well, that was… triggering.

Went to meet with new therapist, L (not to be confused with wife L, but since I don’t know L’s last name, I can’t think of any way to differentiate her… maybe TL for “therapist L”?). Anyway, met with her last night.  It was pretty uncomfortable in terms of room set-up (gotta love the ironically closet-like therapy rooms at the LGBTQI services center… and the awkward chair placement in that particular room: face to face and only about 2 feet apart). Aside of feeling like my personal space was being invaded, I felt like we were all over the place in terms of what we talked about.  I spilled a lot more than I had intended, and about things I hadn’t really wanted to focus on, but I was unable to lead the conversation (too anxious) so we went where she took it.  I’m not sure how much of the info from De’s conversation with the Clinical Supervisor got passed to TL, but she didn’t really seem to know much.  I know the intake I had done was very bare-bones in terms of info, so even if she had that to read, she didn’t get much from it.

It wasn’t a very chronological or organized first session.  I think I would have liked it better if it were, more like a second intake where I could have gone over more of the basics before getting lost in all the other stuff.  I wish I would have said more about the termination with De, and all the loss that is wrapped up in it, but we got side-tracked on my mention of the huge multiple-anniversary date that had been the previous day (Monday).  We talked a bit about the self harm stuff, and the suicidal thinking. I tried to explain that it’s a reflex reaction for me, that there are almost always thoughts and a plan, but rarely ever intent.  She asked about previous attempts: how many, when, methods… all the basics they always ask around that stuff.

We got a bit off onto the topic of previous hospitalizations and how they were experienced.  It all started to stir more negative feelings in me, but it was still manageable.  Then she brought up safety contracts.  I’m not 100% sure why I react really badly to the signed paper contracts, but I think it has to do with previous experiences of them leading to involuntary hospitalizations (or maybe that they were only really ever done around the times I had to go inpatient, and I don’t feel like this is one of those times). I tried to explain my anxiety.  I tried to explain that I would be fine talking about safety planning; that the paper version really hikes my anxiety, but I was my usual, verbally inarticulate self.  It felt as if everything I said was coming out wrong.  I felt like I was speaking a different language.  I knew why she was likely going to push the topic (being an intern, there’s lots of paperwork that must be done, and stuff that needs to happen because of liability issues), but I couldn’t get out of my own way to get past the anxiety around it.  She had asked if I cared if she left the room to go get the paper, or if I had wanted to write one up there.  I thought nothing of her leaving the room to get it, so I said it didn’t matter to me.  I made sure to tell her that when I say “it doesn’t matter”, I truly have no preference in the moment.  She asked again before she stepped out.  I should have taken that as the universe giving me a chance to bypass a hugely anxiety-inducing experience, but my awareness wasn’t there at the time. Live and learn I guess…

She returned shortly, and we began to fill out the paperwork.  I was having difficulty concentrating on what she was trying to ask me. Had I been more in-tune with myself, I would have been able to notice I was starting to get really triggered.  I should have said something to her, but I didn’t realize the beginnings of the emotional flashback that was about to hit hard.  I just knew I was uncomfortable with the paper form of the safety contract, and we had already talked about that.  Anyway, there was a piece of information she needed for the paper, but we were unable to find it on my phone. She stepped out a second time.  This time it was longer… My panic started going up again.  She popped her head back in and said it would be a moment longer, but she was coming back (at this point, I thought I was just anxious about how long I was keeping her over our hour scheduled time.  We were running into 35 minutes over, and we still had most of the paper to fill in).  Again, I wish I had seen it earlier and simply asked her to return to the room at that time.  If I had, I may have been able to give voice to the real anxiety behind everything that was going on.  Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out for several hours after I left.  In the end, we filled out the paperwork and she reviewed it with me verbally.  She (unknowingly) mentioned a community resource that I have had really crummy experiences with, and I think that tipped me into full-on panic.  I wanted to bolt from the building and never return.  I held my impulse to run in check though, because I was afraid she would call the police if I left before I was given permission to do so (again, emotional flashback to past situations, but I didn’t realize it at the time).  I made another appointment for next Tuesday for the same time.  I hurried myself out of the building (just about running down the stairs after I was sure she couldn’t see me anymore).  I got to the car shaking and wanting out of there fast.  I drove home in a panic.  It took everything in me not to want to call and cancel immediately after I left.  We had been there 2 hours, and it ended with me in full-on “flight” mode.

Prior to leaving, the really broken part of me apologized to her.  She seemed to think it was for going over by so much time (which she didn’t seem to mind and kept saying the first session often times goes over). I didn’t know how to tell her I was apologizing for not only taking so much of her time, but for presenting how I did; for simply existing… I wanted to ask her not to hate me, not to think badly of me.  The angry, defensive teenager in me was briefly replaced by the scared little 5-year-old…  but then the teenager came back and stayed for a while.

In talking to L, I was able to realize that most of my reaction to the session was emotional garbage from the past.  The memories were not immediately apparent, but the emotions were very much present and coursing.

Later on that night, I left a message on the agency’s general voice mail asking if TL could call me back. I had the intention of telling her my reaction and my fears about going back for next week, but I am not sure I want to have that conversation at this time.  I go back and forth between letting her in on my experience of yesterday, and asking for either additional support from her if she has the availability, or a referral out to some other type of additional support.  I don’t really want to lose the option of an individual therapist at this point, but I think I need more than once-a-week sessions.  All these transitions are very difficult. I’m having trouble even getting out of bed in the mornings.  I didn’t “get up” until almost 2pm today, and I am already tempted to return to the comfort of my little nest a mere hour and a half later.  I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally tired, and it’s making physically doing anything equally tiring.  I don’t even really want to talk to anyone at this point.  I have no energy to find words to communicate with others.  I’m stalled on any art. I’m actually surprised I was able to write this blog entry (though I have to admit I was interrupted a number of times while writing it).  I’m cooked.  And I am not sure I actually want this lady to call back, or if I’d rather just slink away from therapy (right, coz that would be a good idea after admitting I would benefit from more support, not less.. brilliant SJ, brilliant…). I think I’m afraid I left a bad first impression.  I’m afraid she is currently asking her supervisor to transfer me to someone else.  I’m afraid she thinks of me with the same judgement I think of myself… She gave me no indication of it in session (in fact she challenged some of the judgements I voiced about myself, but I wasn’t really in a place to take that in when she did)…

So that’s where I am with that.  Part of me really wants her to call back, part of me hopes she doesn’t so I can use that as an excuse not to have to open up to trusting someone else; an excuse to run away… ::sigh:: I’m a pain in my own ass so much of the time. :/

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4 responses to “well, that was… triggering.

  • andreabehindglass

    The facts that TL reassured you about going over time and that you were so keen for things to work between you make me think it is very unlikely she thinks badly about you at all. Not that I don’t understand worrying about things that are important, but she is a therapist so she should understand, and I am sure you didn’t do anything that would cause her not to want to see you anyway.

    I completely relate to what you wrote about the “angry, defensive teenager” and “scared little 5-year-old”: Thank you for capturing this so well in your writing!

    • Samantha Jane

      thanks for that. my head always tends to go to “people hate me because I hate me”… it’s tough to break out of sometimes even if I’m being reassured that I am mistaken. 🙂

  • Jay

    Sorry to hear you are dealing with so many racing thoughts and feelings of fear after the therapy session. I am impressed by how self-aware you are and that you managed to process what triggered you. Hope your next session goes better.

    • Samantha Jane

      thanks. I hope so too…
      the self-awareness is a double-edged sword. It sounds great to others, but I really have no concept of how to implement any changes because of it… When I’m on “this side of the wall” it all makes sense, but when I hit the dark, nothing makes sense and I can;t do anythign about it. I guess it’s encouraging that I was able to process all that after only a few hours as opposed to days or months… and I didn’t need to do it with a therapist. Hmm, self-preservation kicking in again maybe?

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