“So tell me what has happened in the last year since I saw you?” My therapist says opening her great book of mystery that she scribbles in when I say something that seems important to her. I can never tell why she picks what she does. Part of me wishes I could look at her book. Sit there our whole session and read all the notes she ever wrote about me. I imagine the words……unstable, anxious, seems better, down slide, happy, reverting, oh now some of it finally makes sense, don’t forget to buy milk…… I always wonder if she ever doodles or writes her grocery list in the margins. She is looking at me expectantly.
I’ve seen the same therapist pretty consistently for years. I have generalized anxiety disorder with ocd tendencies and bouts of depression. Sometimes they write PTSD down on my prescription paper, sometimes they don’t. Anyway these labels, all those fancy names, really mostly boil down to the fact that I am terrified. Even in the midst of shit, I adore life, and I am afraid. Mostly the fear is of illness or sickness. I have a huge fear of dying from some terrible disease and leaving my child alone. So I have obsessive thoughts about it when I’m in my bad times. During a good spell, I think about it passingly around five to ten times a day. I realize for some that would seem obsessive, but for me it feels like a break. My OCD stuff centers around that kind of stuff. I don’t obsessively clean or wash my hands, which is what OCD is so often portrayed as…. I obsessively have intrusive thoughts. My therapist calls them excessive ruminations. I call them fucking awful.
It generally starts with something wonderful or terrible going on. I sit there and notice, “Wow! I am feeling so happy. I love this moment.” I carry that glow throughout the day, and then at some point that golden glow turns red. I start to think, “I’m so happy right now, that something must be lurking in the future. Something sinister and terrible…. of course because that’s how my life has always been.” Other times it is triggered by some sort health article I see or some health related news I hear about. Then I start to worry about getting the illness or that I already have it and don’t know. Sometimes all my thought stopping techniques work and I can stop it, sometimes I cannot, and it is a down hill slide. In some ways it has gotten worse since my divorce. I start to think about how much I adore my son. I worry about if I die, what would happen to him. I didn’t particularly cherish my childhood in many ways, and wouldn’t want a repeat of that for him. And at his dad’s house there are other issues and he comes home crying all of the time. I worry about him having an unhappy life. So as you can see, it just spirals. It is a slippery slope and sometimes it feels like I’m on that slope wearing skis. I can never plan for these days. I can be mindful of the fact that I have extra stress or didn’t sleep or am upset about other things. And I can try to be proactive about it like going to therapy and taking my medication.
My therapist is waiting for a response. “I’m good,” I say automatically. Then I pause. “Actually, I’m having a rough time.”