The other day I finished my therapy session for obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD, and was walking out of the door of the waiting room that adjoins the therapy office. As I began walking down the corridor I noticed one of the secretaries and said hi to her. At the same time I spied a man with a dog at the end of the corridor. I was terribly surprised to see a dog and told the secretary, "There's a dog down there." She immediately put on a look of concern on her face and in a very careful and comforting tone told me that if I took a right turn I could avoid the man and the dog. I replied that it was okay, and that I didn't mind them. I walked on and passed the couple and noticed that the man seemed distraught, and that the dog was wearing some kind of harness indicating that it was some sort of specialized animal.
Later on I thought about the secretary and her reaction to the fact that I had seen a dog in the building, because it seemed like she thought I had a problem with the dog. Actually I didn't because I am very fond of dogs (I have two), and wasn't at all afraid of the dog. What struck me was the tone the secretary used, because it had so much exaggerated concern. It suddenly hit me that she thought of me as a "mental patient" with some kind of phobia dealing with dogs. How strange it was to be treated this way.
Yes, she sees me every week in the office and obviously knows that I see the therapist. I believe that if I were a person not seeing a therapist she wouldn't have treated me that way. I could be all wrong of course. But it does go to show that I and others I am sure, feel a little strange about mental disorders and how we can be perceived by others. No harm was done in that corridor encounter with the secretary. Actually I sort of laughed about it later, and that is probably the best route to take.