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therapy

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.

Back to writing. I’m in a funk. I think I’ve been triggered by acupuncture, so likely better tomorrow?

After the session I described in my last post, although I did value it, I stopped being able to sleep for more than one hour at a time. I’d wake up every hour, then drift back to sleep, only to be awake again the next hour. I kept checking my watch just for the information. I became unbelievably fatigued during the day.

So that was difficult. I took a day off work, Friday, to recuperate.

I had another session Thursday. I explained that although I’d valued the session, I lost my ability to sleep for more than an hour at a time. Ron was a bit defensive, telling me, yet again, that i would not be able to heal without ‘discomfort’. No kidding. I got snippy, raised my voice, saying does he think I don’t know that, after this many years of therapy? But that not being able to sleep for more than an hour at a time was a serious problem for me.

I don’t exactly blame him. I’d wanted to deal with parts that session after all. Now for this session, I wanted to do something useful, but not deal with trauma, because I felt maxed out. Whenever I express something like this, Ron feels compelled to say things like I won’t heal without pain. Um, yeah. I know.

I went to acupuncture for the insomnia. I’ve gone twice now. So now I sleep three hours at a time before waking up. Which I suppose is progress. Acupuncture brings up trauma for me. I assume that’s healing, but I wish it didn’t. My friend goes, and feels great calm after treatments. Not me.

I am disappointed with this weekend. Long weekend with the unpaid day off. I really did pretty much nothing. I’ve barely left my place.

I read most of a memoir of a woman with DID today. I skipped the first third of the book though where she details her childhood torture and severe abuse. I wanted the part where she is an adult, how she coped. I believe it’s extremely hard to describe how to heal parts. And also just to describe how life is in parts. She actually spends just a few pages describing any therapy she does. And you wouldn’t really know what life appears like to her, from how she writes. She writes like one person, and later describes how parts took care of aspects of her life. From what she writes, the problem with her parts was that although they were talented, like her Writer part, they were rigid and stuck so couldn’t actually do a good job with life.

I think I don’t have a whole lot in common with people with DID. I wonder what it is that I have. I have persistent depression, and sometimes very quickly changing mood states. I speak in odd voices, but not as a regular event. This is more in therapy, or if suddenly under severe stress. I do not have amnesia for what I do. I don’t have parts seizing control to do damaging or bizarre things. I also do not have a history of the kind of unbelievable abuse this woman suffered through.

For me, I have sudden unpleasant feelings that don’t make sense impinging on my life. I have a tendency to avoid situations that could trigger me, and this has crept up to avoiding an awful lot of life. I feel exhausted a lot of the time. Ron says it’s because so much of me is occupied with the past. Not my conscious self, but other parts of me.

I emailed two trauma therapists last week, and both mailed back that their practices are full. They both have really nice informative websites that come up fast on google. Maybe that’s why they’re so busy?

One of the features of parts is I have different opinions at different times. That’s one thing I do have in common with the DID woman memoirist. At the moment, I again strongly feel that Ron does not have the knowledge of trauma or dissociation I need my therapist to have. Although he is kind, caring, faithful and reliable, he just doesn’t have the knowledge. His theories make me worse a good part of the time. He doesn’t see the need to titrate trauma – in his view, I get better by accessing the trauma feelings. It’s not as black and white as this of course, but still, that’s the territory.

It’s just an uphill slog to keep going on with a therapist where I don’t trust his theory. I’m not feeling angry with him – I don’t think it’s interpersonal. Although I do have those ‘rejection’ feelings that I’d have at the end of a romantic relationship – the need to get out.

Ron has meant so much to me. He taught me how to look for real connection. And just having had the experience of being consistently cared about for years was so healing in itself.

Well, that is this mood. It could be I’ll feel differently tomorrow – the joys of being in parts.

Most sessions, we have this discussion of disagreeing about theories. I’m pretty sure I hurt his feelings. Maybe I’ll look for someone with more credentials. Although his training is thorough, maybe someone with higher academic qualifications would be better.

Maybe I’ll save money for a while and not go to therapy. It’s hard to say in the middle of this depression, of being triggered into who knows what. This part of it – the physical feelings of hopelessness that seem to be anchored in something happening to my body, this has not been changed by therapy. It’s the same as ever.

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.

Therapy has not been helpful lately. I believe that I do have to do my own work, my own healing. It’s not magic happening in the therapy room that will do the trick.

I have felt absolutely full of criticism, complaint and hurt feelings concerning Ron. His style of therapy seems unsuited to my situation. I’m not sure I want to write out all the mental criticism I have of him, because I’ve been working on letting it be. Not thinking about it any more. I considered quitting, but am not quite at that point I don’t think.

It doesn’t help much to bring it to him, because a lot of it is just how he practices. This is what he offers. If I don’t think that’s what I need, I should try something else, or be therapy free for a change.

I am somewhat better for going to therapy. But, the things that are better, Ron doesn’t even see. They’re not things we ‘worked on’. It’s just that because he is supportive, I’ve been able to feel things and think about things during the week that have helped somewhat.

I’m still in parts. One of the most hurtful things Ron did was last week, when it somehow came up that I’m not sure therapy is helping, was that he thought because I’m not speaking from the parts lately, or leaving session in such a dark place, that this means I’m better.

I’ve been going to session right after work, and am in this buttoned-down coping kind of a place. So I haven’t had parts speak, and haven’t accessed any difficult emotions. Sessions are boring, where I tell Ron I don’t know what to talk about, things are OK. Or I talk about some things that bother me, but this doesn’t really go anywhere and the conversation peters out.

Does this mean I’m better? Because I can’t relax enough in therapy to feel anything?

So, that hurt my feelings. Plus the idea he has that if parts just stop speaking, they have integrated magically. Does that happen by magic? I don’t actually know, but it hasn’t happened in my case.

Another big divide we have is that Ron has no vocabulary about therapy, on principle. I do believe that if you have no vocabulary, you can’t really work on anything in any systematic kind of a way. So I feel that I don’t know what I’m working on or what I’m trying to do. Everything is just one big ball of badness.

I wrote him some of this in an email last week, to which he didn’t really respond. We did agree to try a different time, later in the day, so I have a few hours to come down from work.

I’m intending to work on parts. That’s who needs Ron. I’m personally fed up with him. I know a lot of people go to therapy for a sympathetic ear. I’m wanting more.

The other thing is his super receptive attitude. To me, it reminds me of my very very withdrawn mother in particular. The whole session seems up to me – he doesn’t offer much direction, if any. I can see how it can be good, to simply be receptive. How it can be a practice for the therapist even. But for me, it feels like too much emptiness. Especially if I go there without much of a plan, if I’m reluctant to plunge into hard topics….It feels just like not much guidance.

I believe there is some transference/counter transference stuff going on, but this is not Ron’s area, so we don’t discuss it. I wish he did have knowledge in this area.

So I’ve complained about Ron afterall. Couldn’t resist. But since I’m not ready to quit, I want to stop resenting him, stop criticizing him in my mind. It reminds me of how I get when a relationship goes wrong – this is familiar territory. It feels bad to think so negatively. I want to be able to soak up the goodness Ron does provide, and stop thinking of how I wish he were different!

My work situation has calmed down somewhat, for which I am grateful. I was having hours of intense anxiety around being fired, and that’s mostly stopped now, though I relapsed for about an hour or two Friday. Friday is the traditional ‘firing day’. Well – could be I’m too harsh, I don’t know. The contracting company is looking for a specific product, and if the people they hire don’t already know how to produce that, they don’t have time to teach them.

I didn’t meet my quotas, but I assume what I did produce was fine. The project manager then reduced my quotas, but at the same time, my projects became much less complex, so in the end, I didn’t have enough to keep me busy. Yet, I’m still there. Earning the big bucks. I wish.

I’m working on sleeping without pills. It’s hard. I can fall asleep, but I can’t stay asleep, and then I can’t fall asleep again. But sometimes, I can. So that’s confusing.

I feel off balance trying to write again. My energy was going into surviving and coping with the practical side of life. I’ve never been good at the practical side. I don’t have much of a ‘game face’, where I present well to the world but am crumbling inside. That’s not really me. I think I look like I’m struggling often, and I struggle to do well. It’s not really lack of talent, more, so much internal turmoil to deal with, there’s not enough energy left over to deal with life.

Therapy is a bit of an after thought at the moment. I’ve been going in right after work, so I’m firmly in work mode. Which is a little too tightly wound to really dig into emotions much.

I have been pondering whether my therapy is helping much at this point. I’ve been going for years after all. There is no real plan, no goals as far as I can see. In a way, that’s fine. I’m not looking for someone to set concrete goals for me. In another way, I really do not know what I’m trying to do, mostly.

I feel too tired to really challenge the therapist or try and find out what I’m trying to do. Though I do ask, often towards the end of a session. Last time, I had discussed a troubling visit to my parents’. Ron said he thinks I need to try and speak some truth to my parents, or at least try to ask them what they mean by the various things they do. I’d gone over to pick up my son, who was not ready, so I had coffee with them and some neighbours who were visiting. I’d felt that my father had disliked me, but couldn’t really articulate what he had done.

I tell Ron that my father is a narcissist. The whole family has always revolved around him and his needs. Conversation is about his pet interests, or else he won’t take part. Everything is kind of tilted towards his approval. Then I acknowledge that Ron doesn’t believe in labels. Ron says he does informally, if you’re angry with someone, you can call them a narcissist, or self-absorbed, or whatever.

I hate this aspect of Ron. That he won’t call anything by name. Plus he doesn’t seem to get how my family is. You can try and say things, but nothing helps. Maybe I’m scared to try. But they’re unbelievably knit together. I just think it would be very hurtful to try and speak up. If you believe in narcissism, it helps you understand patterns of how people operate and the webs they weave. I just feel like I’m wading through pudding trying to describe it to Ron.

At the same time, I feel connection to Ron so am reluctant to leave. But what if someone out there could actually help me? Someone who could help me with dissociation and parts? How to find that person?

Last session also, I tried to feel into a trigger that happened, as I’d had to go to the dentist for a cleaning. Form me this is a trigger. It’s like a piece of blackness dislodges itself and floats around my system, making my life black and heavy.

I did feel some of it in session. The next day, I had such a severe headache I couldn’t make it into work. But then, that black feeling dissipated quite a bit, and it may be that trying to feel some of it in session helped.

One thing that really is hitting home for me from this week’s evening session is the realization that I’m being triggered.

Work continues to be an enormous struggle for me. This has been a theme for me pretty much since I started in the workforce, basically seventeen years ago. The difficulties change, but it remains the case that I am struggling pretty hard nevertheless. Usually the trouble is not the work per se, but troubles with bosses, with co-workers, or sometimes with such low level work it bores me to tears.

This particular contract seems to be triggering massive anxiety for me. A second person was fired from our small team at the end of last week. They don’t even get their two weeks’ notice – they’re just gone. We’re told the person was being difficult with the client. Who knows what their side of it is.

And the fact is, I’m not meeting my metrics unfortunately. Last time I did, kind of by a fluke. But this week, I have to fix up last week’s documents, as it turned out I was writing in a different way than what is required. Would have been nice to get that feedback sooner, but oh well. The thing is, fixing up these ‘old’ docs is taking precious days away from the seven new docs I am to produce over the next two weeks.

Anyhoo. I had a real low Monday. I came home completely overwhelmed and convinced I too was about to be fired. I had the overwhelming urge to quit this job, both to avoid the stress of it and to forestall the humiliation of being let go. But – I knew I had just quit another job recently. What’s with all the quitting? In addition, ye olde bank account was crying for funds.

I decided to phone people to ask for advice. My friend J was home, and after I’d semi hysterically explained my situation to him, I started to feel better. He actually came over and brought me food, he was so concerned, which was kind. It was amazing how much more tolerable the situation became once I could discuss it. It was difficult to explain why I was so sure I too was about to be let go, and I realized the situation wasn’t that clear. Though I think the relief I felt had more to do with telling someone else what was going on than with re-jigging my thinking. Maybe it was both.

I went to therapy and explained about the job, about my fears, about my extreme need to quit and how I dealt with it the day before. Ron asked if I was anxious, and I told him I thought I was having massive anxiety, and did I seem anxious. He said he thought there was a layer of anxiety over top of a lot of other feelings. And that I am likely triggered by the work situation into past feelings.

There is a part, V, that has been loud and prominent. This is a young teen part of me. That part experienced so much pain, loneliness and rejection. I spoke a bit about that time of my life, how I more or less stopped speaking to anyone. How I was depressed all the time, and sure this was my fault and my failing, but not able to work out what I could do about it. I remember the heaviness and hopelessness of that time.

So lying there on Ron’s couch, I started to feel some of those feelings. They hurt to feel, but feeling them reduces the anxiety.

At work, my co-workers have been commenting, asking if I’m OK or doing better. I guess I’ve been giving out distress vibes. I’m trying not to do that – I want to be seen as capable as anyone else.

If my feelings at work are kinds of emotional flashbacks to my past, at least my extreme feelings make some sense. Those feelings of alienation and helplessness are feelings I had as a teenager.

Today we had a meeting at work with the big boss. I felt completely alienated, and he actually asked me if anything was wrong. I stood there, as the meeting progressed, and started to acknowledge to myself that a lot of these feelings were coming from that part, and from the past. And it helped a lot. I tried to focus on the here and now, where bad things are not currently happening to me. I was then able to engage a bit with the meeting, asking some questions not in a hostile way, but just in a normal conversational way, and the response was good. So then I again felt more a part of the meeting, and more a part of the team, and less under threat, and less angry.

Ron said that the task is to separate the present from those past feelings. And I knew that before, really. But for some reason this thought is really meaningful to me right now. There is nothing so terrible happening right now. I have a job with some challenges, but also some good points. The boss/PM continues pleasant and seems actually good at his job. He seems to see his job as helping the team get things done rather than harass us or whip us into shape. My co-workers also are fairly decent and we all rub along. And I’m earning good money.

Anyway, it doesn’t make sense that I keep falling into despair or fear because of this contract. It makes a lot more sense if I see it as flashbacks to my past.