I probably shouldn’t have gone to therapy today. I know she was probably trying to help me find my hope, but all I could see was how hopeless everything actually is.
I was more present though, so I guess that’s good. I didn’t noticeably dissociate, however I don’t necessarily explicitly remember the session either… She was trying to assess my level of emotional availability for dealing with the trauma stuff in the midst of the bigger housing crisis. I told her I needed the distraction (of the trauma work) to avoid completely shutting down around everything. At least with the trauma work, I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Maybe that was the wrong reasoning to give her today, but it was true in the moment. I don’t want to keep feeling like I fail this therapy stuff all the time (something I am so glad she understood and mentioned without me having to bring it up. kinda made me feel like she understands where my head is). There needs to be something in my life I feel that I have done right. I’m just not finding anything at the moment, not even therapy. I always feel like a failure and a disappointment. I can’t seem to finish anything I start because I peter out along the way. I don’t know how to maintain that energy at a level needed to succeed at anything. I really want to keep trying with this though. I’m fighting to keep coping, and to keep going back, and to stay present. I’m fighting the instinct to run away or shut down. I’m trying to keep my more adult/intellectual brain on hand to get through things. I’m trying to realize and voice when I know my thinking is distorted… I’m trying so hard to keep the little pieces glued together.
We talked about the hierarchy of needs. She asked me to rate where I felt I was on that. Honestly, I’m not sure. I haven’t really given it much thought… I guess I need to look the concept of working on the trauma kinda like trying to work on the top of the pyramid while I’m watching a flood wear away at the foundations of it. But at the same time, working on that top piece helps reinforce some of the layers below. My sense of safety is very much impacted by the flashbacks, as is my concept of being loved/loving, and my self-esteem. The physiological needs are still being met at the moment. I’m working on at least faking a plan to keep those needs met (and TM can’t help with that part anyway). I really need her help with the trauma stuff. I asked her if she knew of any additional help for the housing stuff, she had no resources, so why bother wasting our time on that? I know I need to be able to cope safely with things, but can we agree that I will cope however I cope while also committing to returning to her weekly (in one piece) to deal with the trauma?
She wrote down my homework this week 🙂 It was another thing she did without me having to ask, though I would have if she hadn’t done it. I’m supposed to 1) figure out what my primary need is for the day, and if it’s something I need to act on, then do so. I think the concept of this one has me a bit scared, because I often don’t know what I need, but maybe it’s as simple as having a list of tasks for the day? 2) to assess my physical and emotional state and come up with a way to cope with it if it’s distressing (I’m guessing part of this came from me linking some of the vertigo to taking benadryl the night before for sleep). I’m picturing this step as “self-care”… and 3) read the handouts she gave me. I’m also supposed to journal (art or written) about how I feel or what I’m thinking each day. We were doing this at the end of session, so I didn’t voice how blank and empty I’ve felt lately. It’s been really difficult to express anything these last few days, but I’ll try (and keep trying) in an effort to do the stuff she wants me to do.
Part of me really had wanted to directly address the hopelessness today. We talked about it a bit, but I’m kinda glad she didn’t grab it and run in the direction of stopping all other work to address safety. As much as I was hinting at it and indirectly throwing it out there, it would have accomplished nothing but distraction. I know I’m safe. I know I’m going to keep myself safe. The thoughts and impulses are just a fear reaction to all this stress. I’m glad she was respecting that I had labeled it as a distraction tactic back when we started. Sometimes I don’t realize the frantic attempts to distract the course of therapy with that stuff (at least not in the moment when I break down and admit to feeling so utterly hopeless). We’ve already got one huge distraction, and that’s the housing situation. I don’t need to add another to it. What I do need is to re-attach my head and figure out how to move on with things.
After I left session, I found the courage to call 211 and the local SSA office. Unfortunately, there really are very little resources. There are even fewer when you don’t quite know what you need. It’s funny how, when asking for help, not only are we under the impression that we should know how to help ourselves before we ask for it, but that there really isn’t anyone available to help us figure it out if we have no clue. If by some miracle you do know what you need, chances are that particular type of help doesn’t exist. I know I don’t always function well when overwhelmed. I know I could use some gentle hand-holding and direction, but that service doesn’t exist (at least not for me)… so, guess it’s “sink or swim” around this. (cue string of dark and hopeless thoughts followed by some good ole’ fashioned self-deprecation). I really need someone to help me see a gray area around what to do. I keep jumping to the catastrophic line of action that ends with all the animals being re-homed and me feeling beyond guilty and worthless. TM had asked if I had motivation to keep living outside of that provided by external forces (L, the animals, some family members). Honestly, at this moment there’s nothing, so I’d really prefer to keep my small pool of external forces as large as possible. While the dogs are the biggest obstacle to attaining suitable housing, they are also one of my biggest reasons to continually choose to live. The snakes couldn’t care less where they live, as long as they get food, water, clean living space, and mental stimulation. Maybe my big guy would be thrown by me no longer being his keeper, but the others don’t seem to be phased. Actually, I don’t even think he would be all that phased, but I’m very attached to him… Speaking of the snakes, I need to go thaw their food before I forget again today (yesterday was feeding day and I slacked)…