Saturday, October 23, 2010

Whomever Speaks First, Loses

Two weeks after my initial visit with Dr. X, I return for my second appointment.

The first thing he asks me is "Did you make an appointment with the therapist?" No "How are you?" or "How's your focus?".

"Well, here's the thing." I say, and then go into my well rehearsed speech about how I've been going on too many doctor's appointments in the last fifteen years, between having babies, and cancer, and two broken feet, and I just can't keep leaving work.

After I finish my story, Dr. X doesn't say a word. He just stares at me. So I just stare right back. I've seen this scene before on TV, and I know whomever speaks first loses. Finally, he wears me out and I realize he's better at this than I am. Dr. X obviously isn't playing about the stupid therapist.

"Fine, I'll go see the stupid therapist." I say like I'm his child. It occurs to me how different male doctors are than female doctors, and that's why all my other doctors are women.

With that, Dr. X hands me a card and says "see you in three weeks" and abruptly dismisses me. A female doctor would never do this.

Originally, I had called to make an appointment with a woman doctor, but she wasn't taking new patients, so I was referred to her partner. That's how I ended up with Dr. X. The only reason I stay is because he is the only one I can find besides her that specializes in adult attention deficit. Dr. X knows he has the power.

Later that week, like a dutiful daughter, I make yet another doctors appointment. This one is with the therapist that Dr. X referred me too. When I call, they assure me that they take my insurance.

On the appointed day, I arrive, begrudgingly, at the huge Victorian house (this, at least, makes me happy) that is the office of Therapist #1. I go to the receptionists window, sign in, and she hands me a mountain of paperwork. I've been filling out paperwork like this for years, and it tends to make me very, very cranky.

She asks for my insurance card, looks at it with disdain, and says "I'm sorry, but Therapist #1 doesn't accept this insurance."

Surely, this is an omen. As I almost make my getaway, thank you and good bye, the receptionist stops me. She has an idea.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Paula! Stop Daydreaming and Pay Attention!"

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being five years old, and hearing the phrase "Paula! Stop daydreaming and pay attention!" for the very first time. It was the word "daydreaming" that impressed me most, which smacked of fairies, magic, and romance. Unfortunately, the tone of voice my teacher used did not match my vision.

It is a phrase I have heard on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day, ever since. Back then, I was referred to as a daydreamer, and I invented my own tools to work around it. While somewhat effective, this has always taken a huge amount of energy to do what most people do naturally. It's exhausting!

A couple of years ago, my friend Wayne, who has been trying to get me to pay attention for over 15 years, tells me he saw a list online of symptoms for Attention Deficit Disorder.

"Guess what?" he says more than asks, "You totally qualify". It turns out, after all these years of dillusion, that I'm not a beautiful daydreamer after all. What I really am, figuratively speaking, is the poster child for ADD.

As I've gotten older, my attention span has continue to shrink. Soon, it will be more of an attention moment than an actual span.

One of the reasons I've been reluctant to go see someone about it is because I suspect that I do my most brilliant work when my mind is in ADD overdrive. I really hate to lose that part of myself.

On the other hand, I've started my own business and realize I'll never be able to perform on the level I need to if I don't deal with my ADD.

After much ado, which I will not bore you with, I've decided to see what modern medicine can do for me. So far, my journey has been very informative, especially when I'm paying attention.

Turns out, it's not my general practitioner who can treat me for this. It's a specialty, a psychiatrist affair. I am not at all happy to hear this, but my ADD is so off the chain these days, I have no choice but to take the plunge.

My doctors, including my dentist, are all women. Women make wonderful doctors, they always spend more time with you than their male counterparts. Sometimes, you can even make them cry with you. Guy doctors NEVER do that.

It's difficult to find anyone, including psychiatrists, that specialize in treating adults with ADD. In the end, the only one I could find was a man. I can't tell you his real name, so let's just call him Dr. X for now.

My dynamic with Dr. X is entirely different than it would be with a woman. His communication skills are alien to my matriarchal background. Dr. X is just fucking scary. Full of authority and testosterone, I'm not sure what to make of this bundle of "big-daddy-ness".

It was all so very strange and compelling, I actually agreed to return for a second appointment. It was on that second visit that the honey moon ended and the "Therapist Ultimatum" was issued.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Short Birthday Note

This year, this month, this week, I turned 49 years old. It seems like I used to fret over my age, but then when I was sick, I pretty much let go of that fixation. Still, I'm vain, so my whole thing is that I don't mind being 49, I just don't want to look like I'm 49.

My 48th year actually came with lots of epiphanies. I plan on spending the next year trying to better myself.

Trisha says, for years now "Paula, you can't just get over the baggage you've carried through you life. And, furthermore, you can't get around it either. The only way to really move on is to go right through it." Unfortunately, the gate keeper is a therapist.

So, I've decided to give therapy a shot, and test this theory. I'm not looking forward to it for several reasons.

1. My immediate family, with the exception of myself, has been in therapy for thirty years. Quite frankly, I don't see where it's helped. If anything, it's made them even more narcissistic then they were in the first place.

2. I have spent a whole lot of years suppressing all of my angst, trauma, and skeletons and it's been a helluva lot of work. Why ever would I want to drag all of it out now?

3. Psycho-therapy has always seemed so self indulgent. It's like psycho masturbation. Everyone has a lot to talk about, but therapy is generally for the well insured. The rest of us have to work it out on our own, and that's makes you tough.

Having said all that, my first session will be in two weeks. This is going to be the start of a new series called "That's Not What My Therapist Said!" I take solace in knowing that, if nothing else, it'll give me something to write about.