I did not see another therapist until I was in law school in New Orleans. Until that point I never appreciated the connection between the mind and the body. I had met my wife and asked her to marry me and she said yes. She immediately went ahead with the planning which took me aback. It seemed like there was a lot of pressure and looking back on it I had no way of coping. My throat started to feel like it was closing up on me. I started to get really bad heartburn. I went to see the doctor in the school clinic. He prescribed Prilosec. It did not really work so I went to a gastroenterologist. I remember now that he suspected my symptoms were stress related but at the time I did not understand what he told me. I think the fact that I was in law school scared him because he continued to run tests on me. There was a procedure where they shoved a camera down my throat. One time I had a tube fed up my nose and down my throat. At the end of the tube outside my body was a computer device. It recorded something to do with my throat. I eventually changed doctors because nothing he did helped my symptoms. The second doctor also suggested that stress was the problem but again I did not accept that answer. I was prescribed antibiotics but they did not work. The doctor seemed annoyed with me. I wanted to think that the problem was physical. He eventually referred me to a cardiologist. The cardiologist acted like he did not know why I was there. I gave him my story. He agreed that the problem was stress and recommended me to see a psychiatrist. This time I listened.
The psychiatrist was a tall, lanky, older man with a gray beard and mustache. He looked the part of a psychiatrist. His office was in a shotgun house. It was dark inside and the walls were lined with tall wooden bookshelves. One shelf had a skull on it. He was dyslexic and wrote awkwardly with his left hand. He assured me my issue with my throat closing up was indeed stress related. He prescribed me a drug called Serzone which I think is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor like Prozac. He had me sit in a recliner and talked me through meditative sessions. I do not recall what exactly they entailed but I think they brought me to a relaxed state and then he told me when a stressful thought entered my head I should say to it “Stop! Get out of there!” After a few sessions the sensation started to subside after months of misery. This was the first time I appreciated that psychological stress can cause physical problems. It was also the first time in my life I experienced a physical problem that a regular doctor could not cure. I believe his method was the Cognitive Behavioral approach.