Therapy Friday – family

Well, I’m still here. Reluctant to write.

Cancer wise the news is good. My scan came back clear – the cancer has not spread and is local as the doctors were thinking. I got the results early because I went in to see my family doctor Monday. So it saved me a week’s worry. I have finally relaxed a bit. I was so anxious I had to keep lying down, but am better now.

Apparently I may have some kind of weird bacteria in my lungs, which is why the doctor called me in. She says it’s something that mostly they don’t even treat, but if I have chemo, she wants to treat it with antibiotics if I have it. Another test. It’s all fine by me. As long as it isn’t cancer, I don’t care.

I’m also to take a B12 supplement – apparently I’m low. So it might clear up the nausea also.

I’ve actually fallen into a mild depression these last two days. I was thinking maybe it’s a reaction to the intense stress of the last weeks, then one of the sources of anxiety goes away, maybe I’m just rebounding. Today I had not one but two naps. And lots of staring out the window.

Can I remember therapy? I wanted to get down the basics.

First I thought Ron was looking especially well last Friday. Turns out he had a sick child and visitors and got little sleep – go figure. Maybe he’s happy. His face really did look rested and with good colour, as my European family would say.

When he tells me about his evening (two sentences max) I start feeling he couldn’t possibly be interested in me. I picture his life, full of people, and my life pale and uninteresting next to that. I mention this.

We talk about the group. I want to know what he thinks of it. To me it was kind of cozy and unthreatening, but also with a supportive feeling. Isn’t this a good thing? Ron is completely non-committal. Very irritating. I want him to express an opinion, and he won’t.

R. Groups do what they do. Last night people were talking about how they can relate to each other’s stories.

E. You didn’t say much at all, which was unusual.

Ron nods and says nothing. Sigh.

E. But what’s your opinion? Was it a good thing?

R. I don’t think of it that way. I’m listening for patterns happening in the background, underneath.

Okey doke.

We talk about my family, especially my mother’s and father’s personalities. I say I can understand my father’s personality better than my mother’s, because he’s more like me. My mother never expresses anything, she doesn’t talk much, she hates it when anyone expresses their feelings. It’s a forbidden thing pretty much.

My father is the only one who is allowed much emotion. He expresses anger, and falls into depressions, and becomes wildly enthusiastic about various projects.

R. It strikes me how fragile your father must be. How he is protected from everything.

It’s true, my father is protected. He doesn’t talk to me about my health – that’s my mother’s job. And Ron reminds me how my father didn’t talk to me for ‘a year’ – it’s actually many years, but Ron thinks it’s a year. I don’t bother correcting him.

E. I don’t know how my mother keeps going like she does. Things that knock me over with depression, she just sweeps under the carpet and keeps on. I just can’t do that, I don’t have that strength.

Actually it’s more like a great ability to repress and deny, as much as strength. But I can’t do that, even if I want to. I don’t know how that works.

We keep things pretty light – I talk, but don’t plunge into deep feelings. Kind of like the group was. I think with my anxiety about cancer, it’s not a time to dredge up other trouble.

At the end of the session, Ron asks about the kid, so the kid, who wants to talk, leaps out front and tells Ron about some toys we saw on our lunch break at work, and particularly a certain stuffed dragon with golden wings.

As I’m leaving, Ron again tells me I can call or email him anytime in the next week. It’s kind of him, I appreciate it.

I go home not triggered, and actually walk across the parking lot with a smile on my face. I’ve seen other female clients leave Ron’s office with a bit of a smile. He has charm when he wants to have. It’s fun but it also makes me suspicious.

I’m not sure what this session did for me – it was perhaps about reassurance that Ron is there and will not disappear when I’m ill either. That means a lot. I do have a feeling later that evening that I was maybe not my ‘real self’ in the session, whoever that may be. I so need Ron’s support, I wonder if I’m rather acting the part of the introspective client, eager to co-operate and probe her family. It’s a disconcerting feeling. It’s like being a version of myself I think Ron will like.

  1. Bourbon said:

    I am so glad to hear about the results of the test. That must be a massive weight off your mind and it is great you got the results early so you have one less week of worrying about it. I agree with Ron that some members of your family may be good at denial. Things that knock me over would be water off a ducks back for my sister because she learnt my families trick of repression and denial. Personally I prefer it my way. It may hurt a little bit more but at least I know it is ‘real’. Interesting insight with what you said about not being your ‘real self’ in session and perhaps being someone you think Ron wants. Probably something good to keep in mind but I’m glad you did feel a bit supported in session. Being able to recognise your support system will help greatly in the tough times to come. But for now you sound okay & calm-ish? I hope so – you deserve a bit of a rest from the hair-raising emotion of it all. warm thoughts to you xx

    • Ellen said:

      I prefer it my way also. Just it looks like a great trick when nothing seems to affect some people in my family!

      It was good to feel supported by Ron – it’s not the time for another crisis in therapy for sure. I’m not sure why I felt I wasn’t my ‘real self’. That is something I felt afterwards only – as if I’d wished I’d been another way somehow.

      I do feel calmer now. Thanks Bourbon. xox

  2. attached said:

    That is great news about the cancer being localized and the scan clear. I’m glad that you found out early and can at least take a break from that line of worrying. I also don’t have my mother’s ability to deny and repress negativity and keep moving forward although I am still envious of it. I try and remind myself that a lot of that negativity comes out in other ways and is toxic to others so it is better when I know what I am feeling and why. Do you think that is true for your mother as well?

    • Ellen said:

      I like how you put it Di, taking a break ‘from that line of worrying’. It’s so true – as soon as one worry goes, others pop up again.

      I think that is absolutely true of my mother as well. Thanks Diane.

  3. I noticed that after I had good news about my cancer I felt more tired and a little depressed. It was like my body took a mini vacation with out my brain and it was all sulky or something. Prolonged stress released can do interesting things to the mind and the body. I am glad to hear the cancer is in one area. I suspect the doctors feel confident in removing it all.

    I noticed that my counselor watched for patterns in my behavior more than just what is said. My parents were the opposite. My father was all about peace at all cost and my mother was all emotional. Only she was the only one that could have emotions. She still tells me what I should feel. Now I ignore what she says.

    What you describe about your mother sounds like dissociation at a severe level. It is not healthy. My counselor had the hardest time working with me when I am like that. No emotions means no emotions of any kind. Sorry to hear your parents were so difficult.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting you had a similar experience with your cancer. I feel completely done in at the moment. The surgeon did say he is confident he will remove all of it.

      I’m glad you can now ignore your mother’s words. Not sure if it’s dissociation with my mother. Could be. Our parents seem to have similarities for sure.

      Thank you Ruth.

  4. Glad for the good news. Sometimes I just don’t want to get deep and heavy in counseling. Like when I came back in September after Sharon’s vacation and my surgery. For three weeks I talked about school. Nothing about family, trauma, “issues”, etc., just what my classes were like, and the other students, etc. I sort of thought, am I getting my money’s worth about this? But when I was ready we jumped back into the hard stuff. So maybe it’s part of the natural ebb and flow of things….

    • Ellen said:

      A natural ebb and flow sounds right. Interesting about your experience. Thank you Catherine.

  5. Juliet said:

    So happy about your news! 🙂 Not sure what to say about the other things… but I also think it’s not good to suppress everything bad and go on like nothing ever happened. xx

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks, I’m happy also. Yeah, suppression wreaks havoc. Witness my family, all with problems. Thanks Juliet. xox

  6. Great news Ellen. I am so glad that you’ve found out and can rest a bit easier now. A lot of folks have clearly been thinking of you and I am one of ’em!

    As for your real self–well, it’s just as plain as day, to my way of thinking. We can never be far apart from who we are, whether we realize it or not.

    You are stronger, much stronger, than you might see right at this time. But the strength is still there, which is nice…


    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Aaron, it is good news.

      I’m not sure what the real self problem is about to tell the truth. I was definitely a part of myself, just ended up feeling it wasn’t quite the self who wanted to be seen, if that makes any sense. I wonder if I have that problem in general with other people. I find I notice things with Ron first, then notice that actually, I have the issue with everyone.

      Thanks for thinking I am strong. Take care.

  7. artyelf said:

    So glad I read this post, and it’s wonderful you didn’t have to wait longer for that positive news. Waiting, not knowing, is so hard.

    You’re facing something incredibly scary, what has happened in the past when you have been scared? Dissociation. You know this technique, I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself using it a bit in the coming weeks, and not ‘feeling yourself’.

    And it may end up being a valuable tool. When I helped my friend Dom, and she was having a treatment, we often did meditations, we were both able to dissociate very well, and the meditating had many benefits. Perhaps this is something for you to think about, to prepare for the coming weeks. Put some meditations on an iPod and practice now, so if you become stressed, it will be easy to get into your meditations.

    You are in my thoughts, daily, sending you healing light xox
    P.S. I want that dragon too!

    • Ellen said:

      I like the idea of the meditations – I’ll try and do that, it sounds lovely. I’ll tell you a secret Elyn, the kid is getting the dragon for Christmas. 🙂 Thanks for your kind thoughts.

      • artyelf said:

        😀 Thanks for sharing the secret, I love Christmas present secrets, the kid is sooo lucky! 😀

  8. Harriet said:

    I’m so relieved that your scan resulted in good news. Whew. Everyone reacts so differently to their diagnoses, I thought there was something wrong with me after my diagnosis because I didn’t feel sad or cry. I felt energized, and I thought that meant I was crazy, but my therapist assured me that no reaction is a wrong reaction. Your last paragraph is so interested, that you think you are acting a part. But maybe right now you are an introspective client wanting to probe her family, frankly I think you are an introspective client all of the time! I’m so glad you left with a smile though, that makes me so happy for you. As for the b12 – please look into that, I also had a b12 deficiency (mine was down to 150) and it was what caused a lot of symptoms that I thought maybe were anxiety or depression or lack of focus. Mine is normal now and I feel so much better.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it’s really great. Interesting you felt energized – have to admit, I have not. But then, I have been feeling sick, so there’s a difference. I can’t remember why I had that really strong feeling I wasn’t being my real self. Very strange. And yes, I’ve been taking a 1000mcg supplement since the doctor told me that. I think it is making a difference. How long until you noticed a difference yourself?

      Thank you Harriet

      • Harriet said:

        I think most people have not felt energized after a cancer diagnosis, but I’m a little weird. I think it was because I was floundering in my life, not having a purpose, and “fixing” my cancer gave me a purpose and a project. It took a long time for my b12 levels to become normal, but once they were at about 400 I felt better. That took maybe 9 months? But remember, my level was really really low to start.

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