So, I’m going to share with you…in private, just ‘tween us, cross your heart … a secret that you long ago figured out. To wit, I’m not the steadiest stack of cognitive dishes in the mental drainer and periodically you can hear from my frontal lobes a loud crashing noise as one or more my of synapses heads floor-ward with a flurry.
Or, to put it another way, I do have a few minor mental glitches (yeah, like you don’t). I haven’t been in therapy for a while— partly because I haven’t felt the need for it, and mostly because things have been so complicated in the world (Trump, Covid, etc.) that I figured I’d leave the couches open for the folks who needed ‘em more than I did.
But, now that things are getting a wee bit less nasty, I am tempted to give therapy another shot. The problem is that I’m not an easy patient. For better or worse, I’m a bit complicated, and whenever I’ve done this before, I’ve had to spend a couple of sessions just explaining who I am—which is boring, and, frankly, expensive.
However …I have a plan.
Not me, but I feel this way a lot.
I’m going to write a letter to my prospective therapists, email it, and then they can get some idea of who I am and why, before I’m actually in their office.
Now, naturally, I will write the aforesaid letter in a calm and collected way, with many insightful asides, and witty aphorisms, so that the therapists will see that I’m not really sick. I’m just eccentric. Or, in other words, I’ll lie through my teeth. All 32 of them. Plus that gold filling on the bicuspid. Or maybe it was a bivalve. Whatever.
But, heck, we want to get some therapy here. So I’ll add a translation. That way the therapist will see that I’m calm, collected, and intellectually stable…but as nutty as the proverbial fruitcake. Or even one without proverbs. Just prunes. And marmite. And anchovy paste. Yum. Just like mother used to make. When she was off her meds.
Where was I? Oh, yes. The letter. Here goes:
Dear Dr. Jungian Q. Freudslip:
I am writing today to learn whether or not you thought my case might be suitable for your practice. Briefly, I am suffering from some anxiety and stress, chiefly arising from our somewhat unsettled national situation — viz., the Trump administration’s final convulsions, the Covid-19 pandemic, what appears to be an imminent economic crisis, and so on.
[Translation: I mean, really, come on. Given 2020, if I wasn’t as stressed out as a nudist at a porcupine convention…I’d be screwier than an Ace hardware franchise during lug nut season.]
Although, frankly, there may be more to it than simple current events. I do have some history of depression. Or, more precisely, I have been diagnosed with dysthymia, though I understand that the term your profession now uses for this condition is “persistent depressive disorder.”
[Translation: That’s all meant to demonstrate that I can use big words. Like “Dysthymia.” And “Persistent.” And “Antidisestablishmentarianism.” I have no idea what they mean. But I can use them. Me and the president.]
Also, for this reason, I have been on Wellbutrin (i.e., Bupropion) for some time. Though, I fear the good effects of this medication have been diminishing as time has gone on.
[Translation: Seriously, this stuff has like zero effect on me. Might as well prescribe weak tea and sugar water with a side order of bland. So, like, um, that is…you wouldn’t like to slip me some o’ dem Magic Mushrooms, wouldja? It’s supposed to be cool for people with depression. And sure looks like a lot more fun than this Bupropion stuff. And besides, I’ve always been a fan of sitar music. And the Beatles. And Amsterdam. I mean, Woah, Dude.]
As to who and what I am, I’m a 63-year-old, heterosexual, white, middle class male. I am happily married to a beautiful woman, I have a son and daughter-in-law, and I have a granddaughter who is delightful. By profession, I am an editor and writer, and a former trade press journalist in the field of computers. One of my small claims to fame is that I interviewed Steve Jobs just after he got kicked out of Apple, and just before Apple’s Board Of Directors came begging him to come back.
[Translation: See? I’m not just your average Joe. Heck, no. I’m below average. And besides, I’ve got boring computer-related celebrity sightings to share. Think of the funny stories you’ll have for cocktail parties afterwards. Well, they’ll be a lot funnier after the third or fourth cocktail. Doubles. Maybe triples. Quadruples? You do drink, don’t you? Tea-totalers scare me. Particularly de-caf ones. All that chamomile stuff. I’m sure it’s part of a vast plot. Sort of PizzaGate meets Q-Anon but with tannin and tooth stains.]
I have been in therapy before. Indeed, you might say that I have been in and out of it for several years. My sessions have had varying levels of success, ranging from the remarkably helpful to far less so.
[Translation: Jeez, you people ought to have a central rating service. Like, I don’t know, Carfax for shrinks. Some of you are really, really good—like, there was that chap at McLean, and the woman in Albq. But, others. Whoa. Like that guy I saw when I was working in Brookline. The one who thought my parents were abusive narcissists and figured the way to reach me was to be abusive and narcissistic. I mean, Whoa. I mean, like I never want to meet him again. Well, okay. I would like to. But only if it was in a dark alley. And he was drunk. And I had a taser. And a crowbar. Now that would be fun. Sort of like Fight Club meets piñata party.]
And, yes, in addition to my depression, I may have other problems. I have had my previous therapists suggest that I suffer from some degree of neurotic behavior, notably in regard to certain feelings of a lack of self-worth.
[Translation: Dude…dude!… I have an inferiority complex that could eat Chicago, several charming phobias, a heaping helping of maladaptive daydreaming, imposter syndrome, existential self-loathing, social anxiety on a massive scale, and God alone knows what else. I mean, basically, you’re talking here to a walking paperback edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), vols 1 through 25. Are you really, Really, REALLY sure you want to get into this?]
I am happy to report, however, that at least in terms of sexuality…Freud’s favorite analytic arena…I am relatively normal.
[Translation: Okay, way back when, in my lost youth, I had a couple of really good perversions. Top notch stuff. I mean, primo. Was quite proud of ‘em. Used to wow all the lads down at the mental health services at the university. But…sigh…that was forty years ago. Times have changed. Now they’re as vanilla as you can get without being a planifolia pod. Heck. You can’t even get arrested for ‘em anymore. Where’s the fun of that?]
I might mention as well …if, that is, you will forgive a brief foray into pop-psychology and self-diagnosis …that I have recently begun to wonder if I might not suffer from a touch of “Golden Child Syndrome.” That is (if I understand the term correctly), I sometimes feel that I was supposed to achieve far more than it was possible for me, or anyone, to achieve, and I therefore suffer from a purely frivolous sense of disappointment.
[Translation: Don’t know how, but somewhere along the line I bought into the idea that I was supposed to jump tall buildings in a single bound. Which meant it was kinda shockin’ when I couldn’t make it over your average toadstool. You wouldn’t know where I could buy a good used jetpack, would you? Or maybe a rocket-powered pogo stick? Plus a six-pack of airsickness pills. And barf bags. Beaucoup de barf bags. Lots and lots and lots of barf bags. A word of advice. If you see me flying in your general direction…duck!]
So, that’s a little background on me and my situation. If you think that I could benefit from your expertise, please let me know. I’d be very interested in touching base with you via phone or email.
[Translation: come on. What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ‘fess up. You’ve been thinking about a career change since you realized “sane” people were voting for Trump. At least I’m not that meshuggeneh. I mean, a few bats in the belfry, yeah. But I’m not Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker dancing in a riot level of crazy. So, like, it would be a step up for you. A nice change. Peaceful by comparison. And I look better in pancake makeup.]
Michael Jay Tucker
So, there you have it. My letter to prospective shrinks. Now I just have to mass mail it and await responses.
What will happen next? Well, should be simple. Either, I’ll find a therapist who can deal with me…or I won’t…or…
I will shortly be sharing a triplex with Harvey The Big White Rabbit and Nurse Ratched at Shutter Island, with or without the lobotomy scene.
Much more to come.
Until next time.
Onward and upward…