Monthly Archives: July 2015

Labeling yourself as “needy” is shaming (or: bear with me as I write out a reality-check)

The concept of being “needy” has been a topic of conversation for me these last few days with various people.

A friend passed along wisdom from her professor: labeling yourself as “needy” is shaming, and Dr C said pretty much the same thing in different words.

Why is attempting to get needs met in the ways we know a shameful thing? Why do not only we shame ourselves for it, but others do as well?

Why is it ok to recognize labeling ourselves (as clients) as being shameful, yet (in class and behind closed doors) it’s acceptable to label a client as such? Are we (as professionals) above the concept of shaming? Or is it not shaming unless the client finds out? Is it merely a professional label until the client feels bad about it? Is this not a double standard? Why is it okay to teach stereotypes in class, yet expect those same therapists-in-training to magically shed them and gain a more empathic understanding once they work with their clients? Is it a function of the quality of the program? Or the professor? What happened to teaching non-judgemental understanding?

Is this why it’s so difficult to find good therapists (not to say they are not out there, because I’ve certainly worked with several)? Is this why clients continue to shame themselves with labels and harsh judgements when they are simply doing the best they can in any given moment? Or am I looking at all this through the lens of a scared kid and shamed client? I know I often fall back into old scripts. Is this one of those times? In reality, my last therapists have been awesomely empathic and caring. It’s been my judgements ascribed to them that have tripped me up. TM, TL, De, D, and Dr. C have all actively challenged my judgements. Why can’t I believe them? Dr C actually pretty much paraphrased one of my early posts about clients doing things “for attention” yesterday. Why do I see them as outliers? Why am I taking the judgements of mental health staff as judgements held by clinicians? I know there’s a difference most of the time…

Sorry. I’m digressing… I think I’m trying to give myself a reality check. The little kid in me (and maybe the unstable adult too) sees only the negative. The professional side of me knows better. The professional side knows competent therapists understand that their clients are doing the best they can in any given moment (even when they are backsliding or seemingly stuck). They understand re-learning (or simply learning for the first time) takes time and effort and mistakes… but that voice inside (g’s voice and the hospital staffs’ voices, and the burnt-out professionals’ voices) screams that having needs, or being vulnerable, or being hurt, or “acting out” (another shaming label) is all simply done to make their lives harder. There is no such thing as legitimate distress… and suddenly I’m hearing m’s voice screaming at the cat for throwing up (because she can’t just be sick, it’s only done to piss her off…).¬†How strong a hold early learning and experiences have on us…

I’m triggered this morning by more nightmares and body memories. I know I could probably text Dr C, but I’m not sure what I would want from her if I did that. It’s not like she can help with any of it in the moment. I think this post is an attempt to convince myself it would be ok to reach out, but I didn’t cover how to do that without knowing what’s needed when reaching out… I just want to stop feeling everything. I can distance relatively effectively from the emotional piece, but the physical sensations are much more difficult to control. I’m not sure how to explain them. They are the precursor to the full-on flashbacks that include the cognitive memories, but they have not hit that point yet. Right now it’s just feeling things in my body again despite knowing it’s not currently happening (and being really frustrated with myself as my body responds to things as it had at the time)… :/ where the hell in all the skills they throw at you do they tell you how to rid yourself of the body memories? Concentrating on breathing only makes them worse (controlling my breathing was what I did to make him think I was asleep so he’d get it over with). Physical activity also greatly intensifies the sensations… I can tolerate them to a point, but they are approaching the intolerable point. No one ever has an effective method for getting rid of them. Well, that’s not true. I have one but it’s frowned upon. Really just wishing they were gone now, or wishing I had someone safe to sit with through them so if they do hit that intolerable point, I’m not so alone and desperate. I have to work this afternoon, but that’s not a safe place to sit through them. At least there will be dogs to cuddle if I need some immediate comfort. I’ve noticed lately I will jump and shudder if the sensations startle me with a sudden increase in intensity. I hope that doesn’t happen at work again today. I don’t want to have to explain that away… I could call it a “chill” again, but I know it doesn’t look like one as I jump up and try to rub the sensations away (boss-lady looked skeptically at me last time it happened)… Hoping if it [i]does[/i] happen today, no one is around to witness it.

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Exhausted

I’m exhausted almost all of the time. Once I’m in motion, I can keep a semblance of continuing that motion, but if I slow for even a moment, it all hits me. After Dr C today, I came home with the intention of working on ordering the apartment. I zonked out instead. Lately, when I sleep during the day, I sleep so hard I drool. It’s kinda gross… no, it’s really gross. I don’t like it. It’s up there with boogers while crying. Icky!

But I think I’m ok to attempt more with the apartment now. I need to switch up where the art area is so that we can use the front door again…

I also have to figure out a safe way to store the art supplies so one of the dogs won’t keep eating them. I know it’s her because she chose to eat the black litho crayons… she’s white. It’s glaringly obvious when her mouth and paws are suddenly smudged with black. I was going to send these crayons to L’s godson. Guess he will be getting a much smaller box now (she ate about 2/3 of them. Punk)…

I need to keep ahead of this depression. The only reason I ended up being able to avoid iop before the move was because of the move. Now I need to keep from getting back to needing it. I want my “together and competent” life back. I’m tired of this.


Note to self: it’s ok to need

Met with Dr C today… some things to remember:
-it’s ok to have needs.
-even if that need is simply to check that she is still there (it doesn’t bother her or significantly impact her time away from the office).
-keep trying coping skills, but she is also ok with reaching out. She will respond as she is able. If texting doesn’t work, it’s ok to call her too (or ask her to call).
-it’s ok to change the topic of conversation with a friend if it’s triggering.
-try to notice the dissociation before it’s happening or as it’s happening so the trigger can be dealt with and I don’t have to keep exposing myself to it.
-Dr C will not drop me or refer me out if I’m struggling (same as last time), so it’s ok to say if I am (preferably before a crisis point, and most certainly before I need to show up at my doctor’s office or the ER bleeding out).
-I’m still miles above where I was the last time I was hospitalized, and many more miles above where I was in 2010.
-it’s going to be tough, but it will be ok.


Erring on the side of caution, how do you know when is good self-care vs being overly needy?

I hung out with a friend for a few hours yesterday. We were chatting, and somehow got onto the topic of abuse in families. She ended up disclosing quite a bit of her own abuse history. At the time it wasn’t too triggering (at least not consciously). I slipped so easily into detachment that it didn’t phase me much to listen to her talk about the generational and pervasive abuses. I teared-up a few times at the more horrific stories, but managed to remain balanced.

It’s been a slow build since. I’m noticing the body memories more intensely this morning. I had dreams that wove her stories with my own, and also included some random elements. I was as detached in the dreams as I was hearing her stories (I have to admit I didn’t really listen to what she was saying in an effort to keep it all at a distance). This morning though, the dreams are effecting me. The body memories are building in intensity, and that creeped-out, triggered feeling is growing. I’m doing my best to ground from it right now. I contacted Dr C and asked for an additional session this week. I’m not in crisis or too overwhelmed, but I also don’t want to get to that point before I see her again. L is working a bunch of extra hours this week, so I won’t really have her around to either talk to or try to balance with… you’d think I’d be better at self-regulating by now.

I just keep thinking about a concept De and I had been working on: conversation, not crisis. I want to be able to have a conversation around these triggers rather than simply reach out once I’m in a hugely panicked state. I know I can hold off the crisis for a while, but once I reach my limit, I go quickly from “functioning” to “wholly fucked-up”.

For some reason I feel a need to justify this decision to both myself and others. There’s this voice in my head deriding me for being “too needy” and saying I should be able to handle such a small trigger myself, without being so clingy and needy… I should know how to manage this myself. I shouldn’t be so helpless around this. I should be ok to go till seeing Dr C again at the end of next week. I shouldn’t start this pattern of neediness again so soon. She’ll get frustrated with me, L will get worried, I will turn into a hopeless mess if I give in at this early stage. my friend’s story shouldn’t be triggering. I have enough defenses that I should be able to get through this till I’m scheduled to see Dr C again… but there’s also this little worried whisper in the back of my head. It worries that trying to handle this trigger while still stressed from the move will be just enough to trip me into trouble. I don’t want to risk needing a higher level of care right now. I was at that point before I left, and I don’t want to get back there. I know I’m exhausted. I know I’m already stressing about so much. Dr C is ok with the extra time, so I should be ok with it also… the rational part of me is all about being overly-cautious at the moment, but there’s another part that fears reaching out and all it has meant in the past.

I’m scared of disappointing people by not being able to handle this. I’m scared of living up to the expectation that I’m just a worthless, hot mess…

So is this good self-care? Or is it being too needy? How do I know?


Weird dreams

I woke again this morning from a weird dream. It wasn’t bad, just weird. It’s leaving me feeling “off”…

In the dream, I was at the doctors getting checked out for something. There was my doctor, another student, and their supervisor. They were taking candidly about what their thoughts were. Both the students said they didn’t see anything wrong, but the supervisor commented for them to check again, because “if [he] gave [them their] reviews right there, [I] would be crying…

totally not sure what the dream means, though it’s likely nothing. I know I’m waiting on my doctor to say something about a consult she sought for my recent back/side pain, but everyone seems on the same page about it so far: it’s merely muscle pain which will eventually go away (assuming I’m able to either consciously relax the muscle, or have enough days where I can take a muscle relaxer).

Anyway, the dream has me feeling weird. It did give me an idea for grounding though: engage my academic side if I start to check out… easy enough to ask my doctor next time.

The apartment is still a wreck. I started working again, and is draining all my energy. I want to just come home and be able to relax. Instead, I come home feeling guilty for not engaging more with the dogs, and for not cleaning or organizing the place. There was supposed to be time to do it today, but we agreed earlier in the week to go to the lake with family. That means the whole day is again useless… I might just send L and stay home myself to organize and do laundry. I want to see the family, but I’m also very burnt out on the apartment remaining a mess. We have been here 2 weeks and is still mostly boxes everywhere. I want it settled. I want space to be able to come home and feel relaxed (well, at least about my environment)…

Speaking of wanting to relax, I’m quite anxious about setting Dr C again. She is back from vacation. I get to ask her if my feeling about our interaction 2 weeks ago are correct, and I can ask her more about what she meant when she called my inner kid a personality… and maybe I’ll be brave enough to give her some of the stuff I wrote out for TM. I know I don’t have to tackle that right now, but the internal push is still really huge.

Anyway, hoping today shapes up as more productive than I anticipate. Either that, or maybe we can take the dogs with and I don’t have to feel so guilty leaving them alone again all day. I’ll ask L once she wakes up.


Rough day

Yesterday was stressful. Today’s filled with anxiety and restlessness and neediness. It doesn’t help that I got my period, which always manages to mess with my emotions. It’s also heavily triggering flashbacks and body memories…

I filled out job paperwork yesterday and ended up dissociative. I also went to visit my sister in law. The visit was at once grounding and triggering. She’s pregnant. I’m both super excited about having another niece (first on my side of the family) and also freaking out about it… hanging out with her was grounding, but the concept of another baby in the family (and certain people having access to her) is scary. At least both my brother and sister in law are super paranoid first time parents; they won’t let the kid too far out of their sight.

I hate the sensations in my body. They are uncomfortable. They are taking forever getting to the cognitive memory stage of the flashback (probably because the sensations have a physical reason behind them, and are not purely body memories). It’s all really triggering. Dr C is on vacation till Monday… come on Monday…

In the mean time, I start back at work tomorrow. She wants to get me re-trained by the time she’s on vacation in 2 weeks. Gulp! I hope once I get started and into the groove there again, it will no longer be as triggering. I really like the people I work with, I just dislike the entitled customers (which isn’t all of them, so that’s good) and the secret shops. The extra cash will be really good. We desperately need the money. I just need to be able to hold it together. I don’t want to screw up the job and mess up my reputation with them. I need an unbiased outside source acknowledging I have competency in at least something. I feel so fake and lost these last few years…

Think Monday I will take some stuff I had given to TM in with me when I see Dr C. I’m hoping it will help get communication going again. I’m again feeling that internal pressure to talk about the memories, to dump it all out on someone who can help with it.


Nightmares

I don’t have truly scary nightmares all that often anymore. I’ll have flashbacks in my sleep that effect me, but not such eerily-calm, could-be-true-at-some-point-down-the-line, leave-me-terrified-to-try-to-fall-asleep-again-in-case-I-return-to-the-dream kinda nightmare. This one was worse after I woke up than in the actual nightmare. In it, it could have been real, and I was calm and confident (though stressed). The anxiety and fear hit only after I woke up and processed the dream a bit more. It could totally be a place I’d work…

Anyway, so yeah. Trying to calm myself enough to be able to sleep again. o_O

How’s your night going?