I tend to take my cue from the person I’m with about what we discuss, even within relationships meant to be therapeutic. Social anxiety (or shyness if you prefer) makes it very difficult for me to spontaneously share my deepest thoughts, rarely making it past the idle chit-chat of social niceties. Have I said lately how much I despise “small talk?” To me it feels shallow and a waste of time, yet I learned to engage in this behavior because it seems to be the “norm” and expected. Then again, it could simply be that I use it in the same way most everyone does, to avoid a deeper conversation. Keep the conversation light, not too personal, in order to protect myself from further hurt or humiliation.
I eventually learned to “mirror” communication styles fairly well — late, not until around 5th grade in elementary school after carefully watching my peers interact on the playground and in the classroom. I’m much more of an observer than one who enjoys interacting with others. I learned mirroring so well that more often than not I don’t even realize I’m doing it, now, not until afterwards when I reflect on how a conversation went and what was really said. Nothing. Nothing of substance in most cases. Topics of little importance, nervous laughter, my inability to maintain eye contact, my stammering and stuttering that frustrates me to the point of yelling internally, “Spit it out, already!,” and the obsessive self-reflection afterwards — these are my experience of interacting with others, the manifestation of my social anxiety.
Back to that first statement, “I tend to take my cue from the person I’m with about what we discuss….” I most certainly was not born a natural communicator. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever master the art of verbal communication. Writing is far easier for me to communicate thoughts and feelings because I give myself the time I need to figure out exactly what I want to communicate. However, writing is also a time-consuming process as a result of taking this time I need to do so. I struggle to think and speak at the same time. I wasn’t born with a quick wit like KR possesses. Therefore, I rely on others to “take charge” during conversation in order to keep it going, most often to the detriment of my own self-expression or ability to communicate a need.
Today was no different. I met with my case manager. We talked more about the weather and my cats than anything else. I avoided bringing up the severity of my depression symptoms — lack of motivation, loss of interest in hobbies, persistent hopelessness, helplessness in the perceived rejection of appropriate mental healthcare… suicidal thoughts that border on obsession. It’s easier to avoid. Pretend everything’s okay. Numbness took over, pushed the painful emotions away. Out of sight; out of mind. Nothing to discuss.
— Why is this so hard? —
There was no more discussion about finding another therapist. Would I have agreed had she brought it up again? I doubt it. Therapy’s end left me more confused and frustrated than before I went in, wishing I never bothered. I expected too much, like I always do. It’s no wonder I was disappointed. Yet, I have no one to advocate on my behalf. Several weeks ago, my case manager told me she was afraid of losing her job should she question the center’s practices. This led me to believe that there’s some inner-office-politics going on that I’m neither aware of nor want to be aware of. I’m left wondering, “Should I swear off psychiatry and therapy altogether? Go it alone and take my chances?”
The choice may have been made for me. My case manager either forgot to schedule our next appointment or purposefully left it up in the air. I have to admit, I thought of it as she was preparing to leave, but said nothing. It’s an easy out… as I slip through the cracks of VBHCS. It’s okay. They won’t miss me.