The waiting room!
Okay you decided you need help, good! Now depending on the type of help you receive you may become acquainted with a waiting room. Not all therapists are like Hannibal Lector and have one door in and another out so that clients never encounter each other. Some times, you have to meet other people.
If you are in public healthcare then you will come across some very strange people. Don’t let it put you off, you are perfectly safe, you just need to learn to make the best of your waiting. End of the day you have mental issues, emotional issues or mood issues, either way they all reside in the same place, the brain, ergo people with all these issues get lumped together in the same place.
I’ve met some downright nutters in these waiting rooms, I’ve met people that came across very aggressively, but they weren’t in fact aggressive. I’ve had people tell me way too much information about their issues. I’ve had schizo effective people tell me about Al Qaeda trying to hack their laptops the night before and how when I get upstairs to the doctor she’s going to electrocute me like she does to them.
I’ve seen people with such severe anxiety talk one hundred miles an hour, they shake constantly, they are twitching and fiddling constantly and can’t make eye contact. Some of these people have the exact same issue as you, they are just far more severe, there are others there far less severe than you.
These problems all run on a spectrum so try, even though it can be uncomfortable to be respectful of that. Many times you will not have a clue what someone else is in for, but sometimes it’s incredibly obvious, you may even be surprised that some of these people are considered sane enough to walk the same streets as you. But what you must learn is these people are unwell, just like you. They aren’t happy with themselves either, just as you feel you need work.
I have often felt ‘I don’t need to be here’ because I wasn’t as bad as the others around me, luckily my doctors and nurses recognised I did in fact need to be here and I needed more attention than others. So if you feel you aren’t bad enough to be there, don’t worry, you are, if you find yourself there, you need to be there. Don’t feel down, don’t feel ashamed. Be proud that you are affecting change.
And if you are the ‘nutter’ that freaks out others in the waiting room, fair shakes to you, you are forcing change and improvement in yourself! And don’t worry about making other people uncomfortable or if they judge you, you do you.
What we all must keep in mind when sitting in those waiting rooms is that we are all there because we have issues. Everyone on earth has issues, even the Dalai Lama, even the Pope, even Jesus Christ had issues. But when in a mental health clinic keep in mind that those issues can be considered on steroids.
They are worse and more noticeable than the people on the street walking by, that’s why you are all there. And that’s okay. But we all must respect one another and be accepting that we are all flawed and we all have issues to deal with. So if you’re chatty but the person beside you isn’t responding, leave them alone. Be kind, but give them space.
If you’re the quiet one and the chatty person is making you uncomfortable don’t snap at them, be kind, talking may be their coping mechanism. Tell them you really don’t feel like talking if they wouldn’t mind leaving you alone. It’s kind and firm. If it upsets them, it’s for them and their therapist to work on.
Waiting rooms are rubbish, being surrounded by other people can be difficult but stay strong and just accept it as an uncomfortable part of therapy, but remember it’s also part of your therapy. Whatever issue you have I can guarantee you will learn something by being in those waiting rooms.