Letting Go

This is my first story and I am very open to criticism. Especially feel free to tell me about typos or formatting errors so that I can get them fixed. Of course, criticism of the story elements is welcome as well. Thank you for reading.
Content Warning: Mental health issues are addressed, I do not have a degree in psychology and apologize ahead of time for mistakes.

Letting Go

Jamie didn’t know why they were here. Or, they knew why they’d made the choice to come, sure, but they still didn’t know if it was the right one. Looking at the relatively small, brick building, they didn’t find it very intimidating in and of itself, honestly it didn’t look dissimilar to many of the stores in their neighborhood. No, it wasn’t the building that was intimidating, it was what was inside and what it represented that intimidated Jamie. Jamie had arrived a good few minutes early and decided to go ahead and sit on the metal bench in front of the building, in order to hopefully steel their nerves before going in.

Jamie had always been distrustful of therapy. It wasn’t necessarily that they thought that the therapist would tell people what they shared, they knew the laws surrounding the profession and the guarantee of confidentiality so long as Jamie didn’t mention harming anyone or themself. And Jamie certainly didn’t have any plans to harm anybody. It was something more vague that intimidated them, it was the idea that a therapist could look at you and see more then what everyone else did. It was the idea that therapists could see through the facades that people put up and see something closer to the truth. And Jamie was a person of facades.

Jamie also worried that no therapy would truly help them either way, they already knew the things the therapist would say, how their analysis would turn up, and the things they’d recommend. Jamie didn’t need to be told things they already knew, after all they wouldn’t need therapy if those things worked. Jamie had tried meditation, journaling, exercise, planning more of their days activities, planning less of their days activities, and every other common piece of psychiatric advice. Jamie knew themself, they didn’t need a therapist to tell them the secret key to their life story that would provide a breakthrough and solve all of their problems, they knew themself well and still couldn’t puzzle out how to help themself. And so, having exhausted most other methods of self help, Jamie was doing something inherently uncomfortable to them, going to someone else for help.

Looking at their watch, Jamie saw that it was only a couple minutes until their appointment and went ahead and started making their way into the building. Once inside they walked up to a receptionist that was typing away at her computer. Not wanting to disturb her Jamie waited until she looked and addressed them. While waiting Jamie went ahead and filled out the check in sheet.

The receptionist looked up and smiled, “Hello, how are you doing today?”

“I’m doing fantastic, how about you?”

“I’m doing pretty well myself, how can I help you?”

“I was just looking for Dr. Prewitt’s office, we have an appointment at two.”

“Well, you’re in good hands, Dr. Prewitt is one of the best in my opinion. You’ll find him two doors down on the left side of the hall to your left.”

Jamie said thanks and made their way to the office and knocked on the already open door. “Come in,” said a middle aged man sitting at the office in the room, presumably Dr. Prewitt. Dr. Prewitt was probably one of the most normal looking people Jamie had ever seen, utterly lacking in any type of identifying fashion choices, with a relatively fit looking physique, and glasses that failed to hide the keen intellect shining through his eyes. Jamie felt unsettled, without any personal touches to his outfit, or to his office for that matter, Prewitt was very difficult to read right off the bat.

Nonetheless Jamie made their way immediately to the desk and shook Prewitt’s hand, “Good afternoon, I’m Jamie Collins, I believe we have an appointment?”

“Yes, and as I’m sure you’ve surmised from my name on the door, I am Dr. Prewitt. Go ahead and have a seat and tell me why you’re here.”

Jamie took a seat and thought for a moment. What a question. Did Prewitt want a vague answer, such as simply “anxiety and depression” or would it be wrong to jump to saying something that sounded too much like a self diagnosis? Or would it be better to just start telling about themself as a way of answer, after all that was what most people likely did in therapy? Was the session truly started yet? At what point would their interaction pass from getting settled in to having a therapy session? Or should they just open their mouth and say whatever felt most right, since honesty and straightforwardness would likely help make the session more efficient?

“I am here because I have been unable to help myself thus far and felt that if I am going to make improvements to myself then outside help would likely be necessary,” Jamie said, opting for honesty. They immediately felt like they’d made the wrong choice, apparently just opening their mouth produced the rambling of a computer person. Looking at Dr. Prewitt, Jamie didn’t see any signs that what they said had been the wrong choice, rather Prewitt actually looked interested. Had the therapy session already started, had the transition been that quick?

“Tell me Jamie, how many responses did you think of before that one?”

Damn. Jamie felt their heartrate rise, this was starting to feel confrontational. “At least six and yes I overthink conversations sometimes. And no I do not think it’s a bad thing, it ensures that the conversations I have, have the best chance of success and the least chances of causing tension.” Damnit, Jamie thought, now they were being rude and the man had just asked a simple question. And now Prewitt was looking even more interested, what the hell was wrong with this guy? They’d just made an ass of themself and he looked more interested?

“Well I am glad you feel confident with yourself Jamie, that’s a good thing. Honestly its natural to want to ensure that social interactions don’t end up with either person feeling bad. However, I do want you to know that you don’t have to worry about that with me. Whatever you say to me is Ok, in all honesty I would like it the most if you simply relaxed and spoke without concern for any ramifications. In this office, that’s not a fear you need to have, you can speak genuinely with me. Would you do that for me?”

Somewhat taken aback by the doctor’s response, Jamie instinctively said, “Yes sir,” despite not being entirely sure that they could manage to simply speak without thinking of and choosing the best response. It was how they interacted with people, they didn’t have much experience any other way.

“Alright, good. Now why don’t you tell me what bothering you?”

And so Jamie did. They told the doctor first about their job and their university courses and the immense amount of stress and anxiety they’d been feeling. They told the doctor that lately it felt like the only two emotions they ever felt were stress and anxiety and that they essentially judged how they were doing by what levels of anxiety they were feeling. They also talked about how their anxiety seemed to well up and cause panic attacks at times and how it would sometimes lead them to fall into a state of depression for days at a time. They talked about how they thought that they’d had their depression beat years ago, but how after panic attack it would raise its nasty head at times. Jamie probably talked for about half an hour before realizing how long they’d been talking and winding to a halt. Dr. Prewitt seemed to have been paying rapt attention, however, not once looking away from them while they spoke.

“Tell me Jamie have you considered lightening your course load or decreasing you work hour?”

“I can’t do that. The world we live in rewards prioritizing our future and our jobs over our own well being and punishes doing otherwise. Over 90% of executives across the country work more then 60 hour work weeks and are on call 24/7. The ones that make it in this world are those that can put their profession above themselves and still handle it. Maybe I could still make it if I’d grown up in the suburbs or the middleclass and I had parents that could help when I needed it, but I didn’t and I don’t. I grew up poor and my parents are poor, and I am determined to be more, no matter the consequence. So no, I have not and will not consider lightening my workload. I really don’t mean to sound rude, but I guess I am really hoping that there is another option available, another way to help me. I will be honest, I am really not sure how I can continue the way I am, this anxiety and these panic attacks are killing me and I can’t describe how terrible it feels to have my depression come back the way it has.”

“That’s well put Jamie, though I’d argue that you shouldn’t allow yourself to suffer due to the ailments of our society. Nonetheless, I understand your point and I do think I know of something that can help you. Now, I don’t typically offer any treatments after the first session, however I think you’re the perfect candidate for a newly started research program, funded by the university that our office is partnered with. Since it is a research program, and you will technically by a test subject, the program and all supplies necessary to go with it will come at no cost. Even today’s session and our future sessions, if you decide to continue, will be at no cost to you. I must warn you that this program is highly unconventional.”

“I have no love for the conventional Dr. Prewitt,” Jamie said, their interest piqued. Not having to pay for the therapy sessions would be of great benefit, they were already worried about their budget with this single session. “Could you tell me more about the program and why you think I am a good fit?”

“I will start with the second question first. Jamie, I think one of the biggest things that is causing your stress and anxiety to be so difficult to manage is that you never let go of control. You never take time to simply let go of control and relax. There is no time for ambient stress and anxiety to dissipate, because you’re always either adding more or trying to directly address it. I’m hoping that this program can help with that. Essentially, this program will seek to emulate the stress free nature of early childhood. Its called composite regression.

Once a week you will go to a house where there will be a person, whose gender will be up to you, that will serve in a caregiver role. To put it simply, they will baby you. While there you will wear diapers and youthful clothing and be treated similarly to an infant, with certain exceptions made dependent on your personal comfortability and compliant with the fact that you are physically an adult.

Beyond the weekly visits to the house, you will be supplied with babyish diapers to be worn at your discretion, though to be part of the program they will have to be worn throughout the week. I would recommend wearing them to bed and while you’re doing school work, as you go through the program you’ll learn more about your preferences and you can go from there. You’ll also be provided a few other items infantile in nature to use while at home.

The idea is to create three separate frames of mind for you. One for while you are in public and at work, your typical stress and anxiety generating self, note that is not a bad things, its normal and part of being productive. This frame of mind should not be regressed to any degree.

The second frame of mind we are looking to create will be the frame of mind you will most commonly be able to look forward to help lessen your anxiety. This frame of mind is what we will be helping to build while you’re at home, the idea is for you to be partially regressed. Able to let go simple parts of your mind and daily life, while still able to fully operate in a productive capacity.

The third and final state of mind will be formed while at the house with your caregiver. This is where you will fully let go and attempt to rely on the caregiver for most of your needs. This will help to serve as a mini-vacation that should help you relax and revitalize yourself for the rest of the week. Now, I know this program sounds radical, however you should know that other then the foundation structure of the program, how far any of it goes is largely up to you.

I truly think that this is one of your best options, the other options that I was taught while getting my degree were that I either encourage you to decrease your workload, give you a prescription, or both. While I don’t think that there is anything wrong with giving you medicine to help, I prefer to exhaust other options first. So, what do you think?”

Jamie sat in stunned silence.

1 Like

Thank you for the advice. I went ahead and edited the typos and formatting errors, thank you for pointing them out.
As for the pronouns, it honestly was a bit tiring to write as well and I knew it would honestly probably hurt its readability a good bit, since in writing there are far less situational indicators that clarify who “their” is referring to then in visual situations.
I almost didn’t do it, however I’ve noticed a lack of non-fetishized queer identities on the forum. Jamie is gender-fluid and I don’t want to indicate their sex at birth in the story. What I would prefer to do is switch pronouns between the masculine and feminine, but I worry that that will spawn more readability issues and a slew of comments pointing out the pronoun “discrepancy”. I might do this anyway further in the story, for reasons not yet presented it will make a lot more sense.
Sorry for the long winded reply, I’m not going to lie I’ve been hitting refresh since the initial post waiting for a comment :joy: Also love your stories btw

I completely agree with Anna. It is a nice premise with the potential to allow Jamie to fulfill a fantasy they did not even know they had. It is also very, very talky, and the dialogue seems more formal than it needs to be. (That could be nervousness on your part, as you indicated that this was your first story.) No biggie.

I do wish to comment on the third person plural pronouns. I have many nonbinary people in my life who use they/them as their pronouns, so I had no problem rolling with that. One thing that I will admit feels forced and just weird, though, is the reflexive plural “themselves.” It is one thing to use “they” as a singular pronoun, but I think it’s a bit hard to argue that a clear plural like “themselves” is also singular. These days, most dictionaries still do list it as appropriate (while listing what should be the obvious choice, “themself,” as nonstandard, but these same dictionaries would have called the singular “they” nonstandard just a few years ago. Languages change, and I am very confident that it will not be long before “themself” is considered the correct reflexive pronoun for third person singular. Not recognizing that such a usage makes sense leads to pluralizing other things in ways that make none at all, like “Or should they just open their mouths and say whatever felt most right.” I mean, unless Jamie’s biology is rather abnormal, they don’t have multiple mouths. :slight_smile:

Sorry: my English teacher hat slipped on without my notice.

Bottom line: keep going! It’s a nice start. (But maybe consider getting ahead of the curve and using “themself.”)

I’m not going to lie, this is tearing my mind apart. Researching this I have found different academic sites that all cite either themselves, theirself, or themself as the correct use. I think i am going to trust your recommendation since you’re an English teacher. I think going forward I am going to use themself in third person writing (as a compliment to himself/herself) and theirself in first person (as a compliment to myself, since both their and my are possessive, though, admittedly, I find it hard to think of an example where this would be appropriate) and themselves never in this context, because that definitely is clear plurality. This is definitely one of those instances though where the use of they/them pronouns strains against my natural use of the English language, despite being clearly incorrect using themselves still feels the most right, likely since that has been what’s ingrained in my vocabulary. Also no, Jaimie most certainly does not have multiple mouths.

I really like where this is going so far, and it’s refreshing to read about another enby person. As for the language thing, it felt pretty fluid to me, and I never paused or buffered due to a break in the flow, and it felt right. Keep it up! I’ll be looking forward to your next chapter ^.^