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therapy

Time for a post. I am finally mostly recovered, though when I stopped taking my immune boosting herbs a few days ago, the cough came right back, so I went back to taking them. But I am much better overall. I have some energy back at last.

I’m wanting to re-engineer my life a bit. I’ve started to go for a walk first thing in the morning, instead of waiting until I’ve applied for a job. Light disappears so fast in November, the best way to enjoy some daylight is to go out by about 10 or so. I went for a long walk this morning and it was nice. I walked to a near-by shopping street so I would at least see some people and I accomplished a few errands (like buying a tart lemon square at a new bakery, nja ha ha).

I’m also attempting to get up at a decent hour so I could be at my desk by nine if needed. It’s challenging because I so often wake up at night and can’t go back to sleep for a while, but overall it’s a good thing to keep on top of.

I’ve gone back to my 12 step group, twice in a row now. It’s a lot easier for me to do something regularly than once in a while, so this is good. I find the group challenging. There are 15 – 20 people each time, so it is popular, but it’s challenging to share in such a large group. But I manage. It’s got a real self-help focus, which is different from my therapy, but I think it’s a good thing for me to add to therapy.

Then I was trying to do short meditation each morning and evening. That seemed to bring things up a bit for me, one of which we discussed in therapy which was upsetting, so now I’m leery of it. Maybe if I stick to guided meditation it would be more appealing.

To tell the honest truth, the long walk this morning triggered something in me. I don’t know what it is, but I feel kind of teary and exhausted and shut down. I hate that exercise can have that effect. I’d like to feel whatever it is but I just can’t seem to. It just manifests as avoidance, tiredness, lethargy.

So while I’m doing some things that seem like they should be helpful, and they sometimes are, the same things are sometimes mysteriously triggering.

I want to write a bit about my therapy in my next post, once I’ve gotten through whatever this is that’s come up.

Here is what the walk was like:

Walking along is nice. Sometimes an intense sadness hits. I cross the street, see the grey sky and trees with only a few leaves, and sadness like a separate person overtakes me. This sadness doesn’t make me exhausted. It’s like a different way of being. It’s fragile and easily slips away. If I go into a store to buy something, sadness leaves. Is this a good thing? Not really, because I don’t know this sadness. I know depression. I don’t know what the sadness is. Who are you?

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Home alone on a Saturday night. Ugh.

I worry that I have offended my main friend that I spend time with. She has not called me, and when I call her, she’s very fast to get off the phone. We used to spend some time together weekends, but not for the last three weeks. Maybe my life has gotten too depressing for her to deal with. No job, no date, sick…She does disappear when things get difficult. I worry I’ve been too pathetic and clingy. I’ve decided to give her space and wait for her to call me at some point.

This is making me more lonely than usual. I’m also still recovering from this flu. Still coughing a bit, congested, and I have that post flu fatigue that is dragging me down. So I’ve not been going out to things I was going to, like the movie group or the 12 step group. I feel too tired when it’s time to leave for these, but then I feel lonely later.

I’m still going to therapy. I feel like I’m paying for a friend sometimes. Quite an expensive friend. I just have to have someone to listen and provide some caring, if only for fifty minutes a week.

I went for a job interview for a full time role Friday that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I guess I appeared sick, for one thing. My voice was very hoarse, and I did cough a few times. They remarked on it several times.

I was interviewed by three directors for a bank. It was technically the second interview, because I’d missed the first with the hiring manager because I was sick. They were bending over backwards to have me come in though, so I appreciate that. Just, it was very formal, and I got asked questions I wasn’t sure how to answer, though I did say things.

It would be great to move to full time from this contracting. I can’t keep interviewing every three months, looking and looking. So I’m disappointed the interview didn’t go better.

Therapy was Thursday, and I told Ron I didn’t want to be triggered as I sometimes am, because I needed to be able to pull myself together for the interview the next day. Ron was agreeable, though it’s hard to tell sometimes what is really going to hit me after a session.

The main topics Thursday were – mother, who called me, and how we ‘don’t get along’. She doesn’t speak really, and doesn’t listen or respond to things I say, so I’m reluctant to tell her anything much. My worries about my friend. How I must be pushing people away, to be alone like this, but I don’t know what I’m doing. And what it was that caused the last boss to fire me so fast, what I did to contribute. How I wished Ron could be present for some of these situations, because I can’t tell him what I don’t know. I don’t know what goes wrong.

On the boss question, Ron said that from his knowledge of human nature, sometimes people will be disturbed by and push away someone who is vulnerable. And in my case, she went beyond pushing me away, and also wanted to ensure she hurt me.

Could be. I really don’t know what it was. It’s kind of painful to think I appear in public as so very vulnerable.

We also talked about fear. Sometimes lately I’ve found myself full of fear. I started to feel this towards the end of this session, and remarked that it would be preferable not to have to leave feeling like that.

Ron asked what the fear was about. I didn’t know, but felt maybe it’s about being rejected by everyone in the world. He said he didn’t think he was rejecting me. Which was true enough, he wasn’t. He suggested maybe it’s an inner part that is afraid and that I’m punishing. I could let it be OK to be afraid. That actually seemed to be kind of true, true in the way that some things just resonate. A part of me that wasn’t being heard was afraid.

So I left. I felt upset about some of things discussed, but was better Friday. I can’t blame the unsuccessful interview on being too close to a therapy session.

 

I went back to therapy Thursday. I’d say the session was helpful.

We chatted a tiny bit about Ron’s vacation, and how it’d been four weeks since we’d met.

I spoke about the work situation I described in my last post. How furiously angry I’d become, and how it seemed out of proportion to what was happening. Ron had pointed out previously that with bosses, I almost always fear they don’t like me, or don’t like my work, or that they are somehow displeased with me, and he thinks this is the case now. I couldn’t really point out anything specific this boss had done that showed she was angry with me – I just assumed.

Well. I do think I was getting up her nose a bit, because she doesn’t like a lot of questions. Ron pointed out that my anxiety was likely affecting her also. And I did find, on Friday, that as I was less anxious, she reacted better to me.

I found after a while, I really wanted to leave this topic of my new boss and myself. I was feeling more and more anxious, and gaps occurred in our conversation, and then I was tempted to change the subject. I had other things to talk about, and parts also would have liked a say. However, I mostly do jump about a lot in therapy, and as a result, never tackle any subject in much depth.

At one point, Ron asked me to speak in both voices – the part that wants to continue with the topic, and the part that wants to change the subject. I found that really hard to do. Like a pros and cons list, he said. OK, I could do that. Pros of continuing on – we can go deeper with the topic, it’s good to stand up to and tolerate anxiety, instead of running away from it. Cons – it felt like this was a conversation I could have with a friend, and didn’t need Ron for, and there were other things I wanted to talk about – a massage I’d had, and some troubles after exercise. Ron said maybe we could discuss this in a way that I couldn’t with a friend, and that we could come back to the other topics next week.

So I stayed with this. The boss. The feelings of anger. How it tied back to being criticized as a child, how nothing had been enough for my father.

I can’t remember any grand conclusions actually. But the next day, I felt calmer at work, in a way.

That night though, I couldn’t sleep. Parts of me were furious with Ron for not getting a chance to speak about their concerns. I actually wrote him a furious email in the middle of the night, but luckily I didn’t send it. I felt differently in the morning.

At the end of the session, Ron asked how it felt to be back after the break. I didn’t really know – I didn’t feel anything in particular really.

This adult way of doing therapy is kind of new. I like it in that i don’t have a huge therapy hangover the next day. And spending time on a topic seems good. The downside is younger parts don’t get to speak. But, maybe that’s OK. Speaking in therapy wasn’t really getting us anywhere much except triggered.

Suffering from anxiety today.

I got a new contract last week, and it starts last week of August. I actually got two offers at the same time and picked the best paying one. I hope it was a good decision but can’t really know. I don’t know how to tell what the manager is like in a half hour interview. They always seem OK to me. It’s after that problems arise.

This morning, unexpectedly, I had to do a second telephone interview for the contract, which I’ve already signed. It was stressful for me. I cancelled a plan I’d had for the afternoon to be ready. Then at the appointed time the manager didn’t answer her phone. Eventually my recruiter let me know she’d be calling later in the afternoon.

So I did that interview. It was very project specific, with the person going on about the details of her project. Very hard to say anything to the point. She was looking for me having had the exact experience before, which I haven’t. Each contract is different, just like each job tends to be different. Well, different and the same. So it was a frustrating conversation, but in the end she said she’d look forward to meeting me in a few weeks, so I take that to mean it’s OK. She’s not the hiring manager, but some other manager who presumably I’ll work with also.

Anyway. That was anxiety inducing, bringing up my fear of being judged big time.

Yesterday I went for a massage. This was a good experience for me, but I suspect my anxiety today is related.

In contrast to previous massages, I told the RMT that I do have some issues with touch and some trauma issues, so I need her to proceed gently. She looked a bit shocked to tell the truth. Oh well. While I had a stiff neck and some lower back pain, I decided to ask her to focus just on massage for stress.

So she basically did that. She did gentles strokes on my back, hand massage and foot massage. Then she did a head thing where she held my head and kind of rocked it. I mostly felt good – I enjoy being gently stroked. At one point it felt like I wanted it to be over, but that soon passed. And I’d asked for only 30 minutes, which seemed a good length.

And after, I felt fine. I felt a bit glowy from being touched nicely and gently. And because of previous experiences, I kept expecting to be hit by waves of sadness and depression, but that didn’t happen. I continued feeling good and slept pretty well.

This has been my first massage that felt good after. So I think my plan of asking for gentle stress relief was a good one. Usually, I’ve only gone for massage when I had issues I wanted addressed. Maybe the more intense massage, trying to get kinks out and addressing aches and pains, is too much for me emotionally…..

I do have back pain that I’d like to get massage for. Maybe in a few days I’ll go back and get half and half – half stress, half back pain massage.

I was actually thinking that everything brings up trauma for me. It’s great to find something that doesn’t seem to, and actually helps me feel better.

I’ve been trying to address my lack of a social life by going on various meetups. So far this has not been a great success. I picked a walking group meetup because I do walk quite a bit, and I find it enjoyable to walk and talk. However, they walk much too far and fast for me. I can do it, but then I’m hit with a huge amount of trauma shut-down afterwards. Last time the walk was in the morning, and I spent the rest of the day and the next day completely shut down. It’s such an odd feeling – I feel like a robot. I feel like I am outside of my skin somehow – I can feel my skin, but can’t feel further in than that.

So also trying to be friendly with fellow walkers is difficult. I feel fake, I think because after a while I’m probably fending off various feelings, and it’s too much to talk much to anyone at the same time. I have a sort of fake person persona that can take over but that feels pointless. As well, I feel somewhat judged there, as being weak and somehow not as good as others. It’s too much of a complicated situation. Although I was enjoying seeing other parts of the city I’m not familiar with, I think I’ll drop this group for now. Anyway, once I’m working I could not afford to have two entire weekend days where I cannot function after one of these walks.

It makes me mad that I’m in this situation, and that it’s so hard to make progress.

Ron is on vacation. I’ve again contacted a trauma therapist who has not gotten back to me. Our last session was not much good without being terrible. I just kind of listed my complaints about things without getting into much depth. I think depth for me involves parts, and it’s hard to launch into them just like that. Ron doesn’t discourage it, but he doesn’t encourage it either. I think he doesn’t want to encourage the dissociation of parts. But – they already do exist no matter what he does. So in the end, I stay mostly adult. The adult is not terribly emotional, and the session feels shallow as a result.

I think Ron is a good therapist, but has not much understanding of trauma and dissociation. If only he had that, he’d be great. On the other hand, someone with the knowledge, but who isn’t good as a therapist, is basically more useless.

I have been finding I’ve been trusting him in my mind. It makes a big difference to have someone to trust as being on your side in your mind, and it seems like my choice, whether I trust him or not. I can think one way, and distrust him, or another, and trust that he likes me and cares. It feels better to trust.

Day after therapy and I am a mess. I’ve gotten into some kind of a state where I can’t really function and now can’t sleep. It’s like this shocked state maybe. It feels bad but not really like a feeling which passes if I stay with it. It’s more like a state.

It’s not probably Ron’s fault. His therapy doesn’t help me with this, but I had other stressors. I knew I didn’t want to go into see him but it was too late to cancel, so I went. He’d actually moved the session at the last minute to the evening for me so I could go to a job interview.

The interview stressed me out a lot. It was a last minute request, so I hadn’t had a chance to memorize answers to the HR type questions they sometimes ask. My first interview this round of looking. So I prepared all morning memorizing these BS answers I’d written out last time I was looking. And reading over the recruiter’s advice sheets. This is something I try to avoid on interview day because it makes me even more nervous. Something about preparing really scares me so then I’m scared the whole day, and by the time I get to the interview I don’t present calmly.

And it looks like I didn’t get the contract as they were supposed to let me know today. (You only get positive notice.) That’s a bit of an insult. Even though I know I wasn’t as calm as I like to be, I was actually over-qualified for this one. The rate was a good deal less than I’m used to making, and I had 17 years’ experience where they were asking for three. I’d also done basically this job at the very start of my career, for this same large organization. Plus, to top it all off, they are actually hiring six writers. So to not be offered one of those places, something must really have gone wrong in the interview.

I’ve been trying not to take it too personally though. I don’t know what happened. I imagine bad things, like some kind of note on my file from when I worked there full-time over a decade ago….I remember some issues I ran into then. It was my first corporate job and I had some people issues, and one time I complained to HR about something I never would today. Who knows.

They did say though they really liked my resume. Ah well.

It’s not so bad. I have another interview Tuesday for a much better paying contract….Hopefully that one will work out.

The day before I’d had an emotional type day. Which was good, as I have trouble feeling my emotions often, but it left me vulnerable.

I’d gone swimming. I only swim for a short time, as I have trouble with exercise putting me into a dissociated state. This is one of my big issues. I have not been able to figure out why that keeps happening or how to stop it, and it’s so disruptive to my life that I limit exercise quite a bit, as it takes so much time to recover.

I enjoy the actual swimming and lying in the sun. After I got home I was in the usual state – heavy, feeling as if something was wrong, unable to function normally. This time I stayed with it more though, determined to find out what it was. I know i had tears running down my face at times. I tried to write out what I was feeling. And I noticed a lot of expression was coming from a traumatized young child part. So I went with that, and switched over to that part, but still trying to provide caring and compassion from the adult.

And so, I was young and traumatized, but things started to help. I put on some songs that this part liked. We ate ice cream. I tried reading a fairy tale, but the reading was too difficult. Finally, I ended up watching a Disney movie, and this part of me loved the movie. In my usual state, I wouldn’t respond like that to an animated movie, but this child part did.

Then I slept a solid seven hours. That never happens. I always wake up once or twice, if not more, at night. So to sleep that deeply is something. And I woke up not depressed. That was the day of the interview.

I think a problem was that i had to make such a severe switch from that vulnerable state to the adult trying to prepare and go to a job interview. It was a lot of stress right on top of having this emotional experience the day before.

So after the interview, I felt kind of blank and out of it. I went to my scheduled therapy session. I talked about my experience with the swimming and the kid after….I don’t know. Ron looked concerned I guess. I was talking about all this therapy stuff, but I’d say I was pretty out of it really. It was too much – the stress of the interview, after the child episode the day before, and now trying to talk about it. I know therapy is where you go to discuss things, and likely I do need to discuss this, but the timing was very bad.

Plus I’m finding I’m not trusting Ron. Where has my trust gone? I used to trust him so much. He gave me this odd look as I was leaving his office….I know I’m unusual and strange.

I suspect this therapy isn’t much good for me at times.

So here I am. I can’t sleep. I didn’t do enough today as I felt I couldn’t function. I ventured out to the store in the morning but that’s about it. It was threatening rain most of the day, and did rain quite a bit, so it wasn’t good outdoor weather.

There are other aspects to how I’m feeling but I’ll save those for another post.

Today I have a lot of anxiety. Having no work has now gotten old. I can really feel how important the social interaction at work is to me, as without that I have no one to say anything to on a day to day basis.

I wonder if other feelings are beneath all the anxiety?

I feel bad about how my last therapy session went, though I have nothing specific I feel I could write to Ron about it. I think I’ve removed myself a bit from being very emotional about Ron’s actions. I remember being so reactive and freaked out about many many things he said or did. I no longer care as much. I think because we’re no longer doing much parts work, so those younger parts emotions aren’t involved anymore like they were.

Last night I got really suspicious of Ron for some reason and googled him to, um, see if he’d been in the news? What on earth was I thinking. Anyway, it seems he’s removed his professional web page. He’s still listed in Psych Today and on another site, with a profile and picture, but his many paged site is no more. I’m wondering why.

His profile is extremely accurate. I’d read it before, but this time, I realized that he is saying exactly what he believes. He does not treat conditions and does not label. He looks for the feelings underlying any symptoms. His main approach is deep engaged conversation. He asks if the reader is experiencing disturbing emotions they don’t understand….If so, he wants to help. He doesn’t use techniques – he wants to listen.

And that is exactly his approach. You go there with your emotions, and he kind of witnesses and explores.

I’ve looked at the web pages again of two of the therapists I’ve found in previous searches. One of them I saw before, briefly. She doesn’t give an email – I’d have to call. She’s like the anti-Ron. She lists the conditions she treats, and lists her techniques. She’s a psychologist, and I can afford her because she works out of a centre that keeps prices a bit lower. But still higher than Ron’s rate. I liked her OK when I saw her about a decade ago, though I never became attached to her.

I keep thinking I need some skills and some analysis. I feel exhausted by the thought of going to Ron and having to come up with what feels like everything, including what I’m trying to do, and not knowing how the talking is supposed to help me.

But it could be I’d have trouble with any kind of therapy. Facing trauma is so destabilizing, I want to shy away.

I feel confused and anxious and unable to act.

Just returned from my session and I want to get some of it down because I forget so very fast. This one wasn’t great. Last week’s session felt deep though, but unfortunately, I waited until I felt better again to write about it and by that time it was lost. I lose these sessions so fast. I suspect sometimes that there are other parts involved, and I easily forget anything relating to other parts. But last week, I felt it touched the pain I’m in, while this one, not so much.

I went in feeling negative – I couldn’t conceive really how this type of therapy could help me. I think going in feeling so negative isn’t conducive to making progress, whatever that may be. Maybe I should have talked about this, but I didn’t.

I know I was anxious all morning. I got into Ron’s office and he got out my drawing book and crayons. We’re keeping them in his office now, which I kind of like.

There’s no big story about the session – we just stumbled along, basically, around different topics, then it was over.

First I talked about the movie, Dunkirk. Ron had also just seen it, so he knew what i was talking about. I said how discouraged I feel that things I’m trying to do that should help me feel better end up triggering me. I’m trying to do more, have a life, and meet people, so to that end I go to meetups, and they mostly do trigger me. So while I do enjoy having some social time, I need then a day to recover again.

Ron asked what I thought triggered me in the movie. Well – the soldiers, how they were completely trapped and helpless, the drowning, the constant danger and trauma. Ron asked if it reminded me of being a child. I didn’t know. How was I feeling the next day? Small, helpless, sad. Ron asked if my family’s extreme kind of situation made me feel like that as a child?

I have no idea. I say well, as a child I don’t remember feeling like that. But I know my needs weren’t being met – needs for affection, nurture, someone to talk to, someone to discuss problems with. So I’d say I felt kind of cut off and unreal.

I tell him about a birthday dinner I had for my son with my ex, how it didn’t go that well. My ex got my son a self-help book as a present, which didn’t go over well and caused some stressful arguments. Then he didn’t like what I cooked that much. In general, my ex this time reminded me very much of all the trouble and disagreements we’d had when we were together. We had such widely diverging expectations of a partner. He very much wanted someone who devotedly cooked and made a home while he was free to do the manly things of life. I didn’t have much interest in this, though I tried. Just the whole dark burden of all this was not pleasant to be reminded of.

Then I talked about my son, how I’d given him a book on MCS, which is what we suspect he has, the week previously. How he hadn’t even looked at it. How discouraging that is.

Ron asked why I think he hadn’t looked at it. I didn’t know. He doesn’t read at all, though he used to. So maybe it’s hard for him? Ron asked if maybe a part of him doesn’t want to get better. I say this book has suggestions but there’s no cure for MCS. But maybe, he doesn’t want to get better. I don’t know.

Then I feel very sad and very depressed. Not necessarily about my son’s situation. So I say that. Ron asks how it feels, and I say like being pressed up against a pane of glass. Could you break through? Well, I’d cut myself if I did. Could you use something else to break the glass? Yeah, that would be a good idea.

From this point in the session on, I feel more and more depressed and tired and remote.

I talk about how upsetting it is when I keep trying to help myself, with these meetups and exercise, and how they then trigger me, so it takes me a day or two to recover. Then I go through this cycle again. Yep, this is depressing. It feels quite futile. And yet, if I want any people in my life, I have to do it.

Ron says depression is like a bunch of feelings that aren’t being felt.

I say PTSD is like that – you get a bunch of frozen feelings. It’s hard to know how to help with that. I say I was thinking of trying massage – maybe just a short time period, and speaking with the massage therapist first about how I have some emotional issues, that I need a gentle touch, and that I’m trying to feel things without getting entirely overwhelmed.

Ron seems agreeable to that. I don’t know that I’m looking for his permission or what….I was thinking that if I speak about this, I’d be more likely to do it.

That’s pretty much it for my session. Another bunch of money spent.

Last week I didn’t feel this. But this week, I fervently wish Ron had some approach or tools to offer. Or even vocabulary. He really doesn’t. He does have presence and commitment. He is very reliable. I don’t think he’d ever terminate anyone. He never talks about himself unless I ask him a direct question. He has empathy.

These are really great qualities. Sometimes I do wish for structure or theory, but maybe they wouldn’t help?

The other issue with me is my emotions from the past are largely held in parts. So doing therapy on just me, leaves them out so mostly leaves out my emotions. Which I do feel all the time, and I’m not sure how aware Ron is of this.

Anyway, that was the session.