Tag Archives: therapy

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. 


Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. Losing Chow has been difficult to adjust to. I’ve been withdrawing into myself, yet, paradoxically, throwing myself into things outside the home. It sounds contradictory, I know. 

I’ve been burying the emotional part of me behind a bombardment of stimuli and activities. There’s rarely a moment when I’m not desperately distracting myself.  I’ve not been doing much by way of art or writing though. It’s been mostly “mindless” stuff, like going to dinner with friends (and avoiding anything other than surface conversation), taking the dogs to the park, that kind of stuff. 

I’ve even avoided taking much in therapy. At least, I have up to now. Today’s session might be different. I’ve started attending a group Dr C put together for adult survivors of [mumble, mumble, mumble]… I still cringe and have a small freak-out moment when I hear the title… we’ve met twice so far. The first one was mostly intros and basic group guidelines. The second one was a bit more topic-oriented around explaining PTSD, the symptoms, and how early abuse plays into it. I was ok for the psychoeducational piece of the group, but struggled to stay present when it turned more into talking about the effects on a personal level. 

I think part of my problem with that comes from the walls I’ve put up around the abuse “memories”. I know I was totally convinced at one point that what I was feeling and experiencing were true, but I’ve detached from that the last several weeks. This last group started stirring things below the surface but they still remain below the surface. 

I dunno. On the one hand, it’s a huge relief to have people that seem to struggle with similar symptoms and experiences. On the other hand, I feel like an interloper. They all seem to know what happened to them, and to connect with it. I’m here still trying to remember what the hell it was that came at me in those flashbacks. I know I struggled a lot with them, but they feel foreign to me at this time. It’s like I watched a movie a long time ago, and can kinda remember the plot, but have no idea of the details. And i’m certainly not connecting to it emotionally…


Brain fog 

My head is in a complete fog, and I have no energy. I think it’s because my body is fighting off some ailment. L had a wicked stomach bug this weekend, and others I know have had the flu or respiratory things… I’m just hoping I make it through without succumbing to anything…

Last session, we were taking about the extent of my dissociation (when it happens), and ways to try to pool the knowledge from the various emotional states. Dr C suggested trying to “bring all the emotional states together, like at a conference table”… I had trouble wrapping my head around that concept, but I think it was mostly being uncomfortable with the conference table idea. The more I sat with the concept this weekend, the more I was able to ease into the idea. Though I switched the thought of a board room to the concept of a living room, it’s kinda sounding more possible. I’m not sure if I can make it happen, but I was able to doodle out what the different emotions look like, and to write out what I think of when I think of them… they kinda have personal appearances, though they are not actually totally seperate entities… I understand then as all just different emotional states, and can notice when I “slip into” the different mind sets, well, for most of them. There’s two that feel like completely seperate characters. While I’m consciously aware of feeling different in the others, and can access what it feels like to be, say, the brooding teenager, there are two kids whose heads I can’t get into. Those I walled-off more efficiently than the others… 

I’ve always felt like my head was set up kinda like a house, with doors that closed to each room. When I was in one room, I was totally in that room. I had agreed of the existence of the other rooms, but I couldn’t tell what was going on there, nor did I have efficient working memory of what may have happened when I wasn’t in a particular room… More recently (like the past decade or so), it’s been closer to different characters in each room; like an actor slipping into different roles in different sets. The two “kids” are different actors though…

I dunno where I was going with that. Brain fog offs moving back in…


Impossible things (a letter to no one) 

Sometimes I wish I could materialize you here in my living room, where I’m comfortable and engaged in art. It’s easier to talk sometimes when I’m distracted by the flow, but still connected to the inside. 

Sometimes it’s hard to fit all the talking into that hour. Sometimes it would be easier if we could just do art together and I could talk when things popped into my head; when they felt ready and comfortable to come up. 

It’s safe here alone with just the dogs and my art. Sometimes I wish I could start that way, but bring you in to talk to when I was able. Sometimes I wish you were here without me knowing, so I could get past that censor and shame, and maybe you could help me with the stuff that’s too raw to bring up out loud and in your presence. 

I could get lost in my art and music, and you could watch without me knowing. Then, you could blink in when I wanted to talk… it would be safe and non-threatening. I could communicate the things I’m too scared and ashamed to tell you about. 

And while we are on the topic of impossible powers, maybe it would be good if you could read my mind and tell me for sure if I’m making this all up. You could point out the lies and show me where I’m exaggerating. You could look at the stuff that’s all a jumble and help me understand it. You could take an outsider’s perspective without the emotion, and you could tell me I really am making it all up just because I need to feel worth your time and attention. I want attention… (and even as I think that, I can feel hands on my body and between my legs. It’s creepy. I don’t want attention. I don’t want to be special or pretty or paid attention to. I want to melt into the fibers of the carpet and hide away from everything. I want to disappear).  


More stupid triggers

Met with the aprn today. I knew she’d be intense, but I wasn’t expecting the plethora of triggers that would come my way. 

Aside of her abrupt and incredibly direct manner, she started to talk more about ect after I told her I was strongly against it. I started to run away inside myself, and was about to walk out when I stepped back and was able to ask her to stop talking about it. After she recovered from the interruption, she apologized and moved on. 

I had trouble grounding again, but managed by the time the hour was up. I stood to leave. She offered a handshake though I was already turned towards the door and on my way out. I turned to shake her hand more out of obligation than anything. I was expecting a quick one, but she held on to my hand with both of hers, continuing to shake even as I tried to pull mine away twice. She’s not a big woman, but she has quite a grip. My panic was rising when she finally let go.  I had group right afterwards though. I was able to feel safer in Dr C’s presence for the duration. 

I stayed distracted enough during group, but as soon as I left, the sensation of my hand being held grew louder. The memory of the aprn quickly got overlaid with a sense of bitch, and my whole body stated to feel like it was crawling. I wanted rip my skin off and my insides out… 

I really want to cancel the next appointment with her. I’m not sure the potential benefits of getting this generic test done are worth the intense triggers… correction; I know they are not. I just don’t have the courage to call her (or even text) to cancel the appointment. Maybe next week I’ll find the courage  (or I’ll suck up the no-show fee and just skip the appointment)…

I wish I could have communicated during the appointment that my impulsiveness only happens when I take psych meds. The whole mess of hospitalizations happened mainly while I was on meds (save the two instances after I moved back home). 

I also didn’t verbalize that my ptsd kicked up big-time after that move, and that, while home, the flashbacks were 24/7 and incredibly intense. They aren’t as bad up here, nor as pervasive, though they do happen…

I’m not sure I want to keep triggering them by continuing to see this aprn. I’m sure she’s probably a nice person, and good at her job, but… when I try to remember anything about the appointment, she’s replaced by bitch and the things bitch did. 

I’m really not interested in trying psychotropic meds again (even ones I’ve not tried… all three of them). 

I’ve been feeling pukey and exhausted since the appointment. I really wanted to sleep, even on the drive home. I got home ok, then back out to pick L up at work, but fell asleep while waiting the 7 minutes for her to get out. I slept about 2 hours. I’m not as tired now, but still feel gross. I’m thinking it’s related to the triggering. 

She had asked what was behind the ever-present suicidality. All I could think to say was that I’m so tired… I wish I knew how to qualify what it’s like to struggle through every day. The best I can do is keep journaling the days, but even that doesn’t do it justice… how do you explain carrying a hell no one else can truly understand (nor do you ever wish them to)…