Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #25
–Sessions: 10 of 53
Monday, February 23, 2009 11:00am
I had been feeling better Tuesday through Friday of the last week, but I returned to feeling very tired over the last weekend. During this session we mainly discussed the paperwork I would need for further sessions. My insurance covered up to eight visits to a therapist each year with no copay, which means the visits wouldn’t cost me anything. The first three times I met with my therapist was in December of 2008, so all of these were covered under the eight sessions for 2008.
Including this session, I had been to seven sessions in 2009. The next would be my eighth for the year. These eight sessions were covered by my insurance with no copay because they were in 2009. Once those eight sessions were past, my insurance would require a $15.00 copay for each visit, up to a total of 52 visits per year. I brought my insurance card from work and the letter from United Behavioral Health (UBH) that authorized the further sessions for the year.
After the first eight sessions in 2009, each time I met with Elsie, I would pay $15.00 for the session. I chose to bring cash. Sometimes I would pay for several visits at once. Since the ATM only dispenses $20 bills, it was easier to pay for four visits in advance and not have to get change to have $15 in cash each week.
One time, I wasn’t sure I had the correct change. I told Elsie that if I couldn’t pay I would get her the money next time. I paused and then said that I suppose she had been burned in the past and would require cash before any session. She paused and looked at me. She said she had been at this a while, and she felt she was a pretty good judge of character. She said she had no concern that if I didn’t have the cash today I would get it to her next time. During the 53 times I met with her, I always had the cash to pay.
Later that week, after this session, I had to call UBH to get an authorization number. I would give this number to Elsie. She needed it when she submitted her bills to UBH for our sessions. This number would be good for the rest of this calendar year. I would need to go through this process again in January of 2010. This was all I had to do to get my insurance to pay for the rest of my sessions for the year.
–Sessions: 11 of 53
Monday, March 2, 2009 11:00am
I have been feeling better the last few days, specifically Friday through Sunday before this session. On the other hand, last Thursday I suddenly felt anxious. Was this a panic attack? I looked online and found various descriptions of what a panic attack was like. One woman described how she could tell when one was coming on. They affected her so much that if she was driving she had to pull off the road quickly. I worried about this. You may recall that Elsie told me not to take what I find on the internet too seriously. Elsie didn’t seemed concerned about this so I moved on.
I wanted to discuss more about my coworker’s divorce. They told me that their parents are so happy that they don’t have to see the ex anymore. No mention of their children. They are also happy because they had already moved on to a new relationship. Elsie told me this is a dishonorable divorce. Quickly moving to the next relationship looks good in the moment. The parents being happy is not constructive. Divorce is a real strain on both members of the former couple.
–Sessions: 12 of 53
Monday, March 9, 2009 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 287
We reviewed my symptoms during the last week. I had not had the throat symptom at all but then it suddenly came back. I was still worrying about my chest soreness. When any of my symptoms come back, after being gone for a while, I feel like the whole situation is starting all over again. She tells me that the symptoms will come and go and they won’t ever completely go away.
Elsie wanted to talk about how I met my wife. We met in the dorms at college. I was starting my sophomore year at UC Davis. I had just been dumped during the summer. I was pretty sure I would never meet anyone again. I had a roommate in the dorm during my freshman year, but decided to get a single room for my sophomore year. I was sad and alone, but I was focused on my classes. She was a junior, the exotic older women. She came down the hall one day and said I was ‘different’. It turned out that was a good thing. That was a long time ago. I like to say I met her before the fall of Rome. I was serving nachos on the third level of the Coliseum, a story we will get to later. I can still see her coming down the hall, my hopes and dreams preceding her.
I like to think of her as my betrothed. Yes, betrothed is a promise to marry and we are more than three decades beyond that but still, I like the word. Betrothed, a contract that if broken, would be settled in the forest with a broad sword. My betrothed would be good with a broad sword, but she prefers nine-millimeter. Yet another story for another time.
You may wonder why some sessions don’t seem to cover very much. Sometimes what was discussed doesn’t seem very significant. Therapy is, like many things, a process. Yes, that is a very tired cliché, but, it is very true. I’ve told you that I was impressed how quickly Elsie was able to point out things I had not seen on my own. I had ‘bought in’ to the process. I didn’t ask her why she was asking whatever the question was, I believed she had a reason. That reason might not be apparent right away, but that was ok. The process takes some time. This is also why therapy, in my opinion, can’t be done in a month or two. It may seem unreasonable to you that I needed fifty three sessions over two years. I’m sure I could have gotten most of the benefit from a smaller number of sessions, but, even half as many would have taken a year. It takes time to discuss things and see where it takes you. You don’t know what you need to talk about. I think the therapist doesn’t know exactly what needs to be discussed either. They have a good idea based on their experience, but they don’t know your history until you talk about it and that will bring up other things to talk about.
What I experienced growing up took fifty years to cause symptoms that brought me to therapy. It isn’t reasonable to think these experiences could be explored in a couple of sessions. Our popular culture is very much focused on the short term. To really help you, it may take longer than you think it should.