This week and other thoughts…

I am so done with this week. I also couldn’t think of a title for this post.

It started like any normal week until the Manchester bombing on Monday night. I work in the city centre and it has been such a surreal, somber and emotional week. I am not directly affected but I still felt the heartbreak and devastation of it all. My train to work goes to the train station underneath the arena so I know it well. My friends daughters friend was killed as well two people from the town I live in. It’s a big city, but in other ways it’s not. I don’t think that I would have felt emotions about it before therapy though.

The events of this week have somewhat distracted me from therapy. I keep forgetting that it is next week. It’s been a long four weeks. But this evening, I had an email from my therapist, just in response to my weekly journal. It was all very practical which makes me want to run away. CBT feels cold and not what I need or am able to do at the moment. I understand the purpose and the benefit of developing relationships but I am so driven by my feelings. All the feelings that I have suppressed for years and years. My therapist being practical triggers me. My dad has always been practical but not affectionate. I don’t expect affection from my therapist but it feels like she is dismissing my feelings. I either get on with life and be practical or I be weak and fall apart. The child within me is thinking – I can’t do that, please don’t make me do that. My gut reaction was to cancel the session because she must think that I am a terrible person. She has to. She must hate me as much as I hate myself. She wouldn’t like the real me. I am building up the wall again so that I don’t cry when it is inappropriate or not allowed. It doesn’t seem to take much for me to still feel scared and withdraw. It doesn’t feel safe.

Lastly, I am getting increasingly wary of commenting on other posts. I am not part of the clique which was once called a community. I have a talent for saying the wrong thing or offending people. I haven’t been through enough trauma to be accepted. But at the same time, I don’t come from a part of the world where we indulge each other in misery. I come from a part of the world which has shown it’s guts, strength and community spirit. I seem to have offended people with slightly practical advice at times. Or maybe one person has a superiority complex. I am disappointed at being judged by people I would least expect to judge me. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of suffering in life. People won’t always tell you what you want to hear in life. A therapist, if they are a good one, won’t tell you what you want to hear. This probably sounds really bitter and I have probably offended some people. I am not disrespecting peoples experiences at all. I am just sad that I really care about people who find it easy to just dismiss me because I don’t always say the right words, give a different perspective or am simply not intelligent enough. I have learnt a lot from reading other amazing blogs on here but keeping my mouth shut seems like a good idea. It proves that being myself is not good and that I care far too easily about others. Or maybe I am just an empathic badass.

So unfollow if you feel the need/want to. It is detrimental to my own recovery to worry about others who do not appreciate me. It is not my problem.

Mind Games

I am two and a half weeks through my usual four week therapy gap. I know that I have said this before but it feels like the longest four weeks of my life.

I haven’t seen my dad since well before Easter. I didn’t go to his party two weeks ago so I didn’t see him when he was back. He has a house abroad where he spends most of his time. He has gone back there according to my brother, although I don’t know when he went. He messaged me today and asked what I was doing this weekend. “Maybe he wants to see you tomorrow”, was my mum’s response. The anxiety was fairly instant but I hid it as usual. She had told me that he had gone back abroad so why did she say that. She asked me this morning, before she spoke to my brother, if he had gone back. That was her subtle way of asking if I had seen him. She finds various ways. My brother confirmed that he had gone back. I was anxious at the thought of seeing my dad and still am because I know that he will make me pay in some way for not going to that party. My dad is quite manipulative although he uses words not emotions. I confronted him when he fell out with my brother a few years for not doing what he wanted.

“I’m 60 and my father was 71 when he died…”

I know that doesn’t sound especially manipulative but it was part of a barrage of things that we have both do wrong and don’t do for him now that we are adults. Ways that we don’t repay him for everything that he has done for us. Both of my parents are constantly playing mind games with us both. Unconditional love it definitely isn’t. Notice that I can fight for my brother but would never fight for myself.

But I am struggling not to go into denial. My parents are both alive and therefore I should be grateful. They were together until I was 20. I have happy memories from my childhood –  holidays, weekends at my aunties house with my cousins. But I was criticised and treated as a problem, and told not to express my emotions. I was never praised or encouraged. But it was all so subtle. I struggle to define it as abuse or neglect. It’s just the way my parents are. Nobody is perfect. Denial is a protection mechanism though. Push down the emotions and the anger with denial. It wasn’t that bad. I can only define it as not getting what I needed to be an emotionally healthy adult. I struggle to ask for help and acknowledge my own needs. I didn’t ask to be brought into this world and sometimes I want out. I am not saying that abuse is by any means easy, that is totally untrue, but it is more ‘acceptable. I am wary of offending people here. Abuse victims do experience denial and blame themselves but others are less likely to question it. Telling people that I am in therapy because I wasn’t praised as a child is just opening myself up to judgement.

I have really struggled to detach from my emotions during this therapy gap. I feel needy. It’s difficult to be so validated and heard, and then go back to my life of mind games and insignificance. I don’t always recognise the validation from my therapist. I was very honest with her so she was more explicit in defining her role and that me expressing my emotions in session is not weak but a sign that she is doing her job effectively. I fear that I will cry and not be able to stop. The session will run out of time and she will tell me to stop. I don’t feel like there is enough time to deal with the grief. It’s easy for my T to accept me because she doesn’t have to love me. I can’t hurt her like I hurt my dad. The expectation of criticism is still present. My therapist emailed me this week and thanked me for being honest in my journal. I had to really fight not see that as criticism or sarcasm. I looked back at my journal and I have been more honest recently than I used to be. I used to edit it to take all the emotion out, but now I forget. I subconsciously must want her to know how I really feel and how much pain I am in at times. Eleven days to go until my next session. Trying to keep the inner child at bay is so difficult.

My posts are generally rather boring as I don’t have regular therapy sessions to write about so I applaud you for reading if you do.

 

Running On Empty

It’s been two weeks since my last therapy session and I am running on empty. That sounds like a confession!

I think that I have felt like this for a while but I just kept going because I have to. There are a number of things which I feel have pushed me to the edge – not quite over the edge yet. I am hanging on.

My dad had a party at his house last Saturday. I had worked out that it is his ten year wedding anniversary this month. Not sure of the date. I just remember that he remarried about two years after he left. I really didn’t want to go so decided not to. I contacted my brother to ask if he had been invited and to warn him that I thought it was dad’s wedding anniversary party.  I didn’t ask if he was going because it’s his choice with no judgement from me. He said that they were going for an hour or so. I got a message about 30 minutes later from my dad asking if I was coming. I said, “No, I am in *insert place*”. My mum wasn’t impressed that my brother and his family had gone. I reminded her that it isn’t her decision.

I haven’t heard from my dad since. I usually see him on Thursday evenings when he is in the country. I am assuming that he is angry or annoyed with me. I have disrespected him. I haven’t played happy families. I just couldn’t go. I have done in the past but I’m just not strong enough at the moment. My mum is pleased with me for not going and my dad is angry. If I had gone, it would be the other way around. I would pay for either decision. But I can’t be the ‘good girl’ anymore. It’s so messed up. My parents were clearly not a good parenting mix and I am the result.

I have felt so down and worthless. I have struggled not to contact my T. I wouldn’t even be able to find the words to do so. I feel very vulnerable. She could so easily take back the acceptance and everything we discussed in our last session about supporting me through my emotions in session. I also feel that she should take it back. It’s easier for her because she doesn’t have to love me… or pretend to. I guess I am just pushing her away because I am not used to unconditional relationships. It is all reactionary based on whatever is going on. That is why I try not to react to it. Perhaps I should. Therapy is a way of playing out all of these relationships. But she is not that kind of therapist so I am reluctant to push her too far. She is totally on my level and me being open has confirmed where the sessions need to go. I just don’t want to push her too far in terms of counter transference.

I don’t really have anyone outside of therapy. My friends are either judgmental or they just don’t understand. I am going to push on to my next session… hopefully. I am majorly pouring from an empty cup but I have no choice. Working full-time with depression and anxiety takes a lot of strength. I work for a big organisation and we are regularly moved around with management changes.

I think that I have reached a crucial part of therapy that I can go through properly and safely as long as I am honest with H. But I have said that lots of times. I definitely feel that it is stepping up and progressing. My ability to hold back emotion is quite ridiculous. I am not sure how to get out of that pattern of behaviour. It is so ingrained in me. There is probably things she can do hypnosis wise but I don’t want to ask her for that for her to respond with:

“I have already tried that/lots of things and you haven’t responded.”

Another thing I will have failed at. I am so triggered by things and feelings. I can relate feelings to times when I thought that I was numb or dissociating. I have a dance presentation thing today and that is playing on my anxieties. I am nervous and the worst dancer. I will mess it up like I did in the show and make a fool of myself.

The show must go on…

 

I’m Proud Of You

So I had my therapy session this week. I couldn’t really process it on Wednesday night and haven’t had the chance to write until now.

We started off discussing goals. I struggled not to write the session off. This makes me assume that I have to be rational and practical. I had said in my journal that I don’t feel ready to be alone and responsible for my 3 year old nephew. That I don’t feel like an adult a lot of the time and can’t be assertive enough to discipline him etc.  He was going down their steep drive on his scooter on Sunday and I struggled to be assertive enough to tell him that he wasn’t allowed to play on the street because it’s not safe.

H’s response was, “You are an adult. You were thinking of his safety. Children need boundaries or they feel confused and insecure. You had too many boundaries. Setting boundaries won’t damage him emotionally. Is there anything you can do so that you know how to deal with those situations?”

“Ask my brother and SIL how they discpline him and what works for them.” She told me that it was a good suggestion and one that I was able to think of myself.

But I felt tense and guarded. I have faced a lot of criticism recently particularly at work. It has triggered feelings from my childhood. My dad has always been critical of me. Sometimes in a subtle way by laughing at me. I had been having conversations in my head with H on the drive over. Conversations where she was criticising me and I was building up the wall of protection.

“I feel like you’re going to criticise me. I have been criticised so much recently and it has been triggering. Rationally, I know that you won’t criticise me but I am expecting it. I have been having conversations with you whilst I was driving over here. When I stopped myself, the emotions came up.” We discussed the work thing and that I am not going to appeal my end of year appraisal marking.

“As a therapist, I constantly have to think, am I helping you. My job is not to criticise anyone. There is no judgement but I will challenge you. Maybe you could try not to skim read my emails and challenge yourself to see it as criticism.”

The biggest thing that I was holding back was again about emotions. I have thought for so long that there is no room for emotions in session. It’s not rational or practical and we’re too far into therapy to deal with my emotions about the past.

“I am still holding back my emotions and have been wondering how you would react if I fell apart.”

“How do you think I would react?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead.” This is the default answer that I’m not supposed to use. I was digging my nails into my forearm at this point because I felt so uncomfortable. I had my arms folded across my stomach so I don’t think that she could see.

“Well, if you had thought that far ahead, how do you think I would react?”

“I really don’t know.” *pause* “Ok, I see crying as a weakness.”

“Ok, so that means that you think that I would see you as weak.” I struggle to recall everything that she said which is a shame because it was hugely validating. “As a therapist, we’re looking to get someone to bring up and deal with all of those old, buried feelings. I know that the clinical explanation sounds cold, but if you fall apart in a session what do you think that would mean to me?”

“That you’re doing you’re job effectively?”

“Yes. Try not to see it as ‘falling apart’ either. It seems to be the thing that you fear the most so we will face it. There is a lot going on in your head which you internalise and turn on yourself because you have no outlet for it.”

That took a lot for me to talk about. I was always told to stop crying as a child so I have really learnt to stuff my emotions down and go into protection mode in front of others. The last time that I cried properly was at my Grandma’s funeral about six years ago. We then moved onto the hypnosis part of the session. I was feeling rather drained by this point but it’s relaxing and I am also less aware so I find it easier to get in touch with my emotions.

The last thing she said was, “I want you to you to remember that H is proud of you and tell yourself that you are proud of yourself.” I don’t think that anyone has ever said that they are proud of me. Not that I can remember anyway.

I felt hugely validated by this session. It has really shown me that being honest is the best way forward even though it is scary. Therapy is not effective if the therapeutic relationship doesn’t work. Or as effective. I have read various, amazing blogs as well as watching Kati Morton’s YouTube videos and thought that I could discuss my fears with her before I try to face them.

I have felt guilt and shame though since the session. I have asked for something from someone which I don’t do. I am self sufficient. I look after everybody else. I felt quite needy today too and had to stop myself from texting H. I didn’t have any words though. I think that I need her to confirm that it was real and that she won’t take it back despite how sincere she was. I have also felt sadness today too. I have wondered what I could have done to make my parents hear me in the same way that H does. But H doesn’t have to love me so it’s easier for her.

My next session is the 31st. I got the impression that she is going away at the start of June. It’s still four weeks but feels less because it’s two sessions in the same month. It’s all psychological! The one blessing of my monthly sessions is that I don’t notice my T being away as much. I do still worry that something will happen to her while she is away though.

Vulnerable

I have therapy on Wednesday and I’m not ready. Whatever that actually means.

My T has been replying to my email for the last three weeks. All formal and practical of course but it’s still unusual. She usually replies to point me in the right direction or to give me an objective view on a particular situation. I tend to skim read her emails because it feels like criticism. It’s not, but that is how it feels. I emailed her this morning and she sent a short reply:

‘Thanks…. See you Wednesday. Kind Regards H :-)’

I have really struggled to detach during this break. Or go into coping mode is what I mean. It’s been a difficult break too.

I was judged by my manager at work as’Must Improve’ in my end of year appraisal. It has made me realise that I have a fear but expectation of criticism. I was constantly told as a child that I wasn’t trying hard enough. I have never been the best at anything. Below average.

Last week I was convinced that I was going to be criticised in therapy. Now I have no idea what will happen. Today’s email has pushed me over the edge. I feel so vulnerable and anxious. I feel dizzy and my legs are like jelly. My eyes feel hot and not in an attractive way! I don’t know if it is like she is making the connection before the session or her absolute forgiveness of me.

I dreamt last night that I was arrested for shoplifting on the way to my dance class. My teacher arrived and criticised me for not getting what was required. Nobody would release me from the handcuffs. I was crying, although only in my room, and nobody did anything. I woke up feeling like shit. Such a random dream. Although, I do feel criticised by my dance teacher and that she thinks I am rubbish. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

I have a day and a half where I will have to keep it together. I have been repeatedly swearing at the thought of Wednesdays session and just want to run away. I am still scared to cry, to lose control and be vulnerable. I have no idea how she would react if I did cry. My parents can’t handle emotions so I don’t show them. I will ask H how she would react… if the atmosphere is right. I might reply to her email in the morning to warn her that I am feeling vulnerable. I did say that in Sundays journal but I kind of assume that she skim reads it. If she starts the session being practical and keen to discuss goals, I will just shut down. Close off and put the wall back up.

As usual, I have no idea what to do. I should just let it be, but that’s easier said than done.

 

Words Are Not Enough

I have tried to put off writing this because I want it to be intelligent and eloquent, but I don’t think that I will be able to sleep or concentrate at work tomorrow if I don’t!

I don’t know if the interview with Prince Harry has made international news or not. It’s huge news in the UK. Please find the link below:

Click me

There is a podcast which you can find in iPhone and Android.

Harry is mostly talking about his mental health in relation to the death of his mother when he was 12 years old. It has apparently shattered the stigma around mental health. We should all feel comfortable discussing our mental health issues with anyone and everyone. I am not denying his pain or grief and having to grieve your mother’s death in public view as a child would be horrendous. So of course, he ignored his emotions and carried on. We know how to do that don’t we?

The main issue is the ‘just go to therapy’ attitude. The NHS is a mess and the tiniest part of the budget seems to be the mental health services. People are given medication as a quick fix and waiting years for either a diagnosis or six sessions of CBT. Money is no object to the Royal Family. He would have been able to pay for private therapy as and when he needed. Talking with friends and family is helpful but it’s not a replacement for professional therapy. The mutual, objective ear of a therapist cannot be matched – for me anyway. The money does not lessen the pain and grief but it takes a huge burden off in terms of taking time off work, having to claim sickness benefits and just pay for the therapy sessions themselves. Some people in the social media world are conveniently forgetting this because of their own bias.

Harry hasn’t said anything earth shattering. Although, a member of the Royal Family being so open is really.

It also raises the issue of men’s mental health. The biggest killer of men under 50 is suicide. Men are by nature not as open and do not share their feelings. But not ALL women wear their heart on their sleeve either. I know that I don’t. I was brought up to hide my emotions. There was no room for emotions. I also follow a lot of blogs written by those of you who have been through huge trauma as a child. People who will have walked around for years in the coping state until they hit rock bottom and reached out to a therapist. I also see how hard you all work and the sacrifices that you make to pay for therapy. A lot of people are paying for private therapy because they cannot wait as long as required through the NHS. I am extremely lucky to pay for my therapy at a reduced rate. I resent the opinion that ALL women are emotions and find it easy to ask for help. We’re all individual with different experiences.

It’s a huge thing but that’s just my two cents.

Session – 5 April 2017

I went to my session yesterday despite being unwell. 

H noticed of course when I spoke that I was under the weather. She mentioned the ‘new baby’ and asked if everything went okay. She was referring to my nephew who is now about 9 weeks old. I felt a little awkward because we have had that conversation before. I had mentioned him in my journal so I guess she just forgot. It doesn’t bother me too much because I have a large family and details can be vast. I didn’t correct her but did mention later that he is 9 weeks old. It does make me wonder if she is a little off. She didn’t seem to be totally her usual self but maybe I am just looking for signs that aren’t there.

She asked what has gone well and what hasn’t. This was difficult because I was struggling to think straight. We set some goals for the next few weeks. We then moved onto the hypnotherapy part. I was going ask if we could not do that but I had forgotten. I managed about five minutes before I started coughing. I tried not to but she stopped it because I was struggling. My eyes were streaming.

Are your eyes watering because of your cold or your emotions?” She asked.

“Emotions” I said, looking away.

Hypnosis seems to have a huge effect on my emotions. They come to the surface a lot easier than usual. I don’t know if it’s the reassuring, calming tone of her voice or just the fact that I am less aware.

We booked the next session and she asked if there is any direction that I would like the sessions to take.

“I struggle to do some of the goals we set. I am still ruled by my emotions and that stops me from letting the wall down. I don’t want to be in the way. I feel like this process has been backwards because of the way I am. I didn’t realise at the start, what had really happened in the past. I don’t feel like there is room in the sessions for emotions. We’re being practical and I should be in a different place.” That was more or less my response.

“This process is not linear.” She was doing an up and down motion with her hand whilst saying that. “There is no set process. We deal with whatever happens as it does. It hasn’t been backwards at all.” 

I feel like I need to grieve for what I didn’t have in the past. Everything that I have missed out on. I don’t like using the word grieving. It such a big word and may offend people.” I couldn’t look her when I said that. She lost her mum when she was about 8 years old. That is grieving.

“In the past, you were very ‘they did this to me’. Now it’s about accepting what happened, accepting that you can’t change it and letting go. It’s the right word. Maybe it is not always used in the right way.” She said the last part with a warm, sincere smile. Her eyes were the same. It’s a smile that I recognise from her.

It was a fairly uneventful session and this is probably quite boring to read – no breakdowns or particularly deep revelations. But I was making the effort to be practical in the session because she was. But just when I thought that I have lost the safe place to express my emotions, she asked that last question. She asked what I need from her. I feel grateful for that. I am going to think about specific things that I want to deal with and suggest them to her.