"Reason for coming" was one of the questions on the form. In my mind I didn't know how to fill it out, but I kept it simple and general.
"Social Anxiety and Panic Attacks: I get self-conscious about myself and I'll exhibit symptoms of sweating and feeling flush"
I'm greeted by a warm person. He shakes my hand and directs me to his room of "zen". I notice the view. The window allows a lot of natural light (even though it was gray and raining outside) in. It's a nice atmosphere, and way better then the waiting area.
The session begins. He has my papers that I filled out. He gives me back my insurance card. I talk about my insurance policy first, especially since that is what has consumed my mind in the last 16 hours. I told him that I found him through the insurance network directory. I told him that I'm not eligible for the Mental Health benefits and that I would be paying out of pocket. For some reason, and I didn't have to, I explained the whole deductible and out of pocket expense that I would have to accumulate before receiving any of the mental health office visit benefits. He was very understanding and said how crappy that was. He looked at me and asked if I needed to work something out. I wasn't expecting this, because his website said he didn't offer a sliding scale, but he said he can work with me. He can workout a plan, because he charges $XXX amount per session. That made me feel better, but I still questioned myself if I should be paying an $XXX amount for my own mental health.
Then it kind of dawns on me, whether it's metaphoric or not. Sometimes I can spend money on useless things, but I get uptight when it's spending money on my well being. It's as if I don't value my own health. I do value my own health, but I stress about what I'm worth or what value is too high or too low.
We get right into it. I explain my reason for coming and how it deals with my anxieties and panic attacks. I'm pretty comfortable. I'm talkative and explaining things and giving examples. I give him examples of sweat attacks and feeling flush. There was a funny moment. He said, "it's kind of like a hot flash for a woman?" and I said.. Yah, I mean I don't know what a hot flash is like for a woman, but it's a hot flash where I'll feel flush and I'll sweat.
I told him how I can feel the wave of panic and feeling flush at a certain moment, but after it happens and passes, I'm okay for the rest of the time. He described to me that it was definately a panic attack because it's a small spike and then drops off. I also told him about my anxities over the years and how it builds up for social events. He explained that I do have a social anxiety as it's a gradual incline and gradual decline. Which is true, because I can have anticipatory anxiety, a panic attack at it's peak, have a good time at a social event, but I'll still be bothered about the negatives.
He asked me if I did anything or was doing anything about my anxities. I told him about the "Overcoming Social Anxiety" handbook and audio by Dr. Thomas A. Richards. I told him I was familiar with realizing and recognizing Automatic Negative Thoughts. I knew about "distractions" but I tend to find it hard to do when I'm in a panic mode. I told him about how I'm able to turn thoughts around to manage anticipatory anxiety. He seemed impressed and told me more about CBT and how it involves a Triad Theory: Thoughts(Cognitive), Feelings (Behavioral/Emotions), Actions (Physical). He describe the belief that working on one of the triads will effect the other two. Example: Let's say we work on our Thoughts. If we are able to work on our thoughts and our thought process, it will effect how we feel and it will affect our actions. He also explored the idea of ... if we worked on Actions or the Physical symptoms (taking meds) that it could effect our thoughts and feelings.
He did bring that into consideration, but stating that he is not a Psychiatrist and could not administer any medication. That is something he'd have to workout with a Primary Care Physician (which I technically don't have). He asked me about my feeling towards medication. I told him I would like to avoid it, but that it could be an option if I felt like it. I told him him how I rather work things out on my own or think things out as opposed to being medicated for my symptoms.
There were moments I noticed tension in my body. I felt comfortable when I was talking and explaining things. However, I noticed my shoulders being tensed and that my hands would kind of grip each other until I would notice them. That would happen when he would talk and explain certain things. During the time he would talk, is when my mind would start to be self-aware and self-conscious of how I might appear. I also described those thoughts I have about that. He told me how common it is with the sweating and feeling panic, but acknowledged how horrible and uncomfortable it can be.
He wanted to know my schedule for next week. I told him of a few concerns as I might have a new job opportunity. He wanted to try some relaxation techniques and hypnotherapy with me. He also wanted to go over some CBT techniques as well. He urged me to continue with "Self-Talk" which is to reassure myself to "Be cool, you're okay, they're not looking at you" when dealing with ANTs.
I have a good impression of the Doctor, but the financial aspect of it stresses me out. I'm wondering if I'll have to dip into my savings account. I might have to, since it seems like he only takes cash or check. Then again, like he said, he can work with me on a payment. He's not set on his original price. He's willing to work something out, which I appreciate.