Before I begin, I want to clarify that the Dutch are actually pretty ok as far as restroom etiquette goes. Best are the French, then the Dutch, then a tie between Californians and Germans (I think CA might be a teeny bit better) and at the very bottom is Spain. (Also: waa, waa, waa, nobody understands me.) Ok, so on to our story.
I went to see a Dutch shrink on wednesday. Over the summer, I got a book that said that therapy can cure anxiety. Zoloft can also cure anxiety, but it stops working if I stop taking it. Also, it has not been stellar for my concentration. I haven’t written much music since being on it. So a long-term cure that leaves me able to think would be very good.
“Why do you think you are anxious?”
If I knew the answer to that question, I would have a solution already. I dunno. I think there’s something bugging me that I’m not thinking about. When I have something that is really bothering me and I try to ignore it, I tend to have panic attacks. Maybe that’s the cause of all my panic attacks. I don’t know. Lyme disease was pretty stressful. Lack of sunlight might be a problem. I dunno.
I said “I dunno” a lot. She took copious notes and asked extremely open-ended questions. One of them was “how is your identity?” Ok, this was not out of the blue, since I was sort of without one right after I got divorced, but how does one answer such a query?
“Is there anything else?” she asked.
“How do you mean?” I asked.
She noted that it was open ended.
I took a deep breath. “I have a lot of friends who are transexual. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about.”
She started a new page of notes. “You know people who have had The Operation?”
Gah!!! The Operation. What operation would that be, exactly? Would it be the operation where folks take T (or E, since I’ve known folks going both ways) until they pass? Would it be top surgery? Would it be a hysterectomy? Would that be a medioplasty? A phalloplasty?
“Um, I know a guy who had a hysto?”
Did you mother know? Did your ex-wife know? Does your girlfriend know? How long has this been going on?
no. sorta, not really. yes. I dunno, a few years. You know, I’m not at all sure about this.
So you think you are denying your real self and that’s making you anxious and maybe having The Operation would fix that?
What?!! No, I don’t know! Augh!
Would you like to speak with gender specialists in The Hague?
“I don’t know.” I’m all wary now. Outside the window, a gigantic orange cat has climbed to the very top of a barren tree. It’s among the empty branches, looking around. It’s not acting uncertain, but I wonder if it must be stuck, up so high in the tree. Why did it go up there?
“You don’t have to make any decisions. It’s your life, you know. You can just talk about it. It’s an emotionally safe place to talk.”
That’s easy for you to say. I looked at the bookshelf behind her head. It was red and in the shape of a first-aid cross. “Um.”
“They can also help you with anxiety.”
“Ok, I’ll talk to them.”
“Your friends who have had The Operation- are they happy?”
“Um, as far as I know. I dunno.”
“Well, I think we’ve probably covered enough for this session. How do you feel now? Relieved to get everything out?”
No, that’s not exactly how I would describe my mood at all. How does it make me feel to talk about anxiety? It makes me feel fucking anxious!!
I speak virtually no Dutch. Her English skills are probably not high enough to be doing therapy sessions in English. No, I was not relieved. I left and went to class where I was all jumpy.
On the way out, I tried unsuccessfully to explain to the desk person that while I was happy to provide any insurance info they wanted, my insurance specifically excluded treatment for anxiety and regardless, they just reimbursed me for things, so it would be really better if I just paid cash now. The desk person went to ask a supervisor. Out the window behind her, I saw the orange cat running along the top of the fence, like it was on a mission, had a plan, had a place to be.