Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Microstory 1363: Escape

Psychotherapist: So, I see on your intake forms that you’re having suicidal thoughts. Is that true?
Suicidal Man: Yes, that’s why I’m here.
Psychotherapist: Have you experienced any treatment for these feelings before today?
Suicidal Man: I spoke with a counselor at the crisis hotline. They suggested I seek professional treatment.
Psychotherapist: Okay, well, they should have given you some more detailed information.
Suicidal Man: Maybe he did. Maybe I stopped listening, and just set up an appointment with you. Should I have gone somewhere else?
Psychotherapist: It depends on your condition. How serious are these thoughts? To phrase it better, how immediate is the threat?
Suicidal Man: I guess it’s not that immediate. So I should go somewhere else?
Psychotherapist: If it’s not immediate, then we can talk weekly, or we can set up a running appointment for twice a week, if you’re more comfortable with that. If you’re worried you might self-harm before then, we’ll need to get you some more intensive care.
Suicidal Man: No, I don’t want to kill myself. Believe me, if I really did, I would have done it already. I’m a pretty decisive person, so I guess that’s what’s really bothering me. I keep weighing my options, but I...I don’t wanna do it.
Psychotherapist: And you shouldn’t. You did the right thing, calling the helpline, and then contacting me. My recommendation for you would be weekly psychotherapy, which is my specialty. Today, I just want to get some background information, so I know how to proceed. It’s important that you don’t get discouraged, though. Since you bubbled in that question on your form, it’s my responsibility to look after you. If we set something up for next Wednesday, I expect you to be here. I don’t expect you to cancel, and I definitely can’t have you just not show up. You have to make sure you have the time to talk about this, because if you don’t, it probably won’t get better. Will you be able to do that? We don’t have to discuss the timing right now, but is your schedule flexible enough to allow an hour sometime next week? I don’t want to hear excuses later. Your mental health isn’t something you can just decide to give up on.
Suicidal Man: No, I can do it. My schedule is flexible enough. You won’t have to call 911 on me, or whatever. Like I said, I’m decisive, and I’m also reliable. That’s probably my problem. I’ve been so overwhelmed lately, because I hate letting people down. I know I can’t do everything, but I don’t know how to set boundaries. Suicide would really just be an escape for me. It would be easier than running off to live in a commune, or just quitting my job, or something like that.
Psychotherapist: It sounds like you might need a break, or—yeah, even maybe a different job. I don’t know what you do, but it doesn’t sound that crazy to me. All of those options that you mentioned are reversible. You could go live in the woods for twenty years, and still return to civilization. Suicide is not reversible.
Suicidal Man: Yeah, I know. That’s sound logic. Again, that’s why I’m here. I need someone to talk me out of it, and you’ve already kinda done that.
Psychotherapist: We’ve only just begun, though.
Suicidal Man: No, I get it. I just we can get to the real issues, because the suicidal thoughts themselves were only a result of those.
Psychotherapist: I’m glad you recognize that. It’s an important step. So, let’s begin. What is it you do for a living?

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