Therapy Friday

Last session was better, but hard to describe. Maybe this only makes some kind of sense if you struggle with dissociation as one of your main difficulties.

A comment on my last post from Ash hit home – over and over, I am triggered by therapy to the point where I cannot function for days, and yet, this is not discussed or explained. So this time, we spent all of our time on this.

I explained how after the last two sessions, I’d been so very sad, I had to stay home all weekend. Since I live alone and am working from home, that meant I wasn’t able to build on any of the small social connections I’m trying to make. I’m just sad at home alone again. What else is new? But what I’m trying to do is go out and do a few activities with other people. I don’t want to be alone all the time. So therapy seems to be making me worse.

So that’s why you cancelled last week? Yep.

Ron asked me what my explanation or hunch is about this situation, and I said I don’t really understand. I wasn’t deeply upset last session, I wasn’t crying.

Ron thinks a part of myself is always this sad and in despair.

Um, OK. It could be. So then how does it help to have that part take over after therapy?

We really dug in and considered this for a long time. I’d brought my drawing stuff, and Ron reminded me that I like to draw in sessions. I’d forgotten to draw the last two sessions. So I pulled out my paper and crayons and doodled while we talked. I do find the drawing relieves a part of me somehow.

I’m not going to write the whole discussion. There were a lot of silences and waiting.

I actually think now, though I wasn’t clear on it in session, is that what has happened is that the adult, verbal self that I was bringing to therapy isn’t the whole story, or even the major story. So then maybe these other traumatized parts, that get no attention, then freak out at home and take over?

One reason I think that might be it is that didn’t happen so much last session, and I was sad at home for that day, but was able to get it together on the weekend to do some things. We didn’t discuss my life at all. So there was lots of space for a part to be there, just sitting and drawing and not saying a whole lot. Which seemed somehow better than trying to talk things through as an adult.

I think Ron still does kind of think it’s fine for me to be triggered into these states by therapy. While I now believe that being triggered is not healing. Healing is different. But he did see the problem of not being able to go out. He suggested I could still go out, even if I was sad. But the thing is, it doesn’t really work. First, it’s very hard. Second, people don’t respond well to me in that state. Socializing is always hard, but when I’m in this deep depression, it’s like I repel people. Or something. I did go to church as my one effort on one of the weekends, and not one person talked to me. I just felt worse after going.

I remember I got angry or at least impatient with Ron a couple of times. The first time, I was outraged that his therapy was putting me into this state and he didn’t seem to think it was a problem.

First, I was sitting there and shutting down completely. I literally wanted to lie down on his couch and go to sleep. My body felt heavy, my eyes so tired, I had no energy to speak about anything. Then somehow, I start ranting about how his therapy is making me worse. Then we speak about something else, and I suddenly notice I don’t feel sleepy anymore. And I don’t connect it to having expressed anger. We are speaking calmly about moving the session to the beginning of the week so I can go out on the weekends, and I’m explaining how that won’t work for me. I notice I’m not longer sleepy. He asks what has changed, and I say maybe it’s the calm discussion about scheduling. And Ron says he thinks it’s because I expressed anger.

I am so surprised to remember that I did. Oh yeah. That happened five minutes ago.

I say something about so I can come here and get angry at you and feel better – good for me but not so nice for you. Ron said it’s fine with him.

In general in this session, I am trying not to push other parts away, but also, not to become them. I need to be open enough to hear them, but do not need to be taken over by them, in my view. And I kind of did that, and so the session felt possibly helpful and at least not harmful.

It is too bad though that Ron can’t really lead me through this, because psychodynamic therapy doesn’t work that way. However, he is open and not dogmatic at least.

At the end, Ron talks about how I could still go out even if I’m sad. I feel so irritated by this. I tell him I feel irritated, as if he doesn’t get the severity of the state I get into. I try to explain how I see it – think of it as if some really bad thing has happened to you -someone died, or some other really bad event happened. It would be natural to stay at home, or only speak with people close to you. You wouldn’t expect someone in that situation to go out to some social activity and behave as if nothing was wrong.

Or think if you were talking to someone in a severe depression, so bad they have trouble taking a shower or getting out of bed. Would you tell them to go out anyway?

Ron says he does have depressed clients and, while he doesn’t tell them what to do, he suggests a ‘third option’, (I forget to ask him what the second is), of going out despite feeling bad.

We speak a bit about the difference between depression and dissociation. I think he says depression is where too much is bottled up in one container, while with dissociation, you are forever jumping between containers.

In this session, I did feel like I was jumping between containers. I went through that very distinct shut down phase, then an angry phase which I pretty much forgot about as soon as it was over, and a calm but reticent adult phase.

I do not have depression, but I have parts that are very sad, and I have a tendency to get stuck in parts.

And the session is over. And my weekend was OK. I was able to do a few things I wanted to do.

I’m not sure whether to go to the next session or skip it and go next week. I can’d decide if we’re getting anywhere.

I am speed reading the Janina Fisher book on dissociation as it’s due back at the library. It’s interesting, even though the writing is sometimes pretty bad. But the theory is so different from what Ron is doing, and then I start thinking, I should be working with someone who understand trauma as a physiological process as well as psychological. But then, the relationship I have with Ron is good. That’s important.

That’s all I know at the moment.


  1. A lot going on here. Wow. I like Ron’s description of jumping between containers. I used to say a teleported from room to room leaving information and memories behind. It was like I couldn’t take it with me. The advantage of integration is sharing information between each part. Cheering for you.

    • Ellen said:

      I seem to dream a lot of walking from room to room in various houses….

      I don’t have actual amnesia between parts in terms of present day functioning, but I think these parts hold pieces of my emotions and ways of responding, plus probably some memories in some form or other.

      thanks Ruth

  2. leb105 said:

    dissociation is jumping between containers? I thought it was numbness – disconnection from your emotions?

    I relate to the suggestion of going out anyway – I get really withdrawn and feel like I don’t want to talk to anyone – I expect interactions to be like sandpaper, but if the phone rings, and I have to talk to someone for 5 minutes (about work, say), I’ve noticed that I feel better – less depressed, less isolated. Maybe isolation is like alcohol – it seems like a remedy, but it actually makes things worse. A false solution. Perhaps taking a table at your favorite bistro, and chatting a bit with the server, or some low-expectation interaction like that would be a good first step, to dip your toe in?

    I’m reading Karen Horney’s “Neurosis and Human Growth” and I feel like I’ve found a description of my situation.

    • Ellen said:

      Dissociation the way I have it is not numbness. I can be extremely emotional and yet in a dissociated part. It’s a result of early trauma. I’m pretty sure this is not a problem that you have yourself Laura.

      I have felt as you do about going out when mildly depressed or sad. It’s actually one of my go to’s – when I feel down, I know I’ll feel better going for a walk or to the store or to some activity, and so I do that as I can. But in the state I fall into when triggered by therapy or other things sometimes, which only lasts a day or a few days, I am incapable of ‘chatting a bit with the server’. I feel as if someone died basically.

      Maybe I’ll read that book sometime too Laura. Cheers

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