Therapy Thursday – job

Still very tired, but coping. I guess.

My session this week was in the evening after work. A hard time for me, because I feel pretty much exhausted, but Ron knows that, and I know it’s OK if I just sit and don’t talk some of the time. I’d been thinking of skipping it, or trying a shorter phone call instead, but I’m glad I didn’t in the end. I had the appointment, and inertia just propelled me to keep it.

I think mostly we talked about the new job, how much I hate it, and a bit about how that relates to my family. In my mind anyway. By Thursday, I was so down, I was thinking suicide a lot of the time. I do have a suicidal part, so am used to that part, but this seemed to be the more regular adult part of me. I told Ron how I was thinking, and that although I felt horrible, I also wasn’t feeling that much. I think the suicidal thoughts were a kind of substitute for feeling. He didn’t really get that – he said suicide can seem like a way out of unbearable pain – a way to stop the suffering. But for me, it doesn’t seem like that. It’s more like what my mind does, thinking these thoughts, as a way to stop feeling much.

Anyway. This just wasn’t the same as being in so much pain from depression that suicide seems like the only option. It seemed more like I was dissociated – unable to feel things, and the pressure of that caused the thoughts. I really think that’s how it is for me, even if Ron doesn’t understand.

So I basically spent the session trying to feel. I could feel the hard, bright coping part. And then the dark pressure from everything else. The coping part actually got me to the session after all. That part kind of seizes control to get stuff accomplished, despite how other parts may be feeling. Once that part is really locked in, I have trouble feeling much, but just feel all this pressure and self-destructive thoughts.

I tell Ron how no one talks at work, except the managers over by the windows. And how I wonder if I’m getting prejudiced. Thirteen out of sixteen people on this team are Chinese, all but one of these born in China. Me and my silent young team mate are the only native English speakers. I find the lack of social contact really challenging and I start to resent it. It starts to seem to me like this is a characteristic of this nationality. But then, the other thing they have in common is they are math people, a specialty which is notoriously introverted. On Thursday, I was full of resentment at these people who don’t even say hello, but yesterday was a better day and I’m thinking differently now. It is hard to look at your own prejudice. I don’t think I’m deeply prejudiced really – I grew up with an accepting attitude to other nationalities – we were immigrants too after all. I’m interested in other cultures. Just the work experience has been so triggering and difficult, this resentment was what came up.

My boss has been implying that I’ve been doing things wrong, yet when she comes to tell me so, it all evaporates, and it turns out all is well. I keep standing my ground – slowing it all down, figuring out what she’s saying, investigating. Anyway, there is an atmosphere. She also attacks first and thinks about it later.

There seems to be an expectation that I should be staying later than five, despite not having much to do, and getting there well before nine. It makes me uneasy, but I go at five anyway. I’m watching the clock, trying to make it through the day, and the thought of staying late is horrible.

I tell Ron that my co-worker never seems to leave her seat, even to get a tea from the kitchen. How I’m trying not to get up all the time, despite my impulse to walk around. He says, why comply. Why not walk around, what would happen? Sometimes people respond well to complete compliance, like in your family, but sometimes they respect people standing up for themselves. Anyway, what do you have to lose?

Well, I wanted this boss to like me. I’ve only been there two weeks, I say. But I think about what he says. I’d been thinking of quitting anyway. By Thursday evening, I was so done, I was seriously thinking of quitting and thinking about the damage this would do to my resume.

I try to think why this all triggers me so much. Of course, my father also was a math person. He always looked down on people who didn’t have the PhD, who did other types of jobs, and of course, here I am, doing a supportive type of job for others who have math qualifications. It’s very easy for me to feel inferior and then resentful.

Then I wonder if he was right, when he pushed academic excellence as the only way to mattering and being worthwhile. I remember how I was so depressed in university, I could barely get through what I got through, let alone achieve a lot.

This is all the adult part talking. I’m still periodically trying to break through and feel things emotionally. Finally, close to the end of the session, I hear B’s distress. I tell Ron B is very upset at this part that is thinking of killing herself. After which, I actually switch into the part. She cries a bit, and says it’s not our fault work is always hard and never works out. But maybe things will be better. It’s better to be alive. And I feel all the distress of that young child part who so much wants to live and be in life.

Ron asks if I can reassure B that I’m not going to act on those thoughts. I think about it. It feels too hard to do that there. And so I say good-bye.

I’m back to the managing part at home, because I had to switch back to drive and stuff. But – Friday is better. The dark thoughts have stopped. I can deal better with everything. So the session actually helped. Having someone to talk to can be a really great thing.





  1. leb105 said:

    ” It’s more like what my mind does, thinking these thoughts, as a way to stop feeling much.”

    Any kind of repetitive thoughts CAN serve as a distraction from troublesome or possibly destabilizing feelings (that might emerge if the mind were quiet). Like having a radio on. On the other hand, they’re suicidal thoughts – and that probably means something. You couldn’t simply disavow those thoughts, to reassure B.
    I’m thinking about thinking. πŸ™‚
    It seems strange that the job-seeker can’t find out what sort of workplace atmosphere there is, without accepting the job first. Oh by the way, we don’t speak, here. And, there’s an expectation that you will work late, even if there’s no work to do.
    There might be someone out there who would be a good fit for this bizarre place, and the sooner you leave, the sooner they can find their dream job!

    • Ellen said:

      Lol. This might be someone’s dream job – you did make me laugh Laura. I keep thinking it’s my issues getting triggered, but when you put it like that, it sounds like a bizarre kind of a place.

      Ron did say something like this in my session actually. He wondered if my anxiety is making me take a job too fast, and whether on interviews I could ask to speak to potential co-workers and try to get a feel for the atmosphere. I wasn’t sure how I could tell, even meeting people, what they would be like when not on their best behaviour. Ron thought I might be able to tell if they seemed at all open, or just itching to get back to their computers. πŸ™‚ Thanks

      • leb105 said:

        that’s it! if they couldn’t make eye contact, or any conversation, that would be a clue.

  2. Rachel said:

    I absolutely think suicidal thoughts are a coping strategy. To cope with feeling the pain.
    I still contend, WOW, this work place. I actually like Ron’s thought of that you might be jumping the gun. He got one bit right πŸ™‚

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, they are somehow. For me, they’re not really the same as actually feeling the feelings. I feel very bad, but not sad or angry in a normal way.

      Ron gets a lot right actually. I left a lot of the session out – I couldn’t remember it as I wrote. I talked about whether I should be in a different industry, and how hard it would be to persuade someone to hire me in an industry I haven’t worked in…

      Ron is really helpful to me, and I seen I’m not getting that across in my posts. Maybe I am thinking about where we don’t seem to agree, and that’s what I write about. I think he’s modelling what openness and connection look like. Anyhow. Thanks Rachel.

      • Rachel said:

        That is interesting about the feelings feeling different, when its the suicidal place.
        I was being facetious, just because you have joked about only talking of the negative aspects. He definitely does seem to provide an awful lot of support and validation. In no way was I trying to infer he wasn’t!

  3. I’m really glad the session helped. I agree with Ron, get up and walk around if you need to. It’s okay. If you need to get a cup of tea. And if you are done with your work, I see nothing wrong with leaving at 5:00pm. Conforming, submitting, feels safe, except that you aren’t being true to you, and you are suffering because of that. The suicidal thoughts are proof of that. I 100% believe that suicidal thoughts can be a way to distract from pain, even if it is pain we are dissociating away. Maybe this week, try things to other way. See what happens.

    • Ellen said:

      I am going to try things the other way. I’m already not very conforming, but I’ll push it a bit more. thanks Alice

  4. The suicidal thoughts come up for me as an expression of a hopelessness I am shutting down. The hopelessness doesn’t feel better when I am really feeling it. It’s also hard. But I guess feeling it is the only way to start turning it down a notch.

    • Ellen said:

      That’s what I think happens for me. The actual hopelessness feels a lot worse in fact, but it’s without the suicidal thoughts for me anyway. With the thoughts, I can still function, cope. With the hopelessness, I stop functioning – it’s too much. But yeah – the only way to get through a feeling is to start feeling it. Exactly. Thx.

      • That makes sense. The reason to shut the feeling down is to be able to keep coping and keep getting through life, but then it never gets resolved.

  5. e.Nice said:

    This is tough. I am glad that you found being able to talk it out with Ron helpful and were feeling better the next day. Sometimes needing to cope, or feeling like I just have to cope can bring up the suicidal stuff, even though I am coping. I guess it just gets overwhelming and so thats how I deal with it.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I find that. The effort of shutting things down and coping makes the suicidal thoughts stronger. Thanks

  6. Talking to someone is so helpful. I’m glad your session was a good one. I hope you figure out what to do about work soon. That must be a huge stress. xxx

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