How to Quit Therapy

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My preparation
starts about 12-24 hours in advance. I’m going to pitch a story
idea. The worst thing that has happened to me this past week. The
thing that I feel the most DOWN about. Dig deep. What happened?
Who? Where? How? Why am I so upset?

No. Deeper.
There has to be real pain there. BLEED.

I go into my
mental treasure chest for this sort of thing: (Did Claudia do something?
Did my kids? Family members? Friends? Am I too anxious about blog
statistics? Bank account? Did someone rob me, screw me, punch me,
or worse yet, insult me) I need to script it out, play it back and
prepare prepare prepare like I’m pitching a movie. Then I pitch.

To my therapist.

When I get
sick, I go to the doctor, then pay for the appointment. Then, in
most cases, I never have to go back. That happened last week when
I thought I
was going deaf
. Went once and now I can hear again. My ear shat
out two inches of wax. Problem solved. Or was the problem solved?
Now I have to pay attention to everyone. Maybe I was secretly avoiding
going to the doctor so I could ignore everyone. Hmmm? Is this my
movie of the week?

Therapy is
different. You pay the same amount you pay a doctor. But then you
go back next week. Then the week after that. Forever. There’s
no cure for your brain. Original sin requires therapy every week.
Being born means your brain is ill.

The worst are
the people who have gone for twenty years. You can’t step in
front of them without “crossing boundaries” or “projecting”
or worse yet, if you use the pronoun “I” then you have
watch out for accusations of “classic narcissism” or “borderline
personality”. I’ve been accused of all of these. By the
way, it’s the people who know you the best who have the DSM-IV
ready in hand to diagnose you.

I threw a party
once where I wrote some software beforehand so that invitees could
answer questions and then get their DSM-IV diagnosis. Then at the
party I hung up on the wall everyone’s diagnosis. Most people
were Schizoid Affective Disorder. Some people were simply psychotic.
Other people were just depressed and then were embarassed to see
their names on the wall.

I have no reason
to bash therapy. I like it. I like talking to someone about my problems.
But, you don’t really need to do it. Someone asked me yesterday
during the Twitter Q&A I hold every Thursday what do I do
when I am feeling down?

Sometimes I
am feeling way down: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008. Other
times I am only feeling mildly down (every week at least once).
Sometimes I’m on the floor (2007, 2000, 1991, 1978). Sometimes
I lose $10 million. Sometimes I fail at a business. Sometimes I
fail at a relationship. Or sometimes I’m just upset someone
hates me.

But before
you sign up for therapy try one of the below things. or all of them.
Basically, there are four categories below: things to get off the
floor, ideas to get you happier, ideas to take the next step forward,
ideas to handle the worst case scenario.

Don’t
listen to any of these items if you don’t want. But this is
what has worked for me when I’ve been feeling down. Some of
these are obvious. They are the things you see on every “10
things to do to be happy” blog on the Internet. But they help.
Other items are ones that have worked for me. Don’t believe
them if you don’t want. But try and see.

Exercise.
Exercise kicks in those endorphins. You feel better, you look
better, you’re too tired for the mind to be overly active.
You get rid of bad toxins when you sweat. Everything is good about
exercise.

Gratitude.
Take out a pad, get a cup of coffee. Try to list 30 things you
are grateful for. It’s hard! Try it! But if you have that many
things you are grateful for it also puts in perspective the things
you are down about.

Positive
people.
I call people who will help me to feel good about myself.
Now, this seems like a copout. Shouldn’t you just feel good
internally? Sure. But that’s hard! Good to be around people
who don’t insult you, who say good things about you, who make
you laugh, who inspire you. When you are down, make a checklist
of the kind of people who will be ALLOWED to be around you. And
only let those people in. This is the great thing about social media.
You aren’t limited anymore to just the people who live on your
block. Or your family. You’re only limited by the 800mm people
who have signed onto Facebook.

Paint.
I have some watercolors. I have a pad with big paper. Paint something.
I am not a good painter at all. I make a square and some triangles
and call it a house. But it’s oddly refreshing when I paint.
Creativity triggers neurons that shut down the neurons that make
you sad. I just made that up. But it seems correct when I think
about how I feel while I’m painting. In the fall of 2008, when
both the economy and my marriage were falling apart I went to a
museum every day and sat in the bookstore and read books about art.
I don’t know why I felt the need to do it. I just did it. And
it felt good. Then I would go home and sleep in a hammock. Hammocks
are fun.

Shake it
up.
About a year or so ago I was having a bad day in the stock
market. I was having a bad day for other reasons as well. Near my
house there’s a little island with a little beach and you can
swim in the Hudson River. So, for the first time in 5 years, I went
swimming. It felt good! Do something you don’t normally do.
List 5 things you can do that you don’t normally do.

Sleep.
Sleeping is the #2 funnest thing you can do in the world. (Sex being
first but that’s so obvious I’m not going to even put
it on this list). The key, if you are feeling down, is to sleep
solidly for more than eight hours. Do whatever you have to do to
sleep more than eight hours. Take herbal remedies. Go to a doctor
and get medication for sleep (usually addictive but worry about
that later). The key is to sleep. The less you sleep the more anxious
you are. There’s a billion studies on this. Sleep rejuvenates
you, lowers stress, incites creativity, and in general gives you
greater peace of mind.

Laugh.
Here’s what I’ve been doing lately when I’m down.
Watching the BBC show Peep
Show
(second only to Arrested
Development
in getting me to laugh), watching the Louis
CK special that he is selling on his site. About to buy the Aziz
Ansuri special that he’s selling on his website. Watching old
episodes of Jon Stewart on YouTube. Watching any good standup I
can find on YouTube. Lately I’ve been re-reading Happy
Endings
by comedian Jim Norton (See, “How
to Become a Comedian
” where I write about Norton). Laughter
reduces blood pressure and reduces two stress-causing hormones:
cortisol and adrenaline.

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the rest of the article

March
26, 2012

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