12 Oct 07

Psychotherapy with Dr. T. (5)

“I’m comin’ out of my cage
An' I’m doin’ just fine”
- Killers "Mr. Brightside"

“To live, to err, to fail, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.”
- James Joyce A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“You look happy,” Dr. T. said.
“Yes,” I said, beaming with excitement.
“My release was finally processed last week. I should be leaving here next month. Do you have any advice for me when I get out?”
“Get some therapy set up.”
“We have the National Health Service in the UK, I’ll see if I can continue therapy with them."
“And look how revved up you are right now. Your enthusiasm is worrying me. You need to slow down, pull yourself back. Don’t allow yourself to ascend up into the clouds.”
“But I’m so close to getting out. I’m sincerely happy to be alive.”
“But when you get overwrought like this you’re apt to making stupid decisions. There’s enthusiasm, and there’s giddiness, and you’re almost giddy.”
“Feeling happy hypomanic is one of the best feelings in the world.”
“I have two dogs at home and one of them nearly got herself euthanised.”
“Why was that?”
“Because she was bounding around with over-excitement, jumping up on people and grabbing their arms with her forelegs. That’s how your excitement is coming across right now. Your emotional side has taken over. The rational side needs to be running the show. If the rational part is in control then you’ll stop and think before you make decisions. You’ll ask yourself: does this make sense? Does this lead to trouble? What is the downside?”
“As far as the bigger picture is concerned, I feel that my prison experience has enabled me to do that.”
“Then you should be able to stay out of trouble and not end up back in prison.”
“I’ve got a plan for when I get out. I’m determined to live the disciplined life it requires. When I came to the U.S. I worked long hours on the phone as a stockbroker, and now I intend to make a similar commitment to becoming a writer.”
“So what’s this plan you have?”
“To maintain a strict writing discipline. To write daily, and not to be swayed by the pleasures of my past. I recently read a Solzhenitsyn biography, and he wrote for so many hours a day, not allowing any interruptions. And the odds against him succeeding were overwhelming. If he could get out of the Gulag and accomplish so much by maintaining such a discipline, then I’m ready to take on the world.”
“Take on the world! There you go again. Why do you feel the need to take on the world?”
“That’s just the way I am.”
“But isn’t that what got you into trouble in the past?”
“I have this manic energy, and in the past I got into trouble because I used it in a negative way, that ended up with me being sent to jail. But if I use the energy in a positive way, I can do well and avoid trouble. That’s my goal. I was way too immature before. I feel that my experience has tempered me somewhat, although I recognise I am still immature in certain ways. I’ve tried to eliminate those immaturities that led me to prison, while maintaining a spontaneous spirit, in the sense of how Jung recommended we try to harness the energy of our inner child.”
“But when you’re too spontaneous, consequences suddenly arise that you hadn’t thought about.”
“That’s been the story of my life, and the hardest lesson for me to learn. When I say I’m ready to take on the world, I mean I’m excited to pursue the plan I’ve formulated to achieve my long-term goals. When I think how close I am to employing everything I’ve learned while in prison to the purpose of succeeding in the outside world, I’m thrilled.”
“Well don’t get so thrilled that you’re like my dog jumping up on a visitor with a look that says, ‘Let me chew on your arm, please.’” Dr. T. held up her hand, pressed her forefinger to her thumb, and said, “I’m telling you, she was this close to getting euthanised.” Her emphatic voice and widening eyes seemed to suggest that I too could end up euthanised if I didn’t temper my excitement.
“I’m not averse to chewing on someone's arm.”
Dr. T. laughed. “Well, I truly wish you luck out there.”
“And thank you for all of the sessions. I’m going to be all right on the outside.”
“As you’re pursuing these grand plans of yours don’t forget to pull yourself back from time to time and to ask yourself whether what you’re doing is going to lead to trouble.”
“I certainly will!”
“Good luck then.”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Don’t allow yourself to ascend up into the clouds.' I remember when one of the American presidential candidates said 'Whoo Ha' or something to that effect, while on his campaign trail. The story and video clip was played on every major news outlet for days and he had to drop out of the race for showing too much excitement. I was recently terminated from a 2 day job as a doctor for extreme enthusiasm. It was in a psych hospital. They accused me of possibly being bipolar. Jeez Louise. I had just had a break through in my understanding of how to perfect the craft of writing and was filled with exuberance. I can only imagine, after reading many of your posts and your interpretations of your journey, how elated you must be to have found yourself and discovered your calling as a writer. America is a sick, sick country and uses therapists to keep it sick. Condemnation of artists and a lack of perspicacity for joy is typical and it's getting worse. I wish you the best in your journey and congratulations on your release.