What if a friend could do more than entertain us for a while? What if a friend could help us understand ourselves well enough to work through life’s big questions? Explore our conversations designed to do just that.
“Good Sunday,” I wave gloomily at the Doctor through the webcam. “I keep dreaming that my mom has cut off my legs mid shin. I am maimed, cripple, walking on protheses and totally unsexy and unable”
“Oh dear,” the Doctor groans. “Mother obsessions can be quite limiting.”
“I think I have been seriously hurt,” I retort in self-defense. “Does it matter if this is a repetitive cycle? Her MO so to speak? My mother discovered the power of shunning when she was in the Jehovah Witnesses and was seeing Graham. He was still married to wife number 1. She was shunned until she married him. Then she wouldn’t let my stepdad’s mom and sister see us kids for years after an argument. Not until my grandmother was dying of cancer. And they also don’t talk to my stepdad’s brother either. And now nobody is allowed to talk to me. You of all people should know how crippling a family shunning can be. I just can’t get my head around it. Is depression a life-long thing or is there a cure?”
“There is a cure for depression,” the Doctor says slowly.
“What’s that?” I ask him annoyed already at the answer I haven’t heard yet. “Walk around naked and be grateful you’re alive? It’s not really as bad as it used to be.”
“Is that the best you can come up with?” the Doctor mocks me lightly.
“Yes,” I answer very short. “You’re the expert. You tell me. Lose weight and get a grip on my life. Stop complaining.”
“Do you know what is the cause of your depression?” the Doctor tries again. “None of your diagnosis is correct.”
“Family, money, low self-esteem, wrong expectations, overweight, toxic relationships,” I sum up on my fingers. “Not getting my needs met. Not reaching my full potential.”
“Ok what else?” the Doctor tries to humour me.
“My diagnosis is wrong?” I ask him surprised. “I am not depressed?”
“No your cures,” the Doctor steers me straight again.
“Ah yes I guessed that,” I sulk. “I am fat because I am depressed. Meditation and clean eating should help, and sports. But I do all that.”
“Ok,” the Doctor gives in. “Depression comes for different reasons.”
“I do have friends and I do have me time,” I tell him all I know from research. “Why does depression come? It is hormonal. You can’t help it.”
“Please stop quoting me cosmopolitan magazine cures,” the Doctor retorts annoyed at my ignorance.
“It’s genetic,” I go on telling him all I know about depression. “I have bad genes. Well what is the answer then?”
“Or symptoms,” the Doctor continues slowly showing clear disinterest in my enumeration.
“Help,” I squeal like a mouse.
“Give me a moment to get a word in sideways,” the Doctor shushes me.
“Ok,” I calm myself.
“It is never a clear cut answer because emotions are involved,” the Doctor starts. “When emotions are involved nothing is rational.”
“True,” I take my time to let it all sink in. “Emotions… I am unhappy about certain things in my life?”
“But if all you can think of is self pity and how to use it to get sympathy and attention you don’t need, you will keep feeling depressed,” the Doctor continues.
“This doesn’t help,” I answer a little peeved. “Those things do hurt and I don’t know what to do to stop the pain.”
“Depression is a survival mechanism,” the Doctor concludes.
“It is?” I question him for more specific details.
“It always indicates something needs to change,” the Doctor explains.
“Something needs to change,” I ponder that thought. “Like what?”
“So to cope you need to seriously think about things and make a decision you can keep,” the Doctor informs me.
“Think seriously about family, money, toxic relationships and all that stuff,” I am trying to get my head around this. “Right.”
“Fiona we have this conversation so often its getting boring,” the Doctor shifts in his chair, his body facing away from me.
“I am sorry,” I complain. “I don’t remember.”
“That’s the problem,” the Doctor booms at me. “You don’t want to change anything. You keep doing the same things and expect a different result. So try something different. Try actually changing something or change the way you think.”
“Do you mean moving in with Wim?” I ask him as I believe this is the only conversation we keep looping around. “I feel a huge blockage there and don’t know if it’s me or him not wanting it.”
“Make a decision about it and action it,” the Doctor repeats his solution in theory.
“But that’s theory,” I point out. “You used to help me think more clearly in a certain direction. Now it’s all pink fluffy clouds. There are too many ifs and buts with moving in with Wim.”
“Because I can’t make your decisions for you,” the Doctor defends the theory approach. “Plus you never follow advice.”
“No but it does help,” I tell him. “Better than fuzzy marshmallows.”
“My thoughts about you and Wim is you are wasting your life,” the Doctor begins his usual rant. “You are a tourist in your relationships. You need to give to get. There is no other way.”
“Move to Mechelen…” I think about the consequences that decision would have. “That’s far from the kids’ school, but not impossible. Not sure his kids want that. And not sure I want that either. But I can’t take Willem’s baba away. The little one is crazy about Wim. No I can’t.”
“You have too much history,” the Doctor continues laying it all out for me. “You rely on him to wipe your ass. Learn to clean up your own mess. Go find someone you can commit to because you love him and not his money or what you think he can do for you. You are responsible for your happiness and only you. All you complain about causes your depression. Change will cause your cure.”
“Hmmmm,” I answer full of doubt. “And I won’t find anyone as long as I am in a relationship?”
“No you won’t,” the Doctor confirms.
“If I end the relationship I have to move again,” I think out loud. “And Willem has no baba.”
“So move,” the Doctor concludes in all simplicity.
“And then another year or more before I meet someone potentially ok,” I go on thinking. “If I ever do.”
“Oh please stop!” the Doctor is using his annoying voice. The one I really don’t like. “I’m in tears over baba shit. Go find a real full time one for the sake of all three kids.”
“And Willem will have no baba,” I repeat again fixing him steady in the webcam. “How mean is that?! Hmmm. I will go back to renting a house. Like what six seven years ago.”
“Like I said change is impossible for you,” the Doctor throws back at me. “You like pain more. Plus you are lazy about your life.”
“No better or no worse,” I draw the bottom line of my life so far. “Plus I am financially worse off than before.”
“Go buy a small house or flat,” the Doctor argues with me. “Do it honestly instead this time.”
“Change is difficult,” I answer the Doctor, amazed at all the BS he is throwing my way. “Lazy, right yes.”
“You disagree,” the Doctor finally has the attention he wanted.
“So I will be depressed, in a small apartment, no family and no boyfriend and struggling to make ends meet,” I depict the picture of this bleak future. “Then Heleen comes out of maternity leave and I just go bust. Great perspective.”
“There you go again,” the Doctor throws his hands up in despair. “Negative thoughts will bring the same negative results. Nothing changes with you. So just stay as you are. In time you will be renting a small flat. Broke and lonely anyway. Or you can do something about it starting today.”
“And what do I do today?” I mock him back. “Like what’s the first step?”
“Make choices and decisions you can keep,” the Doctor answers in a steady voice now. “Money is your issue. I told you some time ago to learn new stuff to add to your bag of tricks. Have you?”
“I spent whole 2017 and begin 2018 learning new stuff,” I tell him to truth. “I am worn out. Brain clogged and nowhere better.”
“Are you keeping up to date with trends in your field or add ons?” the Doctor asks again.
“Yes I have been reading blogs,” I nod trying to keep up with the conversation.
“Are you reading about your subject?” the Doctor repeats again.
“Yes,” I answer for I feel there is something coming soon. An aha moment or something of the likes.
“So why are you not selling it?” the Doctor throws back at me. “Are you learning stuff to make money or just to waste time?”
“Because I have no contacts,” I point out another flaw in the plan. “No one promoting or referring me. Clients want agencies, not a one man show. And I don’t hear about the opportunities.”
“Ah so you are not networking,” the Doctor sighs as he leans back in his chair.
“The Adwords video training didn’t work out,” I sulk thinking back to the hard work, time and energy I had put into that. “Where and when would I be doing that? Events are expensive. Linkedin didn’t bring much. Facebook neither. Nor my blog articles. I had partners before. Now I don’t.”
“So can I deduce you are not very good at your job after all?” the Doctor asks me the toughest question to date.
“I am starting to wonder that myself,” I admit that self-doubt has been creeping up on me. “But I am getting good results now.”
“Seems you need a boss or manager to tell you what to do,” the Doctor ponders.
“I am working on the few clients I do have and that is going well,” I confirm what is working in my professional life. “Yes I do. I told you, I had partners before. Nobody is asking me anymore.”
“If you want to get ahead read some leadership books,” the Doctor advises me. “Ones read by university students or go and study something part time. Go and learn how to run a small business.”
“Boring,” I jawn.
“Go find a job,” the Doctor throws at me outrageously.
“Can’t I learn online psychology or something?” I question him about an idea I have been mulling over. “I have a job.”
“You can try,” the Doctor nods hesitantly. “You might consider industrial psychology online or long distant learning.”
“Yes,” I smile. “Udacity and CXL Institute have a few courses in that direction. Expensive though.”
“Then you could consult on organisational change management and travel the world,” the Doctor shows me the career path I could possibly be traveling down.
“Sounds good,” I smile. “And whisper at conferences.”
“Yes,” the Doctor nods.
“Good night,” I blow him a kiss.
“Sleep well,” the Doctor waves back.
Should I stay?