Since last week Monday, I had been waiting for my therapist to reply to an email I sent him concerning a statement I need from him to go on welfare (that is a post I meant to write in the meantime, but had not quite finished yet when events took a turn). In about 95% of all cases, I would get a reply within 48 hours, if only to tell me that he’d read my message when he was especially busy. Important emails like this one would always prompt a fast reply, though, and if he was not at the hospital, there would be an automated message about how long he’d be gone and who to contact during his absence in case of an emergency.
This time, however, the days went by without any sign. I was wondering about this, but since it is currently flu season and almost everyone is currently getting sick or recovering from it, I did not follow up on my original message – he would get in touch as soon as he could. My email had been flagged as high priority, too, so there was nothing else I could do.
This morning, as I checked my inbox, I saw an email from the psychologist who had organized all my appointments and psychological tests when I started the programme two years ago, and at that moment I knew something was not quite right. I called her back, and it turns out that my therapist has fallen seriously ill and will not be seeing any of his out-patients for the next three months. He has not been working for the past two weeks and will only return for reduced hours in March. I don’t know what happened to him – the psychologist did not tell me, and I did not ask since that felt like a transgression.
This has been a shock on several levels. To begin with, I can’t wait for that statement for three months. I don’t have anyone else who could give me one either, as my general physician knows hardly anything beyond the diagnosis, and I am yet to meet the psychiatrist for the first time. The psychologist, who will be organizing my therapist’s affairs while he is away, promised she would take care of the problem and work out a solution with him.
Then, I feel a bit like the rug has been pulled from under my feet: all of a sudden, my security net is gone. Since starting psychotherapy, I have been operating under the assumption that help and support is only an email or phone call away. And despite having gone for several months without sessions before, I feel better when having regular appointments every couple of weeks.
Finally, I am worried on a personal level. Even though our relationship is a professional one, I do not want anything bad to happen to him.
It will be a while until I have digested this. Not that anything about my everyday life changes, but psychologically this is a different situation now. I’m really glad about the psychologist’s involvement, to have someone to ask organisational questions this way. She’s really friendly and I trust her; just one problem: as the independent rater of the medical study, she must never know whether I received therapy or medication, and thus talking to her is a bit difficult as we can only use vague terms. I had “appointments” or “meetings” with my therapist, not “sessions”, and instead of “psychotherapy” or “medication”, it is just “treatment method”.