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dissociation

Last session was different. In a good way I think.

I don’t want to describe the whole thing. Just a few things. After the previous session, I’d written Ron an email somewhat like my last post. A little softer, but I made my points. He didn’t reply except to offer a day and time change that would mean I’d have a few hours after work to decompress before going in to see him.

Therapy day, I actually worked part of the day from home, which also helped me be less buttoned up.

In the session, it seemed like Ron had heard me. Or, um, read me. He asked me questions instead of just gazing at me, so I felt as if he was more present. For my part, I didn’t launch into chat about my week or about work. The whole session was more about my psyche and about parts. Although sometimes I need to deal with the everyday, the everyday stuff takes up time. And it basically is my adult voice, leaving other parts shut away in the dark as it were.

We talked about a dream I’d had, of being chased by a panther while driving through the desert in a jeep with my ex. I find relating dreams in therapy quite powerful – they evoke a lot for me.

Both V and B had a say. These were the really sad, traumatized sides of these child parts. It’s so hard to deal with this. Because while letting them speak is a relief, they don’t just subside again after the session. They come up trailing a lot of really bad feelings. So I’ve been feeling less fragmented and less fake, but also in more pain.

I was so surprised that Ron changed his approach just because I wrote him an email. He didn’t directly address what I said, but he’d obviously taken it to heart.

I’m not sure what to say about our relationship. In a way, it was less personal. He acted like a therapist. And I acted like I was in therapy. This wasn’t a friend to whom I was relating the events of my week. I was there to address the damage of the past however I could. He wasn’t there to offer suggestions. He was more there to witness and to draw me out. So I feel cared about, but in a kind of impersonal way, if that makes any sense.

Dissociation is hard to describe to people who don’t have it as a major coping tool. And, it’s hard to figure out how to heal it. For one thing, the usual therapy type interventions basically target the adult me, leaving parts untouched. I could be therapized forever and would never feel better, because the feelings aren’t coming from the adult.

These parts are full of emotion, and not a whole lot of reason, though V has a lot more than B does. It’s like taking a leap, letting them speak and letting them express how they feel. It’s kind of hard to do, in a way, and I imagine it’s also hard to listen to and deal with. Traumatized children take a lot out of you.

I had the feeling afterwards that this was really worthwhile work that felt meaningful and deep to me.

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Notes on my session today rather than a well thought out post. I want to remember sessions better.

I have been unusually anxious all week. Just before this session, my job prospect called to say they want me on board for a contract. So kind of happy and relieved, and still very anxious. Plus it’s a little fly by night somehow – this is a small company, the HR guy was talking about my starting Monday, but I don’t yet have a contract on Friday afternoon….Monday won’t be happening. I’m hoping it all works out.

I went to session. It wasn’t great. Not anyone’s fault. I didn’t feel I got to what is causing my anxiety.

How are you. Fine.

I maybe got this job. Great.

Talk about interviews. Described my ‘date’. And the follow up emails. Thought maybe the anxiety was about job rejection stress and dating stress – too much for me.

Ron asks about moth dream (from tracking). I procrastinate telling him about it, because I know it’ll be painful.

I launch into how I shouldn’t think job interviews are that personal. My answers aren’t scoring points, it’s not based on personality. Give example of question I answered badly at one – on conflict. Ron says my answer seems reasonable to him. I go on about scoring for answers.

I ask Ron what he thinks causes anxiety – is it another feeling underneath? He’d said something like this previously. Gives explanation of anxiety which I immediately forget. I say to me, it seems like it’s feelings underneath. Ron says it can be – they’re linked. Or something.

I ask about tracking. Ron got it. I ask what he thinks happened, that I couldn’t cope after last session. He goes on for a while, basically saying it’s not clear. I say I think I got stuck in a part. He says in the tracking, it doesn’t seem like I stayed in one part. I say the tracking is misleading – if I’m in a part, I don’t necessarily track that, because it seems like me. When I write the name of a part, it’s more because I hear that part’s voice, which means I’m not switched into the part, it’s just close to the surface.

I say I guess the tracking isn’t that useful because I’m not telling you the overall context of the day. Ron says the more details I put in the better. OK – I’m never sure how much he wants to know. He says with some people, it’s more clear, that there’s a trigger, and then they react, but with me, it’s not clear what the triggers are.

Speaking about parts is painful. I feel bad – Ron asks if it’s shame. I say yeah, maybe. Having a parts problem isn’t like regular problems people have – it seems worse somehow. I tell him how I’m dancing in the mornings, and starting to feel the middle of my body, which I mostly can’t feel, but am allowing myself to feel dancing. Ron asks if it feels vulnerable and I say yes. I say it kind of feels like that now. This sounds like it’s maybe about sexual feelings, but it’s actually not – middle of my body is more my gut.

Ron speaks about something. I can’t remember, because for me, I’m holding back a Tsunami of emotion. I tell him that I know this is not about anything he’s doing, but I feel like I’m being tortured. I actually feel like I’m being held down and forced to do things. Or having things forced on me. And it feels like that what he’s doing, when he’s going on about things. Ron asks what that part needs, that feels tortured, but I don’t know. Maybe a voice, I say.

Saying this, I feel more grounded and less freaked out. This is my experience even if it’s not logical. I realize I’m also thinking here of the man who interviewed me for the job I’ve maybe got. Though he was in fact very nice to me, even saying he liked me a lot at the end. I mean, who does that? I tell Ron more about the interview, and how it’s odd I’d be thinking of this guy in relation to feelings of being tortured.

I realize there are only five minutes left, and I feel all this pressure. I haven’t told Ron about the moth dream but I want to. So I tell him, pulling out my notebook for more details. Of course, it is an upsetting dream, and I switch into a younger part explaining it. So then I’m emotional.

It’s about an infestation of moths, being in a house, choking, trying to get my mother to help, and she of course has better things to do and won’t come.

I tell Ron in an outraged way that of course my mother wouldn’t come, she wouldn’t help, she’d fail to see that there was any problem, she would look away and leave.

Then I tell him that’s why I think I have the anxiety – I’m trying to put the lid on a bunch of crap like this (I’m emotional from describing the dream.)

And it’s time to go. Ron tries to ground me, but the sound of his voice panics me, so I ask him to stop talking.

I wish him a good weekend and head out. Hard to get home with rush hour traffic not helping my anxious feelings one bit. Now I’m here and I haven’t collapsed so that’s something.

 

Feeling calmer again. It feels like a victory, to have this island of calm after such rough holiday seas.

I don’t want to jinx anything by writing it, as this peace feels fragile and hard won. And yet, I want to make sense of it.

I had a make up session Friday afternoon. In terms of Ron and his therapy, I felt a lot better, although upsetting feelings came up that I have been processing ever since, until tonight. I was determined not to pretend in my session – by pretending, I mean I ignore some of my feelings about Ron and the therapy, and just go ahead and talk about my issues or events in my life, such as they are. Ron asked me how I’d felt after last session, and after briefly revisiting his lateness, I said that mainly, I’d felt criticized. So we discussed that. He also brought up that he’d been getting the impression I am thinking some other form of therapy would help me more. Which I agreed I had been thinking and considering leaving.

It was a hard discussion. It’s hard to say you feel criticized and unsupported. He wanted me to point to specific instances, but I just stuck with what happened last session. We talked about how I was wondering if it was related to my issues with my father, who was very critical of me. It’s hard to describe my feeling about Ron, especially because it changes so much. I had been feeling like either he’s not really there, which is like my mother was, or at other times, that he is super critical of me and any attempts I make to help myself.

I ask him what’s wrong with going to the gym, with reading self-help books, with going to groups? And he replies that those things are all good things to do. I say I understand that I’m in therapy to explore my feelings, but that when I’m at home, not in his office, don’t i need to try and feel better?

Ron said about how it seems like sometimes I don’t want to talk about things that come up, and he’s interested in understanding why that is. I say sometimes I’m just maxed out on feelings, and can’t deal with one more bad thing – say we’re talking about my mother, and then my son’s situation comes up – I just can’t handle everything at once. He says that the reason I feel maxed out is that my energy is bound up in the thing I don’t want to talk about, and if I talked about it, it would help. Or something. That everything is basically stemming from one root. Um.

I really find it difficult to verbalize and articulate an argument in his office. My feelings are so involved, somehow, it’s like trying to see through a thick fog. Arguments become foggy and indistinct. I no longer know what’s true for me.

I liked how Ron stuck with it. He does invite me to say anything I wish to say, about him or about his therapy. Well, at least that session he did. And I really sat with how difficult trying to connect with him felt, how far away he felt.

And I stayed with my feelings, even when they didn’t make all that much sense. And of course stuff came up. I remembered about a self-help technique I’ve been doing – shaking and dancing. I told Ron about it. You put on some music. First you shake your body, from the feet right up your body to your head, all parts shaking and jiggling, for about five minutes. Then you pause. Then you dance, again five or ten minutes. Then you rest a few minutes. This is supposed to help with depression, to shake lose stuck energy. The resting allows you to absorb the benefits. I’ve found this really helpful to do.

Ron is interested in this – he is interested in body based type healing, even though he doesn’t ever suggest doing it. For me, because of the dissociation, the shaking tends to shake lose bits of things – I’ll cry for a few seconds, then stop. Also slices of trauma come up, then are gone. It’s not enough to plunge me into despair, but enough to lighten the depression as I guess it’s a bit of a release.

So I easily call up one of the slices of whatever it is in Ron’s office, to demonstrate. I become younger. Then I realize I’m seeing an image, of myself wandering through a wasteland, brown mud, full of these deep dark disgusting pools that I’m afraid I’m going to fall into. It is like in Lord of the Rings, one of the terrors of the voyage. I feel the lostness, the fear, the overwhelming nature of walking around these pools, afraid.

What would happen if you fell in? I’d be covered in blackness, in black goo. It would be awful.

I wish I could remember what Ron said here. I tell Ron that now i’ve told him about this image, I feel ashamed. Why? I don’t know. It’s like news from a foreign country. Here I am, telling my therapist about difficult feelings I’m having, which is an OK thing to do. So the feelings are like a memory. My mother would have not reacted well to difficult feelings. I would have been made to feel ashamed. Ron says something about how as a child, I was devastated by my mother’s complete negation of my experience. Or something. I never can remember what he said when I’m in the grip of these experiences.

I leave feeling connected again. I really like how seriously Ron takes images that come up for me – as if they were actual occurrences, which is how they feel to me. He kind of leaps right into whatever it is that is going on.

So since then, I struggled with the devastating feeling that came up in the last part of the session. And tonight, I feel like I’ve come through it. I did keep trying things and didn’t allow myself to collapse for more than a few hours. Maybe the key is to pay attention, but keep trying to help. So I stopped reading my novel that was making me feel worse. I started listening to a children’s book on my ipod instead. I went to the gym in the afternoon. I cooked a decent supper. I didn’t push myself to go to my group when I didn’t want to go. When parts of me didn’t want to go.

I also feel trust in Ron, and that helps. It cheers parts of me up a lot.

The pain from the session was severe, and now it’s lifted it’s like I’ve come through a short illness. I would like to know what I did, what helped, and this is the best I can come up with. I actually feel if someone was here that I needed to interact with, I could do it, I could be normal. I feel like things are OK again.

Feeling somewhat better since I posted. I got a headache, and instead of getting the Tylenol I tried some natural remedies. Such as peppermint and lavender essential oils rubbed on my forehead, yoga stretches and neck rolls, and then a meditation tape to relax. Oh, also magnesium and heat on the back of my neck.

It felt nurturing and caring to do all this. So that was positive. Just popping back some Tylenol does not emotionally take care of things at all. However – after two hours, still a fairly bad headache, and I needed to cook, so I took the pills anyway in the end. I still think this other stuff helped also, and the pills just finished off the pain.

I was thinking about how difficult it is to describe life in parts. First of all, because I don’t really know what it’s like to not have them. What is it like to be whole? Plus, it’s hard to describe daily ordinary experience – it’s hard to figure out what’s out of the ordinary, what’s pathological, what’s fine. I know the end results of fragmentation – the depression, anxiety, distrust, and a lot of experience not making much sense. It’s harder to figure out what it is that I’m actually doing, that I could work at not doing or doing differently.

I’ve noticed with blogs, I tend to follow BPD blogs, a disorder which I do not have. But it seems like for whatever reason, BPD bloggers are great writers and have insight. Often their blogs are tremendously detailed explorations of their feelings and reactions, and I must be able to relate then on some level. But finding a blogger whose main issue is dissociation is very difficult, and I suspect it’s because its is so hard for us to describe something that is by its nature elusive. It’s a bunch of bits that keep disappearing. If something has disappeared, maybe it’s not really a problem, maybe it’s not real, and definitely, should not be mentioned. I think that’s the background for a lot of dissociatives.

That obviously makes writing about your experience a huge challenge. Maybe I need to try harder to find dissociation blogs, maybe I’m not making the effort.

I am also less interested in blanket ‘depression’ or various forms of anxiety, as I do not relate to having a single state that’s there most of the time, especially when the writer pictures this as a medical disease with little to do with their actual life and past.

Maybe I’ll just continue to follow my lovely BPDers, even though we are different. I learn a lot. I kind of admire the large emotions so vividly conveyed, though this is obviously hugely painful for the individual. I need to search¬† so hard for my feelings (which then promptly do overwhelm me), and with BPD, those emotions seem to be right there, if not expressed, certainly felt by the individual.

I had a half a therapy session by phone tonight. I’m glad I asked for it. I didn’t make it to session this week due to being sick, so I asked for a check in or half a session, and we did half a session. It felt vulnerable to ask actually. A part of me really wanted the contact, and another part felt I should let it go, save the money, I’m not in a crisis or anything.

Actually I got the impression maybe Ron thought I was feeling really bad, and I wasn’t, so I felt bad about that, having a call under false pretenses. I know he doesn’t generally work Friday evenings. I’d just felt bereft cancelling my session, and had various things to talk about, and so I asked. It did make me think that maybe I should ask for check-in calls when therapy pulls me into really dark places, because it helps to talk to him.

We spent about half the time on something that came up last session. And it’s only been an hour and a half, but I can’t remember the details of what Ron said, it so didn’t resonate with me I guess. Plus it was complicated. It’s a hard topic for me. I actually just after writing the last sentence spent time reading some meaningless news for a few minutes without realizing what I was doing. Avoiding.

I was not in agreement about Ron’s approach to parts last session. He was talking with B, a very young child part. B mostly chats, but it feels vital and important to her. She talks about the things in her day that interested her. She’ll often tell some detail which I would never mention, but that strikes her as important. How some person acted, or maybe some treat we had.

Ron started asking her, I can’t remember exactly, but why she is so separate, and doesn’t she want to merge with me. Which to B was like trying to persuade her to die, and she was horrified, and soon disappeared. I didn’t say anything much about this last session, but it still hurts a week later, so I brought it up on the phone.

I said I don’t think that’s how parts are integrated, by persuading them to do so. From what I’ve read, it’s more that the trauma they carry is dealt with, and then they can integrate.

Ron waited for me to say all I wanted to about this. I added that he’d hurt B’s feelings. Then Ron said a bunch of stuff, as he tends to do. What was it? That parts can originally form as a response to trauma, but then they become a way of dealing with further trauma. Yes.

That he thinks dialogue and communication between parts is key to integrating them. Which I don’t really get. My parts don’t seem to have an interest in dialoguing with each other. It’s enough of a job to have them talk with me or with Ron.

I accused him of confusing trauma based parts with the parts that everyone kind of has, like the inner critic. Because for those kinds of parts, yes, I can see how dialoguing with them would help.

Then he said he’d had experience with people whose parts were more separate than mine are, who lost time, and that dialogue between them had helped.

That kids usually want to grow up, so he thinks asking B why she doesn’t might lead to the key of why she exists. I didn’t say anything, but I know it isn’t going to help. I say something like these parts just are. They didn’t ask to be created, and I didn’t choose to have them. And B doesn’t want to grow up because she isn’t a real kid, she’s part of me.

And that’s about it. I started feeling really afraid at this point, which was not the point of the call. Ron asked me to feel into what the fear was about, but I really couldn’t. Something about wanting him to remain this nice supportive therapist, but it seemed like he wasn’t. Ron asked if it was a part having the feelings, and I said maybe, because I don’t really know how come I’m feeling afraid.

And I changed the subject.

The rest of the call went better from my point of view. I didn’t feel afraid, and I talked about a few things I wanted to touch on.

I’m still glad we talked, even though the conversation about parts was difficult.

Thursday’s therapy was better. That is, I don’t think it’s going to plunge me into depression on the weekend. It’s hard to say. Today I felt down at work, but I mostly had nothing to keep me busy, and I find that depressing. But my social skills were intact – sometimes my social skills, such as they are, go right down the toilet if I’m having a lot of therapy/trauma type stuff coming up.

First I talked about my attempt at meditation. Not a huge attempt, but my bout of severe anxiety on Wednesday led me to try anything I could do to calm down. I’ve done meditation where a lot of trauma type feelings came up, and where I tried to sit with those. Maybe that would help me over time, but as it didn’t help at all in the short term, I decided it wasn’t for me. But this time, I decided to actually seek peace. I know you’re mostly not supposed to do that, but instead, let whatever wants to come up come. However, I feel that in my situation, I really need to reach for good things, for peace, for calm. I have those feelings too, as well as the upset and chaos. And when I sat just watching my breath and looking for peace, I did feel more peaceful. That’s good enough for me.

Then I told Ron about how I’d been so very anxious, I hadn’t been able to go in to work on Wednesday. He was concerned about this, and asked how come I was feeling like that, and I didn’t really know.

I did say something about how I was not feeling very connected to him, and that therapy last week had not felt helpful, and that this week, I wanted to do things differently because I did not want to end up stuck in a useless depression once again. Of course Ron then thinks I’m avoiding. We get into an extended back and forth on what I mean, and what he means, etc etc. He brought up my email from the weekend. He was mainly concerned with my feeling that therapy was making things worse, rather than my own worries about whether he’s judging my parenting or not. I can see why he didn’t reply, if that was the main point for him, because that is something we would need to discuss in person.

So I said I did not want to do the same thing as last week. Ron said what was it that happened? I said I didn’t know for sure. It was a very adult-seeming session, where I spoke about two painful subjects. However, I didn’t cover any new ground – I’d known these things for years. So I didn’t see why this should plunge me into depression.

Ron said he thinks a problem for me is that I try to manage my feelings. Of course I try to manage them, I’m thinking – I’m in fucking parts. I need to present well to the adult world. Or at least plausibly.

Ron says the way I’m putting this, that I want to stay away from things, is what he thinks is a key to what makes me depressed. He sees depression as feelings wanting to emerge but not being allowed to do so. I say that I was willing for feelings to emerge, but nothing emerged. He said well, other parts of you are maybe not so willing. I said well, if it’s unconscious parts, what can I do?

I told him he didn’t understand me, that his explanation made sense for people like him, but not so much for me. We went back and forth for a while. I actually felt really put on the spot, trying to explain why I didn’t want to do the same things as last week. Why I felt he didn’t understand me. And I explained how sometimes, strong feelings after therapy seemed healing, but in this case, it just seemed like therapy was a trigger, and the depression was basically useless suffering.

It’s an odd feeling for me, to stick with a conversation for so long, when people are disagreeing, but no one is getting offended.

At one point I told Ron the part that felt he didn’t understand was angry, that I could feel that. So he asked me to speak from that angry part, and I tried, but I couldn’t. I did end up speaking from a child part, but a more vulnerable part. I could feel the anger and the fear maybe that he wasn’t understanding, but it was like it was in another room from the one he and I were in. I could hear it, and feel some of it, but couldn’t manifest it.

Ron says he knows it’s important to me for him to understand. What is it like to feel he doesn’t understand?

I’m stumped by this. I feel angry, I say. And again, cannot really manifest that angry part of me which seems walled off.

It was a surprising feeling, to be in this dialogue, where I was being invited to say what was wrong and how I felt, without being criticized and with no one getting angry with me. It also stumped me – I didn’t know how to continue. We never did really resolve this – Ron saying it was problematic that I was trying to stay away from things, my saying it was useless to do the same thing and get into this massive depression.

However. We totally weren’t doing the same things as last week. Last week I focused on my ‘issues’ in an adult-type way. This time, we were discussing our process and our relationship. Much more present-feeling.

Ron said something about allowing all parts of me into the conversation. And so I allowed various parts to pop up, in a way you really cannot in a regular relationship. B chimed in to tell Ron about the barbecue we went to on the weekend. Child parts told Ron he should have replied to our email. In general, I let some of the chaos out – conflicting emotions about Ron and therapy and my life in general. It was confusing, and as I accessed those parts, I felt some relief from the stress of keeping them separate, and also started feeling some of their feelings – mostly weepy sadness. I felt sad for a bit in the session, but never actually cried.

I can’t reconstruct this part of the session very well, because it was so fragmented and emotional. I think how I was there is a kind of a true picture of the state of my personality at the moment, which is a scary thought, but needs to be faced I suppose. A lot of my emotions are bound up in parts, which I suppress in the interests of being a functioning adult.

I left still feeling a bit disoriented and confused, but also feeling lighter. I felt like we really had connected, and some of my issues had really been addressed.

It’s Saturday now, and I am not wildly depressed. I feel normal. Which is a big relief.

 

 

Today I went swimming. I’d almost missed the pool, the few hours it’s open, and then there was no parking, but in the end, I managed to get there for about half an hour. I love the water, though it’s pretty dirty in the middle of a summer weekend.

I have issues with exercise, but lately, I’ve been challenging that. Exercise puts me into dissociation, for some reason. I don’t mind it at the time, but about an hour later, I need to go to sleep, and when I wake up, I’m massively depressed. So I don’t want that pattern to keep repeating. Because of this, I decided just getting in the water and paddling about for a few minutes was enough of a challenge. Pleasant enough, and i got to sunbathe for a few minutes after. The shower/change areas are kind of gross, but I kept my sandals on, so it was OK.

Then went to buy some food for dinner, and I cooked. I didn’t fall asleep. I do feel a little strange – hard to describe. Kind of super calm and very tired maybe. From those few minutes of swimming.

Anyway, since we’ve been having this hot summer, it seems like a good idea to keep going for the month anyway, if I can handle the fatigue. I still have things to take care of, but I just want to go to bed.

I’ve been alone this weekend, so no progress on the social front. Yesterday I was massively anxious for some reason. I did go out to buy supplies, and was completely paranoid that I was acting bizarrely. I was so anxious, I probably was acting a bit odd.

Work is better. Go figure. Maybe my boss has slowly absorbed our ‘talk’ of two weeks ago. Her tone towards me has changed. She also complimented me on something I’d done. Not something I was particularly proud of, but she’s obviously trying to be positive. It’s a relief. At the moment, the stress at work is from the big boss, who is a super perfectionist when it comes to documents. My own view is that you can be picky to the point of insanity, and that is just not helpful. However I do understand some of her concerns.

Therapy was OK. Ron suggested reading aloud the angry email I’d sent him, so I did¬† that, and then he responded to some of it. I was no longer feeling angry by that point, and I read it as if it was a piece of theater written by someone else. I didn’t feel connected to what I read, for the most part.

Ron talked about his theories, since one of my complaints was that he didn’t have one. I actually know he does have theories, it’s just it’s hard to figure out what they are. I have no memory of what he said – it didn’t resonate with me at all. Something about feelings being linked to actions. Maybe I’ll ask him next time what he said.

I talked a bit about the family barbecue I’d been to on the weekend, how I’d enjoyed it though I’d thought I wouldn’t. About my brother’s new girlfriend, who was introduced as his ‘friend’, so I didn’t realize right away who she was. How I resented her somewhat – his long time girl friend had only moved out a few months before, and here he was, coupled up already. He didn’t seem to have any depression or sadness about his old GF either – I don’t understand that. I was basically incapacitated for a year when I left my ex.

So most of the session was very adult. All this time, I’m feeling more and more pressure from other parts who are desperate for time. In the last ten minutes, B got to talk, after I first asked Ron’s permission – I wasn’t too sure she was welcome for some reason. She spoke of the things concerning her, as a child relates her concerns to an adult – a list of what she’d done and what seemed important to her. Just before I left, Ron said it’s like a young child who wants their parents’ attention – dad, look at me, look at me….She’s kind of like that. Which I agree is true.

B spoke about things that weren’t sad, daily life things, but then kind of fell into this pit of sadness, kind of crying. There just wasn’t time to get into whatever it was. I had to shut it all away in order to get ready for work, but it was definitely something. At work I was very down for no other reason. Finally, I got some urgent things to take care of in the afternoon, at which point whatever it was was shut down completely.

Likely that’s why I was so very anxious Saturday and this morning. That sadness that I had to lock away, maybe knocking at the door, and I just didn’t have the key anymore to open that door.