Hello Blogland,

I do wonder if anyone will read what I write after so long. I am doing OK. I’ve been working since October last year, and this contract has had its ups and downs. Its a project moving some processes from one division to another. I was hired to write some of the processes, though now it’s turned into more of a training/woman of all work type of position.

I am still seeing Martine for therapy. We meet online, although she has offered to meet in person as I am working from home and see almost no one. I did go back in person in the summer and fall, but since our latest lockdown we stick to online. It feels a bit more distant but I manage.

I still don’t feel wildly attached to Martine, the way I was with Ron. However, this therapy helps me while Ron’s therapy really did not, after about a year or so, and I stayed many years. Allowing my feelings free reign is kind of the opposite of what I need to be able to do. And the ‘group therapy’ I went through was a bit of a horror show. I now believe Ron needed to provide guidance and direction, instead of sitting back and let everything happen as it would. What do you learn from chaos? He could also have directly shared with me how I could have interacted in a more productive way. Anyway – in the past. But I do think that was needless suffering for me with little gain. I try never to think about it, but it’s a real painful memory.

We are doing Internal Family Systems at the moment, which Martine is doing a bit of training in currently. Although I also have dissociative parts, she is focusing on looking at things from an IFS perspective. For instance at the moment, I have a part active that she says is a protector part. I am having fierce anxiety lately during work hours and she is looking at this as a part. I dunno. Could be?

Also we’ve been looking at how a lot of situations at work remind me of my past, so triggering me into a lot of big emotions. It’s sobering to think that most of my reactions are to a past which has already happened, rather than appropriate to the present.

I am struggling at work to present in a calm way. There’s this huge emphasis on calmness, no matter what is actually said or done, that I cannot live up to. In general, I have trouble presenting as always the same – I can be quite fractured at times, which confuses people and hurts my reputation.

I’ve also had a severe struggle with my one other team-mate. I tried to problem solve the situation but seem to have perhaps made things worse? Hard to say. And it is too bad because it would be so helpful and cheering to have someone to talk to about work things.

The main thing I work on day to day is staying regulated. I do at least one guided meditation or walking meditation a day, and am trying to build in activities that are calming, though this is hard when I’m often just so stressed all I can do is sit and watch TV. However, I try. I’m listening to audio books at times, and sometimes even am able to read. I’m focusing on middle grade books for the most part. There is some great writing for children these days IMO.

All the emphasis on emotional regulation has taught me to pay more attention to how I am feeling throughout the day, sometimes considering if I’m in my window of tolerance, and if not, how can I get back? Not an easy thing at times with strong emotions winning out often. However, that is the battle, and at least now I feel I am on the field. Trying to remain a calm adult self, not get hijacked by younger emotional parts. It is difficult.

I am also glad I’m no longer in an attached therapy. This means I don’t really worry about what Martine is thinking. Sometimes she does hurt me with a comment, but it’s not the end of the world for me. I don’t think we are naturally compatible, yet, we both try, she is nice enough, and we both have goodwill. And the theories she uses match my situation. Which I now think is hugely important. When I was feeling super attached, I didn’t have perspective. I don’t think that helped me.

I’m still reading blogs, just not commenting much. I’ve come to the conclusion that blog comments can’t really help, unless it’s to build camaraderie. We’re all caught up in our issues, and if we could find a way out with something said, we would already be free. Hope all are very well.

Sleep issues again, after I’d pretty much got over this. I was dozing all night, except for when I got up to try over with going to sleep. No huge deal. I’m pretty sure it was the decaf Americano I had in the late afternoon. There is a cafe I love because it’s a bit tucked away from the main street, so there’s still lots of foot traffic for people watching, while away from the worst of the car fumes. They make a good Americano, but somehow their decaf seems to keep me from sleeping. Maybe they grind it with the same grinder as caffeinated, and it gets quite a bit of caffeine in there? I don’t drink any caffeine after nine in the morning, as I’m pretty sensitive.

Evil Americano….

So I’m tired, but it’s fine. I don’t need to be anywhere or get a lot done. I picked up my groceries, did my dishes, and now I’ll head for a walk in the fall sunlight. No more lovely Americanos for me, caf or decaf, at my favourite cafe. Herbal tea will have to do.

I’ve been thinking about my last post. A huge benefit of writing here is I then get to think about what seems to be on my mind! I realize I likely will need to find a new therapist. I’m afraid Martine and I just don’t have enough personal chemistry to make this work. We both try, but I don’t think it should be this hard.

I do think this type of therapy helps me. I feel calmer in my day to day, and I’m doing some type of meditation or yoga daily to help that process. This seems to help me interacting with other people such as store clerks and baristas. I was perfectly polite usually anyway, but I suspect an anxious way of interacting puts people off. People in stores seems nicer to me now. Yesterday the barista at my favourite cafe even chatted with me, which never really happens usually.

The concept that we can’t process feelings or trauma if we can’t remain in our window of tolerance is huge. That is something Martine often talks about and tries to help me to accomplish, and I believe that is the approach I need. The other approach, of going for emotional intensity in the belief that ‘getting it out’ will be curative, doesn’t help me.

As well, I’m becoming more tolerant of exercise than I was. I’m doing a graduated aerobics program, increasing about a minute a week, and I’m up to about 15 minutes, from 7, with no shut down happening after. Increasing my exercise tolerance is a huge goal and it’s going in the right direction.

So it is not obvious that my therapy sucks and I need to end it ASAP. It seems like the right therapy, but the relationship with this T is difficult, and I think it’s not difficult just because of my own issues, but because the personal fit is lacking.

I will go back next week and see if Martine brings up the raised voices disagreement we had at the end of the previous. My belief is that she needs to bring this up and try to deal with it. I know I could. But this is something she definitely knows happened, it wasn’t happening silently in my head, so as the professional, I want to see her deal with it and not sweep it under the rug.

I was also thinking about friends. I think I’m going to cut my depressed friend and my boy crazy friend a lot of slack – we do share things when we do get together, and sometimes friendships are on the back burner. I understand that. I think that unfortunately, I will not reach out to my religious friend any more. For me, when someone doesn’t want to share any emotional parts of their life, I don’t feel that is a friendship. If she wanted to do activities, that would be OK, but her time is taken up by religious activities. So perhaps I do need to let her go.

Well – out for my walk in the sun. Then I may attend an informal outdoor concert happening in the neighbourhood, if I can master my fatigue. Hope you are having a good weekend dear reader.

I’ve been meaning to write more, and today I have time. Today, and this week, I’m struggling with getting a chronic health diagnosis. And also, struggling with a lack of friends.

Six months after getting a concerning result on a lung test, I finally had an appointment with a specialist. The diagnosis is bronchiectasis, which is a chronic lung condition that worsens over time. So far, it’s actually not bad – I’ve had a lot of phlegm and some fatigue, but that’s it. The doctor is not going to treat it as it’s not very advanced, but I’m supposed to use a lung clearance device daily, and I ordered this today.

I never thought I’d have a chronic condition, especially when relatively young (I’m in my fifties). The doctor said it’s genetic. I do know I’ve had very bad coughs down the years, for which I didn’t seek medical attention, but now wish I had. I have scarring on my lungs which must have been caused by these coughs. To be fair to myself, my family doctor at the time didn’t tend to take respiratory symptoms seriously, so I didn’t think she’d be able to help. And I had no idea these coughs could permanently damage my lungs.

Well. I’ll get used to it. Just the first week since being told I’ve been freaked out and sad. On the plus side, I am health conscious and I think that will help me. I exercise somewhat every day and eat pretty well. I’ve been slowly increasing my ability to do more vigorous exercise as well, and am up to about 15 minutes of light aerobics as well as the walking I do. We shall see how far I get with this. Because exercise triggers anxiety/shut-down for me, I need to increase it gradually.

Today I also feel rejected by most everyone I know. Even professionals. I realize I’m likely being too sensitive in this first example, but I get to write how I feel here, so I will tell you. I have been consulting a naturopath for a few months, and he has been helpful. The supplements he prescribed reduced my phlegm by about half, and I think I have less fatigue. Yesterday, I wanted to reach out to him to make an appointment and discuss the new diagnosis to see if it would change my supplement regimen. I emailed, and the secretary emailed back, but then stopped replying. So this morning, I emailed again with specific times I’m available, and she hasn’t replied.

I’m taking this super personally. More accurately, a part of me is feeling completely rejected here. I had attached the doctor’s notes to my email, as the naturopath had requested my file. The notes were basically everything that was said in the appointment, and included a list of the supplements the naturopath had prescribed, but in the process, the amounts were not accurate. I worry there was something in the note that he didn’t like? Or some other thing about now having this diagnosis that troubles him so he doesn’t want to work with me anymore?

Rationally, I know things happen that have nothing to do with me. Maybe they are behind in their emails – though in that case, why did she reply to my first enquiry right away?

Also I know that my whole male attachment pattern is activated. This guy is pleasant, he seems caring, and he looks pleasant as well. Bingo, I care desperately what he thinks of me and am now spending an uncomfortable day checking me email every few minutes to see if they respond. Sigh. I don’t need this.

As for friends generally, I was feeling more secure on that front than in the past, as I felt I had about four friends, which beats two. Now issues have arisen with each of these, to the point where I don’t really feel I have anyone to call even about such a major event as a big diagnosis. One friend has found a boyfriend, and as is typical for her, now has little time for anyone but him. Though after over a month, she did make time for us to go for a walk on the weekend. And she treated me to some food she had made that morning, so we spent a few hours together before she went off to boyfriend’s house. So now I guess we won’t see each other for a few weeks.

Another friend has become depressed. She bailed on two small outings we had arranged at the very last minute and said that was the reason. I texted her this morning and she did not respond. I’m trying to give her the space she seems to wish for.

And friend R and I are just not getting along well anymore. She doesn’t share anything with me at all, really, so then I stop sharing much, so then we only talk about food or tasks. Which is boring and not what I need in a friend. This friend is very religious and wanted to convert me to her religion. Once I made the decision that this religion is not for me, we became much less close. So now I feel that I was more of a conversion prospect for her than a sympathetic friend and we haven’t talked for over a month.

So those are three friends that I was seeing fairly regularly, and all are now more distant for various reasons. I am trying to be friendly with a downstairs neighbour who is about my age and also lives alone. We’ll see how that goes. She’s pleasant, but reserved. I’d love it if there was friend potential, but I’m not sure. Some people aren’t really looking for friendships. But I will reach out again.

I won’t go on about the dismal state of my life any more. I still need to look for work, and today I was finally able to quell my anxiety enough to do a bit in that direction. Self confidence. That’s what I need to remember. It’s all about self confidence.

And of course therapy. I’ve officially switched to every two weeks, which will start after next week’s session.

I realized after my last negative post on my therapy that I really need to go in person. Martine is a somatic therapist and that depends on the body. And there is something that happens in person that just doesn’t via zoom, as all us pandemic weary individuals are aware. I had actually thought I was fine with online therapy, as I don’t have an intense attachment to Martine, but actually it wasn’t working. I’ve now had two sessions in person and will continue that way.

The first week in person, we agains spent half the time discussing parts, and again I was intensely triggered once I was at home. Martine had asked me to write to her if I was triggered, so I wrote her two short emails, on the evening of the session and again the next day. It actually helped to write to her and have her respond, it made the experience less lonely. However it seems to have shocked her a bit – in this week’s session she said how I’d been dealing with serious issues when I emailed her (no suicidal thoughts or anything) and she stopped wanting to talk about parts. So that was odd. I was more willing, if I could email, but she backed right away from this topic.

This week’s session was OK. I have realized that I do think about some of the things she says, which is different from when I went for therapy with Ron. With Martine, there is so much education and putting things in terms of her books and worksheets, that I can hang on to some of the content better. She was actually drawing diagrams for me with markers that were past their sell-by date, so I remember a bunch of circles and faded lines…lol.

For instance, I talked about visiting my parents, a visit which was fine in one way. We chatted, and I enjoyed chatting to my dad because he is so intelligent and eager to engage. However the visit brought me right down for a few days afterwards as well. Martine said that when we’re with people close to us, there are two streams of information – one is what is talked about, but the other is a bunch of feelings and memories of all kinds of things that occurred in the past. So even while we don’t broach those subjects, they are kind of flowing between us anyway. So that is an explanation of why these visits bring me down even though on the face of it they seem harmless.

She also said although I say I’m ‘depressed’ sometimes, she doesn’t see me as having depression per se, because this state leaves so quickly. It’s more like I’m in a ‘hopeless helpless’ part when I feel that way. I do feel ‘helpless hopeless’ a fair amount, so I’m acting more as if this is a part, and trying to see what help it needs to feel better, rather than accepting that this world view is the truth. It’s an interesting thing to do.

Then we ended in a fight, or at least a rough couple of minutes complete with raised voice on my part, and defensiveness on hers. As I’ve mentioned previously, Martine loves her textbooks and worksheets, and is constantly paging through books to find a section, or pulling up a worksheet that she thinks speaks to what I’m talking about. I have some issues with this, because she seems so eager to teach and find a helpful resource that she is not much good at listening to what I have to say. A lot of times I’m trying to talk to her, and she’s already paging through a text while I’m speaking, to find an appropriate resource.

I kind of wonder if it’s too hard for her to hear client’s painful stories all day long, so she does this finding resources activity as a way to block it out? On the one hand, I appreciate sometimes getting some tool or way of looking at things that applies, and which I can actually remember after the session, which never happened with Ron’s way of intense listening. On the other hand, having someone obviously following her own train of thought, even if it’s about my issues, paging through a text while I’m still talking, makes me feel uninteresting at least. Lets just say she is not a good listener in my opinion.

The fight was not about this though, but about her most beloved text, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. This is the method we’re basically using in her therapy. I do admire the text and have studied it a lot. I just – I do think about texts in a way that some others don’t. It’s an occupational hazard, as a technical writer. So I commented on something that, I’m sorry, is obvious. I said that I don’t like how this text, and this type of therapy in general, seems to ignore all the therapy knowledge that came before, and assume they are inventing a totally new thing in the twenty-first century. So for instance, they ignore the existence of psychodynamic therapy, and all the knowledge that has been acquired through the previous century. Then Martine started leafing through the references at the back, trying to find someone from the twentieth century. And she did – Winnicott, but she didn’t actually seem to know that he was from the 20th, she just mentioned him in passing along with others.

Then she accused me of black and white thinking. Which this just wasn’t – I told her I thought it was a good book, useful, just it has this weakness. I told her I thought she was using black and white thinking, being so distressed over an observation and assuming I was trashing the whole text. She then ‘asked or accused’ whether this was the way my father would criticize things. Which was hurtful, since we’d talked about my father in unflattering terms. I told her no, not at all, which is true – my father cannot analyze a text and would never have that kind of comment.

Sigh. Then our session timed out. We both softly said goodbye, and also scheduled the next appointment.

It’s an honest concern that I have about this therapy approach though. It seems to assume everything is always conscious and above-board, with little thought given to client/therapist dynamics. It’s seems kind of super-rational. Though to be fair, I have since discovered that in the introduction the author does address these dynamics, though this type of discussion doesn’t seem to occur in the text itself.

But…also on further thought, this habit Martine has of not listening well and diving into her texts constantly is also a real irritant for me, and it could be my feelings about that bled over into the way I criticized the textbook.

If only I could combine Ron’s ability to listen and not react defensively with Martine’s trauma informed theories that actually are helpful.

I again started to look for therapist websites. Now I’ve found two that are trauma informed and even say they work with dissociative disorders. Not sure if they’d work in person though with someone new in a pandemic.

I think I’ll try and just let it all be for now. I’m getting something out of the therapy. Friends’ situations may change. Work may come. If the naturopath doesn’t want to work with me, I’ll find another. I just need to survive as gracefully as possible. That I can do.

I’m feeling ambivalent about my therapy. I’m once again back in this place where I don’t want to continue with therapy but am afraid to give it up. Do I feel I owe Martine, that I cannot quit? Or is it sheer loneliness, needing someone to check in with every week? I certainly reach this place often – I struggled for years with Ron’s therapy, despite being attached to him. I knew very well it wasn’t trauma informed, but kept going anyway.

With Martine, yes, she is trauma informed. I have struggled feeling a sense of connection to her though. I want to argue and poke holes in everything she says. Instead of Ron’s complete disregard for theory, Martine is constantly referring to our text/workbook, commenting on what I say using the vocabulary of this type of therapy. She rarely asks questions and seems to jump to conclusions really quickly in a way I find irritating.

Some of the stuff helps. Grounding is a good idea, and trying to notice times when I feel good has helped me also. Just noticing the general level of stress I carry and trying to calm is beneficial.

We’ve struggled with the fact that I have these fairly separate parts but am reluctant to engage them. We have these adult discussions where parts don’t seem to have a place. Martine wants these parts of myself to be in therapy also. I am reluctant because anytime we even talk about parts, it triggers me and I end up with therapy hangovers lasting days. I feel I end up triggered, get a depression hangover, and in addition, this does no good – there doesn’t seem to be an upside. I see the triggering, I don’t see the healing.

So last week, we did spend 30 minutes discussing parts, what it means, who they are as far as I know. My impression is Martine doesn’t know a whole lot about this, so I have to explain a lot. But maybe I’m being too critical – in fact, I know I’m being a critical bitch. I know it. And I can’t stop.

Anyway, I do want to get a grip on this. After some time, I urgently needed to change the subject. So we talked about a difficulty I’m having with a friend. And of course the parts stuff did trigger me and I struggled for days after the session to get back some functioning.

Is it worth it? Therapy is triggering me and I don’t see how it’s helping. I like the therapist alright but am in no way attached to her. I know I avoid big emotions, because I am fed up with having my life hijacked by therapy – it takes me so long to recover from the big emotions.

I am discouraged. I have cut back my sessions to every other week for financial reasons. And, though I haven’t mentioned this, because therapy does not seem to be helping a whole lot.

I’ve just spent an hour scanning therapist websites. Pretty much nobody mentions dissociation as a speciality. A lot of people who want to help me with my journey with compassion and non-judgement.

The only person I’m intrigued by is a Jungian therapist who practices nearby. She is older, and I am craving a wise older woman with patience and insight. I’m craving a real conversation that isn’t continually referencing some workbook or some special vocabulary. However, she does not mention trauma or dissociation as specialities.

I need someone smart who has experience, whose feelings I can’t hurt with my prickly personality, and I’d like someone who works with attachment. Plus I need help with parts. I still believe in a transference and the importance of noticing the feelings between therapist and client….this is one of my problems with somatic approaches – they are so much like procedures – apply the procedure and healing happens. I don’t quite believe it.

I am having a down day. I hope to have a better perspective in a while. My allergies have kicked in so now I’m really housebound as I need to avoid pollen! Just when it’s finally cooler outside and it would be pleasant to be out.

I truly hope to have something more constructive to post about soon.

I know I’ve been missing in action. Several reasons occur to me. For one thing, I have been working a contract, and while I was grateful to be employed, it’s not been a great fit and somehow that silences me. I have just got the not unexpected news that they are ending the contract early, which is painful and of course worrying for me, however, it did seem to be heading that way, so at least now I know.

The other reason is that my therapy has become rather less involving. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though it clearly sounds bad, because the trauma therapy is probably a better fit for me than Ron’s more old-fashioned psychodynamic approach was. Switching to a completely different approach does bring up questions for me about why I stayed with Ron for such a long time when I wasn’t making progress. Those are questions that are painful for me to think about, as Ron meant so much to me for such a long time, and I still think of him with fondness at times. However I now believe that a lot of what I was doing with him was harmful and re-traumatizing. It hurts to even write that.

In my current trauma therapy, I’m not deeply attached to my therapist. She’s fine, and I know she is caring and trying her best. I do think the theory she is working with, sensorimotor therapy, suits my situation better than endlessly following my feelings. She is trying to solve problems, rather than deeply engage with me. Maybe that’s a good thing, I’m not sure.

We are working to learn resources that I can call on to help my nervous system stabilize. There is a heavy text book / workbook where I am to fill in various worksheets. And practice the exercises.

Just the idea that I need to calm my nervous system is helpful and I think I’ve done some of that in the year of doing this therapy. And my relationships (except for work) have improved, as I learn to validate other people, to calm my responses, and to focus on positive things as appropriate. It’s good to try and be more normal when that’s what you need.

I do have the issue of more pronounced dissociative splits than is usual even for trauma survivors. It’s a hard one – I’m pretty sure it would take someone with specific training and experience in this area, which is hard to find as it is not a common problem. Then, those that may have the training, are too expensive for me to access.

For now, I decided to leave the issue of dissociative parts mostly off the table. I’d need someone with expertise, because otherwise I trigger a bunch of disabling pain which doesn’t help anyone.

I am also going to need to scale back to every other week therapy, because without work, I just can’t afford this.

 

So an update amid an international health emergency. Wow. My life has changed in a bunch of ways aside from this crisis, plus, well, there’s the crisis.

I did get one of the contracts I was interviewing for as I described in my last post. There was a two week wait, and I started 2nd week of March. Four days later, most employees including me moved to working from home.

I’m very lucky in the timing. A week later, and I wouldn’t have been able to start. And if I hadn’t gotten work at that point, I’d be unlikely to get anything now when businesses are battened down for the storm.

I am very very relieved to have work, at least for a while. At first, I worried they’d quickly lay me off again, but that hasn’t happened. I spoke with my manager about this, and he said my project is vital to help more employees work from home. So. Quite the coincidence. I confess I’m not doing much, as the manager is in emergency mode, trying to outfit a large company to work completely offsite. He’d have to give me work but he doesn’t have time to think about it. Luckily I’m at home, on the clock, so as long as I’m available to work, I can bill.

I also acquired a new health diagnosis two weeks ago, with unfortunate timing. I went for some tests end of January, and one of them just came back positive. I now have a type of lung disease, similar to tuberculosis, but not infectious. Not a great thing to have with a plague which attacks the lungs on the loose. So I have been self-isolating more than most. I don’t go to grocery stores or anywhere except for walks.

At first I panicked quite a bit, sure I was going to die. However, I’ve now calmed down. None of us knows what is in the future. It’s a scary time for all, and a whole lot of other people are also at extra risk.

Because of the crisis, I likely won’t be able to see a lung specialist for months. At first, I wanted to start treatment right away, but on a virtual visit with my family doctor, he advised I should wait. They don’t always treat this because the treatment is quite severe and fairly often is ineffective.

Well. I’m not very sick now, and this illness is slow to develop, so I’m likely fine.

So a lot for me to get used to – new job, all new people, new diagnosis, and mega international health crisis. I’m slowly getting used to it all.

I’ve had some contact with friends and also groups online through zoom. My church has been helpful with online services and then small online groups after. I’ve attended an online singing group. And getting used to seeing my face on camera while I talk to others…it takes getting used to. In some ways, online meetings are easier than physical meetings – no big decision on whether to attend or no for instance. Attending is just a click away.

My therapy is interrupted for a week. My choice basically. Then we will meet online later this week. I’m in a good place with therapy at the moment and this doesn’t cause me stress. When I was in the midst of being desperately attached to Ron, or rather when child parts were, it would have been agonizing to skip a week of therapy and I would have worried about it intensely. But although I quite like Martine, it’s more in the way I might like a teacher of a class I enjoy, or maybe a friend I enjoy spending time with, rather than that desperate clinging attachment of a small child to it’s parent.

It’s hard for me to think of much else but covid all the time, but I know my mental health depends on the effort to do this. I’ve heard some advice on great books to tackle now that we all have all this time available, but for me, I think I need very light reads. I literally fall asleep every time I try to tackle a more meaty book. And comedy shows, or at least very straightforward types of entertainment. Just to try and relax from all the stress and uncertainty.

I’m still carrying on with writing out fears and resentments once a day, followed by walking meditation, which I do twice a day, and I think it’s steadying me. I’m trying to remember grounding stuff as well and that’s helpful.

I am feeling fairly positive about all the Canadian government restrictions aimed at having people keep to the social distancing. I think we’re about a week ahead of the States in our measures, even though it would have been better to do all this even a week sooner. But I want to see us take the crisis seriously. I believe that we can, at the least, slow this down so the healthcare system can cope.

All blog readers, be safe and be well. We’ve got this, as I saw written in chalk on a sidewalk on one of my walks. We are strong, we are inventive, we will come through this.

 

I’ve decided to change the focus of the blog a bit. I don’t seem to be comfortable anymore sharing my therapy notes. I’m still trying to write down what happens in sessions, but am keeping that private. So here I’ll still talk about therapy type issues, and a bit of my own life, but more just as I feel like writing.

First of all, the job interviews situation has picked up, and I’ve had four different interviews recently. Not totally sure why now I’m getting calls, and wasn’t previously. I did add more details to my resume on jobs I had over ten years ago, and maybe that helped. And, I really think some of my work on trying to do better interviews is paying off. I read some books on how to interview, listened to some youtubes, and also practiced some interviews with two different friends. So today was my last interview of the series, and it went pretty well. I do believe if I don’t get an offer, it won’t be because I screwed anything up, in contrast to previous interviews. Also, got my suit pants altered so I can wear a complete suit. Maybe that helped.

The prospect of an interview pushes all my PTSD buttons and I tend to be a nervous wreck the day of. I feel like today, I got more of a handle on it than previously, though I was still quite tense. Something went wrong logistically – the agency only gave me first names of the managers I was to see, then at security they needed last names, and the security person wasn’t very helpful….I very deliberately set everything up so that I’m at the location very early, so I don’t have to rush at all, as that will make me anxious. However, you’re not supposed to announce yourself until five minutes before the meeting, so by the time I asked security to phone the managers, and we discussed the whole situation, I was already late.

Long story short, the manager came down about 15 minutes late, apologizing that he had been held up. In the elevator going up, I was so spaced, I followed some other person out when the door first opened, instead of staying with this manager, and he had to call me back in! Stupid, but just shows how spaced I’d become.

However, it went fine. In the past I felt I alienated the interviewer, and this didn’t happen. I felt we were personally having a decent conversation. If he doesn’t hire me, it may be because I didn’t have some of the exact experience they’re looking for, but it won’t be because I was personally not in tune with the person interviewing. This probably seems like a no brainer to many, but for me, I easily become either flustered or else mildly antagonistic, for some reason.

So this interview, and one I attended on Tuesday, both seem fairly hopeful. Though for the Tuesday one, I didn’t deal with my fear as well, and ended up with some uncontrollable nervous coughing. Near the end of the interview, the interviewer also started nervously coughing….Maybe not a good thing? But still, I have the feeling it wasn’t a bad interview.

The main thing I did to try to counteract my real fear and anxiety today was talking back to the harsh hateful inner critic. I’ve been reading Peter Walker’s great book on CPTSD, and that’s something he thinks is essential for overcoming the anxiety and trauma of PTSD. Talking back to the critic, even becoming justly angry at the critic and at the parents who were so woefully inadequate and instilled this killing critic in a helpless child. I hadn’t been thinking the anxiety was because of the inner critic, but because this helped a lot, I now think it is largely because of that.

I also went for a fast walk in the morning. I’ve newly downloaded some ‘workout’ music, which is a kind of music I don’t naturally gravitate towards. I was listening to that, and it speeds up my steps, so my walk is now more of a workout. I think the exercise helped.

Before the interview, I sat in a cafe close by and listened to an audio book, The Dutch House, read by  an actor whose name I can’t remember right now. Very famous in any case. That was kind of soothing as well. So I’m going to follow that routine for future interviews as well. Oh and one supplement, just before leaving – Theanine. It’s a bit calming without making you sleepy.

Another area I’ve had success in addressing is my severe insomnia. When you have issues and go off to therapy, it’s easy to assume the cause is psychological. What I discovered, kind of by accident, is if I have no caffeine beyond a small cup first thing, I can miraculously sleep. Maybe I’d become somewhat allergic to caffeine as I got older without realizing. Since I discovered this a few weeks ago, I’ve stayed off the caffeine and slept pretty well. Amazing. Not so great sometimes during the afternoons when I’m fatigued, but my need to sleep at night outweighs my need to feel perked up. Of course, if I do get back to working, this might be more difficult, but I’m pretty determined to stay off the caffeine and keep sleeping at night.

I’m still going to weekly sessions. The sessions are now triggering me about as much as in my last therapy, with me losing days of functioning to depression after. And really, we’re not going that deep. And this therapy is supposed to specifically be easier to digest as it were. So I’m not happy with that, although I am learning quite a bit about trauma. I’m very unclear as to what is causing this aftermath.

I will leave it at that for now. Hope all of you are doing well.

Best get down some details from my session yesterday.

First I talked about how I’d been feeling the previous week. I’d had quite the therapy hangover from the previous session, so I complained about that. I’d thought this type of trauma therapy wasn’t supposed to leave you with the hangover that lasted for days. But, I guess it depends.

I’d been depressed for maybe three days following the session. Kind of like I’m feeling now one day post session to tell the truth. I think it’s partly that we touch on the SA by acknowledging that it happened, and then also last week we processed a memory concerning how my father used to scream at me when I was a child. I seem to always fall right back into a memory, rather than just describing what happened in the past. We were trying to do what Martine calls dual awareness – you keep in mind your surroundings and space in the present while you also remember the details of the past event. Could be I didn’t do this properly, but it didn’t seem to help that much.

I’d remembered my father screaming at me about table manners at dinner – my hands had to be on the table, not down by my side, and also, I was to keep my mouth closed when chewing. I knew these things, but somehow I would forget, and he would be very angry. I know this is not trauma with a capital T, but still, it scared me. And there was never any repair – no one comforted me, and there was no one who cared to listen to me talk about it. I’m not sure my age, because I think this happened throughout my childhood, likely starting around age 5 or 6.

I still hear that angry energy attacking me in the form of an internal voice or critic. I know one of the challenges of my life is to overcome that or tame that critic somehow.

So going over this memory I guess plunged me into those feelings of being attacked, not good enough, and just fundamentally bad. Even though Martine does take care to try and bring me out of it. We did some meditative walking for instance to bring me back into my body. And I do come out of it for her, in her office, but it all comes rushing back once I’m home.

I’ve had a lot of grief with insomnia lately as well. I’ve had nights where i literally did not sleep at all, and being so very tired has been ruling my life to some extent. I try to carry on but often just need to stay home when that happens. However, there’s been an excellent development. I’ve cut out most caffeine, and it’s made a huge difference.

I truly didn’t think caffeine was affecting me much. I love my tea and coffee, and in the late afternoons am very liable to fall asleep without it. However, one day I was feeling very anxious so only had a morning cup of coffee, with no other caffeine the rest of the day. And I slept really pretty well, just up once at night. It was amazing. So I did the same thing again the next day, and again slept fairly decently.

It’s been three days now with only a morning cup of coffee, and I’ve slept pretty well all three nights. I’m so hoping it’s a trend. I am slowly going to decrease the size of the morning cup as well, just continuing to have that so the withdrawal headache isn’t too bad. While I miss the lovely taste of coffee and black tea, I would do much more than give those up in order to be able to sleep.

It’s a huge relief to me to think I’ll probably be able to sleep when I go to bed at night. When I lost the ability to sleep, it was like a basic function had gone missing, which was so stressful.

So I filled Martine in on all this. I’ll document the rest later.

Last week’s therapy session seemed pretty good but left me with a mighty therapy hangover. The session seemed to exacerbate my insomnia, so I didn’t sleep all that night, and it’s taken me some days to recover. My sleep is on a hair trigger anyway at the moment, so it’s not really the therapy’s fault. But still. I’m concerned about being harmed instead of helped. I’ll bring it up next week.

Lets see what I can remember. We decide to sit in the two more solid seats, similar to maybe cafe seating, instead of the couch and armchair. I like the solid feel of these chairs, and we’re then right beside the large windows. The office is on the second floor and so there’s lots of daylight pouring in.

I talk about sleep, of course. I’d tried a prescribed sleeping pill, and it did work, as in I slept, but the second day of taking it I had severe anxiety, to the point I felt I was panicking. I didn’t realize it might be the pill until I talked to a friend who suggested I research it, and sure enough, anxiety is an uncommon side effect. So no more sleeping pills for me.

Martine had a lot to say about everything, but I don’t really need her input on pills, doctors, my feelings about these….I want to make good use of the hour, which from my point of view is short.

I talked about a you tuber I’ve been following, the hilariously named Crappy Childhood Fairy, and that I’ve been trying her technique for healing said crappy childhood. Twice a day, you write out your fears and resentments, try and release these, and then do a very simple 20 minute meditation. I was finding the meditation was bringing up lots of sadness so was wondering if it was beneficial. I tried a walking meditation in Martine’s  office instead. Walking meditation has so far never triggered me. At one point, Martine reminded me about using my back muscles and walking in an aligned way so my neck is free to move. So I’ve replaced the sitting meditation for walking meditation this week.

The CC fairy is pointing out that a difficult / traumatic childhood causes changes to how our brains are wired, and the writing and meditation are supposed to help correct that and just calm the brain down.

In the middle of the session, we somehow got onto the topic of the SA I went through as a tiny child. This ended up bringing up a child part. I still stayed adult as well, but was overwhelmed by that part’s feelings. We did some grounding, I played with some hand toys to try and bring me back. However. Although we did all this, and the adult took over again, I think this part of the session is what triggered the insomnia. I feel I can’t touch on the abuse without being overwhelmed at the moment.

Oh yeah, and there was a part after I was triggered, where Martine had me look at her and describe what I saw – was it a friendly safe person, etc. I was really in a child part then, so I couldn’t think. I told her this, and then that she had blue eyes and was a lady and she looked nice. Which Martine said was fine.

Then she pulled some books that are more to do with dissociation and said we’d be using those.

The last part of the session, we discussed a phone call with my mother I’d had earlier in the week. I find my mother difficult obviously. She is a very anxious person, and I seem to make her more anxious than usual. She doesn’t know what to talk about, so she gives me a very few family highlights – my uncles health (poor), that they’re going back up north soon.

I am like this burden for her. I don’t know what to say to her, as she doesn’t talk about normal things. I tell her I’m still looking for work. I just don’t know what to say.

Martine suggests asking questions when she tells me something, like ‘how are you doing with uncle’s condition’. Or to just ask her how her day has been.

Talking to my mother makes me super anxious and also angry. I desperately want to get off the phone, and I do after about seven minutes. Talking to her reminds me of how shut down she was when I needed her to talk to me as a child. How she constantly chose her husband and pretty much anyone else over me. And someone who won’t speak….I have trouble with that kind of a person anyway.

I’d say there was a huge mismatch of temperaments between myself and my mother, besides all the other unfortunate events that went on.

Martine talked about how other people may be safe or not, and I said that most people in my current world are in fact safe. Then Martine said that people who are more transparent, and who are less compartmentalized, will help me feel grounded or clear minded when I’m speaking with them, while people who are more compartmentalized might make me feel more anxious. Like my mother, who is very compartmentalized. It’s a good thing to start to notice about other people.

I think for me, open-ness is a huge value that makes me feel comfortable with another person. I have a newish friend whom I really like, although her style of relating might be described as oversharing. If you’re going to under or over share, I feel more comfortable with oversharing. Martine thinks this friend is not very healthy, but for me, I still like her. I’m not that healthy either in any case. If a person is open, it just means a lot to me.

I don’t remember much else from the session. The insomnia/medical discussion. Then the trauma/child part episode. Just a huge wall of emotions – sadness and fear I suppose. Then the mother is difficult discussion along with the thoughts about how different types of people make me feel. Also the walking meditation and the emphasis on walking tall using back muscles.

Was there homework? Usually I am to focus on something, but this time I can’t remember. Likely because the trauma part of it overwhelmed me and I wasn’t focusing on much after that.

Next time, I want to stay away from trauma, since we’re not in the trauma processing phase of therapy and since I’m struggling so much with my sleep anyway.

Overall I’m still happy with the trauma therapy and the focus on staying regulated.

Need to keep the old blog alive.

I’m struggling quite a bit with insomnia lately. At one point, I stayed awake for about a week, where I’d go to bed and kind of doze all night instead of sleeping. Luckily then I started sleeping again, but now again I’m not sleeping much. I got some sleeping pills prescribed from the doctor, which I’m not sure yet if I’ll take. Actually, I will try them at some point.

Therapy is going well. I’ve decided however that I need to dial it down to a session every two weeks. I still am unemployed and the stress of having no money coming in is pretty much doing me in. Paying for therapy in that situation just doesn’t make much sense. It’s valuable though, so I compromised by deciding to go every two weeks. Ouch. It’s a loss for sure, but I just need to cut back now. It will still be a major expense in my budget, even at just two sessions a month.

So what happened last session…hmmm….I went in still recovering from having put my back out by having lifted a heavy tray of cups from the ground  on Sunday as a church coffee time volunteer. We spent time talking about how physical pain seems to trigger my emotional issues, as I feel desperately sad and childlike in reaction to this kind of pain.

Martine always has a lot to say. Sometimes it does feel that I have to wrest control of the session from her in order to tell any part of my story. On the other hand, I appreciate her perspectives, so it’s a balancing act. I’m not used to a therapist talking for so much of the session.

We didn’t come to any conclusions on why pain triggers me. Martine did say that as a child, I had no one who would help me figure out my emotional world, and that it is OK to feel sad, and that I shouldn’t be abandoned for feeling it. This discussion on pain took up over half the session, and I know Martine said a lot of things, and I cannot really remember much of it.

I talked about how I think being too isolated is hurting my interview performance, if I do finally get an interview. If the interviewer is the first person I’ve talked to in days, then it’s easy to feel unbalanced and unconfident. So as a person living alone, how can I increase my contact with people in daily life? I share about how I watched a video where a woman spoke about isolation and trauma, and how it’s important to get out into the world every day and interact with at least two people, so you don’t become strange and lost in your own world. So I was thinking I can try doing that, even if it’s just a chat about the weather with a coffee shop person.

Martine recommended ACA. I like that about her, that she is aware of these resources. I’ve gone to ACA in the past, and Ron never had any idea what it was or any opinion on whether it would be useful for me. Martine was thinking I could use the group to try and process my family or origin stuff, and that we could work on trauma processing and skills in our sessions. So I agreed to seek out a group again.

I told her I’d bought the DBT skills workbook (DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha Linehan). I do find some of those skills so helpful, even though I don’t have BPD. I never knew about emotion regulation before. It’s a great concept and is what I’m mostly trying to learn how to do, and it’s what a lot of the worksheets help with.

The last part of the session triggered me and I did go home upset and unable to ‘regulate’. Anytime some of these child traumas come up, it takes me a long time to get back to functional adult. I kept thinking about a get together I’d been on the previous weekend. It was with two friends of mine, and I do appreciate them both, but the interactions were problematic. I’m going to describe it a bit, but not in order to talk shit about my friends, just to explain this part of the therapy and why it triggered me.

One of the friends talks a lot, without much regard for how she’s being received. She hit on quite a lot of traumatic subjects at our get together, without giving anyone else much chance to respond. The other friend withdraws quite a bit, and is reluctant to share much of a personal nature at all. So we spent a lot of time just sitting listening to the talkative friend go on. At one point, she started talking about her childbirth experiences, and that triggered my own memories, which were not pleasant. I said something then about how I was finding the topic triggering, but she didn’t hear me, and kept on with the subject.

Martine had quite a bit to say about this. She said the friend was not being respectful of the people there, that you need permission before broaching traumatic things, and even then, you need to check in with others to see how you’re being received. She said the friend might have been in a self state. I didn’t know what that was, so she explained it’s when you’re in a type of part that is not related…or something. I didn’t know you should check in with others before talking about upsetting things, but I can see the value.

Martine then said the friend needs therapy to process her trauma, and I said she’d already had a lot of it. My opinion is that some kinds of therapy encourage this kind of soul baring behaviour in the name of authenticity, and the therapy she has had probably encouraged this kind of behaviour.

Anyway, she is a good and kind person, and she will also listen, but you have to break into her monologue and start talking about your own stuff. Which I do when we’re out together on our own, but it was harder with others present.

Martine said this situation where my feelings weren’t considered or respected must remind me of my FOO. How I might be upset by something, then my family would ignore me and not respond in a human way. How do I feel when I think about this?

So I said I felt like punching them. Martine asked me to act it out, swing my arm in an imaginary punch. Or a real punch at imaginary family members. I did this, and I felt like this wall of emotion was coming towards me – a tsunami of pain, sadness, anger. Then I spent the remaining minutes of the session trying to regulate again. I tried rolling her small spiky ball between my palms, hand on heart and stomach for containment, noticing different sights in the room and describing them.

That all helped a bit, but I was no longer able to think much in an adult way. Martine tried to say something with concepts and I could no longer understand her. The session ended a bit late, and I rushed out of the room, leaving behind my blue wool jacket.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Martine commented that if I had to fight someone off of me in the past, then doing those punching type movements would be triggering for me. So perhaps that is the case for me, though I don’t remember having to fight someone off of me.

Overall, I’d say the session was about how I relate to others, boundaries, and also about anger I still feel about my own family’s withdrawn and withholding ways.  And also about how emotions/memories are still embedded in my body, so that some simple movements bring traumatic type emotions flooding back to me.

Well, back to my Benedict Cumberbatch video. He’s one of my favourite actors, and he did a series for Masterpiece Theatre called The Last Enemy, where he plays an introverted mathematician drawn into a world of political maneuvering and shady goings on at high levels. Not as insane as Sherlock, but he’s similarly strange and kinetic in this. What would I do without DVDs and such?