I’m still suffering the effects of my last session. I wake up at night, my stomach clenched, as if I’d been kicked there. I can’t work out if it’s because I feel unconnected to Ron, or if it’s about my family and what we discussed in session. Likely a mix of both.

I’m still pondering leaving this therapy. There are many good reasons to leave, and if I list them, you will likely agree that I should. And yet….and yet. Is this still my process? Should I be learning to tolerate feelings, not trying to change them by leaving?

I’m not sure that it’s standard procedure to lose at least a day every week to feeling so bad I can’t function, after pretty much each therapy session. After six years, that works out to almost one whole year of not being able to function at all. I understand therapy is painful, but is it effective to be painful to this extent? The reason I’ve put up with this though, is one, hope that this will help, and two, the fact that without therapy I do lose days to black depression on my own. With therapy, I do have some decent days now, while before, I was mostly in a gray fog.

But maybe now, if I stop, I won’t descend into that fog. The thing is, I can’t seem to try and fix my life with so much of it devastated by these after therapy states. I can’t go out, I can’t try and make friends, I am just shut down. As one of my chief problems is lack of relationship, this is not good is it? I do think that any relationships I do have have improved. So I have one friendship, basically, and we’ve become somewhat closer. I am maybe closer to my son, a bit. However, if I see him too close to therapy, I end up not relating well to him at all. So the last two times I saw him this was the case, and I was not able to be supportive, being in too much pain myself.

My career is obviously in the toilet at the moment. I don’t think therapy caused that. It didn’t help a whole lot either.

I don’t have confidence Ron understands enough about parts and dissociation to be able to help me with them. He wants to do therapy on parts. I really don’t see how that would help. It’s not as if I have DID and parts take over and do dangerous things.

I truly don’t think Ron appreciates how far down I go after sessions and how much of my life is lost to coping with the aftermath of therapy. And when I try to limit what goes on in therapy, he pushes against that, as he thinks I’m avoiding. Yes, I am avoiding. Because I can’t handle the fall-out of addressing everything at once. This is actually recommended in dealing with trauma. Why does he not get that.

Anyway. There is an aspect of my frustration with him that has shown up in other relationships I have. I am sure there are unpleasant or unhelpful aspects of myself that are obvious to him, that i just can’t see, as is the case for everyone. It could be it would benefit me to stick around and figure it all out.

Meantime I feel so alone. There is just no one. I will feel better once I’ve recovered more from the session though so I’m hanging on to that.



  1. I hope that you feel better soon. The aftermath of sessions can be brutally painful and draining.

  2. I understand very much how you feel about therapy and friendships. There is that dilemma where you know that having more friends will be beneficial to your mental health but the very reason you need them is the reason it’s hard to develop new friendships. And it’s hard to get what you need out of therapy when one of the reasons you need it in the first place is difficulty being able to negotiate to get what you need out of relationships.

    We’ve talked a bit before about the similarities between Ron and Dr L. I often find Dr L too harsh and also not very helpful when it comes to practical strategies for dealing with things. He’s always been there when I needed him and so I’ve hung on even though he doesn’t give me quite what I want or what I need. Sometimes I feel as if all I’m doing is repeating the pattern of parental insecure attachment and that this is unhealthy.

    As you know I’ve attempted to solve the problem by finding a therapist with a different approach – with Eve I’ve specifically sought out a combination of practical (CBT/DBT-ish) techniques) and emotional/relational support – but with the deliberate intent of not just therapist hopping, but also working on my relationship with Dr L with her help, sort of getting her to coach me in how to get what I need from him. I don’t know yet if this is going to work in practice, next year will tell. I do know that even though Eve meets many of the needs that Dr L doesn’t, I still feel a pull back to the familiarity of Dr L, so it’s not straightforward at all.

    Is it possible to look at seeing a therapist with a different style for a while, someone more nurturing, with the option of going back to Ron if you decide that’s not working for you?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I think that’s similar to a problem I have. I think Ron is philosophically opposed to strategies though we haven’t discussed it outright. In any case he has no interest in modifying feelings in any way. I think it could be because he doesn’t get how disabling they can be. He compares to his own therapy, where he managed OK. But he never did have my issues. I am angry with him right now as you can tell.

      It’s real interesting to me, how you are going about this. It is possible to see someone else of course, though I struggle to find the person. Therapists with decent websites who seem to understand trauma also have been full up when I’ve contacted them. I probably need to bite the bullet and start contacting more people, in the hopes that if I meet enough the right one will emerge somehow.

      Thank you DV

  3. Ashana M said:

    That clenched-up feeling happens to me after I see C. It usually comes at night–like a long time later. I think it happens when I am relaxed enough to stop suppressing it. It seems like in order to get it together to see her and behave like a normal person, I hold that fear in.

    Ron probably thinks the depression comes from holding the feelings in, and the more you talk about the feelings, the less depressed you will feel later, so he probably doesn’t agree with your strategy.

    He might not understand that talking more about difficult issues does not mean you are feeling more. When the talking gets too much, you stop feeling or processing the emotions. I don’t think he gets that. I don’t think he understands or sees this really difficult place you get to–when you are adult and talking more, but not feeling much, that’s very comfortle for him. That is probably somewhat where he “lives” internally.

    One strategy to titrate the emotions is to limit how much you are seen and understood (by disclosing less, for example). Picking a therapist who does not experience emotions very deeply accomplishes that. Someone in parts lives a kind of deadened life–the feelings are mostly smushed into parts. So a therapist has to be able to work with that feeling of deadness and tolerate it.

    I think it means you might choose a therapist who themselves is not very aware of emotions and does not feel very deeply. They talk about feelings without experiencing them very much. As you feel safer and get comfortable, then the emotions surface and the felt experience of emotions becomes very intense. It’s hard to find a therapist who can do that with you–move between the shut-down “adult” and the emotions of the parts. I had one therapist who was very slow. She just did everything very slowly, and that helped, because it gave me time to experience my feelings without the pressure of articulating them. But I don’t think she knew what I was going through while she waited patiently for me to speak. She certainly didn’t help me with it. I spent a lot of time just staring at the floor while she stared at my face.

    If you do look for a new therapist, I would suggest you try for someone who seems very grounded–not someone necessarily warmer, but someone speaking from a calm and supported place.

    • Ellen said:

      I think a lot of this is really applicable. I know he doesn’t understand how the dissociation is working for me. Interesting about your therapy experience, and I appreciate the tip on finding someone different – that makes sense. Thank you Ash

  4. I was with a therapist for a year and all during my body gave me signs the connection was off in some way. I am now with a therapist who is completely right for me and though I still go down following sessions most often I come away feeling better and deeply connected. I cant say what your experience is but if you are feeling consistently worse than better I don’t think its a good sign. But that is just my opinion, Ellen. ❤

  5. Rachel said:

    This sounds so awful, Ellen. The pain and de-stabilization. I can just hear and feel through your writing how much pain you are in, and how helpless to change it you feel. No wonder you are questioning if the therapy is working. I think inquiry is wise, and these kinds of answers are sometimes hard to listen for, because of transference in the therapy relationship and acute nature of the pain. Hard to tease out what exactly is happening, what is working, isn’t working, etc. If I was omniscient, I would tell you the answer and what to do. I wish I had that power.

    • Ellen said:

      Exactly. In fact, I cannot figure it out. The transference makes everything cloudy. Are these my problems I would get into in any deep relationship? And the pain is so severe, it’s just, I don’t know, it just doesn’t make any sense. I actually don’t have hugely high expectations from therapists. I don’t think. But does it all have to be this bad, and without an explanation really of what’s going on?

      Thanks Rachel

  6. e.Nice said:

    I wonder if there is a way to figure out what made this session so much harder? The bio-session seemed to go better. Perhaps you can schedule just that type? I don’t know what the answers are but I feel like he isn’t hearing your needs.

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