Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dr. NOT Oprah

My family doctor sent me to a new therapist, who she thought would be able to help me deal with my grief better than “Oprah.” When the new therapist, Dr. NOT Oprah, called to schedule an appointment with me, she seemed like a very sweet woman. I even got the feeling that she was somewhat spiritual, and was I excited for our first session. She worked from home, located on a nice street near my old High School. Her house was noticeably the most decrepit one on the street and as I pulled into the driveway, I thought I had stepped onto Gray Gardens during the hoarding years. There was garbage everywhere, and unkempt vines growing all over the house. I didn’t want to judge her because of this. Maybe she was too busy curing grief to deal with the state of her home. I opened the side door and was immediately hit by the stench of a mix between smelly feet and curry… not one of my favorite flavors. I sat down in the tiny waiting room and barely had time to read the chart about depression on the wall, when suddenly a girl came out of another room, dashing past me and crying. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thought she was just crying ‘cuz of the smell. I went on reading the depression sign and eagerly waited my turn. Dr. NOT Oprah came out to get me and directed me into her office where I was told to sit in a broken chair instead of on the dusty couch. I had to concentrate on keeping my weight mostly in my feet so I wouldn’t fall through. I felt like it was an exercise in meditation, focusing on the present by not breaking my neck. Dr. NOT Oprah immediately picked up a pad of paper and started writing, before I even spoke a word. Then she asked me some information about my health card, address, phone number etc. Next question was:
“Are you single or married?”
Me: Um, single.
She paused to write down some notes on that. The she looked up and stared at me.
“So why was it so urgent that you come and see me?”
Me: Well it wasn’t urgent, but I’ve had a rough time lately. My dad died…..
 She cut me off. “When did he die?”
Me: In January.
She started counting the months on her fingers, then glanced up and removed her glasses.
“Your dad died in January and you’re STILL upset?”  I was quite taken off guard with that comment and for a minute wasn’t sure if she was serious.
Me: Um, yes I am still upset. It really hasn’t been that long.
She leaned in closer to me. “Why aren’t you married?”
Me: Pardon?
“Why haven’t you found a husband yet?”  I was silent, having flashbacks to that girl who had told me it must be so awful to go through a loss when I don’t have a husband. Dr. NOT Oprah continued. “If you had found a husband in your twenties like you were supposed to and had your own family, you wouldn’t be so upset about your father dying.”
I let out a noise, which was half-laugh and half-gasp.
Me: I think I’d still be upset whether it was four months or four years.
 She ignored my question. “Why aren’t you seeking a husband?” she yelled at me.
I decided to give her what she wanted.
Me: I’m seeking, I’m seeking!
Dr. NOT Oprah continued to glare at me, writing things down in her notes. Finally she changed the subject.
“What do you do for a living?”
Me: I’m a teacher. I work in film on movie sets and teach the young actors that……
“I don’t understand this. What board do you work for?” she was yelling again.
Me: I don’t work for a board. I’m self-employed.
“You don’t work for a board? If you worked for a board you’d be making over sixty thousand a year. How much money do you make?”
Trust me, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
Me: I don’t discuss the amount of money I make.
She continued writing down notes on her paper. Probably saying how I’m unwilling to cooperate or something. She looked up and gave me an evil smile.
“What else happened to you that you’re having such a rough time?”
Me: Well I’m still sort of recovering from the trauma from a German Shepherd attacking my dogs and I.
She raised her eyebrow.
“Dog-Sa?” with emphasis on the ‘s’ and then a short vowel after.
Me: Yes. Dog-Sa
“How many do you have?”
Me: 3
At the same time her mouth and pencil both dropped.
“YOU HAVE 3 DOG-SA?” she roared. I was a bit taken aback by this.
Me: Um, yes.
“Why do you have 3? Why do you need so many dogs?”
Me: I’m an animal lover. I like dogs.
“How did that happen? How did you end up with 3?”
I have this thing that when someone is telling me off, who is not living a life that I envy, or is not any sort of role model to me, I can’t take what they say seriously.
I was sitting in a broken chair, in a dirty house with this crazy woman screaming at me. It was the best therapy ever. I had never felt so normal in my life. But boy, if you don’t have a good sense of humor or a thick skin, this woman could really damage you. Who knows what she had said to that girl before me to make her cry. I let out a big sigh and glanced over at my blackberry to check the time.
“I think you’re very needy.”
Me: Excuse me?
She started waving her finger at me.
“Here you are crying over your parents, when you should be out having your own husband and own family.”
Oy, we were back at that again. I laughed out loud this time.
“You’re laughing, but it’s true.” More laughter. I looked around for Ashton Kutcher’s cameras. I was for sure being punk’d. It was definitely a good joke though. Dr. NOT Oprah glanced at her watch.
“Well our time is up. So this is how I conduct my sessions. Would you like to make an appointment for next week?”
Me: Hmmm. Why don’t I think about it. You know take a couple days to digest all the solid advice you gave me.
I got up to leave and she said,
“I think you have a lot of potential, Miss Eisen.” 

On my way home I told my friend from “The Centre,” about my appointment. As appalling as it was, we still laughed our heads off and made many jokes about it. The reactions my friends have had to this story are almost as great as the story itself. Everyone wants me to make a second appointment and I’m sort of considering it to see how much further she’ll take this. She is such a great character for me to write about that I feel I need to pursue it more for my career.
I was out for dinner a few days later with my favorite new friends Julie and Andy. After I told them the story Julie asked me if my dad was a funny guy. Did he have a good sense of humor? I told her he was really funny. He made everyone laugh. She told me that maybe he was somehow sending me to these therapists “Oprah” and Dr. NOT Oprah to help me heal through laughter. It was such a great way to look at it and such a silver lining. I told her I couldn’t have said it better myself! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


           We’ve all heard it before. Things like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” “I just don’t feel like we’re a good match,” “I just don’t think I can be what you need me to be,” and of course the best one of all, “I just can’t help you, or give you what you need.” Sound familiar to you? I thought so. Now let me ask you this. Ever heard those words from your SHRINK? Those were the words I heard as I sat across from my shrink a month ago with my mouth gaping open.
             I first started seeing “Oprah,”  as I liked to call her, last year just after my grandmother died. I knew I was going to need help coping after experiencing such a huge loss in my life, so I got the referral from my family doctor. Obviously, I am not someone who is afraid to admit it when I need help and with so much available today, I think there’s something wrong with people that sit around and let their issues fester. After one session with “Oprah” I thought she was “The One.” She really helped me through some difficult times. She had compassion when I talked about my grandmother, tears in her eyes when I described the vicious dog attack, and we laughed out loud together when I told her how the "LifeSucker" called me on set at work one morning (he of course doesn’t work) and screamed at me that I must be bipolar and psycho because I go to a therapist.
            So where did it all go wrong? Well, I was very nervous to tell “Oprah” that my dad died. I felt like every time I went to see her, some sort of disaster had struck me and I was nervous this one might throw her over the edge. I decided I better call and warn her what I was coming in with, so I left her a message telling her what had happened. Turns out, it was a good thing I had alerted her to my situation as it really shocked her and gave her time to put a few thoughts together for me. However, after one session, I realized our dynamics had drastically changed. Ironically, it happened to be around the same time that I found out that the real Oprah had announced her own show would be coming to an end. Go figure.
            For the next three or four sessions, I would come in and take my seat, say a few words and pray for the old responses I used to get from Oprah. Instead she would just sit and stare at me and nod her head. Now, believe me, I’ve become accustomed to people not knowing what to say to me, but like, isn’t she a trained PROFESSIONAL?  Couldn’t she have just referred back to an old textbook or something? Say a few nice things that would encourage me to get back on track? Finally, the day came where I had to seek other sources to make myself feel better (see my past blogs). I unfortunately made the mistake, when I was starved for conversation, of telling Oprah all the new things I was trying. Apparently you are not supposed to tell your shrink that you’re feeling better through spiritual and natural healing. That seemed to be the open window she was looking for to dump me. She made it seem like I didn’t need HER anymore. I was like really? You think so? I’m only going through the WORST time of my life to date, you think I no longer need to come here? Finally after all the hooing and hawing, I gave up. She clearly did not get A’s in grief counseling, and that’s what I needed. I decided to swallow my pride and march right back to my family doctor in search of another referral…..and boy did she send me to a character that I am convinced stepped right off of a Seinfeld show. Stay tuned for Part 2 of DUMPED, because you deserve to laugh, even if it's at my expense :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera....Who???

            I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym last week listening to my ipod, when a cute trainer walked by and asked me what I was listening to.
“Um, oh, um, Drake,” I lied.
“Cool,” he said with a smile, walking away. Of course I had to lie to him. How could I admit that I wasn’t listening to some cool singer of the new millennium, but instead was listening to a podcast talk on Trauma and tragedy, by the Buddhist Monk, Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera. I’m not kidding when I tell you he is my new obsession.  I am learning so many helpful hints from his talks to get myself back on track, and his dry sense of humor is totally both appreciated and needed. Currently Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia, the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of Victoria, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of South Australia, Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore, and Spiritual Patron of the Bodhikusuma Centre in Sydney. His simple and logical ways of looking at situations have really drawn me in. He covers so many topics in his different podcasts that no matter what you are coping with, you are sure to find something that you can relate to.
Some examples of his talks are: inspiration,
                                                  finding meaning in life
                                                  helping children overcome problems
                                                  self discipline
                                                dealing with pain
and so on, and so on………….
     Listening to his talks has been another stepping stone on my path to feeling like myself again.  So how did I find this guy, you may ask? I was tipped off by my acupuncturist, Lisa Quaning, who works out of The Russel Hill Chiropractic Clinic. Trust me, initially when she recommended that I listen to these talks by Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera, I made a face and laughed. However, while trying to find some balance and peace in my life, I tend to lean towards people that are doing well in achieving this themselves. I prefer to learn the tricks of content people, rather than having to take those painful phone calls from people who are so tangled up in their own web, that they need to lecture me about my life to make THEMSELVES feel better. 
     Now don’t get me wrong, just because I am loving the Budhist ways, I’m not going all Chrissy Snow-Rama Mageesh on you. Nor will  I be guzzling down a big glass of grape Kool-Aid anytime soon. However, I am learning to come to terms with things in life that can't be prevented, and trying to set myself on a better path of hope. If you are also looking to find an easier way, than at the very least give my boyfriend Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera a try. The budhists are definitely onto something, and if  you are willing to open yourself up to a little change than every little bit can help. 
Here is the link to  Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera site. You can also download his talks for free on itunes.