Tag Archives: therapy

Talking about level of dissociation (for the first time… again…?)

My level of dissociation came up again in therapy.  She mentioned DID. Apparently she’s mentioned it before, but I just filed it away. Deep away. 

I cringed at her labeling it DID, so she called them “ego states”.

I dunno. I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around it all week…

I feel like I need to reach out to everyone I’ve ever worked with to find some corroboration… did anyone else notice the intensity of the dissociation? Did I mention anything about the abuse? Was there any inkling of anything other than major depression and anxiety? Did any of the 18+ therapists I worked with over the years try to clue me in and I just forget? 

There were times I remember being told there was more behind my symptoms than just the domestic violence, but no one could tell me what.  There were large chunks of time I don’t remember, but I  also don’t have any info on what went on during those times… 

I have a few records of what happened while I was “out” and hospitalized, but they aren’t very detailed…

I dunno. 

I feel like I need someone else to say “yes, this is what we’ve seen all along”; not because I don’t trust Dr C’s assessment, but because I don’t trust what I’ve presented to her… it feels like I’m exaggerating everything, and the words I use give the wrong impression. It feels like I’ve fabricated it all for some reason I don’t really understand.

I dunno…

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Oh. I guess that makes more sense…

Dr C managed to piece together for me that today’s flashbacks were probably related to a duckboy anniversary i never really paid attention to: he stalked me at my college freshman year right around thanksgiving… i knew it was an event in our relationship, but i never really thought that it would cause ripples so far forward.  she hypothesized that, since it was finally the last interaction with him, it stuck with me. 

I guess it makes sense then that today’s flashback involved him… 


Authenticity (of expression) 

Authenticity of expression is something I struggle with often. I’m constantly worried about what people may think, and the consequences of their opinions. 

This is especially true of my art. While it’s often the most authentic expression of self I’m able to reveal, I worry a lot that people will change their opinion of me based on what they see. I worry they will hate me, and deem me less worthy than even I deem myself. Sometimes I’m able to get past that in my art journals, but lately, even that has been censored. 

I feel stuck around being unable to express what needs to be expressed in any authentic manner. I find myself replacing the reality of what I want to create, with a “rainbows & butterflies” edit. I’m stumbling in therapy and focusing on the same, safe methods of expression; the ugly, scary stuff is replaced with a unicorn sticker…

There’s so much “icky” stuff floating around in my head, but I go silent when it comes time to talk about it. There’s a buffer between my brain and my mouth, and my brain and my hands. Things leave my brain one way, but get “prettied up” before they have a chance to be expressed. 

This piece wasn’t supposed to look so peaceful and serene… it was supposed to represent the struggles around trauma. It was supposed to express the loneliness and alone-ness of experiencing flashbacks and memories no one else knows are even there. It was supposed to be more graphic… but in the last minute, I froze, and changed the “gore” to “pretty” and ” socially acceptable”… 

Lately, no matter what I do, no matter my intentions at the start, everything gets censored for the comfort of everyone else. That all just leaves me feeling more alone and distant than before I started. 

I want to be able to convey what it feels like to constantly remember the physical sensations of things long past. I want to express the hopelessness and fear and loneliness and frustration and betrayal… but I end up stuffing it down and covering it up. 

It’s a betrayal of a different kind; a betrayal of my inner voice… it’s really frustrating. 


So… I’m not really around right now (“thanks captain obvious!”), but I wanted to put something down so I can come back to it later, when I have energy and emotional space for it. 

I was telling Dr C how I didn’t feel like I had a right to be sad that my boss is transferring. I explained it along the lines of not having a right to be attached to her in any way, as well as having been taught that emotional intimacy equates to sexual intimacy, and that my expressing to my boss that I was sad she was leaving might be taken the wrong way… not because I think she thinks that way, or that I think that way, but because G thinks that way. It is what he warned us against, and what he was always going on about when anyone at all showed even casual friendship towards him. My adult brain knows that’s a skewed line of thinking, but the emotional, kid part of me can’t seem to step away from it…

Anyway, I explained that to her…

Her response; “Wow. G really did a number on you to have you believe you are both incredibly worthless, and also irresistible all at the same time…”

It’s not the first time I’ve explained something to a therapist only to have them be awed by the level of dysfunction he lives in… TM commented on the extent of his grooming. Dr C has commented on his ideals on more than one occasion. De & TL commented on the general dysfunction of our family dynamic, and the level of domestic violence I grew up thinking was “normal”…

How did I get so old without realizing any of this stuff before it’s pointed out to me? Or maybe; how can I continually & repeatedly dissociate the reality of my childhood so completely? 


Dear De

Dear De,

I dreamt about you last night. You were happy in your new job, and your life. I can’t remember much else about the dream, but we connected again in it. I caught you up on everything since we ended, and you let me in on some basics about how you were doing. 

It was nice to reconnect, even if it was just a dream… 

Peace, 

Sam

It’s weird. I don’t often dream about my therapists, but De seems to pop up in them more than most. I think it’s because I feel like I helped break her. I know it was a combination of the job, a lack of appropriate supervision/professional supports, and a lack of effective self-care while she worked in such a stressful position, but I was part of the job… so, yeah. I helped break her. 

I still feel guilty around it. 

What if I hadn’t been so open about my struggles? What if I tried harder at the techniques she presented? What if I’d made more of an effort to keep myself together? What if I’d have not given her access to my journals? What if I’d have been a better, less demanding client? What if…?

Ultimately, I know it was her responsibility to keep herself balanced and supported. I know that quitting work at the sexual assault counseling center was part of her self-care. I know it was her choice, rather than something she was forced into… yet I feel guilty. 

I think my guilt partially stems from my own experiences of burn-out in the field. I let my own experiences build up so much that they broke my defenses. I definitely feel guilty about the way I left my clients at the domestic violence counseling center. They had no notice, no termination, no chance to either say goodbye or run from the experience. I took their choice away. I took my choice away. I let myself fall apart too much before I finally was forced to pull away… I left because I landed in the hospital again (and again, and again). I could no longer function in the basics of my life, forget about in an intense and emotion-filled work environment…

De never got to that point before she realized she needed out. I’m grateful for that. 

I guess I dream about her more often because I worry about her more than other therapist’s I’ve had. I need to convince myself that she’s happy and thriving, even if I don’t know that for sure…



Fictional parallels

So, the plotline of one of the characters on Blindspot continues to unfold. I had initially thought that they dropped the story line, but they moved forward with it the last several episodes. 

It originally stared last season when one of the agents ended up arresting his former coach/mentor on child sex abuse charges. The agent (Reade) initially thought that only his peers had been abused, but one of his old friends from that time clued him in to his own abuse. Reade had no memory of any of it. His only hint at proof came from a tape with his own name on it that he found in the coach’s apartment among the stash of tapes the coach made of the abuses.

They introduced some minor hints around it being accurate, but they didn’t focus much on it. Mostly, they showed Reade’s avoidance of it. Looking back, they did a pretty decent job of portraying the denial/overwhelm stage of remembering abuse. 

The most recent episode ended with Reade sitting down with Zapata to watch the tape he had stolen from the apartment. 

The whole story has my interest piqued. I can relate to so much of it: the total dissociation of any memories for decades, the sudden confrontation with an alternate “truth”, the anger, the denial, the pushing it away… I find myself holding my breath to see what happens next. I want to know that I’m not totally alone in how I’m experiencing things… and I want to have some sort of guidebook through all of this. I know Dr C says this isn’t abnormal, but it’s nice to see it presented that way more places than just her office. It’s kinda like feeling alone for so long, then finding someone else that sees things the same way you do. I know it’s just a TV show (and they can still take it in the direction of Reade never actually having been abused), but it’s relatable… it’s the same relief I find in going to the new group (though that is technically over as of Monday). 

I dunno… I forgot where I was going with this post. Maybe it was about finding something to relate to? I dunno… Blindspot is proving to be a decent show despite the frequent cheesey-ness. And unlike Nashville, it’s handling the child abuse ramifications more accurately. Nashville introduced ptsd basically in one episode, then “resolved” it in the next. Blindspot is taking a more accurate approach to the topic. I just hope they follow through on it rather than end it with the whole thing simply being a “scare” for the character…


Triggered

I want to rip my insides out. The body memories are back… 

Between the new group, added work days, recent attempts at contact from my dad’s sister, and other stressor, I’m feeling really triggered lately. 

I told Dr C. I also voiced that I was afraid she might tell me group was not a good idea, since it was contributing to the triggering. She didn’t say I’d have to leave though, so that’s good. I hope she doesn’t change her mind. Yeah, group is triggering, but it’s also nice to know some other people who can relate. I’ve never sat in a room with other people who understood (and voiced their understanding) my symptoms. They understand what it’s like to dissociate, to jump at triggers, to feel things in their bodies that were over decades ago… there’s a sad relief in knowing I’m not alone.