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20:10 - Monday, Aug. 31, 2015
future me is in therapy
I've been in therapy on and off throughout my since-middle-school life. Mostly off, though. Very much mostly off. 99% off.

The problem (read: not really a problem) is that my anxiety levels are extremely variable. They swing quickly. So I may feel panicked enough to start getting serious about researching therapy, but it's all gone by the time I get to a telephone, let alone set foot in a therapist's office.

I tend to, and I've done this my whole life, think that my anxiety has been wiped out permanently every time I'm in an upswing. Every single time I walk (or dance) offstage from a major presentation, having spent the last 24 hours shivering and starving myself, I think brightly to myself, "Well, at least next time I'll know better than to get nervous, because this is clearly no big deal at all!" And every time my airplane's wheels touch the tarmac, I get a rush of what feels exactly like that one time I smoked opium in college, and I think, "There is nothing at all wrong with life, and never could be."

More recently, I spent an entire week in Nicaragua suffering from what was obviously travel anxiety-induced stomach ills, and not street food-induced stomach ills, because they started a few days BEFORE the trip. However, the instant the nose of the plane tilted up and out of Managua, I magically healed. The week had been spent cautiously sipping on fruit smoothies and nibbling off the ends of grilled chicken breasts while glancing worriedly at my midsection, but at my connecting hub, Dallas, I inhaled a Thai peanut chicken wrap in seconds while daydreaming of my next international culinary adventure. I didn't think for one minute that maybe I'd be anxious and sick during the NEXT one. No, all my anxiety was clearly cured, because it wasn't present at that moment, which meant it would never be present ever again, ever!

This has led to countless promises, murmured between hyperventilat-ey breaths while waiting for whatever dark fate awaited me at this lectern or that dinner date with a stranger or this long car ride or that person I'd have to make myself vulnerable with, to go get some therapy already so Future Me wouldn't have to suffer so badly every time. Or a self help book, at least, or a mindfulness class, or something.

But then everything would turn out OK and Future Me would not be interested in therapy. She'd just be thrilled that she was suddenly a healthy, well-adjusted person all of a sudden for some reason.

It's funny that today is the day I actually managed to make it into a therapist's office. I've been quite OK for quite a while now. Either that or I'm better at telling myself I'm OK. If it's the latter, I sure convinced her. She seemed to be confused as to why I was there. It's hard to say, "Well, today I feel great, and I've felt great this week, and the week before that. I can't really remember what I feel like when I feel anxious, except it's really bad and hopeless and I hate it. But I'm a functional member of society who maintains a long-standing relationship, has friends, supports herself, and has no trouble sleeping at all," and still convey the sense of hopeless desperation I feel when I think about what it would be like to be even this diminished level of anxious for the rest of my life.

I have to hope she can see through me. I nod and smile as she tells me things I already know about psychosomatic symptoms and cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness and meditation and hope that for once someone can acknowledge, then bypass all my book-learning, and get through to me.


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