Therapy Friday 2

I’m still on a kick to keep moving despite sadness / depression. So I’ve had a better weekend than usual, but on the other hand, now I’m dissociated and can’t sleep. I’m pretty good at pushing feelings back down, but then I end up with symptoms. Sigh. I know I’m supposed to keep feeling and move around, but that’s pretty hard for me to do.

Dinner on Saturday turned out really good – I surprised myself. I didn’t want to cook, and complained internally for ages before I could get myself to start. But the results were good. And cooking was not so bad either once I started. Following recipes improves the result. Not news to you I’m sure, but it’s interesting to me.

Kale with nuts and dates – yum. Then squash baked with maple syrup and butter. I guess I’m liking the sweet. Then baked chicken. The chicken was ordinary – and the one part of dinner I did not use a recipe for. Go figure.

Today I went out to an outdoor concert. I’d signed up to go with a group. It was so very tempting to stay home. I felt lousy and depressed. I decided I was going, and if I felt down, it was OK. And I really enjoyed the concert. World music, a Persian / African blend, it was very interesting.

Now I can’t sleep. I feel like I’ve stirred things up in therapy, then put them all back behind a wall so I could do stuff, and now I feel two-dimensional and I feel like there’s a wall. At least I’m not depressed.

To get back to my session. We finished talking about the family barbecue.

E. We finally got there. At first, I thought I’d have to leave right away again, because I thought no one was going to talk to me. But I took a pill and calmed down and sat. And people came by to talk to me. It was interesting to find out how my cousins were doing, and to talk to their kids.

E. Anyway, by the time I got home again, I was so tense, I couldn’t sleep. And then I had another outing the next day, which was good, but I didn’t get to relax from the barbecue. And then work right the next morning. I was feeling depressed all last week, and I think it’s because I didn’t have a chance to recover from the barbecue. It takes me forever to recover from things.

R. Maybe because you don’t really know what you’re trying to do, that’s why it’s taking so long.

E. Yeah, maybe. I have this problem, that happened last week too. This happens over and over again, just the same way. I come home from work say. Or there’s some other stress. I feel completely exhausted, I lay down just for a minute, and I fall asleep. Then I wake up, and I’m deeply depressed. It takes me hours to get back to being able to function at all. So I spend so much time recovering from things, I don’t do much in my life.

R. Would you be able to do things and still feel bad?

E. I think the pain I feel is too severe for that.

R. Say you’d woken up, and I came over, and I said to you, come on Ellen, let’s cook dinner. What would happen?

E. Well….I might dissociate in order to cope.

R. But I wouldn’t want you to dissociate.

E. In that after nap state, I would maybe drop things, burn things, probably start some kind of fight with you. Not on purpose. Just that’s what happens.

R. Could you talk about how you’re feeling and still cook? You might tell me you feel sad as you’re melting butter in the pan, or that I’m making you angry by getting in your way….

I think about this.

E. I suppose I could try that. I still think it’s too hard after those naps.

We leave the subject here. But I take this on board. I really do want my life to function better, to be able to do normal things, and not be sidelined all the time because of my strange issues.

I don’t have a friend who would help me through it like that, which is why I stay away from people when I’m struggling. It would be nice though.

  1. Ashana M said:

    It takes me a long time to recover from things also–much less than it used to, but still more than I’d like. I think there is an almost physical problem of having to get information across different parts in order to make sense of anything. It just takes time. Building in recovery time after really stimulating events helped me. I do things that are comforting but not terribly thought-provoking or intense during those times. It used to really frustrate me that I couldn’t seem to do ordinary things like clean house or cook–pretty mindless things–while I did that. But they do seem to involve a kind of coordination that does take some concentration that just isn’t there, and those things for me are also much more laden with meaning than something that is truly mindless.

    I hope you get it worked out. It’s frustrating, and it really does keep you from doing a lot of the things you’d like to do. It’s so much easier for me to socialize now that I’m not spending half the time doing what feels like just patching myself back up.

    • Ellen said:

      That’s really interesting. It does seem like a physical problem to me too. I think cooking and cleaning are laden with meaning, and that’s why I can’t do them when in these debilitated states. Maybe. I tend to immerse myself in light reading. It’s very encouraging that this got better for you. thank you

      • Ashana M said:

        I also wonder if ordinary skills like cooking and cleaning are located on the other side of dissociative barriers and that’s why they go frustratingly wrong. For example, maybe “the kid” doesn’t know how to cook–that knowledge is located in some adult part–so if you’re feeling upset and vulnerable, it becomes more effortful to remember. You can, you do know how, but it’s like trying to do calculus instead of a fairly automatic task you’ve done thousands of times. Anyway, I hope it gets better for you too, because it cuts into all kinds of areas of your life.

        • Ellen said:

          That makes sense also. I wonder if that’s the problem. I’ll have to keep paying attention and see if I can get some insight. Thank you.

  2. laura said:

    “Maybe because you don’t really know what you’re trying to do, that’s why it’s taking so long.”

    this was an interesting suggestion!
    and I loved his suggesting that he come over, and do something with you. What a comforting thought. Can you play with that idea, without getting depressed that it’s not real (yet)?
    I think I’ll try that with my vacationing Howard! thanks!

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah it is interesting. Now to figure out what I’m trying to do.

      I think the suggestion if he came over was because he’s using himself as an example of someone emotionally available. Most people in my life really aren’t. It’s not that it would be something that would ever happen with him.

      Glad it was helpful. thanks for commenting

  3. Ruth said:

    I call those kind of naps “naps from hell” because they are not like when I take a regular nap from being over tired. It is more like my body shuts down and I may as well sleep through it. I wake up feeling drugged and out of sorts but I know I don’t take any medication that I feel that bad afterwards. I am going to try your counselors idea of paying attention to the emotions I feel after the naps. This was one of the things that ticked me off when I found out they didn’t stop after integration. I learned that these shut downs are part of PTSD and being dissociated is how I kept going.

    • Ellen said:

      I’m sorry you suffer with this also, but also reassuring to learn you have had the same experience. I feel like a freak trying to explain it. It is like a shut-down. I just wonder why waking up has to be so hard? I hope we both learn something. I haven’t yet tried this out with a nap situation, more with being upset from therapy, but I’ll try it to. Hope something helps both of us. hugs

  4. I’m so glad you wrote that like you did. I was struggling with figuring out how to explain what goes on after therapy. I can relate to stuffing it all back down and then getting symptomatic over the sudden change I’m emotional state. Sorry to hear you struggle with similar things…

    • Ellen said:

      I’m glad it resonated with you. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Cat said:

    I also take ages to recover from just about every activity, even telephone calls! If I don’t give myself that time, I will usually crash with depression and exhaustion. In recent years, I haven’t tried to challenge that, but one day…

    After I crash out in the afternoon, I usually shout the dog and/or cat and have a half hour doing nothing but giving them attention up on the bed or sofa. It’s a daydreaming time – a time to simply do nothing – maybe not the answer to continue lying there, but it does help with the mood afterwards.

    You are going through a lot in therapy and I would encourage you to pace yourself and not become too upset over not achieving whatever…

    I take my hat off to you for pushing yourself to attend social situations. From experience, avoidance only festers and feeds the beast. Be proud of what you are achieving!

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry you suffer from similar Cat. I like your pet soothing method. 🙂

      You’re right, avoidance makes anxiety worse, so it’s good I keep going out. I find even day to day, I have to push myself to keep going out, but feel better when I do.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

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