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therapy

I feel unbelievably ambivalent about my therapy. I don’t see where it’s going, I feel a lot worse after sessions, I don’t have a lot of confidence that Ron’s ideas are going to help me much. And yet….I have changed. I am better at relationships and I see more clearly where they might be going wrong. But my PTSD remains the same, basically untouched.

Last Thursday’s session put me back into a depression which I’m still trying to climb out of, thereby wasting a lot of my time off. I’m still doing a few things, but quite a bit less than before.

I’m having trouble focusing on what the trouble might be. I know Ron hurts my feelings deeply when he tells me I’m like my family. One reason he says that is because there are topics that I don’t wish to discuss. He thinks I’m then shutting down discussion as my family did. Though to tell the truth, with my family, discussion was mostly suppressed before it could even start, rather than shut down in progress.

Ron wants to discuss my son. He says I have all kinds of massive feelings about his situation, and it would help to discuss. I do not want to waste my fifty minutes on discussing the situation. It’s hard to get Ron to understand anyway, and it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s nothing he can do. I ended up telling him if he needs to discuss this, I’d listen to everything he has to say, because I don’t want to shut him down, but that I didn’t have anything to say about it. My efforts at not shutting him down. Isn’t choosing a topic different from ‘shutting people down’?

Anyway. This isn’t what triggered off the depression. Towards the end of the session, I asked Ron – shouldn’t he be linking my past to my present, isn’t that what his job is in psychodynamic therapy? He agreed and said that’s exactly what he’s doing in trying to discuss my son. I didn’t see it. How is discussing my son’s current situation doing that? Where is the past in this? He’s not making any links as far as I can see. He’s just intent on showing my son’s situation is psychological, not physical. It may have psychological components, but I am convinced it’s also physical. But I just don’t have time to get into arguments in my short therapy session, arguments that will not help me.

But. At the same time, I was drawing with crayons, doodling. That provides a lot of relief to parts of me that are not involved in this type of discussion. It also opens up my emotions, which I suspect are from these split off parts.

So then I said, half from an emotional parts type state, I thought Ron should be focusing on what it was like for me, what effect did it have, to have a mother who was unable to tolerate any emotions from her child. And I can’t remember what Ron said to tell the truth. He said a bunch of stuff, and I was still drawing away, feeling more and more emotional and child-like. I felt both sad and also angry and petulant, like a kid sticking to her guns despite a grown-ups fancy arguments.

I think that’s what pushed me into the depression. Parts emotions lead to other parts emotions, all walled off but ready to come tumbling out all together.

The fact is, it was severely painful to have a mother who needed her children to suppress all emotions. There was not a lot of love, but what there was went to any child who did not display feelings. So we all learned very early not to have feelings.

Which led to my being depressed for most of my life. All my life force dammed up as my mother needed it to be.

So reason enough to be depressed in the present.

Is this helpful? I have no idea. It means therapy is having an effect, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be a good effect in the end.

 

 

I’m wishing to keep this blog alive but having difficulty writing. I’ve started a few posts but left off, discouraged. It’s hard to know what to say.

I am thankful to have finished my contract and have some time off until I find a new one.

I went back to therapy last week, after Ron’s vacation. It wasn’t a successful session, but I am going back tomorrow. I do have time and energy to devote to therapy after all.

Last week I went in and spoke in an adult way about my difficulties. I was proud I’d been out to two meetups, one for walking, one to see a movie. It’s hard for me to go to them, and I kind of enjoyed chatting with people. I guess I would have liked a pat on the back or some acknowledgment. Ron doesn’t really do that though. I felt he didn’t get how hard it was for me, and also, that it could be a good thing for me if I could keep trying this.

I guess I mainly remember what I didn’t like about the session. How he again said I was like my family. He’s said this a lot. I think he means critical and judgemental. My family does have strengths, but I don’t think that’s what he means.

My impression is I hurt his feelings by criticizing his therapy. I didn’t actually mean to do that last week at all – he brought up that I hadn’t been coming in much. So I just said I wasn’t sure what he was trying to do with the therapy.

When I say that, he tends to say the same thing. I think he thinks I’m asking him to give advice instead of just sitting there. He then tells me I have to assert myself and speak up with my family. He’s said that over and over.

The thing is, there’s not anything obvious to assert myself about. The main thing they do is cold withdrawal, kind of a silent judging. I’d have to attack somehow, and I’m not sure what the point would be.

I also spoke about my son, who is a continuing issue. He can’t really keep living with my parents, but cannot hold a job. Anyway – I don’t think he and my parents are even on speaking terms, yet he lives in their house. I know my parents are massively disappointed in him, and angry. They seem to be silently blaming me for the situation as well.

My ex and I are hoping to help him move to a small place away from the city. He needs a place with less air pollution. Trying to make that happen is hard. Especially when I’m not sure it will make him feel better. He’s convinced it will though. There’s not a ton of money to help with that, but between us we have some.

Talking to Ron about this makes me feel worse about the situation. He seems so appalled. The thing is, I already find it so overwhelming sometimes I can’t cope with it. So I stay away from visiting my son or trying to find solutions, because I just feel too bad. So I don’t need to feel more about this.

I left the session feeling kind of battered and bruised. This account is  probably unfair to Ron. I know he wants to listen and to help.

I wish he understood PTSD. However. If I want to emotionally explore something, he’s good at that. I just can’t expect him to lead me anywhere. I have to figure it out. If I don’t want his input on some topics, I just won’t talk about those things with him. It’s only fifty minutes after all.

Definitely depressed today, Sunday. I am exhausted by work, and then I end up resting and doing the basic chores, and don’t make the further effort of doing anything special. But when you always want to lie down, it’s tough to push for things.

I’m not sure what’s going on with me. Yesterday I cooked dinner for a friend. It was quite satisfying to be the one giving, instead of having someone cook for me. It was hard being social though, even just with her. She seems to be going through a rough time herself, and hinted at being down, but she doesn’t like to discuss her problems. At least, not the big ones. I know she is pining for a boyfriend and feels sad about her life as a single woman.

I am relieved I am not pining for a boyfriend. Yes, I would like one, but mostly, I don’t think about this. There’s no one specific anyway. And, I had more than my fill of a partner who was destructive and whom I wished gone for a long long time before I finally was able to leave.

She asked me about my therapy, just casually, and asked if it would ever be over? I said who knows…..It is one of my anxieties, that this therapy process is so open ended. On the other hand, if I don’t go, I’ll still have the same issues, just without a therapist. I’ll still be me. This friend doesn’t ‘believe’ in therapy, though she doesn’t go so far as to tell me not to go. She just doesn’t understand it.

Anyway. I did get my back balcony planted. It’s kind of artistic, if I do say so myself.

I should have gone to visit my son and didn’t. I don’t think I’m much good to him depressed like this.

My session last week was good. It didn’t seem a chore to go – I was eager to see Ron. We had a low-key, companionable type session. We talked about how I might get more people in my life. I’d been trying with an ACA group and with church, but have given those up for now. They took a lot of my limited energy and I didn’t end up with much social contact out of it. Ron wondered if those situations, because they focus on the person, make me even more self-conscious, and if an activity based group would be better.

I liked how Ron was trying to help me think of what concretely I could do. I’m kind of assuming that once in social situations more, I would make pals. I seem to be doing OK at work – I enjoy the cameraderie there that comes from just sitting together at a table. I feel like I’m having companionship even if we’re not best friends.

Activities might work, assuming there’s nothing terribly wrong with how I speak to people or how I’m being perceived. I kind of think there isn’t, really. That if I had people around, I would make friends.

This was all OK. Towards the end of the session, I brought up a visit to my family the previous weekend that had not gone well as usual. I tried to explain to Ron what had been bad. It’s hard to explain about my family. I don’t want to get into it here – this is likely the cause of my depression. I get the strong feeling they blame me for my son’s condition and for him living with my parents, which I know is very hard on them.

My family is such a unit. They all stick together, dancing the family dance, and I don’t fit, don’t want to fit, and get judged.

Anyway, if they’re so great, how did I end up in parts? That happens only in severely dysfunctional situations. They are not that great. They were a terrible family for me.

I’m still going to therapy every other week. This week was a no session week. I’m trying to remember a week back to our last session. What did we discuss?

I remember Ron did bring up this time that I’m cancelling a lot and wondered why. I just said I wanted some time where I wasn’t triggered, and that sometimes, therapy seems to trigger all kinds of emotions but doesn’t really resolve anything, so that I’m not sure how helpful it is.

Ron didn’t say much. I got the impression he doesn’t agree that we should have fewer sessions, but he didn’t say so.

I didn’t say this, but I also think I can commit to approaching difficult topics every second week, but not every week. I’m willing to sacrifice some days to therapy recovery if it’s not every single week.

I’ve been thinking about how alone I’ve been in my life, and how that’s especially evident now. I suspect one reason I can’t seem to recover from therapy is I have no one in my regular life to help me ‘regulate’. It sometimes is very helpful to have people around, not even to discuss issues with, but just people doing ordinary living. It helps me calm down.

I’ve noticed this at work. I now have the option of working with some other writers at a big table, instead of in my cubicle. I actually prefer the big table. I thought I would hate it and feel horribly exposed, but having little interactions with other writers makes my day feel so much better. Just being able to speak sometimes, or listen to someone else go on about something.

I spent one day in my cubicle at work, and was pretty much suicidal by the end of the day. No one spoke to me. It’s a bit of a bad atmosphere there at the moment as the contract is ending, although we haven’t been told that in any kind of an upfront way. As well, there’s renewed pressure to produce lots of work very quickly. And the PM is no longer friendly to me, maybe because I’m not that fast. I like to think about what I’m doing, and produce quality, and all he cares about is quantity, because that makes his project look good.

When I moved to the table the next day, I had a much much better day. Other people are in ordinary moods, and they are catching. If I want to grumble about something, I can, in a low voice. My mood was so much improved.

So generally I’ve concluded, although I do need some time to myself, in general I do better with people around.

Somehow I’ve ended up pretty much alone. My one friend and I seem to have had a bit of a falling out, unless I’m imagining it, so she hasn’t called in a few weeks. I know I could call her. I have my ex I suppose. He’s very misanthropic and unsociable however.

I feel that I am fairly well liked at work. Chance threw myself and my star co-worker, whom I disliked, together, and it turns out we do OK together. He’s pretty outgoing, and it’s helping me to practice being more outgoing also.

Having people around at work is cushioning some of the blows of work – the contract is not being extended as promised, the PM is asking for impossible quantities of work, and other things. I just think in the same way, if I had people in my life outside of work who were more reliably present, it would help me come out of the bad places therapy puts me into.

I’m not sure Ron can really conceive of my difficulties in sociability. His view is that we need to be authentic with people and have real relationships. But I think we first need to have any kind of relationships. If I have no ability to attract anyone, I need to work on that. I don’t mean attract as in sexually attract, but attract in terms of someone wants me around. And I will not be attractive to people if I’m completely depressed and unable to be social.

I just came back from a birthday tea for my sister at my parents’ house. I can see how my social anxiety developed by watching them. My mother basically doesn’t speak. My father has very set topics that he wants to talk about – his garden, his work when he worked. So everyone dances about him speaking in horrible detail about his garden, as if we were all fascinated by this, to appease him.

Some other guests came, and so the conversation veered to different topics. At that point both my parents stopped speaking at all.

I think the dynamic is that speaking puts you at risk. In my family it’s not safe to have your own life, your own experience and opinions. So no one risks speaking about anything. I do, and I get rejected quite a bit. For example, this afternoon my brother wasn’t veering far afield, but started to talk about how he wanted to plant a miniature rose for his front walk. I suggested a tea rose. Well. My father is obsessed with old fashioned once flowering varieties. My suggestion was completely unacceptable to my sister and my father. Because intelligent people only love the old style roses. It doesn’t seem to be OK to have your own opinion on what you like.

Anyway, I can see where I developed a fear of saying anything that dogged me for my first forty years. I experienced this as not being able to think of what to say, but it’s more that all topics were potentially humiliating, so I kept quiet. Even when keeping quiet was peculiar in the situation.

So now, I can speak, thank goodness. Just I haven’t peopled my life with people who want to hear me and speak back. Wanting people in my life doesn’t have much of anything to do with ‘authenticity’ though, as recommended in therapy. I don’t really want to pour my heart out at this point. I just want some people around who like me.

 

 

As to a therapy update – I seem to be moving to going every second week. I’m saying ‘seem’ because I’m letting the session stand and then cancelling. I am giving a fair amount of notice though. It’s a prime evening slot so I don’t want to reserve it if I’m not going to go.

So I didn’t go in last week, but will most likely go in this week. The increased distance seems mostly good to me. I did have some hours of missing Ron on Thursday evening, but other than that, I’m good with it. Every session takes me some days to recover from, pretty much no matter what we discuss. I feel like I have more of a weekend when I don’t need it to recover. I’m also glad not to be mentally criticizing Ron all the time. That was just exhausting and useless. Maybe the continual negativity about therapy was me trying to tell myself I needed a break. It’s been interesting to just go with that part of me and take more distance.

I am mentally taken up by work. I still don’t have much energy for doing much besides working and then taking care of myself by doing chores and resting. It’s kind of the worst thing about whatever it is that’s wrong with me – I just don’t have the energy other people have to put into their lives. All of my energy still goes to survival.

It looks like my contract with work will expire at the end of the month after all. The company I work for had said that the remaining writers would be kept on through the summer but it doesn’t seem to be happening. And a client who is running the project emailed something to that effect, forgetting that she was copying two writers including me. So I’ve started looking. At least, I’ve posted my resume to various sites.

I am so low energy this morning. Going for a nap.

People were cut at work last Wednesday, and I wasn’t one of them, however my cubicle mate was. The people cut have to work out their two weeks. Then the next day, I was briefly informed that our group is losing our cubicles, so I’d be moved to another location. That started Friday. I’m now in one of two very small meeting rooms, along with three other writers in the same room. I’m finding it difficult. We chat a lot (I wanted to say ‘they’ but I do it also) and I didn’t get a whole lot done. In addition, I’d gone for therapy the previous day, and was still very sad from that. I felt as if I was emanating sadness and depression. People around you do pick up on your emotional state. The only other woman there, who is sitting in the adjacent meeting room, actually asked me if I was OK when we met in the hall. We’ve never even spoken much, so I must have looked awful.

What can I do? I want to be in decent shape for work, but I just can’t always be.

I went back to therapy on Thursday evening. We didn’t talk about my taking a break the previous week. Ron didn’t mention it, so I didn’t either. I now have a session set up for next week. I told him I was thinking of moving to every other week, and he said just to let him know as soon as I could if I wanted to cancel.

I’m unsure what I think. Therapy allows parts of me that are kind of split off to come forward. I went into the session feeling basically OK, though tired. I came out very sad, and had trouble functioning the next day.

We spoke a bit about dating. I’ve been dipping my big toe into online dating. It’s very hard for me – I feel rejected a lot. So speaking in therapy brought up my issues with me. How betrayed I felt by my marriage. Ron wondered in what sense I was betrayed. That my ex does still seem to care about me, just that he’s very limited. I admitted it’s true he does care. But as a young person, I wanted love, sex, someone who wanted to spend time with me. Who could tolerate disagreement. I got none of that. I got drudgery, constant responsibility for an infant, someone with huge temper tantrums. It was really really bad. I think any hopes I did have for myself where just crushed by that situation.

Of course now, I’m no longer as vulnerable. I support myself. I am able to discuss my feelings and thoughts in a way I wasn’t able to when younger. I can better sort out my issues from what is going on in the present.

Anyway. I have huge fears of relationships and how they go.

One thing that strikes me is how my mind gets blocked in sessions. It’s as if I become really stupid and slow. Once I leave, I start remembering things I’d blocked out when discussing situations in therapy. It’s really odd.

I did ask Ron if he thought I should continue with the online dating. He said why not? I said, um, because it’s anxiety provoking and I dislike it. Ron said he thinks online dating is 99% rejection, trying to sift through people and find a connection. I was wondering whether it made sense to try and filter people through email, so avoiding the rejection of meeting in person, or that was just arbitrary really.

Ron said maybe some other way of meeting people would be easier. And I asked how – I’m not good at talking to new people in bars or restaurants. And he said who is.

One other thing about the session – I felt afraid through all of it. I mentioned that to Ron several times. He though it’s a fear of getting into territory that might be very painful. I thought it was more of a child part who is afraid.

Anyway. That was enough to plunge me into depression, which I’m trying to climb out of days later.

What I want to know is, is this helping me? I feel worse. Am I working through something, and so doing something helpful? Or am I just stirring up a bunch of pain to no purpose?

Life is going on OK. Work has been low stress the last couple of weeks. I feel as if I’ve established myself there as someone who gets the work done pretty well. However we did learn last week that the client will likely be cutting back on the amount of writers on this project, so I may be off looking for more work shortly. However, if not cut, the remaining writers would have several month’s more work.

This is not making me anxious as the thought of being cut for performance did. This is the nature of projects and contracts in general – the client can change their mind, and must only provide two weeks’ notice. I’d get a decent reference out of this though, so I’m better off than before I started the contract. I also learned quite a bit about how processes work.

I am enjoying not having job-related conflicts. No bad boss. I also enjoy my fellow writers for the most part. Now a very outgoing woman is sharing my cubicle (there’s room for two), so I’m no longer lonely at work. Sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by the amount of sharing she does, but in general, I like having someone talk to me, and that we can complain softly to each other about the twists and turns of the project.

I cancelled my therapy session last week. I felt somewhat melancholy at the time I would have had my session, but overall, I am very happy not to be triggered into anything. This means I have some energy to devote to my life. I am not feeling much pull to go back to therapy. I feel as if I am mentally consolidating some gains I have made. I can see more clearly now how my thought processes don’t serve me. I see how damaging my family was. It’s odd, because none of this is stuff Ron told me about. It’s just that having been supported through my emotions, I now have more internal space to see my situation.

I know from other blogs that therapists do teach, and demonstrate things like self-care, or mindfulness, or they teach about PTSD and how that affects the sufferer. My therapist didn’t do any of that. And yet he did help. I just never had anyone care about me in that consistent way before, ever. It made such a difference.

But now, I feel like it’s maybe enough. I don’t want to argue with him anymore about what is good for me in therapy. I am so reluctant to go to sessions. But I’m not angry, I’m grateful.

Perhaps a break of a few months would be helpful. Then I could go back, if it seems like it’s right. I want to try living as best I can, even though, yes, I still have parts, I still have low moods, I am still very fatigued a lot of the time. But without the stress of being triggered every week by therapy, maybe I could use that energy to get some things done with my life?

I’m thinking about this. I do have a session scheduled for next week at the moment. We’ll see.