Tag Archives: therapist

Telling tales (and how to be less boring)

‘I don’t know anyone in a successful relationship who met post-uni,’ My friend announced. ‘What about Chelsea Handler and Andre Balazs?’ I replied. (I’ve been watching endless reruns of Chelsea’s late-night chat show. I highly recommend it, she’s a hoot).

‘Um,’ My friend replied. ‘I meant in our friendship group.’ Putting aside my deeply-held belief that, seeing as I spend so much quality time with her, Chelsea Handler pretty much is in my friendship group, I tried to think about people i know in real life. Usually, I would fact-check this with my therapist, but I recently had a dream where she left me stranded with a baby, so I’m still pretty cross with her thoughtlessness about that.

I quickly realised that I probably do not listen quite as well as I could, when it occurred to me that I had very little idea when most of my friends met their boyfriends. Or, in some cases, who their boyfriends were. (That, I would like to add, is not entirely my fault. There’s a pretty quick turnover in some cases). However, as a caring and diligent friend*, I resolved to change this. Here are some helpful tips on how to make your stories less boring:

1. People have a lot going on- toilet trips, eating, staying awake, breathing etc, so remember that your anecdotes are competing with all those things, and keep them brief.

2. I personally am a huge fan of props.

3. An excellently sneaky way of getting people to listen is to substitute your actual name with the names of celebrities: So there Eddie Redmayne was, wondering why his flatmate had failed to replace the loo roll- I mean, Ryan Gosling had just left the empty roll on the holder! Who does that?

4. Some people believe that conversations follow some kind of order- that one person says something, the other responds, and so on. If you adhere to this you will simply never get to tell your great story about the time you got TWO dairy milks from the vending machine. Simply shout out.

5. If all else fails, become the type of person who listens appreciatively to other people’s stories- this has the added benefit of turning you into what I have heard described as ‘the ideal girlfriend’.**

*Factually inaccurate.*

**Under no circumstances should you do this. Continue to tell outrageously inappropriate stories, interrupt hugely and generally exist as a fully-formed sentient being.**

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Just because it feels good doesn’t make it right

I started playing squash with my great friend when we were at university. Her goal was to own a pair of Canterbury tracksuit bottoms, and seeing as I was rarely out of mine, she asked me if I could get her a pair. ‘There is nothing worse,’ I proclaimed solemnly. ‘Than being one of those people with very nice sports kit, who rarely plays sport. You can get a pair of tracksuit bottoms when we have been playing squash for a term.’ My friend nodded sadly.

Despite playing almost exclusively so that she could earn her ‘post-Squash cigarette’, my friend continued to play at least once a week all term, usually thrashing me soundly.

There is something uniquely admirable about persistence. It is a combination of so many other excellent qualities- hope, determination, self-flagellation.

Unsurprisingly, I am extremely persistent. Here are some recent examples:

1. My therapist was ignoring me, so I began a flurry of emails and texts to get her attention. My commitment to making my therapist my friend is un- paralleled.
2. My housemate has asked me several times to take out the bin when it is over-flowing. I do not like to do this, so have started to place larger items of rubbish next to the bin. This means the bin itself is certainly not ready to be taken out yet.
3. I live with two doctors, and seeing as my working day mostly consists of me looking at my new Christmas pjs admiringly, they have asked if I could let them use the washing machine on the weekends. There is not a single dirty item in my room after Sunday’s marathon washing adventure. When the world doesn’t end on Friday, my housemates are going to look mightily unclean.
4. I ate all 24 of my advent calendar chocolates on the 1st December.

5. A life-long eczema sufferer, several dermatologists and GPs have warned me to avoid dairy. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to our flat’s cheese and wine party this Saturday. I have been known to eat an entire cheese platter, so I would encourage our guests to arrive on time.

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I have a spare-therapist

Last night I was at Book Slam, where I sat between a woman who was the doppelganger of my therapist (which was both comforting and disconcerting, and made it difficult to stop staring at her) and my housemate. One of the many excellent things about Book Slam is that they give you bar/toilet breaks between each performance. I don’t mean to sound self-centred, but it really is perfectly designed for me.

‘OK,’ I said, as Simon Armitage left the stage to thunderous applause. ‘If you go to the bar, I’ll pop to the loo, and we’ll meet back here.’ ‘But I need the loo too,’ My housemate complained. She looked at me warningly as I leaned towards my spare-therapist (total stranger who had the misfortune to be sharing our table) to ask her to go to the bar. ‘OK,’ I grumbled. ‘We can go to the loo together.’

I would now like to briefly explain the layout of our flat. You enter by the front door (I know, we’re boringly conformist. But when I get rich I’m making myself a pirate bed, so there’s still hope), and straight ahead is the living room. If you turn right you pass the shower, then the kitchen, and then the toilet.

The bedrooms are on the left- though calling my little sister’s room a ‘bedroom’ suggests she keeps it in a state fit for human habitation, rather than as a perfect replica of a crack den. It is not a large flat (though, luckily, my bedroom is), but the acoustics are such that it is moderately difficult to hear people unless you are in the same room as them. Or, as we quickly discovered, you wee with the loo door open. (Our flat can be quickly defined by its occupants’ most prominent features- an endless supply of wine, a penchant for inappropriate jokes, and a terrible fear of missing out).

‘I’m so pleased I got to hear Simon Armitage live,’ My housemate said happily as we popped to the loo.

‘You know his poem, ‘Poem’?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied, undoing my belt in preparation for my wee. ‘Well, I think about it a lot,’ My housemate continued. She then launched into an excellently intimate and well-thought out discussion of how she has used this poem when faced with difficult patients. ‘Everyone has a right to life, She declaimed loudly as we entered the toilet. To be greeted by the startled face of a fellow loo-goer, who was not expecting two, variously dressed women to burst into the public toilet, apparently discussing abortion.

‘It is possible,’ I mused to my housemate as we left the toilet hurriedly. ‘That we need to work on boundaries. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what my actual therapist would say.’ We headed back to our table, where my housemate hastily prevented me from asking the stranger I had appropriated as my spare-therapist what she thought.


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It’s not me, it’s her

My therapist doesn’t want to see me anymore. Hang on. My therapist and I have decided that I am doing well, and there’s no need for me to see her at the moment.  We’re taking a break. Basically, it’s not me, it’s her. Or something. Anyway, I’ve been dumped by my therapist.

But not to worry, I am already deep into a plan to win her back. There are 5 stages to this infallible plan. (It’s like the Tour de France, but with less yellow. No-one looks good in yellow).

Stage 1.

Email her, asking for her back.

“Dear HL,

I do not like not seeing you. Can I come see you please?


“Dear Lucy,

Is there anything you need to discuss?


“Dear HL,

No. But I could invent  something.


Dear Lucy,



Stage 2

Act cool, so she wants you more.

“Dear HL,

I’m over you.


Stage 3

Let her know you’re still thinking about her, so she remembers what a nice person you are.

“Dear HL,

In unrelated news, I have made you a CD. It was going to have a photo of our faces merged  together for the CD sleeve, but I couldn’t find any photos of you.


Stage 4

Start early-stage investigations into getting a new therapist. ‘Accidentally’ cc her into the email, so she is wildly jealous.

“Dear new-much-better-therapist

I would be delighted to come for a session this Thursday. I will bring cake.’


Stage 5

Wait for therapist to get in contact, talking about how she has made a terrible mistake. It is nice at this point to be gracious. (Also ask for photo, so you can complete CD cover).

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This is not a therapy session

I bumped into my therapist recently. (Several of you, who are under the entirely mistaken impression that I am pretty much stalking my therapist, will not be surprised, but I was). ‘Hello!’ I said delightedly. ‘How nice to see you.’

It was nice to see her. Or, it was at first. Talking to your therapist outside of a therapy session is a conversational minefield. I racked my brain for something interesting and innocuous to say.

‘So much rain,’ I began, inwardly cursing myself.

(My therapist is cool, and I want her to think I’m cool too. Not a socially inept idiot who is unable to hold a decent conversation. I want her to think that about her other  clients). My therapist made some pleasant remark in return, but I wasn’t listening. I was running through potential talking topics:

1. How are you?

This was out. Far too prying and personal. She would hate that.

2. Have you had a good weekend?

What am I? Her acolyte? (I am, secretly, but I was trying to play it cool). Also, as with (1), this suggested a level of intrusive nosiness that she would not appreciate.

3. Of all the clients you might have bumped into, are you most pleased to have met me?

In the end I resorted to what I usually do, and endlessly monologued about my own life. But whereas in sessions, I occasionally touch on something actually worth discussing, I was keen that my therapist did not feel that she had been conned into giving me a free session. So I talked exclusively and extensively about the most frivolous of topics.

And now, instead of thinking I’m cool, my therapist thinks I’m a self-obsessed idiot who cares disproportionately about trainer socks and Benetton adverts.

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Eastbourne. And my therapist.

There are many infuriating things about my therapist, but the worst one is how little she talks about herself. Usually, I just fill in the gaps myself. ‘I’m going away,’ She tells me. ‘So let’s see each other before I do.’ I pop along for a very helpful session.

‘Where are you going?’ I ask her. ‘I don’t actually know,’ She tells me. ‘My husband has organized a surprise trip.’ ‘Hmm,’ I reply thoughtfully. ‘Probably Eastbourne.’

My therapist stares at me. (She does this a lot, but this is a particularly startled stare). ‘I don’t think it’s Eastbourne,’ She replies slowly. ‘I’m pretty sure it is,’ I tell her kindly. ‘Eastbourne is lovely. A bit cold, but lovely.’ I can tell from the look of horror on my therapist’s face that I have not yet convinced her of Eastbourne’s charms.

‘You can go for long bracing walks on the sea,’ I explain. ‘And they have mini-golf. And it rains a lot.’ ‘I haven’t been on holiday for a while,’ My therapist begins. ‘I’m pretty sure my husband knows I would like to see some sunshine.’ ‘There is a small possibility of sunshine in Eastbourne!’ I reassure her happily. ‘At least for a few hours.’ Later my therapist emails to confirm our next appointment. ‘Great,’ I email back. ‘Enjoy Eastbourne!’ I feel that we have made a real break-through. I imagine in the future my therapist will be much keener to talk about her personal life with me.

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Baby, it’s cold outside

I couldn’t sleep last night, and at 4am I strongly considered texting
my therapist.

(She gets up preposterously early). I decided not to,
because we’re working on boundaries. Sometimes it’s like she doesn’t
realise I have things to do, and cant spend all day talking to her. I
didn’t want to undo all my hard work by sending mixed messages,
although I was terribly bored. (I know, she’s very lucky. I’m
impossibly considerate).
Oddly, there’s very little to do at 4.18 am on a Tuesday morning. I
briefly considered going for a run, but the eerie siren call of my bed
refused to let me leave it.My bed and I like to perform the same duet every morning:

Me: “I really must go”

Bed: “but baby it’s cold outside”

“Oh,” I thought suddenly. “I could put on some laundry”.
Then I remembered smugly that I’d put a load on that morning. I refused
to be defeated. I lay patiently and waited for the muse to strike.
“Gosh,” I thought to myself. “I wonder if a whole song will come to
me, in a flash of inspiration, like ‘Yesterday’ did for Paul McCartney.”

(I have spent some time
thinking about touring, so I would be perfectly prepared. I think the
key thing is to invite some people on your tour bus who aren’t on the payroll. Your friends, for instance).

I plumped up my pillows expectantly. “I must remember
to buy some bread,” I mused thoughtfully. I wish I had contacted my
therapist. The mundanity of my 4am ideas (traditionally a time for
deep thinking and profound truths) is alarming.

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