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.

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Well. I suspect I’ve triggered myself by going to see an unsuitable movie. Sigh. I am feeling discouraged, like I’m swimming through fog. I can again so easily spend time in bed doing nothing.

I’ve been doing OK overall. Despite being concerned by the lack of work, now for four weeks. The job market is very slow in July. But I’ve been doing activities. Like going to movies.

Last night I went off with a movie meetup group to see Dunkirk in Imax. It was intense and I admired the movie. It’s about the heroic rescue by ordinary small English fishing boats of 300,000 WW1 soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. ┬áThe movie conveys the trapped soldiers’ point of view so well – bombed from above, the sea in front, the Germans behind. There wasn’t any gore either – just the imminent peril all the time. With Imax, you feel as if you are right in the movie – on the sea, or flying above in these tiny shoeboxes of airplanes.

And after, I chatted for a while with a woman about my age, and the conversation felt mutual and fine. I’m going to these types of activities in order to be with people after all. I felt good about the outing overall.

But today, I have not been able to get it together to function much at all.

I keep getting triggered without realizing it at the time it’s happening. And so many different things seem to do that.

 

 

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.