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I do not do well in talk therapy. I just don’t open up. I am not cool with strangers, and it takes a lot of time and trust for me to open up like that. It’s a miracle I ever got married. My wife is a very understanding and patient soul. But I digress. Psychologists aren’t an option for me. It would be a waste of time.
Oh, I’ve tried it. It didn’t work. I can’t do the face-to-face eye contact thing. Nobody uses a couch anymore, and I think that would work a lot better for me, if I was talking to the ceiling. But also, I just can’t get over the insincerity of the therapist. I know their intentions might be good, but the fact remains — they are getting paid to do this. They don’t have a personal investment in me. I’d be just as well off talking to a prostitute. (Heck, maybe that might be better. I don’t have to worry about being judged because no matter what I’ve got, she’s seen way worse. Worked for the guy in “Paying for It”)
I can’t even tell if I’m more comfortable with a boy or girl. One was a constantly smiling woman who reminded me more of an HR representative than psychologist. I’ve had an extremely soft-voiced man who looked like James Taylor ask me if I liked movies. That’s like asking if you like music. Or food. Another man tried to endear himself to me by talking about his family. And they always t a l k e d s l o w. I can’t stand that. Especially in a timed session. Not to mention the inconvenience of making appointments, keeping them, and the years it would take to make any kind of breakthrough.
For example, the smiling woman I mentioned before was a CBT specialist. She wanted to know my goals and set up some tasks to accomplish them. I wanted to make friends. I wanted to talk to people. I wanted to be able to pee at a urinal. Did I accomplish any of those goals? No. Why? Because no consequences for failure. You want to know how I really handled it? I finally accepted that I was a severe introvert. That I hated and could not make small talk so don’t try. That no one was like me and never would be. And that I never would be comfortable around people and do what I need to do to feel comfortable. At the party, go where people aren’t. Make an Irish exit. Fall into your iPhone. Send e-mails and IMs instead of approaching the person. Use short sentences–yes or no. Make no follow-up. Never talk about yourself–it prevents anyone from learning information about you and using it against you, and it doesn’t bore people. Stay home. And don’t forget the importance of body language.
TBH, the only thing that helped me was medication. It didn’t let me achieve my goal, it just helped me not titter and worry about how I am, how the world thinks I should be (see “Quiet”). It took away the mental block. The fear, anxiety, freeze response, which results in the inability to think of anything to say. From being nervous about all the bad and awkward things that could happen, and have happened in the past. The negative self-talk. It still happens, and awkward events in the past still make me cringe. But new ones don’t form.
And it’s only gotten better as the dosage gets increased. Right now I’m on 150 mg of Venlafaxine (a.k.a. generic Effexor) and 300 mg of Wellbutrin. This is after some trial and error for something that doesn’t take away my libido or give me nightmares where I yell in my sleep.
But it’s not perfect. Medication doesn’t fix everything. It’s stasis, not an improvement. But I don’t know when/if I’ll ever be able to get off medication. I don’t feel as passionate about things as I used to, like not as excited about a good story or getting a new book from the library. But that also means I don’t get as low as I used to, and I think that’s a worthy trade-off. Cause those lows get pretty damn low. And I can’t afford that if I’m raising a family. But I wouldn’t mind going back to my old self once people aren’t dependent on me for money and upbringing.
Also, with the neglection of my facehole, the only real way I have to vent is writing. And since ranting and raving is generally discouraged in commercial fiction, you readers are the unfortunate victims of me sorting out my head. I have a 6700 word rant at the bottom of my scratch pad about my dysfunctional relationship to work and the professional sector. But I don’t want to publish it because it names names and does nothing for anybody except for me. And then, not even that. I mean, what am I going to do? Not work? I can’t just sit and play “Breath of the Wild” all day.
My point is, I am a severe introvert. I am the guy who doesn’t talk. I’m the guy the news typifies as the kind to shoot up his workplace. I’m the kind of guy who’ll never get top marks in his performance evaluations because he “doesn’t speak up” or “needs to learn to interact more with the team”. It’d be easier being green.