My post before last described how my therapist reacted when I told her I mixed wine with Klonopin. She had a perfectly appropriate reaction of not reacting. Dead-pan face. No emotion that would lead me to feel disapproval from her. That’s the measure of a good therapist, right? Isn’t that what we are paying for? No matter what we say or how poorly we behave, we have the therapist’s non-judgmental reaction. We can walk into the therapist’s office riddled with self-blame and guilt and walk out purged of self-condemnation. Instead of a car wash it’s a “character wash.” I sauntered in to Lynn’s office with self-loathing dirt all over the interior and exterior of my body and I emerged with a clean body and soul.
Okay, I’m being sarcastic. It just seems like an odd treatment protocol for Lynn to not call out my deficiencies when they are put before her. Especially when—a few months back–the said patient (me) initially walked into the said therapist’s office (her) with said problem (emotional avoidance through wine).
AHHH, therapists are clever, though. Lynn used her initial lack of expression as a way to get me, the patient, to keep talking. It’s like the boyfriend that puts a lot of effort into foreplay knowing he will ultimately get more than just cuddling. Lynn’s foreplay involved telling me, “you are harder on yourself than anyone so you don’t need me to tell you not to drink with Klonopin.” She also reassured me, “You have made a good life for yourself.” Even going so far as to correct that comment and emphasize, “You have a very good life.”
Oh, do I?
Then why do I drink away my emotions and mix medications that I know I shouldn’t? Can a person with a “very good life” have horrible coping skills that they utilize regularly to manage their good life? Isn’t that an oxymoron? I have a good life but I drink too much, sleep too much and take an SSRI, SNRI, an NDRI and benzodiazepine to regulate the neurotransmitters and other chemicals in my brain such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Call me crazy, but I don’t see how living with an unbalanced brain could really offer me such a good life. Throughout my childhood and adult existence my moods, thoughts and feelings have gone up and down like a fucking horsey on the merry-go-round. It’s caused me to be a social recluse, emotionally numb and an expert at playing the role of what-a-person-with-a-good-life-might-be-like. I recommend a blog that expertly captures this http://anxietyadventures.wordpress.com/.
But, I digress. I was ready to tell you what happened in our therapy session after Lynn stroked my ego by telling me what I needed to hear in order to feel emotionally safe. After foreplay, she talked about the medications and how I feel about each. First the Wellbutrin, then onto the Celexa and finally, “Let’s talk about the Klonopin.” She had me openly sharing and I said, “I just don’t like being on an anti-anxiety med and now I don’t like it even more since it caused me to fall and get bruised”
Whoa Nelly! Hold your horses!
Lynn bluntly said, “The Klonopin didn’t cause you to fall down–the alcohol did.” I argued that I never felt dizzy enough to fall down on the amount of wine I consume. It’s a lot but not that much. Lynn explained, “The Klonopin is like having 2 extra glasses of wine.” She then scolded me (which I expected earlier in the game but she had to get me ready and willing to hear it). Lynn told me I cannot mix alcohol with Klonopin and if I drink I should not take the Klonopin that night.
Of course, I’m still thinking of her telling me alcohol made me fall down. Are you saying I have a problem? What about the good life I have?
Now I was listening and I feeling vulnerable so she continued with the discussion of my drinking. I always want to add “to cope” as if drinking and coping are all part of my Grand Life Management Plan.
Lynn asks, Do your kids notice you’re drunk? Does your husband get you a glass of wine? Do you get angry when you drink? My answer is “no” to all of her pointed questions. I tell her “my anxiety lowers down to a point where I get the laundry done, the dishes washed, the animals taken care of and I even play games with my 11 year old.”
She lets down her poker face and I see concern and worry in her eyes as she asks, “Have you ever read anything about alcohol abuse?”
Truthfully I have. Once I tried to scare myself straight by printing out hundreds of pages from the. I’ve read books about alcoholism myths, I’ve taken on-line tests and I’ve been active on a website called WFS
and I’ve even gone to a group meeting in my local area.
Lynn had me where she wanted me. Stroking my ego at the start was a form of treatment to get me to fully express myself. I’ve now admitted I feel my drinking is excessive, even if no one else complains.
Therapists are good at manipulating the situation to get a patient to open up and admit their faults, in a manner that doesn’t make the patient feel recrimination. I feel like she set the bait and I was caught, now it was only a matter of reeling me in.
“So, are you saying I should go to AA meetings?”
Lynn answers, “I wouldn’t tell you not to go if you made that decision.” Oh, man, she’s good. She puts all the control and responsibility on me.
I ask, “How would I go about finding a group that would fit me?” She acts offended as if I’ve just put down the entire population of people who are alcoholics. Given that she sees me as one of them she can’t act like she understands what bias I have toward some AA meetings. She must not judge or it will transfer to me.
“I don’t feel like I have a lot in common with the guy in the streets who drinks a gallon of vodka a day.”
Lynn tells me, “There are similarities between everyone at AA meetings and you go and just listen and see if anything rings true.” I have nothing to say, except I’m thinking, there’s no way I’m going to the closest big city to an AA meeting. I can only imagine the scene.
Lynn tries to normalize the search for an AA meeting. She tells me she had a family member who needed help and explains the process this person went through. Her suggestions are: Try a few different meetings. Don’t go to an evening one, go to a noon-time meeting. Shop around for a good fit just like you would for anything else.
I shut down at this point and can’t recall the order of things. I know I told her, “I think if I could get a handle on my emotions I wouldn’t drink as much.” My way of saying, I drink because I’m anxious and depressed. It’s my coping mechanism, my Life Management Plan.
Lynn retorted, “You’ve been trying that for a long time and it is not working.” I stare at her thinking, WTF, Are you telling me my problem is not depression or anxiety and that it is my drinking?
HOLY FUCK! That statement was an eye opener and it hurt to my core. I completely stopped talking and she said something about my medications not working to their full effect if I drink more than a glass or two a week and then she switched topics.
She reminded me she’s on vacation next week and she will have someone on-call for her. I was sullen and sad and didn’t react. Around this time, Lynn must have recognized my sense of failure and self-contempt and she reassuringly said, “It’s okay if you don’t call right away and find a meeting in your area.” Then our time was up.
Lynn asked when I wanted to see her again. I shrugged and she gave me 2 available dates and I replied, “I don’t know. I don’t care.” She offered one of the dates, I said, “Fine,” took the appointment card and got up to leave. I didn’t look back, and in my role of what-a-person-with-a-good-life-might-be-like, I said, “Have a great vacation” and left her home office.
So, there you have it. I am at a cross roads in life. Do I take the path with the sign that says, “Healing this way” or do I continue on the path called “self-destruction”? ♥