Prompt: Write about something presently in your life that is “worth it.”
Ryan sat in the waiting room. His stomach was in knots. He was knew to the new therapy thing, but with so much stuff going on in his life it was either this or have a nervous breakdown. His friend had convinced him to come but he still wasn’t sure. He checked the clock again. There was a clock on the wall he kept checking as well as the clock on his phone. Back and forth he looked at the one on the wall. He’d wait. Then he’d check his phone. 15 minutes till his appointment. 12 minutes till his appointment. 10 minutes. 9 minutes. 8 minutes. 5. 4. 3. 2.
“Ryan?” The receptionist asked.
He was the only person there sitting in the waiting room.
“That’s me,” Ryan said standing up. He rubbed his sweaty hands on his jeans.
“The doctor will see you know,” she gestured to the hallway next to her desk. “First door on the left.”
“Thanks,” Ryan said. He looked up at the clock one more time. He really wanted to tell the receptionist no thanks and just leave. On the other hand, a nervous breakdown was not something to look forward to.
He looked up at the receptionist and tried to give her a smile. “Thanks,” he said again.
He walked down the hallway and waited outside the door. It read Dr. Cynthia Kyle. A psychologist or psychiatrist or something. Ryan wasn’t too informed on the difference between the two, he just knew she was a therapist. She was there to help. Maybe. He wasn’t sure of that last point.
He wiped his sweaty hands again and took a deep breathe. He opened the door.
It kind of looked like what he thought it would like. It reminded him of the therapist offices he’d seen in movies or TV shows before. It was a smallish office. There was a red couch which he assumed he would sit on or lay down on. No definitely sit down on. Facing the couch was two chairs and there was a coffee table in-between. There were bookshelves around the room full of books and a nice big window on one end of the room. Normally that would let in light but today it was cloudy and dark outside. In the chair closest to the window sat a woman.
She turned looking up from her clipboard.
“Hello,” She said with a smile. “You must be Ryan.”
“Yeah,” Ryan said.
“Come sit down and we can get started,” She said gesturing to the red couch.
Ryan stood in the doorway for a little while. He pondered his options. Was it too late to leave?
Dr. Kyle kind of turned her head like Ryan had seen dogs do when they get confused about something, “Anything the matter, Ryan?”
“Look, I’m not really comfortable with this whole sitting on a couch thing and talking about my mother or if I had trouble holding my bladder when I slept so I think I’m just going to go and you don’t have to worry about talking to me,” Ryan said turning to leave.
“Wait, Ryan,” Dr. Kyle said. Ryan stopped and looked back at her. “We don’t have to talk about any of that. If you’re not comfortable with the couch, you can sit in a chair, or stand, or sit on the floor. I know opening up can be scary, but we can work into it slowly.”
Ryan still wasn’t convinced but he took a deep breath and entered the room, “Actually the couch looks comfy.”
Ryan sat down on the couch and stared at his feet.
“So what brings you here, Ryan?” Dr. Kyle asked.
“I…I don’t know. My friend recommended I come here because I was stressed.”
“Well it seems like you have a smart friend,” Dr. Kyle said. “Well why don’t you talk about what’s stressing you in life.”
Dr. Kyle picked up her clipboard and her pen.
“Can we not do the clipboard and writing down notes thing?” Ryan asked.
“Yeah of course,” Dr. Kyle set down her stuff on the coffee table. “Just talk to me like you are talking to your friend about your life.”
“Ok, yeah. Well I’ve recently quit my job. I was working at a pizza chain delivering pizza while trying to go to community college. I’m getting a degree in computer science. I taught myself to code when I was younger and I’ve been trying to get a job as a programmer but nothing is really come up. I’m attending classes trying to broaden my skills and make myself more marketable.”
“And how’s money for you?”
“It’s pretty tight. My parents threw me out when I turned 18 and I’ve been living with my friend who recommended you for the past 2 years.”
“Ok. And how’s classes going for you?”
“Fine. Kind of boring but business care about skills as well as certificates so hopefully after a few more classes I’ll find something full time.”
“So not having a job creates stress in your life?”
Ryan sat there for a few seconds. He stared down at his shoes, not speaking.
“Ryan? If you don’t want to talk about employment, we can talk about something else. Why don’t you tell me about your friend and his family?”
Ryan continued to sit there trying to keep his breathing calm. He wiped his hands on his pants.
“Don’t you have other people who need your help?” Ryan asked. His voice low.
“Other people. Other patients. You talk with a lot of people every day, right?”
“Yeah I have other patients, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help you, Ryan. You’re –“
“I think you should go ahead and focus on them. They are worth your time and your efforts.”
“Are you saying, you’re not worth my time?” Dr. Kyle asked.
“I…I just don’t want to do this. I don’t want to talk to you like you’re my friend who wants to help. I don’t want to sit on this couch. I don’t want to talk about my life. I’m not worth it. My life isn’t worth it.” Ryan stood up and proceeded to head to the door. He didn’t listen to Dr. Kyle’s pleas for him to stay and talk about it.
He waked past the receptionist’s desk and out of the office he went.
Dr. Kyle sat down at her desk and picked up the office phone. She dialed the number for Ryan that he had written down on the form at the front desk. She held the phone up to her ear and all she heard was a voicemail message. His phone must be dead or turned off. She tried again but the voicemail again.
She gave a sigh as she made some notes about Ryan to be added to his file. She had heard the same thing a lot. People always thinking that they aren’t worth the trouble or the effort. That they weren’t worth fixing. A lot of people looked at the world and thought that the world’s troubles were so much greater than theirs and they were merely complaining about nothing. Just because some people have it worse off than you, doesn’t mean your problems aren’t important and aren’t worth fixing. Of course there were people on the other side of the spectrum to who thought they were the center of the world and just wanted someone to help spread their message of self-centeredness. Those people were hard to convince as well. Sometimes we have to focus on others and sometimes we have to focus on making ourselves better.
The receptionist popped her head in. “Dr. Kyle, Mrs. Sanchez and her son Rubio are here for their appointment. I know they are early, but I thought I’d let you know.”
“Thanks, let them know I’ll be about five minutes.”
“Ok.” She left and headed back to the receptionist desk.
Dr. Kyle looked back down at her notes. She thought that people like Ryan were worth it. Smart, young individuals who are sometimes too selfless. People who don’t seek help for their own conditions and let their mental health decline because they are too focused on the world around them. Ryan sounded like someone who cared, but didn’t know how to tackle his own issues. He wanted help but wasn’t sure how to seek it. Tough choices were ahead for him, but maybe things would work out. Or maybe she would find him in her office next week apologizing for the outburst. She didn’t know. But wherever he was, she hoped he was opening up instead of internalizing his feelings. There are too many people out there who become self-destructive when the feelings inside them aren’t able to escape.
She tried to shake it off. She had many negative experiences with patients she tried to help and many positive ones to. Like Mrs. Sanchez for example. She is going through a divorce and wants to make sure Rubio can handle the situation of his parents breaking up. Mrs. Sanchez didn’t give her son enough credit. The kid was smart and probably knew it was going to happen before Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez did. He was a creative and outgoing kid who could adapt easily to new situations. It was Mrs. Sanchez who needed the help adjusting and Dr. Kyle thought that Mrs. Sanchez only brought Rubio to therapy because it made her feel better, not Rubio.
Dr. Kyle walked out and met with the Sanchezes. “Come back and we can start our session for today.”
It was customary for Mrs. Sanchez to be present for the first 10 minutes, then the next 20 minutes was just Rubio and Dr. Kyle talking about this week’s events, or videogames, or sports, or whatever Rubio wanted to talk about.
Mrs. Sanchez entered the room first, then Rubio, and then Dr. Kyle. She then proceeded to close the door behind her.