DUMPED. Half hour before week two of STEPPS therapy, a text informs me that the relationship is over and it is better for me to move on. An informal note, signed 'Kindest Regards,' written by someone who made me believe that we were a rare and special thing, destined to walk through all our lifetimes, for eternity, together.
Therapy begins with paperwork. Each week we record mood intensity and regularity, and symptoms experienced, so that at the end of the 20-week STEPPS program we can see how we have progressed. Then lots of reading follows, whereby each group member in turn reads aloud a section of text. The text, written by psychiatrists, is dense. How are we supposed to digest it? The words are impenetrable, nonsensical, empty. And when the world goes dark, and I sense my glasses slip off my face and hit the table, I’ve got no chance. The mumbling drone of the course leader, Brenda, remains on the periphery of my consciousness, until I surface from the darkness of the girlfriend-text-dump, adjust my smile, and interact as if nothing happened. The great pretender returns, a little embarrassed, but ready for the next fight.