Friday, July 25, 2008

First visit with the shrink


I had my first visit with a clinical psychologist today. He really did have a couch in his office, although it was a normal couch, like you might have in a home - not one of those funny looking couches as seen in cartoons. How did we come to associate those funny couches with psycho analysis? Anyway, I didn't lay on the couch, I just sat on it.

He started off asking me some questions about growing up, my family, my relationships, history of depression in my family, etc. As he was finishing up his questions I then said "there is, um, one more thing that might be pertinent for you to know. About two years ago this fall, I finally ended years of denial and accepted the fact that I am gay." I can't believe I did it - I actually said the g-word. It's one thing to write it in an anonymous blog - it's an entirely different matter to say it out loud to some guy you never met before. And, I was OK with it, I didn't choke on it. I wasn't saying "I'm g-g-g-g-gay." I simply said "I'm gay."

We talked about that for a bit. I told him that I've never had a relationship outside of my marriage, that I've always been faithful to my wife.. We talked about my wife and how she is handling it. I told him that I want to remain married and that I'm OK with being gay. I recounted how it used to bother me and I hated myself for it - now it's just part of who I am. I told him that just because I'm gay doesn't mean I want to go out and have sex, that fidelity in marriage is important to me. And then we moved on.

Bottom line, he wants to try a combination of cognitive therapy and talk therapy. He said that the particular antidepressants I am on do not help with serotonin levels; so, cognitive therapy can help boost serotonin. He also said that, since I am the type of person who tends to hold things in - which can have a negative effect on depression and anxiety levels - then talk therapy can help with that.

So, that's about it - I setup my next appointment in a week, paid my $15 copay, and then came home.

... Changing the subject ... I don't know why, but todays Dilbert reminded me of the queerosphere :)

13 comments:

Beck said...

Fascinating!

I'm intrigued by what you may gain from this experience. Seeing clinical value for your depression is one thing. But, do you have goals of what you wish to achieve regarding being gay, married, and quite committed to the way things are? What do you hope to accomplish?

My battle in going back to a therapist is to determine what the reason is to go in the first place. If I'm okay with being gay, and married, and committed, then what do I want the therapist to accomplish? Since I can't answer that question, I'm not sure how I expect any kind of help coming from a shrink.

Abelard Enigma said...

I think you're over analyzing the situation. I didn't go to see a therapist because "I'm okay with being gay, and married, and committed." I went because I'm feeling depressed and lonely; so, my goal is to not feel depressed and lonely. I just felt that my gayness was need-to-know information for the therapist as it may be a factor in how I'm feeling; but, it was not the main focus of our discussion.

Are you feeling like everything is hunky doorey in your life? If not then wouldn't that be the answer to your question?

MohoInTx said...

I remember telling my bishop here in San Antonio... I didn't really know the guy, and he didn't even know my name. I think that made it a bit easier for me to talk about it.

Abe, it's good to hear you are doing the things that you need to in order to be happy. Keep it up :)

Public Loneliness said...

I also thought a little bit like Beck, well, if he is there to tell him what is the deal with his life, then what's he doing there? Then I realized that in spite of one knowing these things, there is still the factor of depression (which is very real--runs in families even) and how to deal with that little factor. Love your cartoons!

Beck said...

I didn't mean to over-analyze the situation. I certainly want to be there cheering you on in taking this step! You should be commended. I didn't mean to be insensitive, nor imply that everything is "hunky-dory" in Beck's world. I'm just cynical of the professional world. Please know that I'm more than thrilled to see you being pro-active!

Abelard Enigma said...

FWIW, I share your cynicism. This is something I've thought about for a long time and have always dismissed it. But, I feel like I have to do something because my depression is not getting any better. I've been taking antidepressants for several years, so this isn't supposed to happen. But, I don't think it is because I'm gay that I'm feeling this way, at least not directly. So, I'm taking a leap of faith that this will help me. Only time will tell if I actually gain some benefit from this.

I don't know if I should be commended for being a desperate man seeking desperate measures. I just don't know what else to do. But, that's the beauty of the blogging world - ya'll will get play by play coverage :)

Silus Grok said...

Therapy: yay!

Dilbert: hee!

santorio said...

two reason I can think of for the couch:

more relaxed laying stretched out, and the more relaxed, the easier it is to free associate.

easier to avoid eye contact with patient on couch and therapist taking notes at desk. less eye contact, less interpersonal relationships, very important in traditional psychoanalysis, transference and all that.

Silver said...

Abe,

I'm cheering you on for taking action on this! Rather than staying home in a funk, you're putting it out there and asking for help. I applaud you!

I've slipped into a downer myself this week. I'm a little scared that it isn't going to lift. It's been awhile since I've taken a dive this deep.

I've seen therapists off and on over the years. They have been very helpful and have given me some good guidance. I fired one because he was a homophobe. Mostly they give me a place to get it out, have a cry, embarrass myself in a safe place and not have to dump my dirt on my wife.

My current therapist has a son who is gay. She is supportive of his choice. She is happy to work with me within my framework of staying faithful to my covenants, wife and family. She knows the "angst" (thanks for that word Beck) and being an inactive Mormon she knows the culture.

It's been a few weeks since I have been to see her. To tell the truth, I think that may be why I'm down this week...Humm...

The most awesome psycho book I ever read was recommended by a therapist. David Burn's; Feeling Good. It's very clinical, not an easy read but, all about cognitive thought. I loaned it to a friend and he never gave it back. Anyway, Abe, you might give it a try. It changed my life, really! I'll never think the same.

Abe, I don't mean to imply that a book will do the trick. I'm happy you are in therapy and I wish you the best of results. Been there, know it hurts.

I'm off to eat a brownie. I eat when I'm depressed too.

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm off to eat a brownie.

Ummm, chocolate! I love chocolate - no, I crave chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. Have you tried the new Hershey's Bliss? (their answer to Dove Chocolate)

Adam said...

Wow, you've obviously resonated with a lot of us in this post Abe. The slice of real life chronicle of your therapy session is just the sort of thing that is so great about people sharing their honest thoughts and experiences without any pretense. We all get to benefit a little from your adventure.

My therapist wants me to go to a group thing with other married gay guys and stand up and tell my story and communicate openly about my same-sex orientation. Right here in the town where I live and work. That scares the hell out of me. And I still haven't mustered the courage to do it.

Is there anyone out there who has done that sort of thing? How did it turn out?

BTW Abelard, you rock.

Silus Grok said...

Adam:

Many moons ago, I attended Evergreen in Provo… I still remember walking into that room, wondering if there would be anyone I knew, sitting there. It was scary. But you quickly realize that there's nothing to fear. About a year into my stint at Evergreen, someone I knew did walk in the door… and it was a pleasure to see them, and to be there for them.

Philip said...

He also said that, since I am the type of person who tends to hold things in - which can have a negative effect on depression and anxiety levels - then talk therapy can help with that.

A couple of thoughts...

First, maybe a good goal would be work on being less of the type of person that holds things in.

Second, I wonder if you would be the same type of person if you were not so much in the closet.

I'm talking from experience.

I was almost inarticulate when I was completely in the closet.

I always thought I was shy until I came out at work.

Now looking back I realize that it was a gradual process. The more I came out, the more areas of my life that I came out in, the better I got at communicating and the more outgoing I became.

And it didn't just happen to me...

A very good friend of mine was extremely shy until he came out to his family in his 40s and now he is so outgoing that it's like he's a whole other person.

Of course, there are other factors at play. I am sure being inarticulate is not uncommon among young men in general. And that shyness diminishes over time.

But I really think coming out played a major role in my becoming more comfortable in my skin and being better able to relate to others on a more equal basis.

It's funny but for a very long time I was resistant to the idea of coming out. I thought I had a lot to loss and very little to gain. Of course, there was no way of proving that one way or the other without coming out. Plus, I never considered what price I was paying for staying in.

One thing for sure I didn't expect my personality to undergo a change.

Regards,
Philip