Coffee and PaperThe thought of having lunch alone in a coffee shop is heavy enough to make my fight or flight instinct to kick in.  Spoiler alert: I’m not a fighter.  Why does the idea of eating lunch in a cafe take up so much precious space in my anxiety rolodex?

I’ve recently started seeing a therapist.  This is my first time in therapy not led by a psychiatrist.  Rather, she is a highly educated, certified therapist.  Now that I’ve seen both psychiatrist and therapist, I can confidently say there is no comparison of the two.  One can prescribe pills and the other is truly invested in everything that the pill-prescriber doesn’t have time to explore.

That isn’t to say that a psychiatrist won’t engage in psychotherapy, but it’s been my experience that the majority of the appointment is spent discussing how my mood is today compared to before medication.  It’s a continual check to make sure they’ve prescribed the proper medication and dosage.  During these appointments, I often visualize the psychiatrist completing their paperwork for the drug company: “patient indicates that they’re happier; success”.

My therapist assigns homework each week.  I respond well to homework, because it gives me a deadline.  I have difficulty with motivation without an outside pressure (like a deadline).

One of my assignments this week is to enjoy a workday lunch break outside of the office in a nearby coffee shop.  It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  Then why has such a simple assignment caused me hours of anxiety, with the entire luncheon scenario playing through my head again and again?

I don’t enjoy being still in public.

Since I’ve been assigned this piece of homework 5 days ago, I’ve thought countless times about the details: which day will I do this?  What time should I leave the office?  What will I order?  How long should I sit?  What will I do while I eat?  Blog?  Read?

Just as I do with all task items in my life, I invent excuse after excuse to delay.

Monday: “it’s too busy to eat lunch outside of the office today”.

Tuesday: I make it inside the coffee shop and stand in line.  There’s 6 people ahead of me and the line isn’t moving quickly.  I talk myself out of it.  I convince myself that the staff is just far too slow and by the time I am able to order, my lunch break will be over and I won’t have time to sit.  I leave, walk across the parking lot to a grocery market and buy a pre-made sandwich and eat it in my car.

Wednesday: “it’s raining out and I don’t want to sit with damp hair and clothing while I eat my lunch.  Besides, I still have 2 more days to try to accomplish this”.

The anxiety continues; elevates, even.  What if I chicken out the next 2 days as well?  I’ll have to go to my therapist and admit that I didn’t complete one of my homework assignments.  How utterly embarrassing to have to admit that I got in my own way of enjoying a mid-work-day latte.

This is typical for me: I put things off until there are repercussions.  This is why I need the homework, why I need the therapist, why I need to adjust my brain.


2 thoughts on “Homework

  1. When you manage to have your lunch, to achieve the set goal you will feel empowered, to know you can. This is the road to know you can do more. It is hard. Reach down deep and show yourself that you are in control. 🙂

    Each time you win it gets easier. Each time you win you become stronger.

    Good Luck! you can do it.



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