I play a game called “guess the crazy” as I sit in my shrink’s waiting room every Wednesday.
My appointment is at 1:00, every week. And she comes to get me at 1:05, every week. She takes lunch at 12:30 and I’ve gathered that her last few bites of pastrami sandwich take precedence over the first 5 minutes of my appointment, every week. Since I started coming ten weeks ago, that sandwich has cheated me out of 50 minutes, which may just be the 50 minutes I needed to figure out whatever the hell is wrong with me. But it doesn’t matter.
“Guess the Crazy” might be more interesting than emotional detachment issues anyway.
I assume others play this game as well. We all pay our dues in the warmly lit waiting room before each appointment, so the natural thought progression is to wonder why the others are here. Not that we are the type of breed to follow a natural thought progression, but still.
As I enter the office each week, I hope people assume it’s my first time. I try to walk with an unnatural pace as to suggest a nervousness that might not reveal how comfortable I’ve become with this place. I tell the lady at the check-in desk my full name, even though she knows it.
I walk back to the appointment room as my name is called with the air of a “first-timer.” Typically first timers are the easiest to spot, which, consequently, makes their temperament the easiest to imitate. It’s the way they carry that I-don’t-really-need-to-be-here look that gives them away. “Yeah, well, we didn’t think so either,” I want to say. Instead I just copy them.
And of course, at all times I avoid eye contact with those already in the waiting room. It’s the unwritten rule of the shrink’s office: do not look at anyone else. Until, of course, they are not looking at you. In which case you may look at them and assign the appropriate diagnosis based on their disposition. Hence, “Guess the Crazy.”
The only downside to the game is knowing that everyone else is playing it, too. I have a constant fear of what people might guess of me. I try not to look bi-polar or schizophrenic. Refrain from unwarranted outbursts. Do not respond to voices that others don’t hear. They’re typically the easiest disorders to avoid.
I wish people would assume it’s an eating disorder that brought me in. But I know they don’t. I can wear “slimming” black clothes all day but, as Shakira once said, my hips don’t lie. So that’s out.
I think I probably look like the anxiety type. That’s kind of the catch-all for the people that are hard to diagnose. Both, I think, for this game and for the shrinks. If you’ve got issues and the professionals can’t find a name for it…its anxiety. If you don’t fit the profile for any other characters in this game…its anxiety.
But I wish I didn’t look like that. I hate to be so unoriginal.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just told those in the waiting room my diagnosis as I walked in. Partly, to say it out loud because apparently that’s part of the “healing process.” Mostly, just to ruin their game.
“It’s emotional detachment, not anxiety, but nice try.”
Or I could wait until I leave the appointment. Yelling as I walk back through the waiting room, “I’m emotionally unavailable!” I wonder if they’d think I’d had a major breakthrough that day. Maybe that would give them some hope for their appointment. And knock out that haughty attitude of any first-timers in the room.
I’d never do that, though.
Instead I sit here quietly flipping through a magazine and making diagnosis from efficient, darting glances. Stealth is key in the game. Otherwise, those darting glances can be misconstrued as mania or cyclothymia and you can’t give people the wrong impression about yourself. That’d be cheating. Everyone deserves a fair chance at diagnosing you.
Unless, of course, you’re me and you fake people out with the famous first-timer move. But that doesn’t count. I suppose in that sense the game is all about deceit, unless you can tell someone else is being deceitful, in which case they are cheaters and probably have anxiety so they’re not really fun to play with anyway.
I bet I look depressed. Not the type of depressed that sits hunched over in the waiting room and leaves in tears, but the type that tries too hard to not look depressed so it’s very obvious that that is what they are – the type to flip through a magazine and try not to wonder why pastrami is so much more important.
Yeah, I probably look depressed.
I’d rather look anorexic, though.