Posts tagged with "therapy"

tin cans and string for years

Man can­not remake him­self with­out suf­fer­ing, for he is both the mar­ble and the sculp­tor.

—Alexis Carrel

I’ve been dis­cov­er­ing that I don’t know how to take care of myself. Not in a prac­ti­cal, every­day sense, but a cog­ni­tive one. Consistent psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse dur­ing my for­ma­tive years meant I nev­er had the chance to devel­op some impor­tant life skills, like how to nur­ture my emo­tion­al needs, how to make mis­takes, and how to view myself with­out judg­ment. The poi­son was in the wound, you see, and the wound would­n’t heal.

So far I’ve just start­ed rec­og­niz­ing these issues in ther­a­py, and it all makes me feel dam­aged and defec­tive, like­ly why I’ve been hid­ing these parts of my life from oth­ers for so long. But I’ve been hid­ing them from myself most of all. It’s hard to go through the painful but nec­es­sary process of griev­ing when I’m alone; always eas­i­er to ignore things and keep going.

I asked Tiana to help me through this, cause now I know I can’t do it by myself. It was­n’t easy. Even the sim­ple idea of ask­ing for help makes me anx­ious. People who’ve had major roles in my life have hurt me or let me down in a very sig­nif­i­cant way, so trust­ing oth­ers has always been hard, and I’ve avoid­ed being vul­ner­a­ble for so long because of that.

Luckily, Tiana respond­ed the way I need­ed her to, and it’s been a great com­fort to give myself up to some­one I can trust. To be able to cry in front of a per­son with­out feel­ing guilty about my emo­tions or how I’m mak­ing them feel. To be able to talk to some­one who’s recep­tive and atten­tive and gen­tle and car­ing and appre­ci­ates my open­ness as well. To be the lit­tle spoon, cause every­one needs to be held some­times. She lets me let go, and for the first time, I’ve been able to sur­ren­der myself ful­ly and still believe that I’ll be okay. I can sigh with relief instead of sad­ness.

These are still baby steps though, and the whole process is ter­ri­fy­ing. My sense of con­trol is what makes me feel safe, even if it’s detri­men­tal to my growth, and I’m still learn­ing how to give that up. But I tell myself it’s progress nonethe­less, which is what I need now.

that I may cease to mourn

At some point along the way, I dis­cov­er that I’m ter­ri­ble at being alone. I need some­one to care for / spoil / love / give my exis­tence mean­ing. Echoes of a try­ing child­hood I’m just now sort­ing out. Otherwise, I’m con­stant­ly feel­ing emp­ty instead of ful­filled.

Once a week I’m torn down so I can be rebuilt again, and some days I won­der: what of me will be left?

don't give up on me now

In the last ses­sion, I explained to my ther­a­pist how I felt more respon­si­ble for and in con­trol of my own hap­pi­ness, and less depen­dent on oth­ers for a sense of iden­ti­ty or ful­fil­ment (things I’d strug­gled with before). I also told him how I’ve been more vocal about my needs, to give my friends a chance to be involved in my life instead of always putting my feel­ings aside, and how I’m lucky that they’ve respond­ed so pos­i­tive­ly to that. I’ve made some major life deci­sions that I believe will lead to pos­i­tive changes, I’ve been pro­duc­tive, and I’m hap­py for right now instead of being delud­ed by a hope­ful sense of what the future may hold1.

When I brought up idea that it may be the med­ica­tion that’s been help­ing me so much, he said it’s good but not that good. Otherwise, he’d be pop­ping pills every time he need­ed some sort of per­son­al epiphany. Instead, it’s there as a way to help me think more clear­ly in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, but it does­n’t do any think­ing for me. This came as quite a relief, as I did­n’t want to think that I’d be depen­dent on some­thing for this sense of men­tal well-being.

My ther­a­pist’s ini­tial goal was to teach me how to take bet­ter care of myself, due to the fact that I had insuf­fi­cient cop­ing mech­a­nisms. Now, he believed I could han­dle that suf­fi­cient­ly, and after say­ing that I looked “delight­ed”, we agreed that I did­n’t need to con­tin­ue with our ses­sions any­more, some­thing he’d nev­er said to me before. I walked in and out of there feel­ing good. I like the fact that he respects me, cause he’s one of the few peo­ple who tru­ly under­stand me.

On the oth­er hand, I did­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly care for my psy­chi­a­trist, an hoary man who did­n’t seem to have a sense of empa­thy, whom I met for the first time a few weeks ago. As a sign that my expe­ri­ence with him was part of Canadian health­care indus­try, he had no clue why I was there, when it was a doc­tor at the same clin­ic who had to write the refer­ral for me. At the appoint­ment, I was asked to fill out a ques­tion­naire that includ­ed things like:

  • Are your par­ents divorced ____, for how long _________, and what age were you ____?
  • Father/mother: how much edu­ca­tion did he/she have?
  • Please cir­cle the type of socioe­co­nom­ic envi­ron­ment in which you grew up: poor / low­er mid­dle class / mid­dle class / upper mid­dle class / wealthy
  • Habits: mar­i­jua­na ____ fre­quen­cy ____ gms ____

Sometimes he talked over me, as if he was­n’t inter­est­ed in hear­ing what I had to say, although it’s hard to blame him for that, see­ing as how his role is to mon­i­tor my med­ica­tion instead of deal­ing with any kind of psy­cho­analy­sis. At the end of the appoint­ment, he said I had a lot of options cause I had a lot of inter­ests and intel­li­gence. The only thing is, I don’t think I told him any­thing that would have giv­en him that impres­sion, so it all came out as flat­tery.

At least I won’t have to be see­ing him for much longer, as I was told that I could stop my dosage, but he rec­om­mend­ed that I con­tin­ue for at least six months after I start feel­ing bet­ter (not after I start tak­ing it), which means I can’t still can’t drink until some time around Christmas. But by then, hope­ful­ly I won’t have to.

  1. One thing I’ve learned is that real­ism is more valu­able than opti­mism (and a lot more valu­able than pes­simism) when it comes to psy­chol­o­gy. []

the right ones

Before my ther­a­pist starts talk­ing, he has this habit of repeat­ed­ly purs­ing his lips when try­ing to find the right words. It always makes me won­der if I have any habits too, and whether some­one could do a rea­son­able impres­sion of me by mim­ic­k­ing some man­ner­ism I’m unaware of. The only thing I can think of is this par­tic­u­lar way of clear­ing my throat out loud that Bronwen used to tease me about, some­thing I’ve since real­ized that I picked up from my dad.

The ses­sions are get­ting abstract and philo­soph­i­cal, a sign that they’re focus­ing less on details and issues and more on root caus­es. He’s been chal­leng­ing my think­ing, but he always does it in a gen­tle and encour­ag­ing way by let­ting me explore ideas myself, giv­ing me a lit­tle nudge in the right direc­tion if I need it. Most impor­tant­ly, he always makes it clear that I’m the one in con­trol, that I make my own deci­sions, and that he won’t judge me whether he thinks they’re healthy or not.

The thing I’ve learned most recent­ly is that some peo­ple are sim­ply nev­er meant to fill a cer­tain role in your life. Getting upset at them for not being more is like get­ting upset at your cat for not being able to play LittleBigPlanet with you. It’s a hard real­i­ty to come to terms with; not only am I faced with the sud­den real­iza­tion that some peo­ple aren’t who I want or need them to be, it means they’ll like­ly nev­er be that as well.

But that’s the way the world is, and I’m learn­ing to let go, and to not hold every­one to the same stan­dards I hold myself to. The best I can do is con­nect with the right peo­ple, the ones who can be what I need because that’s who they are, not because they’ve tried to change for my sake.

better living through chemistry

I can’t pin­point the exact moment I start­ed to feel bet­ter, which is a very pecu­liar feel­ing in itself. There has­n’t been any event to which I can attribute the fact that I’m not so anx­ious about how scary the future is any­more, or how I’m not depressed about every­thing that’s hap­pened. The only vari­able has been the med­ica­tion, which means it’s work­ing.

The side-effect that still affects me most is the insom­nia. I sleep for two hours, do some­thing mind­less for two hours, then go back to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. I don’t feel rest­ed until night, at which point I’m soon ready to sleep again. It’s wreak­ing hav­oc with my moti­va­tion — not to men­tion my col­i­tis — which is why I haven’t start­ed rebuild­ing my life yet. For now, I try to do one thing every day that will make me hap­py, so I can say it was a good day. Baby steps.

But I’ve also lost all inspi­ra­tion, and I’m left won­der­ing if this is anoth­er effect of selec­tive sero­tonin reup­take inhi­bi­tion. When I walk the streets, it feels like a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent world from what I knew.

I used to pick up my gui­tar through­out the day and noo­dle. I used to car­ry my cam­era with me every­where in case some­thing caught my eye. I used to write almost every day. Creativity was a dri­ving force in my life, and a huge part of how I used to define myself. Now I nev­er feel like cre­at­ing. I used to be ter­ri­fied of going on med­ica­tion for this exact rea­son, but I’ve dis­cov­ered that the med­ica­tion makes it all okay. It’s like Cipralex is both the cause and the cure.

At least I can go out­side now. I can face the world, and start fix­ing what needs to be fixed.