It was back to one of those small rooms at the Mental Health Unit in the hospital for a session with the psychologist. I say one of those small rooms because it starts with a small reception area with enough seating for a marriage-on-the-rocks, a substance addiction, one don’t-know-why-I’m-sad and of course a transgendered, me. At the end of the waiting room a curved wooden reception desk with a busy member of staff who we shall call Cary, who greets with high tones and who is rarely distracted from her work by the television propped on the ledge above her desk showing daily episodes of Loose Women or a bit of Jeremy Kyle; which you endure depends on your appointment and if that doesn’t take your fancy then it’s the partially thumbed gossip glossy magazines on the square table in the corner. Either way my mind is suitably dumbed down during my wait.
Patients sit waiting for their psychologist, psychiatrist or possibly even support staff, depending on their situation and stage, to pop from around the corner and merrily welcome you to join them, sometimes, “Hellooooo, come on in.” or just a gentle “Hi.” with a satisfying smile which welcomes you to follow on in.
There are three rooms. All identical to my first session, that desk wedged in the corner with a computer terminal on top. The champagne blinds letting in a slice of clinical bright white day light and the soft flappy sound as the door closes and the thin draft excluder rubs the door frame as if the room has just been pressurised to seal in privacy.
It could have been any of these three rooms I was in and I wouldn’t remember which I was in the last time. It’s a rubber stamp of a room but with a comfortable chair and a small table to break the formality between myself and José, the psychologist, it was perfect to keep the focus on why I was there, to talk about me and how to improve my well-being.
It was easy to talk to José at the level I wanted to talk. I didn’t just want to talk about why certain clothes make me feel happier, although of course I would at some point, and I didn’t just want to talk about parts of the body. I wanted to talk about that big question, why? I wanted a deeper more intellectual examination and more importantly, what is real and what is developed by life experience. What is authentic about who I am. As with many transgendered people I have that huge guilt ridden self-doubt, being a fake, being manufactured, a sham, contrived.
José is deeply interesting. We spoke about theories of the ego in which he mentioned Jung. Carl Jung was a famous Swiss psychiatrist who frequented his time as a younger man with the likes of Freud who was already established. José knew that I was genuinely interested to speak at this level and it set base for my time with him. It was so interesting that it was hard for me to even think about delving too much into my issues in this early session even though we did more than enough. Our time had already way surpassed the hour that I would normally have from then on.
“It is thought that we all have elements of the masculine and feminine.”, he said, “It’s worth reading Carl Jung, Memories and Reflections I think. Something like that. He talks about the ego. Not the ego we know today but ego in the original meaning, what defines who we are, our consciousness.”
He mentioned another book but I forgot the name as soon as he’d said it. I solely remembered the Carl Jung book and soon enough I went to the city library and found it, Memories, Dreams and Reflections. It’s as near to an autobiography from Carl Jung as you can get. He was, apparently, a difficult man to pin down for this book to be written and neither is it an easy read by any means but over the coming weeks I read it whenever I could. This was important in more ways than I had realised. It was of course interesting, learning something about psychology so I could understand José’ perspective and how his work, well… worked. It was also amazing to read about Carl Jung’s life, from his time as a boy through to his travels as well as his work. He is extremely open about his thoughts and in many ways some of which can be seen as quite odd and yet this is what made him who he was. Some of his adventures were incredible, when I consider this was during the late 1800’s through to the mid 1900’s and in which I found his thinking ahead of his time. Aside from the interesting read, the new found knowledge and a perspective of the psychologist I also had unwittingly made another contribution to my gender dysphoria analysis. I had shown to José my dedication to working on my problem. The fact I had gone away and read a book on an unfamiliar subject had proven my commitment to working with him on helping me and not just solely relying on him to do all the work.
With a good firm grounding for my psycho-analysis I would soon start my sessions with the female psychologist, Catherine. It would start in the same set of rooms over the same table break and box of tissues for months to come.
Until next time. x