therapy

Personal Hell: Visiting a psychiatrist

When I’m being treated by a psychiatrist, I imagine I’m on the popular television show, Jeopardy. It goes like this:

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Throughout my twenty-four years of existence, I’ve had a heaping amount of visits to doctors of all kinds in an attempt to manage my numerous life issues – my sensory processing disorder being at the forefront.

I believe psychiatric/psychological help is imperative when dealing with physical illness. So darn it all, I’ve got to pull on my big girl panties and get stuff done, no matter how miserable it is to visit a psychiatrist.

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I never enjoy going to see a psychiatrist. If I had $5 for every bizarre session with a psychiatrist, I could probably afford to go to medical school, become a psychiatrist, and THERAPEUTIZE myself.

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As usual, I just made up another word: therapeutize.

Definition: Therapeutize: to use therapeutic techniques.

In a sentence: “I’m going through a tough time with my wife, if I could only therapeutize my marriage back to where it used to be, we’d be happy again.”

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Psychiatrists never seem to pick good locations for their offices. Unfortunately for me, these locations are sensory UNFRIENDLY. I’m uncertain whether or not these locations are chosen on purpose.

One psychiatrist had the office lights so bright, I almost couldn’t open my eyes. That was a fun visit.

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Another had a million winding stairs up to the office, like one of those M.C. Escher paintings. I felt like I could die at any moment whilst making my way to the top. Additionally, it was nearby a train station, so periodically, the train would blare its horn and I would feel my lungs give out from the intensity of the sound. I’d grip the staircase railing, waiting for death.

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Some psychiatrists have leather couches to sit on. I don’t know about you, but my body doesn’t understand leather. It’s shiny, and rubbery. My body actually hates me when I sit on leathery surfaces, as I find myself sliding right off and into a pathetic puddle on the floor.

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Some psychiatrists don’t understand my sensory needs at all, which is both humorous and sadly ironic. For example, everything they do is often very noisy, including speaking. It’s not done intentionally, but most of them are so oblivious that they don’t even notice how sensory unfriendly they are. Even if I tell them directly about the nature of my issues, all psychiatrists seem to live in their own psychiatric bubble. Must be nice there…

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Even WORSE is when I’m in the middle of an appointment, and I REALIZE the absurdity of what is happening. I want to explode with rage and hurl various sized fruits at the ignorant person in front of me. Problem is, I never remember to bring the fruit with me.

so anxiety

fascinating

why yes i am

wow congrats

thank you darling

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Still, the most difficult part of all of these psychiatric visits is when I have to think critically about myself and answer endless complicated questions.

How do you feel? How are you feeling? Describe that process? Can you give me an example of a time when your SPD did this or that and why it made you behave in this or that manner? The severity of anxiety and depression dissociative tendencies increases or decreases when compounded with the negative associations of certain stimuli with which you are negatively associated on the grounds ohfds  hfds hjbdnjcfnd sun43uhu nfjdnsf

My brain, now reduced to a mushy potato, replies:

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When it’s all over, I have an overwhelming urge to fill a void in my delicate psyche (created by psychiatrists poking at it too much). There is only one remedy for this kind of destruction:

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xo kelly

p.s. Please send all cake to me, I will stuff it into my psyche void. Thank you.

 

 

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Occupational Therapy Adventure (for SPD)

Back in the glorious and confusing days of my childhood, I went to see an occupational therapist once a week to help with my sensory integration/processing disorder. His name was Frank, and he was a young guy who was extremely good looking (and now I CURSE myself because I never appreciated his attractiveness). I was obviously too distracted by the fact that I was 9 years old and more interested in the candy I received at the end of the session. Here’s a picture of Frank:

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Alright, so that’s not exactly him.  It’s just a picture of a hot, shirtless guy I found on google, but let’s all pretend this is Frank.

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Frank and I did LOTS of things in our short time together each week. He made me walk across a balance beam. This was to re-orient my vestibular system. I hated that. Frank would counter with some sort of ‘comforting statement’ like, “You’re only 2 inches off the ground.”

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Not very comforting Frank. Your charm and wit didn’t amuse me.

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Then he made me stick my hands in some glue and junk. We turned it green using dye, because why the heck not? It is very hard to describe to people who don’t have a sensory problem how it feels to do something that bothers your sensory problem, like sticking your hand in an icky substance. All I knew was that it was more than uncomfortable, and it created ugly signals in my brain. Therefore, I hated that too.

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Sometimes he would suggest that I take a trip through the rainbow tunnel. You know the kind – a small, plastic tunnel that most children enjoying crawling through.

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Not me though. My sensory system interpreted small, unfamiliar spaces as threatening:

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Then we played a stupid game, Connect Four. (Though not as stupid as the game I wrote about in my last post, Operation). I hated this the most because the sounds of the game were sudden and unpleasant. “This game is the pits,” I casually mentioned to Frank.

Frank chuckled at my statement, rested his perfectly featured face upon his hand, and encouraged me to finish the game. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that she was paying a man to watch me play games that I didn’t even like. UNBELIEVABLE!

At this point of my OT session, I was slightly irritated with Frank. His smiley-ness and optimism was all too much for one girl to take.

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But it was not over yet. Before my OT session with Frank ended, he would spend the last several minutes doing joint compressions (pressing my joints in gently) and brushing. The brush looks like this:

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It’s kind of FANTASTIC. (Although, those without sensory deep-pressure needs may find the brush against their skin to be unpleasant or just weird).

But who cares about those people, this brush is wonderful. After some deep pressure exercises, brushing, and joint compressions, I felt like a new girl. My hatred for Frank and his gorgeous smiling face seemed to vanish. Things got a little freaky:

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Finally at the end of the session, I received my candy of choice and went on my merry way. This lasted for a few weeks or so, possibly longer, I don’t actually remember.

What I do remember is the absurdity of it all, and yet, my strange willingness to comply. I continued the compressions and brushing at home, but I don’t think that alone was enough to counteract the intense over-stimulation I was experiencing daily at school. Still, it was something, and definitely an experience I will never forget.

-xo Kelly

Horse Therapy Adventure

Back in high school, when my dear mother was desperate to help me with the never-ending stream of problems that I faced, she opted to try healing with horses. Specifically horse back riding, or hippotherapy, which by the way, has nothing to do with hippos.

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This is the part where I should explain my feelings regarding hippotherapy. However, you should know that I have great talent at blocking out huge chunks of time that may or may not have been traumatic. What you are about to read is my fuzzy recollection of my first day of horseback riding therapy. What is clear, however, is the fact that that day will never be forgotten.

I remember my mom and I walking into the place. The first thing that hit us was the smell. It was hard for me to get past. Everyone else seemed immune, or at least, mostly unaffected by the stench.

We were greeted by a cheery lady (her real name I can’t remember, so I will call her Susan) who gave me a helmet to wear. I think it was blue. But who cares what color it was.  Bottom line: I was HOT. See for yourself:

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We went and sat with her in a tiny room with appalling lighting. My mom explained why I was here and how sensitive I was to, well, everything. She explained my severe sensory issues and my recent diagnosis of ASD. Susan said she understood my situation. That was too easy, I thought.

Susan walked my mom and I through a short hallway that led to a door. “This is the barn,” she said. The door opened up to a massive open space covered with hay.

Then she walked us to another door that opened up to stables. We opened the door and I nearly lost bladder control because this was the first thing I saw:

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“She’s the largest breed of horse in the world,” said Susan. Also, the most insane-looking.

The next thing I knew, the horses all started smashing their hooves into their stable doors. BANG BANG BANG BANG!

Well, that was all I needed. Now that I was reduced to a pathetic crying blob in a helmet, Susan began to understand the seriousness of my situation.Picture 42

I was ushered quickly into the large barn where I waited for my horse.

My horse, I thought. I imagined something regal, majestic, and strong. Something along the lines of this:

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Heck, I’d even settle for this:

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However, when my horse came into the barn, it looked more like this:

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Ok. So it wasn’t what I had pictured in my mind….at all. Still, I would not give up hope. His name was Neil, I was told. “He’s very relaxed and he just loves everyone!” said Susan with delight.

Neil was a nearly as round as he was high. A blue blanket with yellow stars covered his back. I am unable to comment about Neil’s intelligence level at this time, but I’m certain it wasn’t too high. Still, there was an strong air of calm about him that I definitely appreciated.

I walked up a set of stairs and was placed onto Neil’s back. Although he could’ve passed for a miniature pony, I still felt disoriented and high-up off the ground. My grip tightened on his reins as we slowly started to walk out the barn and to the trails. The cheery lady guided Neil and another older woman walked next to me as I rode.

We barely walked three feet though when Neil stopped abruptly and I heard plopping sounds somewhere behind me. “Oh, he’s very relaxed,” Susan said, “he must like you!”

I was all like:

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To my horror, I quickly realized that Neil was a popping-machine. It was practically his favorite activity. Outside the barn, the two women guided Neil down a short dirt path. “We’re going to try this hill now, ok?”

She made that sound like a question, but I knew she wasn’t really asking me. It was more of a command: WE ARE GOING OVER THE HILL KID.

With my already over-stimulated state from the stable trauma, and my terrible body-spatial awareness, going over the hill wasn’t going to be pretty.

I basically thought I was going to die. Neil probably thought so too, although he never said anything. He just kept pooping.

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When I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, Susan said “Let’s walk Neil through this stream up here. Maybe he could stop and have a drink too.” Susan’s joyous spirit was making me nauseous. Maybe Neil could poop on her.

After several upsetting, sensory-crushing experiences, all sense of perspective was lost. Everything seemed bigger, more horrible and dangerous. This was no stream we were crossing…

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Nobody cared though, so I buried my face into Neil’s mane and placed a death grip on his face. He probably disliked that, but again, he didn’t say anything to me. He pooped though.

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Finally sensing my distress, Susan told me that we were going to walk around the ring. The ring was a dirt oval surrounded by a wooden fence. When we got there, another teen girl was riding a muscular black horse. I entered the ring, and the difference between the two of us and our horses was striking, if not, hilariously noticeable.

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I sensed a air of superiority from her. Neil stopped pooping, so something was definitely going on. She was a professional rider on a champion horse. I knew she thought of me as one of “those kids” on “that horse.” And actually, I was. YEA. I WAS ONE OF THOSE KIDS ON THAT HORSE. So as she left the ring, I said out loud:

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I’m not sure she heard me, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Neil and I survived steep mountains and the raging river. We braved the dirt paths and Susan’s annoyingly sunny demeanor.We were a united force. We were one.

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And so my day of therapeutic horseback riding came to an end. I rode around the ring endlessly, somewhat enjoying the consistency of the circle. No hills, or waterways. Just dirt. It was all so…. unsurprising. Just how I like it.

And I learned that Neil may not have been the most impressive-looking creature, but he certainly had the confidence to carry me – having meltdown while clawing at his eyeballs – without flinching. I guess that’s why he’s a top-notch therapy horse. I’d bet ya that that other horse couldn’t do HALF of what Neil does.

-xoxo Kelly

By the way, here is a picture of the type of horse that Neil is. This isn’t him, but it looks just like him.

Good boy, Neil. Poop your way to victory.

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