“Work a day and you might say, it’s the dumbest job you know, but that ain’t fair, there’s folks out there who hate the row they hoe…”
I didn’t hate writing songs. I LOVED writing songs. I loved performing, I loved meeting new people, hell, I even loved driving and loading in gear. Eventually I grew to dislike the competition, and the pandering to commercialism, and the schmoozing, and all the really late nights, but even that wasn’t enough to make to make me break up with the music business. No, what finally did it was the telephone.
I HATE THE PHONE. I have an almost phobic aversion to talking to anyone but my closest friends on the telephone. I know Jesus loves me because someone invented text messages and email.
When it eventually became clear that a profitable career as a singer songwriter involved 10% writing and performing and 90% whoring yourself out ON THE PHONE, I quit. I’ve never looked back. Regular writing is much more my speed. You just sit in your little room and if you have to communicate with the real world, you send a note, or an email, after all, that’s what writers do – write. I’m not sure writers even need a voice box, or a pair of pants without an elastic waistband.
Over the years I’ve become a little better about things like making doctor’s appointments for my children, but I still dream of the day when even that can be handled by Internet.
Besides necessitating a career change, there was another time when my phone phobia put me in an awkward position.
Over the course of four months in 2012, I had premature twins and lost my mother. I knew I was going to need some professional help. I am a big fan of professional help. But where to find it? I hadn’t had a therapist in years.
Why, I ask is it So.Freaking.Hard to find mental health support? It seems particularly unfair that at a time when you really need things to be easy, a time when you are already sinking under the weight of difficulty, you’re forced to jump through a billion hoops just to get a little relief.
First of all, there’s the problem of selecting someone, a stranger yet, with whom you will share your most vulnerable self. What do you have to help with this selection? A list of names, all followed by indecipherable letters. It seems like they could include a snippet of their most embarrassing moment or something to give you some idea of who you are dealing with. Instead, you’re stuck making your decision based on things like, “Silas, I always liked the name Silas, lets put him on the list.”
Once you’ve got a list of contenders, there’s the insurance to muddle through. After you’ve eliminated all of your first choices, because of course, they don’t accept insurance, and gone back to the list of indecipherable letters, (Mandy, no. Mandy was such a bitch in high school, let’s try Agatha) you might get lucky and find someone who takes your health care plan. But of course, she can’t see you until sometime next spring.
The whole freaking time YOU ARE ON THE PHONE.
Nope. In 2012, that was just more than I could do. So, instead I did what all totally neurotic, desperate people do: I asked someone else to do it for me.
My friend Melissa spent days perusing lists in Psychology Today, making calls, researching insurance. Eventually she whittled the list down to three candidates, who she then interviewed over the telephone. The conversations went something like this:
Hi, my name is Melissa, and I have this friend who really needs some help…
She presented me with her findings over lunch at Marche one day, and I made an appointment with the one that sounded best, Carol. Via email, of course.
My first appointment with Carol was enlightening.
For her especially.
She seemed surprised that I was NOT the person she’d talked to on the phone. I’m certain Melissa had been clear, but perhaps, “I have this friend,” is something therapists hear regularly. So after we got that cleared up and sat staring at each other for a moment or so, Carol says, “You know, this may be a good place to begin. What can you tell me about how you came to see me?”
I said what seemed most true. What still seems true.
I really am that crazy. And I have very good friends.