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therapist

I am walking through depression these days, that’s for sure. Trying to keep my head above water. I ordered four different self-help books from the library, or maybe five? I can’t decide what I have that’s most urgent – PTSD Workbook, Anxiety Toolkit, 7 steps Through Depression, Compassion Therapy for Social Anxiety. Four. Plus the Mindful Way through Depression, my old favorite. I feel as if I have pretty much every diagnosis out there except for bipolar or schizophrenia. Oh, I’m also not obsessive compulsive. Everything else, I’ve got.

Today I went to the gym, so I am proud of this. Yesterday I spent a lot of hours in bed, so today I’m more active. I might go to 12 step group tonite. Or maybe let it be for a while.

Yesterday was my first session after the holidays. Ron was thirty minutes late. The boundaries with him, which until a few months ago he was great at holding, seem to be falling apart a bit. He gave me no notice of his unusual two week Christmas vacation, and now he both showed up very late and did not bother phoning me to tell me he was delayed. For the vacation, when I asked why there was no notice, he was completely defensive. He carefully explained how he had been telling people and maybe that was the week we did the bio session so he forgot to tell me. He didn’t apologize. What do I care what his exact problems were – the fact is, he hurt me, by inattention, and it would make sense to offer a small apology. I would, if it was me.

I assumed he’d forgotten my session yesterday, but it turned out he’d been coming in from out of town and my 11:30 appointment was his first. The weather was bad, and he was slow to get here. I can actually understand that. What I don’t understand is why he couldn’t let me know. He had a phone in his car. He could have saved me from coming in for a twenty minute session. He did apologize, and did not charge me for the twenty minutes. I do not see why he didn’t let me know. He shrugged and said his kids were in the car.

I’m going on about these small things. I find them hurtful and unprofessional.

My therapy is pretty much in the toilet. Even in the twenty minutes, I felt criticized and unsupported. To the extent that it plunged me right back into my non-functional depression. But today, I realized that I had been criticizing him, and likely hurt his feelings somewhat. Not for being late – we briefly discussed then let it go.

I don’t know. I was thinking in my mind, first of all, I’ve had a rough time, and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been trying to help me – the exercise, the group. But also, what I remembered today, was I said I didn’t think therapy could help me. And that I wanted to work on a plan for making my life better, rather than plunging into trauma feelings, or something like that.

Which of course Ron is going to be irritated by. I don’t know if he actively dislikes trying to plan for a better life, or if it’s just something he doesn’t think works? And my saying therapy isn’t going to help – that is definitely criticism.

I also explained about my Christmas a bit – leaving the family event early. He did say a satisfying ‘wow’ when I explained how my mother and sister had reacted to my leaving before dinner was over – ‘would you like to take pie?’ and ‘thanks for coming’ respectively, nothing else.

After about fifteen minutes, he wasn’t saying anything, and I felt uneasy, so I said it always freaks me out when you sit silent like that. And he said the hurtful thing, something about what I’d said about the gym, how I’m trying to balance the anxiety exercise causes me with the depression that no exercise leaves me in. He criticized that – something about how I’m trying to manage my feelings instead of really exploring them.

The reason that hurt so much is that I’ve been struggling so very hard to not succumb to depression over the holidays – to get out of bed, to do things. Even though if I think about it, my life sucks on basically every front right now. So I try not to think about it. And I’m kind of proud of going to the gym, of finding a way, after years of avoidance. And of going to the group, despite difficulties. It’s me out there, fighting.

And Ron doesn’t see it that way. I guess. I feel criticized for not exploring feelings properly. And it makes sense, as I criticized his therapy. Which I couldn’t see at first, as my pain was overwhelming at that point.

I didn’t say anything to Ron about this. I do not need another discussion about the way to help me – we’ve done that, got the t-shirt, I don’t need to go there again.

Another thing that occurred to me is that this dynamic with Ron feels very much like the one I had with my father as a child. Enormous hurt, feeling criticized and never good enough. I in turn criticizing him. I never seemed to have any influence with my dad, and it feels similar with Ron. So maybe that’s something I can explore.

I also know that therapy feels bad when parts are no longer involved. Ever since Ron rejected B a few months ago, no parts have showed up for therapy. Ron doesn’t seem to notice – I suppose he believes they have magically disappeared. But B is the main part of me that attaches to people, so if she is no longer welcome with Ron, then I feel quite distant from him. So that’s another thing.

 

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I am going to keep expressing. Though I have no conclusions, and I’m just as confused as ever. I’m still not better, though at least my mind is back online. I have gone almost nowhere, except to coffee shops and stores for food. I have spoken with no one since last Thursday except very briefly to a friend, and didn’t mention going through stuff. I have avoided all the things I’ve tried to build into my life to give me an illusion of having people to see – no 12 step group, no church, no monthly discussion group, no walk with a friend, and tonight again no 12 step group. So, I have spoken with no one about what is happening for me.

The feeling of needing to avoid people is very intense. At the start of the day, I plan on doing these small activities, and when the time comes to leave, I do not go. It feels like zero motivation. You might not realize it, but to even just show up somewhere requires a small amount of hope. Somewhere in your mind, you need the tiny feeling that something good might happen at this event, or that you can get something out of that. I’m completely missing that tiny feeling. How can you go to something when you just see a grey wasteland? How are you going to connect with anyone across all that grey deadness?

I still feel as if something shocking has happened to me. My insides feel kind of jolted, and I have a shocked feeling. Also, I want to lie down an awful lot. I read to try and distract from the sadness and loss.

I’m thinking about medication. For me, they don’t work very well, but they do work a bit for the first few months. That is, you wait three weeks, feel pretty sick, and then they kick in and you feel a bit calmer. For me, I stay slightly nauseous also. But the feeling is better than this. It’s not really a good option though. I know they don’t really change anything. Then they stop working, and you keep taking them, just in case they might be helping. They’re this crappy trap.

I think about the crisis line. Should I call? Am I bad enough?

I’ve written Ron a few emails. He has replied very briefly, but never in a way that made me feel he gets what I’m talking about. I wrote him an allegorical type story too. It was kind of fun to write, but also kind of scary, because it alludes to things I don’t like to think about. He replied that it was powerful, and then said a bit of stuff that basically showed he didn’t get what I was saying.

I just want to go back to how I was feeling last week before therapy. I was coping. Now I can no longer cope. For instance. The front window of my apartment doesn’t close completely. This is fine in the summer. But now, it’s really cold. So I need to call my landlady to fix it. I can’t call her as I’m afraid of the phone. So I’m wearing three sweaters and a hat in my living room. So stupid. I am a grown-up and I need to deal. I can’t believe I can’t do this.

I truly don’t know what happened to cause me to go downhill like this. Maybe it was just too much bad stuff all at once. I seem to be having a problem of feeling things as we discuss them in session. I just don’t realize how bad I feel until I get home. I do remember feeling this huge warning go off internally in my session, when I asked Ron to stop speaking about my family. He thought that was me just resisting. But maybe that was the signal that things were so bad as to be unmanageable at that point.

I don’t get why I’m like this. Clearly a lot of people feel pain from their therapy, but I think I am kind of on the extreme end of that. Being disabled like this from therapy seems kind of inexplicable.

I have a session tomorrow morning, so wish me luck. Ron is unexpectedly taking next week off, something he didn’t inform me about until I asked for a session next week. I guess he was going to tell me the session before. He’s usually better than this and does give notice of his holidays.

I don’t know if this will be my last session with him. I don’t want to throw myself further into a crisis by threatening inner parts that we won’t keep seeing him, so I’m being careful. I do know if I tell him I need support and that’s all right now, he will go along with that. I did not get him a token gift this year. I don’t feel like giving him anything.

I still cannot get it together. I don’t remember ever having this bad of a reaction to a therapy session for years. I think the last time was when I was trying to do group – I do remember the aftermath of those groups was terrible for me.

I feel weepy and I’m kind of shaking. Maybe part of it is trying to now distance myself from Ron. I’ve cancelled for this week only, but am thinking of cancelling for the rest of the month anyway. Parts of me are so deeply attached to him, is the problem. At the moment, I’m about evenly balanced between needing to stay away from Ron because of the damage I feel he’s doing to me, versus the hope that if I go in to see him, we can repair this, and I will feel better. Although I know from experience the arguing with him actually makes me feel worse. He never seems to see his part in anything, and this being therapy, it becomes all about my issues, my inability to accept and hear what he is telling me.

And yet. He is kind. He is undoubtedly sincere and undoubtedly trying to help me. He has helped me. I am now in a better place than I was before I saw him, usually anyway, this week excepted. I understand more about people. Before this therapy, I never had even the concepts of attachment or abandonment. I really had no idea about this. I was living with attachment problems/avoidance, and was abandoned and abandoning, but I didn’t know about it. That’s huge.

Reminds me of how I didn’t have a concept of anxiety before my forties. That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel it. My whole life was dictated by anxiety, but as I didn’t really know what it was or how it manifests, I was ignorant of this. Anxiety is more than just feelings of fear and unease. Anxiety is the wish not to do something, the blankness, the fatigue. Anxiety is cutting off conversations, not going there, trying to stay so safe there is almost no life happening whatsoever.

I understand more about depression. How it’s a big grey blanket thrown over bad stuff and unacceptable feelings. How it can feel better than the actual feelings underneath it. How hard it can be to allow those feelings, how exhausting, how depression just seems easier – almost a choice. Not quite, not always, but for me, it sometimes is.

I’ve applied to one job today, which is all I ask of myself in the jobs department. No special effort, just clicked apply and attached a resume. It’s a job I’ve actually done over a decade before. But I need work. If I’m back where I was a decade ago, well, maybe this time I’ll do it better. Who knows.

My other two goals are laundry, and get to the gym. The gym will make me feel a bit better, hopefully. I don’t feel up to interacting with anyone yet – I’ve been alone since my session last week, talking to no one except to say hello to a cashier. I don’t care much. I haven’t been able to organize myself to have normal conversations. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be able to do that, because this is getting old.

Oh, and I have been looking at therapist profiles. I wouldn’t get a new one right away I don’t think, but I need to look. The usual confusion. How do I tell who would be good. Trauma therapists seem to be all female. I’ve been to a lot of female therapists, ones who say they’re good at trauma, and formed very little connection with them. But maybe this time. But how do I tell?

First, the ones with really good websites that explain trauma in a way that makes sense. I’ve contacted three of these therapists in the past, and they were not accepting new clients.  There is one more, and one who lives a fair ways away. The first one only works in business hours and is expensive, so not sure I could afford or make appointments during the day. She does seem very qualified though. Then there are body focused therapists – they also teach yoga, they focus on mindfulness, they seem like earth mother types. I don’t know. Maybe? There are a lot with the same type of training and approach as Ron, which seems like it’s going to be unhelpful for the same reasons he is.

OK, writing that felt awful. I know a large part of me doesn’t want anyone else, wants Ron, just a better version of him.

I was thinking about my last post. First, wow, did I ever leave a lot out of my session. And second, about my distrust of my therapist currently. I’m so depressed. I think I distrust everyone at the moment. I’m seeing all the darkness, all the failures, all the disappointments. I’m not seeing the caring, the many responses I have received, the attention to me while I’m in his office. So I find some of the things he says off. It’s OK. I’m pretty sure I’d find that with anyone.

One thing I left out – I talked about how I used to be somewhat like the young silent people at work. In my twenties, I barely spoke. I’d make an exception for a very few ‘safe’ people. But I’d never speak in class, or elsewhere. I felt scared to speak to anyone. And kind of arrogant at the same time – I’d think how could people be talking about such stupid things. At the same time, I’d long to join in. I felt I didn’t know what to say to people. No one in my family ever chatted. I didn’t know how to make any kind of small talk. And my silence would build – as time went by, and I didn’t make any kind of remark, I’d become more and more self-conscious, and would feel as if my face were maybe frozen.

This was one reason I clung to a fellow misfit – my ex. He also rarely spoke to anyone and didn’t do small talk. I felt like I was the exception to his general scorn for other people – that I was the one person worth talking to. I didn’t realize his reticence was also from low self-esteem, because he was so critical of everyone. Anyway.

Now I’ve changed. I think it’s important to talk with people, and I’m no longer as afraid. I’ve figured out what some common topics are, and what it makes sense to discuss in different contexts. I’m still a bit anxious sometimes, but I can handle myself a lot better socially than I used to.

I’m also no longer drawn to people with low self-esteem. I would accept them, but wouldn’t seek them out.

I don’t know if the young people at work have the same shyness problems I did, or if they just prefer to very silently focus on their tasks. I can definitely understand either way. Just it makes me feel lonely I guess.

Tonight I’ve been obsessively looking at therapist websites. How on earth do you pick one? How can you know if they are the magic person that can help? Beyond checking that they list trauma and ptsd as a specialty, and maybe also dissociative disorders.

Ron lists dissociative disorders as a specialty on his site also. At least on the Psychology Today site he does, where I guess he’s prompted by a template. On his personal site, he says he doesn’t specialize, because each client is unique.

Oh me oh my. Do I go by whether I respond to their picture? Is this online dating? Or whether I respond to their words? Someone may have little gift for good writing, yet be a very good trauma therapist, I’m sure. Essentially, they tend to say the same sorts of things anyway.

Do I try and see someone expensive, maybe every two weeks? Does the expense of the therapist equal skill?

Flipping through these sites does seem to fulfill a need, without the risk of actually talking to anyone.

Clearly, my last session did not go that well. I’m full of doubts, not so much about Ron’s competence as a therapist overall, but whether he knows how to help with dissociative parts. He’d never heard the term DDNOS when I told him about it. He says he doesn’t follow all the ins and outs of the DSM. Shouldn’t he at least know about this, even if he doesn’t believe in diagnosis?

At the same time….I do feel angry with him, and also needy I suppose. I’m not sure what the anger is about really. It feels somewhat like anger I tend to have with men – resentful, hurt somehow.

Last session we did talk for a while about what happens to me after sessions – why I feel so terrible. He seems to think it’s because parts have lost their chance to talk to him for a whole week, and are sad. No way is that the reason. Even if they feel like that, it wouldn’t cause the complete shut down that happens.

This time, V. spoke at the end of the session. She was just hugely sad, with a heavy, dark kind of sadness. She didn’t cry though, and nothing seemed traumatic. But today, I spent most of the day in bed. I was so sad, and just couldn’t think normally. I didn’t remember anything in particular – it was more like a state. It didn’t seem like feeling to me though, really. More like depression. Feeling seems more fluid to me, like I’m a person having a feeling, while this was more like an overwhelming state of being.

I still think I’m being taken over by a part’s feelings.

Is this a good thing to keep doing? I have no idea. It’s been a few years now, and I’m not sure this is getting better. I emailed Ron in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and he didn’t reply. I didn’t ask for a reply, so I guess it’s OK, but it didn’t help either.

It’s as if the therapy is keeping me from making my life better, because I’m always dealing with the fall out of the therapy. Once I add work into the equation, there’s almost nothing left.

I’m feeling negative. I don’t understand what’s happening, I just know it feels bad.

Back from therapy this morning. Not sure if it sucked or didn’t suck or was helpful or what.

It was low key and undramatic. By my choice really. When I started therapy years ago, I would plunge into trauma and many sessions ended with myself in a child place, or severely distraught, and then I’d go home. It took ages to crawl out of that place again.

I don’t know. I am set on not continuing in that vein, and so I’m not. I am left with the uneasy feeling that Ron doesn’t approve – he wants the intensity and the drama perhaps. Or something.

I also feel uneasy that I have seized control. This is not Ron’s preferred way of working. This is what I feel I need, but I don’t get much feeling that he agrees. His philosophy though is to let the client lead, so he goes along with it? Maybe.

My life last week was simply working and recovering. I’d struggled with sleeping, waking up every two hours, then falling back to sleep after maybe another hour, then waking again….I tell Ron about this. He asks why I think I’m having this trouble this week, and I don’t know really.

I say I wonder what we could work on that would be helpful. He says helpful in what way? By which I think he means ‘feeling better in the short term is not going to help you feel better long term’. But, as he doesn’t say that, I just say, well, how to get better sleep for instance.

Then I say if we work with parts, could we do that in the first part of the session, and then spend time getting me back to my adult state? So Ron asks if there are any parts that want to speak.

B speaks for a while, about the Christmas tree, and a necklace she wants, and the colleague whom she likes who jokes around, and the colleague who scares her because he gets angry. And then B stops talking, and just feels sad. I hate being in that sad place, so I switch back. It feels like enough.

Also teen V gets a chance to speak. Being V is to be plunged right away into a world of darkness and pain. I also switch back from her feelings fairly soon.

At one point I tell Ron I feel like there’s a pain of glass between us. I do feel a sense that we’re not connecting at all. We talk about what the glass is….I switch to V who seems to be pounding on that glass.

We spend the last 10-15 minutes ‘grounding’ – feeling my feet and hands, then talking a bit about what I’ll do next with my afternoon. Ron’s heart is not in grounding exercises, but I find them somewhat helpful.

So I leave – not hugely upset, and in an adult state. With the uneasy feeling that I’m disappointing Ron, not doing therapy the way he wants to do it. Being a disappointment.

Oh yeah, one thing we touched on was loneliness. Ron asked me and also a part if we were lonely. Well, yes. Sometimes. But how not to be. There really isn’t anyone out there it seems. There are people at work though I suppose.

And also, I said a thing about how I think a problem I have is I’m not feeling things in a regular way, so I need help doing that. I don’t feel things during the day, then maybe get hit with a lot of exhausting emotions after I get home.

I don’t think he really understands how it is. I’m so different from him. Maybe that’s just my pessimism and distrust though.

I know I should look for other therapists, and maybe I will, eventually. I too tired right now.

Last Thursday I arrived at therapy after work, feeling completely done in. One of my main problems is fatigue – I get worn out so fast.

I’d been looking forward to seeing Ron, earlier in the week. But now I was in session, I had nothing much to say. I felt these waves of exhaustion, and the thought of launching into almost any topic was not appealing.

I told Ron I’d had an extremely rough time after the last session. We didn’t talk about it much though.

I actually think we should have been talking about it. I don’t think it’s enough to plunge into dark feelings, then finally climb back out. I need to make sense of what this means by talking about it. But I lack the energy to say this – maybe I don’t even think it at the time.

I feel critical of Ron again, but can’t bring myself to quit therapy just yet. It’s been five years, and my PTSD really hasn’t improved. My ability to relate to people more normally has improved a lot though, which I mostly see through working. I used to antagonize people without even trying, and I’d go into fits of rage, though not usually vented on the person. Plus I used to have anxiety almost all the time, even if I couldn’t feel it, and that’s still there, but also better. I can feel it now, which means I can do something about it at times.

Ron is good at providing a holding environment. He is not afraid of my emotions, and encourages all of them. I obviously never had that as a child, and it’s a really great thing.

I just wish he also had a theory of PTSD. Now lots of people have a theory, but don’t have the emotional skills that he has. But if he had a theory, he’d have some idea of how to help me. Instead of triggering trauma off, sending me home to get over it, and doing the same thing all over again the next week. I’m spending so much time overwhelmed and unable to function.

I’m through with doing that, I really am. I need some way of tackling PTSD problems that doesn’t make things worse. And it’s not that Ron is against anything I want to try. Just he doesn’t have a theory, so he forgets everything again the next session.

I need to be able to bear the emotions. Once I’m overwhelmed, or stuck in a child space, I can’t bear them, and I implode – freeze, numb out, stop coping. I suspect I am stuck in a child space a fair amount of the time, and that’s why I have such difficulty with household tasks and following through with my plans. I think I need help staying adult, or relating to younger parts from an adult perspective.

And Ron’s interest is in helping clients experience their emotions, and supporting them while they go through them. Which is a fine goal. Just I need help containing my emotions. Yes, a fair wack of them are locked away, but that’s because they need to be for now.

At my session, I didn’t say all this. I did say the PTSD hadn’t gotten better. Ron asked if therapy was the only reason I go through the emotions, and the only time I get overwhelmed. I said no….and that I realize I’m not picking this stuff up in therapy. But later, I thought, yes, there is no other thing I do that triggers the overwhelm like therapy.

So we sat a lot. Ron said something about do I want to discuss this or that….and I felt a huge fatigue and said why bother? Well – to get a sense of connection, perhaps, Ron said.

Whatever.

Ron suggested I draw the parts, so I did that. Basically stick figures. There are three main parts I’m aware of.

I did end up saying maybe the not talking is a parts problem. That has happened in the past – I go past the wall of not wanting to speak, and parts have a lot to say. However, that led to overwhelm in the past, and I just didn’t want to go back there.

So we sat some more. And then I left.

I was wondering if I’d be upset with myself for not speaking about much of anything, whether I’d kick myself for the lost opportunity. But I haven’t really. The not wanting to speak was so strong, it kind of felt like being true to myself to let it win.

And I’m not overwhelmed with trauma today, though I am very tired, I think just from working all week. I was OK at work Friday. If we’d touched on anything deep in therapy, that day would have been torture for me.

Maybe I’m getting ready to leave therapy, I’m not sure. However I still like Ron as much as ever. I think I got something out of just sitting there with him, him trying to understand even though I wasn’t talking. It still felt kind of supportive. I am paying out of pocket though, so if I stop talking in my sessions, I’m not sure how much sense it makes to keep going.