I never thought I would discuss my history of getting therapy with anybody – people I’ve met in real life or not. In my part of the world, we haven’t reached that openness and normality you have in the US about being in therapy, though the business around it is growing more rapidly than imaginable. The thing is, my experiences with getting therapy are more absurd than disappointing. More bewildering than useless. Actually, yeah, it has been useless through and through. Unless I become a comedy writer, for they will make two brilliant sketches. I haven’t gotten around to writing them yet, so I will try in my semi-humorous blogging way to just tell you about them. Those sketches will come surely, so no copyright infringement, please!
The first time, I didn’t even make it to the doctor. Maybe it was partially my fault, because I had decided to go to a celebrity psychiatrist, who, I should’ve known, wouldn’t be that professionally available to mere mortals. The thing about being an incompetent know-it-all is (myself, not the psychiatrist, who is still brilliant on TV) that because I sort of knew how therapy worked, I wasn’t going to give an obscure therapist a share of my mighty problems. Prior to this first-therapy-session-that-never-was, I had spent two years in college getting a Psychology minor. My interest in Psychology had begun in my early teens, and surprisingly, wasn’t only limited to my problems. I had been informally reading on conditions like autism and OCD with genuine, impartial interest. Self-awareness came a little before I was enrolled into a course. For the next two years, however, I would simply give a side-glance to the counselling room in the Psych department as I walked by, wanting help but being afraid that, because I knew these teachers as people in my life, somehow my academic work would get compromised.
A couple of years later, I decided to seek help from the above-mentioned psychiatrist under the assumption that a) she is a genius, b) because she is a genius, she will take five minutes to tell me what’s wrong and c) because she will only take five minutes and give me a couple of prescription drugs that will take care of everything, I will be spared the constant agony of wanting to be in therapy, because that, as you must know by now, is also in my list of anxieties.
So, even as I had to traverse from one end of the city to the other on a couple of trains and a bus just to book an appointment (celebrity psychiatrists are, as expected, quite difficult to get hold of), where I was filled with anxiety the whole way through, even though I knew I wouldn’t have to bare my soul on that very same day, little did I imagine what I would be faced with instead. A cocky male receptionist. Actually, strike that. An extremely cocky male receptionist, who wouldn’t give me an appointment, and was doing a very good job of it. Now, if I were booking a room at a posh hotel or a meeting with Angelina Jolie, I’d be surprised if the receptionist was polite. But, for someone who clearly looked like she could do with some politeness (after all, she had spent the previous two hours in public transport making a list of all that she thinks is wrong with her), she was being harassed instead, albeit non-sexually despite being of opposite sexes, I must clarify. At last, we negotiated to a possible appointment that might be in three months at least, and my patience gave in to practicality – my problems won’t be the same in that time.
Six months later, I had some time off. I thought, why not give therapy another try. This time, I went by online recommendations, though I have since learnt that often these reviews are paid for by the doctors/therapists themselves. She was very lovely on the phone (hehe, no receptionist) and she asked me to come by the next day. Maybe, I should have suspected something, because that seemed too soon for someone who was so well-loved on the interweb. But, off I went and everything seemed fine. Even as we sat down and began to speak, in came another. And another. What was supposed to be a therapy session of absolute confidentiality between patient and therapist, became a seminar by the patient for a therapist, a grapho-therapist and an intern. I quickly regressed to the low-level self-deprecating stories I tell everyone instead of baring my soul. To justify the morbidly high fees I had to pay, all I got in return was them telling me how I should dot my i’s and write my A’s in order to solve everything.
And that, is my history with therapy. One of the lessons I’ve learnt in life is, you won’t always get a useful reply every time you call for help. But, even as I keep calling for it everyday, what keeps me going is doing what I love and trying to help others. Who knows, maybe I will get third time lucky, when I will finally be in a therapy session that does what it says on the tin.