Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Call For Help

I'm finished. I had my last therapy session today. The program I was enrolled in was limited. Half a year went by pretty fuckin fast. But I'm grateful to have had it. We talked a lot today about where I've come from as well as my plans for the future. She asked me what I was proud of about the experience. There was a lot to pick from. My mental and physical health has vastly improved. My energy level is back to full strength. I was very proud of the fact that I was totally honest with her and by extension myself. After the first few sessions I learned to trust someone and not edit what I said or how I sounded so that I would appear more normal or acceptable. I learned to face some of the parts of my life or my personality that were causing me to feel fear or pain. I'm far from done in that regard, but I no longer feel crippled by it.

I'm proud of how I've taken on responsibility for my health. As much as I hated going on the HIV meds, as much as it really hit home for me that I was ill, and may remain that way for the rest of my life, as much as I had to confront that part of me that was HIV+ in the abstract sense of it only, I kept plodding forward, sometimes encouraged by people in my everyday life, sometimes by readers I have never met, but I kept all my appointments, I gave all the blood, I drank the Kool-Aid and little by little, it did in fact get easier. And I did in fact get better.

There was one thing I got out of my therapy that I am the most proud of. It came out of one of my earlier sessions. I was really struggling through a very bad depression. I had just started on the medication, and to this day, I would swear that they fucked with my head a bit. I was in about as bad a shape as I had ever been emotionally. Still, or because of that, I kept my appointment. And as I started to talk about what I was feeling I began to cry. And the cries led to sobbing. And the floodgates opened and I confessed how badly I had been feeling and that I wasn't sure what to do or how to fix it, and was never more afraid or felt so alone. She asked me how long I had been feeling like this, and I replied several days.

"Well, why in the world didn't you call me?"

From the simplest of questions I was tossed a lifeline. You see, it hadn't occurred to me to call my therapist about my emotional crisis. I didn't know you could. In retrospect, that seems pretty obvious but not then, and not to me. I was unaccustomed to getting help. And I had absolutely no experience asking for it. And while I never did, outside of our regular sessions, ask for that help, I took comfort in knowing it was there. And I used the lesson when I needed medical help with something that turned out to be minor. I was in pain and I asked for help. I got help. It sounds so simple but asking for help is a skill, and at the ripe old age of 43, now 44, I just learned how. I guess the first step is admitting to yourself that you need it.

As far as the future, my therapist pointed me in the direction of some gay men's discussion groups. I've done those before and we both think it might be good for me to meet a new group of men. Conversing with a group of gay men clothed is another skill I need to re-learn. She has a private practice and expressed interest in seeing me there as well. My intent is to persue that as soon as I go back to work and have a steady income. As I said, I don't think I'm finished. In my opinion it's always helpful if not interesting and a little painful to pick up the box your life comes in and give it a good shake. You never know what might get dislodged when you do.

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