The Knock at the Door

I haven’t felt such anxiety in a very long time.

I was shaking.

The knock at the door might as well have been a gunshot. It triggered an even deeper anxiety.

I buried my head in my hands. I spent almost the whole appointment like this, crying, hyperventilating or shaking. I looked up on occasion to read her face. To make sure she wasn’t disgusted with what she was hearing.

“Hey sweetie. What’s going on?”

“I… I… “

“Is everything OK?”

“No. It’s not OK.”

“OK, tell me what’s going on.”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“Do what?”

“Tell you what has been going on. The only reason I’m here is because it kept my counselor from putting me in the hospital.”

“Was she afraid you were going to hurt yourself?


“Did you want to?”


“Did you have a plan?”

“Yes. I had to leave work Friday because things had gotten so bad so fast. I don’t know why this is happening again.”

“When did you start feeling this way?”

“It started getting worse on Wednesday.”

“Was there something specific that triggered it?

“Surgery. When I found out in March that I was going to need surgery, it was a blessing. It gave me the chance to stop focusing on what I was doing in counseling and focus on that instead. Then when surgery was over I just didn’t want to go back to all that hard work. Before all of this things were getting better and now I feel like I’m slipping back to where I was 18 months ago. The panic attacks have come back, I’ve been having nightmares and these awful things that feel like dreams that I cannot wake up from, but I’m awake during them. I just want it to stop.”

“Hun, we need to see about getting you some more help. You aren’t safe this way. This is eating you up. I can see it right in front of me. Your body can't handle much more of this.”

“No. I don’t want any more help. I’m already going to counseling. That’s enough. I’m not going to the hospital. I won’t do anything else.”

“What does your counselor say?”

“She wants me to take medication. But I don’t want to do that. I just can’t.”

“Why can’t you? It will make you feel better. I know you can’t see it now, but anything you can do to help yourself feel better is going to be worth it.”

“I don’t want to have to rely on medication. I took Lexapro last year when this happened the first time and it worked fine, I guess. It made me very numb. Everything was always fine. No emotions. It made it harder for me to focus on the work I needed to in counseling because I wasn’t able to feel as much. I saw a psychiatrist once and it was awful. I won’t do that again.”

“What was awful?”

“I don’t know this person. I don’t trust them. I’ve been coming to you for over 4 years and haven’t ever been able to tell you what’s happened. I’ve tried before, but I just couldn’t do it.”

“Why can’t you?”

“Because it’s too awful. I don’t want people to know.”

“Sweetie, you need to tell me what happened. I’ve heard everything. I promise it is not going to surprise or shock me. I’m here to help you. That’s my job is to take care of you. You can trust me.”

“After my grandpa died something inside of me “snapped”. I just couldn’t hide anymore.”

“What were you trying to hide from?”

“My childhood.”

“It’s OK. You can tell me what happened.”

(insert sobbing, shaking, hideous quiet here)

“My dad’s friend sexually abused me.”

“How long did this go on?”

“I was 13. He was living with my dad after my parents divorced. I told my parents what he did to me.”

“What happened to him?”

“He didn’t go to jail. I just couldn’t testify against him. He got probation. But after that my parents pretended it didn’t happen. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it.”

“So you never got any support or counseling afterwards?”


“Honey, I am so sorry that happened. So you said this was first triggered by your grandfather’s death? That is very common. I’ve seen it quite a bit with a few of my other patients. It’s not surprising that the surgery triggered this again for you. Your body has been through a lot lately. Please, will you let me help you?”

“Help how? I don’t want to be put on medication. I don’t want to rely on that for the rest of my life.”

“No. Not for the rest of your life. Lots of people come off of their medication. We just need to get you better now. You can’t stay in the state you are at. I can see how much this is eating away at you. I won’t let it do that. Will you let me prescribe you something just to help you through this? I promise it’ll be so small you probably won’t even notice you’re taking anything. Will you do that for me?”

(defeated nod)

“Just promise me that you’ll take it for the next two weeks. I want to see you back here then and we’ll talk again. Seriously. I’m going to hunt you down in two weeks. (laugh) We’ll get you past this. Things will go back to how they were before. I promise I’ll get you there.”

All in all, my doctor spent almost 30 minutes with me. I couldn’t have asked for this appointment to go any better. Every time I got the courage to look up at her, I was met with a face that showed concern, caring and sympathy. I couldn’t have confided in her if she wasn’t someone who had those qualities. Part of me is glad she knows now, because she’ll really be able to understand the stressors in my life and how it affects my overall health. The other part of me wishes she still didn’t know. It already feels like this has taken over my entire life. Having another person monitor me feels like more pressure.

I left her office in a complete daze. I’m surprised I could remember so much of this appointment. Normally when I am this ramped up, I don’t remember what happened. My anxiety right now is maxed out. I’m sluggish, but yet my body is one door slam away from jumping out of its skin. I just want this to go away. I have to go back to work tomorrow and it’d be nice if I don’t feel so worn down. Counseling is going to do enough of that.

I sent A an email on Saturday pleading with her to understand why I broke one of the parameters of the contract she put together for me (cutting). I didn’t want to sign it because I didn’t think I could live up to that part. I also didn’t feel I had a choice. It was either sign her contract or go to the hospital. And I wasn’t about to do the latter. I don’t know what type of reply I was expecting back from her, but I ended up lashing out at her. I was so frustrated with her, with myself, with this entire god-forsaken situation that instead of appreciating the one person who is there to help me, I took it out on her. And now I have to face her Tuesday. Fantastic. Someone tell me how a little pill is supposed to help with that.


Paula said...
May 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Lily, I am at loss for words as I cant relate to cutting. I know that after struggling for freaking 10 years I accepted anti depressants at the bin of this year for a bit. it helped me through. Now I have become a strong believer of madeication. If I need medication for anythign else I would take it NOW I am ready to self care with anti depressants as well. Was a HUGE step for me.Yet Iam glad that I have done so! I believe we can overcome so many things, yet I do believe to that there might be some remains which will give us hick ups. Yet I believe over the time I will learn to hold on to my tools much more and are able to rely upon them. I always say my triggers are my treasures because the show me where to look closer. It is easier said than done. Yet we are not only the marble we work with but the sculptor too. You are wonderful and I am happy that you voiced what happenend. NOW YOU HAVE A VOICE. Use it well. Love from my heart to yours.
Wellies, I have learned are rubber boots!

Anonymous said...
May 17, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Hi Lily,
I'm am so happy that you have supportive people around you that you feel safe with. I am here listening and supporting you. (((Lily))

Blessings and hugs,

Grace said...
May 17, 2010 at 8:10 PM

Sweet Lily, I'm so glad you were able to give your pain words! What a tribute to your strength...I can understand why it felt like the 'unsayable' when you were not "allowed" to talk about what happened for so long...I have my own thoughts about meds - I do take them...but am honestly not sure how much they help with the pain (clearly!)...
I think A will understand about the cutting relapse. When I relapse and cut my T says, "I know you're doing the best you can and just couldn't see another option." You are doing the best you can...
(((LILY))) We will stay behind the 8-ball!
Sending you understanding of your pain... ~ Grace

Anonymous said...
May 17, 2010 at 10:19 PM


Antidep. saved my life 8 years ago after a traumatic divorce and an unplanned pregnancy. I'm still on them today. Life is too special to spend mine living in that 'black hole'.
Please take one moment at a time. You can do it.

Just Be Real said...
May 18, 2010 at 5:29 AM

Dear one I am so very sorry for your recent trigger. My heart cries out with you during your suffering. The only meds I ever were on were for depression a few years back. Although my journey these past couple of years has been rough at times, I have opted to go without. That is just me.

Dear one, always here listening. You are such an encourager despite your own pain, and I thank you for that, truly!!


Marj aka Thriver said...
May 18, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Oh, (((((((((((Lily)))))))))) I'm so sorry. I'm glad you got some support, but I'm so sorry things got so bad first.

Thanks for having the courage to share this here. I'm so sorry you weren't allowed to ever talk about your sexual abuse and your parents didn't get you any help or anyone to talk to about it. I so often wonder how many of us would have had lives so different if we would have gotten some of the help we so desperately needed when we were still young.

I know it hurts. I know it's hard. But, I also know it does get better. I know it's hard to believe that right now. I care. Please stay here with us. You mean so much to so many. You deserve to heal. You are precious. You are loved.

Harriet said...
May 19, 2010 at 8:48 PM

I'm so glad that you were able to talk to someone supportive and understanding. I have my own issues with meds that I won't mention here, everyone needs to decide what is best for them. I like that she gave a time limit for them and then you can re-evaluate. That is a good option, in my opinion.