Therapy and Coffee


Coffee and therapy

Last night I read blogs about how a therapist lost a patient to suicide and how he got through it, two years later. It started to get me thinking about my journey with my therapist. Though this isn’t a linear story and is not about what went on in therapy, it is a story about how coffee brought me closer to my therapist and formed a bond that we didn’t know about at the time.

I was not always a Starbucks coffee drinker. Like many Bostonians, Dunkin Donuts coffee was sufficient. But once you have experienced a full bodied coffee, you can never go back to their coffee. My therapist’s office had an Au Buon Pain French bakery across the street. They sell great coffee. After having their coffee, I really couldn’t go back to Dunkin. I started drinking their coffee and found that I like it much better than Dunkin, even if it cost a little more.

A funny story about the Au Buon Pain coffee. Usually by mid-session I would be finished with my coffee and I would play with the cup, mainly playing with the protective sleeve by picking at the corners. During one session, it was getting intense, and I was playing with the empty cup. Some how the lid flew off in the direction of my therapist sitting across from me. We both laughed at the symbolism and meaning of with this lid. But I guess the lid meant more to her as she kept the it after session that day. It was just a plastic coffee lid to me but she found a treasured object. When we started exchanging gifts sometimes after my 30th birthday (my birthday falls near Christmas), I received the lid back with a corny message. She had placed it in a picture frame and on the back was the message. I am unable to find this frame at this time and I don’t remember what the lid said. I just laughed.

I have a sensitive stomach so it wasn’t too long before my gastritis would act up over my one cup of coffee a day. I think it was around this time that I switched to Starbucks. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with espresso diluted with milk. At first, I couldn’t tolerate the switch as it has been forever since I had a glass of milk. But after a while I got used to it and I am now a full time Starbucks junkie.

It didn’t matter what office we were at, there was always a Starbucks I could find. I swear I have an internal GPS Starbucks locator in my brain. When she first moved to Framingham, 30 miles from her Cambridge location, she said there weren’t any Starbucks nearby. I found two within two miles of her office. I would always have my mocha during sessions. During one session, the lid came off again and this time I spilled my drink on her fancy rug. I felt so bad. Starbucks had changed their covers to flimsy plastic and it didn’t fit right on the cup. This time, my therapist didn’t keep the lid.

I think I have consumed more Starbucks coffee over the years than any other establishment in my area. I now make their coffee at home, which further debilitates my staying in the house. But then, I will only drink Starbucks coffee. Occasionally and in a pinch, I will have Dunkins or Au Buon Pain or even the local convenient store coffee. I still have remained a loyal customer even though the price of their coffee has gone up over the years. I used to solely drink their espresso drinks, but since they out with the Clover system, which makes one cup of coffee at a time, I have gone back to coffee. It is cheaper than the espresso drinks. I have yet to try espresso by itself, however.

Through all the coffee consumption, I still have the same therapist. She has been with me for the past 13+ years. Next month will be technically our 14th year. I say technically because I had my first session with her in 2000 but because she didn’t take my insurance at the time, I couldn’t see her. When I changed my insurance the following year, I called her up and was happy to find that she still was accepting new clients.

Her vacation this year will be welcome. I need a break from her. It’s not that she is doing anything wrong, it’s just that I need some space. I know that I’ll probably write her letters while she is gone. I have always written her letters to say what I cannot talk about. Mostly I write to vent and then I forget what I write. They (researchers) says it’s a cathartic response. And most of what I write is cathartic. Of the more than 700 blogs I have written over the last two years since starting my blog, the only ones I specifically remember are the papers I have posted. The rest I may remember from a tag or title but sometimes, I have found, the title isn’t what the blog is about.

My therapist started her practice at the middle of Mass Ave in Cambridge. She moved down the street several times until her final destination was 30 miles away. Each move, I went with her. She could have stopped seeing me at any point in the consolidation of her practices, as she called it. Course it was very difficult when her final destination was Framingham. I don’t have a car so we communicate mostly by phone. I try to get my sister’s car at least once a month to visit her but it sometimes doesn’t work out because of my pain levels. And usually, I will get a coffee before starting the trip. It’s anywhere from 45 mins to an hour and a half from where I live to her office. It all depends on the traffic. And which route I go. I mostly go one route that is through several towns rather than go the direct route, which is the highway. The highway would be faster but I have had one too many tire blow outs and I am just too afraid now to go that way. It has traumatized me to the point I will only go if I have a very reliable car. My last tire blow out, I thought I was going to get killed because I was stuck in the middle of the road and a semi was coming in hot after me. Since that day I only use that highway only if I absolutely have to.

As much as my therapist is a “PITA” (Pain In The Ass), she is also stubborn. We will butt heads frequently about sessions to my safety. Since she calls me a suicidologist, I have often brought in tools to help with the suicidal thoughts and ideation. Before then, we just used with the “no harm contracts” which suck. Now we use a Crisis response plan. See this blog to find out more about it. It’s good I see a stubborn therapist. The only thing I hate is that she NEVER allows me to cancel a session anymore. I used to be able to cancel whenever I didn’t feel like going in. Those days are long gone. If I cancel due to a legit reason, say my father’s doctor appointment, I need to reschedule. We always meet twice a week. Very rarely do I see her once a week, though when my suicidality, peaks it could be three time a week.

There was one session I really didn’t want to see her. She called me and asked where I was and I told her I was home. This is after I canceled our session. She bribed me with a mocha to come to her office. Who does that?

any thoughts?

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