Can I keep calm if my anxiety doctor’s on vacation?

Today, at the start of my anxiety therapy group, the doctor who leads us started with an announcement: he’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks.

The good news is that, even though all of us have anxiety severe enough to land us in a doctor-led group, our fearless leader is not assigning another doctor to us while he’s out. In other words, he thinks we’ll be just fine for a few weeks without him.

The bad news is, that’s not how we think. When you have an anxiety disorder, any kind of change can create more anxiety. Our doctor knows that, which is probably why he opened with that announcement instead of saving it until the end. He knew this was something that needed “processing.”

I already miss the guy. He’s a tough therapist who pushes us to do the things that scare us the most. Needless to say, I haven’t always been thrilled when I left his sessions. But I can see the progress that I’ve made, and I don’t like the thought of not reporting to him until next month.

It kind of reminds me of that old movie What About Bob?, where Bill Murray plays patient who finds where his doctor is vacationing — and joins him there. Now, I’m not planning on stalking my doctor. I’m afraid he wouldn’t like that, and that’s probably a “good” fear.

And besides, an intrepid member of our group has already come up with a solution: what if we just get together on our own for the next few weeks and check in with each other anyway? Our doctor supports this idea, and I think it’s a good one.

That suggestion tells me two things: first, we are committed to our recovery, so much so that we don’t want to take a “break” from it. This other thing is (channeling Sally Field here), we like each other. We really like each other. Even though all of us have different roots and levels of anxiety, we all have issues with social interaction. So it can only be good that we still want to interact with one another, even without a doctor.

I’ve committed to joining my temporarily doctor-less group. I’m sure we’ll listen to each other and give some pretty good advice. Or maybe we’ll watch What About Bob? That would be fun. We’d be reminded that, as bad as we think we are, we could sure be a lot worse.

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