A Unique Map

Late night post (or early-morning post?). Didn’t want to leave you all in the darkness. A lot has been happening and it’s been difficult to keep up with the blog this week, so sorry about that.

There’s so many things I want to write about, but I’ll stay on what’s really important for now: I had my next-to-last appointment with M yesterday.

*Sigh* The incredible thing is that it was an amazing session, just like old times. A lot of important things were said in that hour, in spite of my initially not having many hopes for the session.

Once I stepped in her office I noticed a small gift bag on her desk. I thought a patient must have given it to her. However, as soon as I settled down she took the gift bag and said: “This is for you. It’s something I do for special patients.”

I was absolutely taken by surprise. It was strange, but in a good way. I left it at my side thinking I would open it back home.

And we started talking. First thing I mentioned to her was that I felt uncomfortable when she ended last week’s session abruptly. However, I explained to her that I was able to get through it because I read old diary entries and realized that her having to end a session in that manner was nothing compared to the more than 2 years I’ve been with her. So, she said, it’s good that I’m finally learning to not be afraid to express how I’m feeling. She also said it proves relationships don’t have to end over small misunderstandings like that one, which is something we’ve had to deal with in the therapeutic relationship before (Remember my recording sessions behind her back?).

So then we discussed what I was talking about in the last session when she cut me off. Previously, she had asked me what therapy meant to me, and I hadn’t been able to answer her (see this post). So, I answered her question yesterday. I was horribly embarrassed to finally admit to her that I inevitably got attached and she’s become a mother figure to me. Actually, I was so embarrassed that halfway through my explanation she smiled and told me to take it easy.

But, I told her, I didn’t think seeing her as a mother figure was necessarily a bad thing. She asked me why, and I said: “Because I’m not trying to replace my mother with you.” I didn’t know how to explain it yesterday, so I guess I’ll tell her on Friday when I see her again. What I meant is that during these 2+ years she’s somehow helped patch up some of the things that were missing from my relationship with mom (and other people). However, instead of that weakening my relationship with mom, it’s actually helped strengthen it. Or at least I feel that way. Therapy with her has somehow been practice for how to have a “right” relationship in the real world.

Basically, I see her as a mother figure, but unlike how I used to do with teachers when I was a kid, I’m not trying to replace my mother with her. And, I guess that’s good, right?

Then I told her about the shit situation with my wanting to do research while not being covered by malpractice insurance. I think having her in front of me helped me see things more clearly, and as I was explaining the whole situation to her I kind of arrived at the answer on my own. She basically just gave her stamp of approval…which admittedly took a huge weight off my shoulders.

I decided I’m going to ask for readmission to finish my leave of absence. Today I’m feeling a bit queasy about it, but I’ll stick to my decision. Research was something I had in my initial plan for this time, and I want to stick to that, especially knowing that at first it will be kind of annoying but ultimately it will help raise my self-esteem. Hopefully, things will go according to plan. Let’s see. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Then we talked about technical stuff….how she wanted to decrease my Wellbutrin to 300mg so I would be taking the least amount of drug (which is the actual therapeutic dose, as opposed to the 450mg I’m taking, which is the last-resort-dose), how I had finally been able to schedule an appointment for the 28th of August with one of the female psychiatrists she had recommended….etc….

And then I freaked out because I had one last important thing to read her from my diary but there were only 5 minutes left. She said I could read it and we would discuss it on Friday.

What I read was the account of my recent, most important, moment of enlightenment (see this post). I guess she was touched by it because once I finished reading she said a few things about it before we left. But I’ll write about that later. (I’m sorry I keep teasing you about that, but it’s kind of important to me and right now is not the right time.)

So, finally, the session ended. But before I left she said: “You should see what’s in the gift bag.” I freaked out because I didn’t want her to see my reaction when I opened it, but she insisted.

Inside was a little handwritten card wishing me well in my future endeavors and some words of encouragement. And then I saw the gift.

It was a small pink notebook, with the words “Keep Calm and Write On” in the front.

I loved it. She said the message was important, especially the “Keep Calm” part.

Maybe she just thought it was a small detail for me, but to me it meant so much more. There were a lot of unspoken things in that small gesture, but there was no need to say them.

So, I left her office feeling incredibly upbeat and lifted. I was reminded ofย this scene from the movie Amรฉlie. “I had a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It was a perfect moment. Soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. I breathed deeply. Life was simple and clear. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind came over me.”

And then I got to my car and I sat down on the driver’s seat…..

And I broke down crying hysterically, keeping it up all the way back home.

  1. Dearest Dana,

    I'm starting an overnight shift in an hour but I felt I absolutely had to write something. Your post almost made me cry. That notebook was such a thoughtful gift (and something that I myself would love!) and it was such a beautiful moment between you two. You definitely have touched her life and I know she will always remember you as one of her most dedicated, motivated and insightful patients.

    We must have a lot of the same tastes, because I, too, loved Amelie ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually speak French as well and I love French films (and French food and French wine!)

    I think your decision to do research was the right one. It helps to have a goal in which you really don't have a choice about. I mean, I know you have a goal to get better, but there's really no one forcing you to do it. The research won't be so demanding but it will still keep you busy some of the time, which I think is key for when you find yourself with a lot of free time all of a sudden. I believe you are going about your recovery in the best way possible.

    BTW last night was probably the worst ED shift I have ever had… there were so many patients, and as you know, Emergency rooms cannot turn people away but the patients don't understand that and they wonder why they have to wait for 5 hours to be seen for a stomachache. It's also rather an inner-city hospital and the average classiness of the patients is negative. I have never had so many rude patients all at once – so irate, belligerent… I cannot believe just how ungrateful and entitled some of these low lives are. I know that sounds rude, but I am telling you that a lot of these people have no manners and it was so disheartening and made me so angry. I might post about it… You are so lucky you won't have to deal with that in psychiatry if that is what you decide to do (well pretty much every field is allowed to turn away patients at one point!) so hopefully you will never have to experience this.

    Anyways, your post was beautiful and I am so happy for you ๐Ÿ™‚



  2. Hey hun,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment right before your shift ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you for the kind words, as always.

    Amelie is my all time favorite movie. Seriously. I swear they were stalking me when the writers came up with that character. The similarities are uncanny. And I'm so jealous of your speaking French! Before I die I will most definitely learn that language ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ugh, I'm so sorry about that ED shift. It really sucks when you're trying to do your work as best you can and people take it for granted and treat you like crap. I'm sure everyone who goes into medicine has at least thought once about wanting to help people, yet when you receive such rudeness in return it really is a blow to your morale. And I'm sure you find a lot of rude people in the ED, unfortunately. I guess the best way to get around it is to try and understand that some of them are very sick and also tired of waiting. Hopefully your rude people quota was met yesterday and your shift today went better. Don't dwell on the rude ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I don't know if I'll post tomorrow, but for sure on Saturday or Sunday. And I must warn, it will probably be a long one. I'm a ball of emotions. I think having a termination process was definitely helpful, but it's not the same as actually knowing the final moment has come and you have to say goodbye. It really hurts. I'm going to miss her so much. I guess the good part is that I feel I'm actually managing it better than I thought (I'm not hiding my sadness, I feel strong, and I don't feel like I'll fall into the darkness again…let alone allow it to happen).

    You know, thanks for sticking with me all this time ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care,


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