the intended solution, but it was not that invasive and I decided I could live with it.

Never having been to a therapist, who really isn't a doctor, but a licensed professional instead, I didn't know what to expect. We ended up talking about what I wanted to talk about. It wasn't all these questions about did I hate my father or did I hate my mother, that the movies portray. I eventually visited these subjects, since it seemed like I should to keep the movie industry correct, and I ran out of other meaningful things to talk about. But it was on my own time. The therapist didn't tell me what to do, or what not to do. He gave suggestions on mental exercises to try. Some of which seemed a bit new age, but I tried to keep an open mind. After a few months, I just missed an appointment and didn't go back. There were no big good-byes, and no I think we are done here speeches. I just felt like I could deal with what was to come.

Almost a year later, I got a second surprise from my incurable illness. It gave me such intense pain on a constant level that I would do anything to stop it. Literally anything. I had stayed on the anti-depressants, but even those didn't sidetrack the desire to leave this mortal plane. It ended up being a cocktail of narcotics that took the edge off of the pain. It didn't get rid of the pain, it just took the edge off of it. The pain is always 3 or 4 on a scale of 10, with the evenings going up to 7 or 8. So it was time to rekindle my dialog with the therapist.

This isn't a story with interesting facts, a twist at the end, or any of the other literary games I've played with you. It is for those of you who find that life has thrown you a curve you can't deal with. Ask for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If the first professional isn't getting you to where you need to be, then go to somebody else. Although I doubted it, they can help.

My therapist is a Star Trek fan and believes the goverment is hiding something about Area 51, so he can't be all bad.

 

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