I found myself at therapy early one morning with just Peter. Thinking I could make conversation about something we had in common, I asked, "You said you used to go camping. Where did you go? My husband and I camp."
"Oh, I cannot camp now I would never be able to get out and camp. My anxiety is just too much. I haven't been camping a long time."
"I'm sure one day you'll be camping again. But when you did camp, where did you camp?"
"I was so hungry last night and we ate late. Now I just feel bad." He pointed to his stomach, "It's like everything is sitting here."
"I woke up gagging this morning, just gagging. Do you wake up gagging in the morning?"
Before I could say anything John walked in and asked Peter how he was doing. Peter answered, "Not very well, we ate out late last night and it didn't suit me. Do you ever wake up gagging?"
"Can't say as I do?"
Margaret walked in and spoke, "Good morning everyone. How are y'all doing?" John and I both said "Great."
Peter started over again. "I feel like all my food is right here," pointing to his stomach. "We ate late last night and it did not suit me."
"I'm sorry", said Margaret. "Maybe you should eat earlier."
"I would, but Mama wanted to go late last night and now I feel sick. I woke up gagging this morning. Do you gag in the morning?"
I could tell this one threw Margaret, "Um, no. Maybe you should discuss this with your doctor."
"I did and he said it was just anxiety."
"Well, maybe you should have stayed home today."
"Oh, I wanted to. It was hard to get out of bed with all the gagging you know. But I had to come. Mama would be upset if I didn't."
John chimed in, "Didn't your doctor change your medication this week?"
"He did but they're all the same, I've taken so many."
"Well it may take some time for it to start working."
Just then Levi walked in, "How's everyone?" (In his outgoing voice) Before anyone could answer, Peter started, "We ate late last night . . .
On the bright side, I thought at least he didn't think everyone disliked him - yet. But the day was young.
Then the therapist walked in, "Peter, what is today?"
"I don't know." (I swear he reminded me of Eeyore.)
"Remember you and I discussed that today you would be positive all day? No 'Buts' ".
"Yeah, but we ate late last night and . . ."
The therapist interrupted him, "Nothing after the 'But' is ever positive."
Peter sat there with his head down. "I can't help it. Mama wanted to eat late last night and I feel sick."
"You are your own worst enemy. Start being positive. And not everyone dislikes you."
"Do you ever gag in the morning?"
"Peter! So far you have not uttered a positive word this morning."
"I know but I did not want to get out of bed, my stomach hurts, and . . ."
Olivia was sitting across the table from Peter. She was a prim and proper little lady, I guess in her late 60's or early 70's. In the time I had been there I had never heard her speak up unless spoken to and then it was in a quiet proper voice.
Suddenly she said in a fairly stern forceful voice, "Peter, I'll have no more of that nonsense. I have the same anxiety that you have, maybe worse, and the same depression." She leaned forward and started wagging her finger at him. "Oh I used to whine and complain, but finally this here group told me to get my stuff together. Ain't nutthin good come after a 'But'. You ARE your own worse enemy."
She glared at him. "And I'm tired of hearing 'bout your Mama, no disrespect, and the 'Oh woe is me'. If I have to come across this table and jerk a knot in you I will. Can't you see everyone here is trying to help you?"
Peter lowered his head and started to tear up. She slid a box of tissues across the table. "Gett'n better starts with you." She paused, "And for God's sake Peter, we all like you."
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