When Laughing Ain’t Good.
This week I had the first decent therapy session in months. The responsibility for the poor results of the past appointments was obviously not the therapists’, but mine – or better, my constant laughing.
First, around May, I started meeting my psychologist less and less often. Somehow, in spite of all the drinking and poor life decisions, I was convinced I was fine and didn’t need therapy as much anymore. As it turned out, I probably needed it more than ever, but strong in my belief I spent the whole sessions simply reporting the latest events of my life, since I was meeting my therapist so sporadically. In my attempt to make myself believe I was fine, I laughed at whatever story I told, and in the end I had no time to discuss what really mattered.
After that, I traveled to Brazil and my psychologist went on maternity leave. I fell into depression and seeked for help there, a thousand miles from home. I started meeting a psychologist three times a week (it was cheaper there and I was lucky enough to find a person whose priority actually was to do her best to help someone in need, no matter the financial reward she’d get out of it), and found a psychiatrist who prescribed me the same old drugs and kind of became a friend of mine.
As soon as the drugs gave me the clarity of mind – well, “clarity” might be an overstating, let’s just say they slightly lifted the darkness which didn’t even allow me to get up in the morning – to regain control of my facial muscles, I decided to start laughing, and except for rare moments of connection, I pretty much haven’t stopped until recently. And when you are laughing at every word you say, it ain’t exactly easy to look into your soul, is it?
The reason I’ve been laughing is more or less the same reason I haven’t been writing – either on the blog or in my book project: I get bored of myself. I tend to never write when I’ve got nothing to say, and I usually discuss topics that are pretty poignant to me, and yet I get this feeling that all that gets through to my readers is just empty words. I laugh to make problems lighter, not just for who is listening to me, but also for myself. Except the result is my feeling more disconnected from people around me than ever.
Even when talking to my therapist, half of my mind is constantly worrying about how much I’m probably boring the poor man, to the point I often lose track of what I’m saying. I can’t help but wonder how many people out there are so concerned about bothering their therapist. Didn’t the guy choose his job? I know everybody gets afraid of sounding too lame to others, but sometimes I ask myself if my perception might get a little too far.
I don’t want to be negative, and I don’t want to bore people, so I laugh, but in doing so I build a thick wall between me and the world. I push them away from my real self. That hurts in the form of a weight on my chest, a stab in my stomach, a black hole in my belly which numbs pain, but sucks all the joy in, too. One thing I’ve learnt is you can’t get the good if you shut out the bad. There’s only one door, only one switch.
That’s how a couple of weeks after coming back to Italy – once I realized I wouldn’t go back to Brazil any time soon – decided to meet a new therapist: laughing. I told him about the side effects of the meds I was on, the stressful situation I was drowning in and my petrifying fears, all laughing. When I got home, I felt drained. It was as though the goal of the session was not to take a step closer to myself and feel better, but to take a step farther and get one more person to like me.
This week, however, I finally managed to get real and open up. I would have never guessed it might be so hard to do that with a therapist – why do you even see a therapist if you don’t want to get in touch with yourself? I thought that’s what I had always wanted to do, and believed I was a pro at letting people in – even when I shouldn’t. I guess that solved the mystery of me feeling so lonely in a moment when I had the most active social life since my teens. It was an intense session, but I felt like I did some real work there.
On that same night, though, I went a little heavy on the wine while dancing my ass off at my friends’ gig, then went home with a major panic attack and spent the next day in my bed in depressive mode, feeling empty and pathetic. You know, to compensate.