Last night I went online and looked up gay male therapists in London. I’m in no doubt that this is the kind of therapist I need to work with. The main issue is my sexuality, has been since I was a kid, only I was too ashamed or in denial to admit that before. Yes, I’ve done a lot of work and achieved a great deal in other areas of my life since I got sober. My career, my friendships, my ability to stay sober continuously for many years, are all fantastic things that I can be proud of. I can no longer pretend, however, that I have an acceptable relationship with sex. I found a long list of gay male therapists in London, all of whom claim to deal with issues around sexuality and shame, all of whom charge high fees. Since the only therapy available for free in this country is short term (six to twelve weeks) I’ll need to be prepared to pay for private therapy. I found the ones who said they were willing to offer concessions for students, and studied their websites to see which ones I liked the sound of. I ended up with a list of five who I then emailed, requesting a consultation. Most of them were bound to have limited availability – I thought that contacting five should maximise my chances of finding one who is available at the same time as me.
Now I wait to find out which one I will be seeing and starting a therapeutic relationship with. It may not work out with any of them, I may need to go back on google and start the search all over again, but I hope I won’t have to. This is important, and I need to see someone as soon as possible.
Thinking about it so deeply on Friday seemed to cause what I can only describe as an emotional hangover that has lasted through until today. As well as the lingering effects of jet lag, I have been labouring under a bad mood all weekend. I didn’t want to attend my home group on Saturday, and I desperately wished I didn’t have to go back to work today. I only did both because I was obliged to. I got through Saturday, forcing myself to stay awake and in the meeting because I instinctively knew I’d be better off there. I even went for dinner afterwards with the crowd. It might have turned out better if I had sat somewhere in the middle, instead I did the usual thing of going to the end of the table where I’d only be able to see my immediate neighbours.
L was in London on one of his regular visits and, being next to him, I talked to him the most. I must have done a good job of pretending to be in a good mood because he didn’t seem to notice that anything was up. No one did. It’s probably a good thing, I mean I felt so ratty at certain points I might have snapped if someone had asked me what was up.
Sunday could have been a write off – I was ready to spend the entire day in bed – but I pushed through and went swimming in the afternoon. Then I met up with P as usual afterwards, for an Italian on the south bank. We cheered ourselves up for the third or fourth time this year by meticulously planning our next holiday. It looks like we’ll be flying to the South of France, where we can enjoy a few days of sun and beach for an affordable price. I’m glad it’s sorted, but I didn’t get much of a kick out of thinking about it last night. Normally when discussing holidays I’m on cloud nine, especially after I’ve just been swimming and I’ve got the endorphins kicking round my system. I didn’t feel any of that yesterday.
This morning I was still abnormally grumpy and I knew something was really wrong. I entertained the thought on the train that I might have a mild form of bipolar disorder. There are definite times in my life that I can mark out as highs (like that day two weeks ago, when I returned from the counselling trip), times that contrast with semi-severe lows such as what I seem to be experiencing at the moment. I wouldn’t class these peaks and troughs as severe enough to need medication, and the low I’ve felt this weekend is quite a rare occurrence now, thankfully. I certainly used to get them a lot more when I was a teenager and in my drinking days. Given that they can go on for days I don’t think it’s just down to a bad mood, tiredness, anxiety about current situations. It’s some sort of disorder, and focusing on my sexuality so closely has pushed a button somewhere.
I can say that with the benefit of long experience of these mood changes, as well as some knowledge of psychology. I can help myself out of the hole by putting a name to it and considering the solutions, something I didn’t always benefit from. I am as certain as I can be that long term psychotherapy will help, better than anything else. I just need to find someone I can work with.