I started going to therapy when I was seventeen, about a month before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Although when I started seeing my shrink I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with Crohn’s, I had been sick for nearly a year. One of the contributing factors to the depression could have very well been the Crohn’s disease.
I had been becoming less and less social with my friends for a number of years. By the time I went to therapy there was nobody I talked with. I felt alienated in the orthodox community and isolated because of the embarrassing nature of the bowel condition.
Therapy became a haven for me. We started off on weekly sessions and for a while, my therapist was one of the only people I spoke with. Within the first year, I made mention of the fact that I saw him as a friend and he was quick to qualify the fact that, although we were friendly, we weren’t friends.
When I grew older and started to pay for the sessions myself, I felt slightly betrayed when I received the invoice for my sessions. I found it hard to think of him as a doctor and not a friend.
As the O.C.D and depression continued to improve, we gradually began to cut back on my sessions and about a year and a half ago, I stopped them entirely. Since I started them when I was seventeen, this is now the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without a session. I’ve noticed that in my posts, I constantly talk about my shrink. In my fiction too, I find him popping up here and there. I realise now that it’s because I miss him.
He was a very important person in my life for a number of years. And just like that, I don’t ever get to see him again. Nearly every day, I still play out conversations with him in my head and ‘self analyse’ myself. I know I don’t necessarily miss him, I just miss therapy. I never knew him personally. He was always playing a part – agreeing with everything I said, reflecting back to me my thoughts so I could understand them with objective distance, being a listening ear when I needed it.
Although part of me want to go back, I won’t for a few key reasons. The most important being that I don’t need it anymore. My mood doesn’t dip as extremely as it did before I started on the antidepressants and the medication keeps my anxiety in check.
The second reason is that I’ll be tying up the resources of a highly trained professional, when there are others who need it more.
I hope nobody reads this and takes it as me encouraging to stop them seeing their therapist. I went for 8 years before I stopped and it was only because I went for that time, that I am now able to stop. And if I ever feel the need to, or even decide that my want to go back becomes strong enough, I certainly will return to therapy.
I’ll finish with quite a famous video I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s a performance piece by artist Marina Abramović, where she invited people to sit across from her and simply stare without saying anything. One of the people to come was an old lover.
I’ll probably get lynched by my artist friends for giving a single interpretation of this work, but I’ve always understood it to represent the manner in which we create barriers through social constructions, which limit our ability to speak with each other. It felt appropriate in a strange way.