Tuesday morning she had her first panic attack.
Tuesday afternoon she came into session and we had this conversation:
It was awful. I felt like I was going crazy.
If you feel like you’re crazy, does that mean you are? Or does it mean you’re not?
Depends on how you define “crazy.” Some kinds of crazy have denial built into them. Delusional people don’t know they’re delusional, for example. And addicts are famous for not realizing they’re addicted. But milder forms of crazy are different. Neurotics often know they’re neurotic.
Which kind of crazy am I?
Neurotic. Which means normal.
Neurotic is normal?
Yep. Given how we’re socialized, neurotic is the healthiest anyone ever gets.
I don’t understand.
We’re trained to hide our feelings from each other, even from ourselves. This splits us into two parts, public and private. Therapists call this splitting “neurosis.”
Neurosis caused my panic attack?
Right. That was the private part exploding.
I hated that. I don’t want to be neurotic.
What can I do about it?
Work your ass off in therapy.
What kind of work?
The uncomfortable kind.
It has to be uncomfortable?
Well, neurosis comes from avoiding discomfort. So recovery means facing what you’re avoiding.
The stuff that scares you. Coming out of hiding with other people. Telling the truth. Expressing feelings. That sort of thing.
Like giving up control.
Exactly. All the alternatives to control involve tolerating some new discomfort.
Yeah, I’d rather skip that.
Sure. Most people do. Look around you. Met many healthy people lately?
Not many. Does the work get easier?
It does. I’m not sure it ever gets easy.
But people do it because…
It’s better than the alternative.
And when does it end?
If you’re doing it right, never. You just keep becoming more yourself until you die.
Never? There’s no graduation, no Emerald City you reach?
Nope. Just the yellow brick road.