Therapy, just some thoughts

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Therapy

I have been reflecting on therapy a lot over the past week. I have been seeing my current therapist (I will call her S) for probably 3 1/2 years. A lot has changed since that initial meeting. I knew nothing about DID and I was seeing her for help with grief. I had delivered twins too early, my son was stillborn and my daughter survived only 5 minutes. I was engulfed with grief and my maternal fetal medicine doctor suggested my husband and I seek therapy and provided a reference. My husband saw the referenced therapist and I began seeing a colleague of hers.

We traveled through grief, infertility, marriage issues, a successful pregnancy.  In the midst of postpartum depression I decided to stop hiding. I told my secrets, all those nagging things that I thought maybe made me different yet at the same time I had convinced myself that everyone dealt with these issues and just didn’t talk about them. Now that I had a child the symptoms were intolerable. I needed help.

I’m certain I haven’t been an easy client for S. She is empathetic and she cares about me, I have no doubts. Caring for someone like me must be difficult. I’m a risky client because of my suicidal times. She continues to trust me even when I don’t trust myself. She has never committed me to a hospital against my will but I have felt I was very close to that line several times. I can’t imagine what those times must be like for her.

Ever since I got back from a healing retreat I have felt different about therapy. I’m not certain I even understand or know what is different. I’m certain I must be projecting something onto the therapy relationship. Just a few weeks before the retreat that changed my life for the good, I was committed to a mental health facility against my will because of a bad choice on the part of an emotional part (my therapist didn’t commit me). I didn’t think I was still angry about the hospital but after my therapy session today I realized I am still angry. I’m angry that I was committed to a place that is supposed to help me and all it did was traumatize me more. On the flip side I attended a healing retreat and learned so much about myself. Nothing that was presented or taught at the retreat was all that difficult. I am bitter that the mental health system that is supposed to help us often harms us. Am I projecting this feeling onto S, maybe. Perhaps I’m lumping her in with the hospital even though I know they are very different.

It feels like there are so many rules and limitations with traditional therapy. I’m ready to break out of all of that and find what really speaks to me. I say this and yet it’s been my relationship with S that has gotten me this far. I have made huge strides in my healing. I’m really confused right now.

In between the hospital visit and the retreat I had seriously considered stopping therapy. S had asked me why I kept coming back and I couldn’t think of a good reason at that time. Perhaps some of those feelings are still hanging on.

Prior to my hospital stay I had been thinking about attachment issues. I had come to the realization that I had in fact developed an attachment to S. Often it was this attachment that had kept me from suicide. At times thinking about this attachment has really pissed me off. I don’t want or need to be attached to anyone. My feelings are still stuck in the past with the belief that if you give anyone a chance they will only hurt you.

I have been researching methods of inner work for finding the observing part, healing child parts, helping everyone understand integration, etc. I feel alone with these things. Lots of things happen inside and I rarely talk about it with S. This type of work is important to me but I feel very vulnerable talking to S about it. Is it because I don’t think she understands? There just isn’t enough time to work with everything. The constraints of therapy that leave me feeling alone. I understand that I can’t rely on her for everything. I do have to do my own work. I get frustrated when I find something that I think will work well for me but it requires another person, a therapist. I don’t have anyone else in my life to work through these things with. I have tried on my own for some time and it feels like I’m not getting anywhere. I feel like I’m not worthy of asking S to read something and try it with me. I feel like I already ask so much of her and I want to value her time and not ask her to read something just for my benefit.

The power issues around therapy also are beginning to make me uncomfortable. Because therapy isn’t a mutual exchange the therapist always holds a position of power. During the retreat we were all equals and amazing things happened. Is it this hidden power between S and me that keeps me from being vulnerable? How do I reconcile internally that power isn’t always bad?

I have made changes in my thinking and the way I view others and the world. For whatever reason I feel uncomfortable asking for change in therapy. I realize that often its the difficult things, the things we ask for that bring the greatest results. I’m going to work on asking for the help I really need.

Joy even when struggling

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So much has been changing for me and it’s all good. This is new for me and I am working to relax and not let myself sabotage the work I’m doing.

The first thing I am working on is loving myself. This means ALL of me. It isn’t easy. Over the holiday I had a lot of inside conversations with an emotional part (EP) that has beliefs that are contradictory to my own. At times I just want to bang my head against the wall because I can’t communicate well with this part of myself. I finally tried just responding to her with love and it worked. We made it through the holiday with no self harm.

Last night just as I was getting ready to go to bed there was a scream inside that was so loud for a moment I thought it was on the outside. Before this would have been a major trigger that would have caused me to collapse within myself and it would have left me depressed and depleted. This time I tried to find who was in turmoil but I couldn’t. I didn’t let this upset me and I just tried to communicate to everyone to try to find the person and reassure them. I went to sleep knowing I could trust my internal parts to work while the body rested.

Slowly work towards integration is beginning to take place. Some of the EPs held very few memories and those have been shown to me. I feel that as soon as I can fully embrace them with love we will integrate. The EPs that have lived in the outside world are terrified about integration. I’m trying to move slowly so they see that it’s nothing to fear. At this point I’m not even sure if total integration is my goal. I’m taking it one small step at a time.

Will I do it?

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Jump that is. Not a bad jump, a good jump. A jump to take back my power.

I have this fear that nags at me. It keeps me from having fun. It makes me feel powerless and like a failure. I am afraid to jump into water. I’m not afraid of water and I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of how I feel out of control knowing that water is going to overtake my face for an unknown period of time. I have a swimming pool in my own backyard and I can’t jump in.

There is no doubt that my fear stems from past abuse. Jumping into water is a very strong trigger.

I signed up for a healing retreat in Sedona. I knew that part of the “fun” was jumping off a rock into the ice cold water. When I signed up I started mentally working on my fear. I wanted to join the others and jump into that water.

The day came and there was excitement in the air. Everyone wanted to know who was going to jump. I said yes but admitted I was afraid. I didn’t say why. I made a sort of pact with another woman. I was so nervous I couldn’t even think straight in order to prepare. I took just myself, no towel, no nothing.

Everyone thought I was just afraid of getting into the water. The water was low and it was looking like we weren’t going to be able to jump so I just got into the water. Everyone thought that was great. No, it isn’t the cold water I’m afraid of. They finally found a spot where it was safe to jump and people started jumping. I watched, my nervousness growing. Finally I told someone that I had to swim over to the rock and jump. She commented that I was already in the water and I again said, no, it isn’t that, I have to jump.

I made my way to the rock that was barely above the surface of the water. I climbed up and felt sick. A new friend joined me and for some reason that made me feel even worse. I froze up there. My heart was beating out of my chest. I was going to die. The flashes that came through my mind were terrifying. It was as if every near death experience I had as a child flashed through my mind. Everyone was screaming at me internally. Chaos and noise. I asked for help getting down off that rock. I came back down to my knees to try to regain some strength and to remember why I wanted, no needed to do this. I was reminded it was a choice. I knew that and I knew I had to chose my own power over fear. Never again will my abusers frighten me. I mumbled something about not ever being afraid of water again and taking back my power from my abusers. I then said I have to just stand up and jump without hesitation. I did just that.

It felt like an eternity under the water and I felt the fear leave me and float away in the current. I surfaced the water full of pride and love. Love of myself. Power. I can do this. I can do anything. I have everything I need within myself to reclaim every tiny piece of myself that is with others. Pictures were captured of the moment I surfaced and it is all over my face.

I got out of the water and a soul sister told me how proud she was of me. She held my face in her hands as she spoke to me and it felt right. Letting someone in felt good.

The step off that rock was the first of many I’m certain. I can and I will reclaim myself!

Opening my eyes

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After I got out of the psych hospital I did a wonderful job of masking my true feelings and wounds from the incident. I focused my attention on the few good things I managed to mine from the pits of hell. Of course there is nothing wrong with this except when you use it to block out or hide from the trauma.

The greatest travesty that came from the incident was destroying my trust. I have worked hard to develop a reasonable level of trust with my therapist. I suddenly found myself pulling away in an almost hostile way. I was rude and I was angry. It wasn’t just my therapist it was everyone. I didn’t call my sister for days and that is very unusual. I trusted these professionals to take care of me and they didn’t. I trusted my mother to take care of me and she didn’t. I trusted adults as a child and they didn’t take care of me. While I know intellectually that not everyone hurts me, it feels like they do. When my trust is wounded I expect everyone in my life to harm me. I expected my therapist to harm me. If you expect something and you look hard enough you will find it. She wanted me to commit to keeping safe until our next appointment. I couldn’t make that commitment. I knew I was suicidal and I needed to dig my heels in. I was tired and fed up. I seriously considered taking a break from therapy until after an upcoming vacation. My therapist asked me about terminating therapy. There it was in words on my cell phone, that little tidbit I needed to blow everything out of proportion and back away. I ran with it in my head. It disrupted everything and I became a blur of rapidly switching selves. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed, I was utterly confused, suicidal and alone. I’m slowly emerging from this state.

It was more than trust that was broken. I was trapped, confined. I couldn’t breathe. I would stare out the dirty windows trying to imagine that all the air outside was available to me and I wouldn’t die. I wanted to cry out for someone to rescue me but I knew there was no one powerful enough to do anything. Even when I walked to the other building for classes the air wasn’t enough. It was clouded with the guards at the fence watching me. The constant headcounts like I was just some object to be accounted for and not even a person. No name, just a unit number.

Wounds inflicted upon myself because of fear. Fear from professionals who didn’t know how to be nice and compassionate. Poking and prodding, no understanding. Just like my abusers. A drawer opening full of razor blades. Being told, “Do whatever you want I will make it look like an accident for you.” A past event compared with the current, a purse given to me while in distress. Here, pills and razor blades for you, do whatever you want, it will be an accident. The expectation from people that I will harm myself and the encouragement to do so.

Disbelief in something that seems so rational to me. The psychiatrist telling me I don’t have DID, that it doesn’t exist compared to programming from my past. Being shown a red block and being asked what it is. Why a red block of course. Being hurt until you respond that no, it isn’t a red block it is in fact a caterpillar. Always doubting what is reality and what isn’t.

Every ounce of dignity being stripped from you. No you can’t have a towel for your bleeding leg. No we don’t care that it’s dripping on the floor, shut up about it. No, you may not have clean clothes. No, you can’t take a shower now it’s locked. No, you may not have a drink of water it isn’t time for snacks. No, you may not have your regular meds. No, you may not have a pen. We don’t care that you have diabetes, we didn’t put sugar in the biscuits so they are fine, it’s all you get.  Basic rights gone. A caged animal at the zoo just waiting for feeding time, nothing to do but pace.

No way to avoid the constant sexual touching from a patient. No choice. Accept the touching or accept violence that is my choice. My body isn’t my own here. It belongs to the hospital and that man. Standing in line for my drink of water waiting for his hand to find its way between my legs. Turning to confront him only to have him touch my breast. Everyone laughing and saying you have to watch him. It isn’t funny. This is my body! No choice.

Why must society create places for trauma survivors that only further traumatizes them?

Alienation

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I want to hide. I want to curl up into a ball and just cry. I’m angry and sad. I feel like I have slid backwards so much that I’m falling down the mountain again. I don’t want to be here. I want to be happy and hopeful. I tell myself to snap out of it but I can’t. There is a lump in my throat that is threatening to burst.

I’m uncomfortable to a horrible degree. The clothes I bought that I thought wouldn’t bother me are. My body feels so foreign. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror earlier and I don’t know who was looking back. I just want some peace.

It’s hard to believe I’m not crazy. Maybe all the people in the world who see the real me are right, “nuts”. That’s what the ER doctor declared.

I’m letting them in and I wasn’t going to.

This can’t be happening!

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Standing-in-darkness

I don’t even know how to begin to write about the events from Saturday night to Tuesday late afternoon. I spent two night in hell on earth also known as the state mental hospital. I was EOD’d which means I was placed there against my will. It was traumatic. The events keep running through my head like a train wreck. I have PTSD from a place that is supposed to help those with mental health issues. In the midst of all of this I found hope and confirmation of my purpose.

I have no memory from Saturday night to around 10:30 or so on Sunday and I have been told I was awake all night. I have been told about the events by my husband and from internal conversations with E (one of my alters). Apparently E started out feeling sad. I now know why and it was feelings that leaked over from me to her. This snowballed into her feeling bad about being out of control over some past events and she decided that I needed to go to sleep. She found the bottle of wine that I had opened. I had drank one glass and then went to bed. She drank the rest of the bottle and took 12 Xanax which is 3 mg. She emailed our therapist who talked to our husband. We ended up going to the ER to make sure there were no issues with blood pressure. For some reason E got stuck “out”. The ER was terrifying for her. It triggered past abuse. As an emotional part she is stuck in the past and it’s difficult to reason with her. She was questioned, actually interrogated which frightened her and she ended up telling them what they wanted to hear. We were EOD’d. E was so scared she searched my purse and found razor blades. She self harmed in the ER.

The police came to take us to the state mental hospital. E is very frightened of the police due to being tricked in her past. They gave her my purse. She self harmed again in the police car. What hospital believes someone is going to kill themselves and gives them a purse with razor blades and a bottle of Xanax? Crazy!! All during this time E was desperately trying to get me but couldn’t. Our husband follows the police to the hospital. E is taken in and luckily there was some time to wait. I am suddenly aware that I’m somewhere I don’t know and my husband is there too. I’m bloody and scared and I don’t know why. My husband quickly explains everything to me before the intake interview.

I’m honest during the intake interview. I don’t feel depressed and I have no desire to harm myself. I explain DID. The intake person asks the same questions over and over. She is hung up on my alcohol consumption and must assume I drink all the time. I don’t. I rarely drink alcohol. She left to consult with someone else. I wasn’t going home. I decided then and there that I would make the best of the situation. I asked if my husband could bring my books and was relieved that he could. I would spend my time educating myself further about DID and working internally.

I was taken to the unit and I immediately realized it was worse than I could have possibly imagined. The place was filthy. The patients were low functioning. There were men in the common area where I had to go for meds, snacks, nurse contact, phone use, etc. I was given no instructions about how things worked. I didn’t know where anything was and the staff didn’t have time to answer questions.

The first night I go to get my meds and I was told I had been prescribed Trazadone and Vistaril. Something told me these meds were contraindicated with my MAOI. I asked my husband to google the Trazadone and my MAOI and I was right. I am so glad I refused them both or I might not be alive. My MAOI wasn’t given to me that night, I was told it had to be ordered.

I needed to tend to the self harm but that wasn’t a priority for anyone. It took me 12 hours to get the wounds to stop bleeding. I asked for soap and a washcloth but they were never brought to me. I asked for someone to look at the wounds and I was told the admitting doctor looked at them and said they were fine. She never did, I even confirmed this with my husband. Finally I was given borrowed clothes so I could get out of my dirty ones. 24 hours after the self harm and I was allowed to see a medical doctor. He said I needed stitches but it was too late. He applied antibiotic ointment one time and prescribed an antibiotic of which I received only 1 pill.

The patients were often angry and screamed at each other. One man was violent on several occasions. Angry people trigger me and terrify my child parts. I constantly had to fight to stay present.

I worked on reading and writing. I couldn’t retreat to my room because my roommate slept all day long and would complain if I turned the light on. I sat in the women’s only area and read and read and read. I was bored out of my mind.

On Monday morning I was the first patient to see the doctor. Dr. M is the worst psychiatrist I have ever seen. When I began to tell him what had happened he immediately interrupted and told me DID doesn’t exist that I had borderline personality disorder. I told him I disagreed and explained why this wasn’t true according to the DSM and ICD diagnostic criteria. We bantered back and forth and he could never counter with anything very convincing. I told each of the medical students in the room that if they choose to believe Dr. M they would be doing an injustice to 1-5% of their patients. I looked them in the eye and said DID is real. They listened. Dr. M told me if I were his regular patient he would fire me. I told him I would never have him as my doctor so the feeling was mutual. He said my psychiatrist and therapist should both fire me. Why would a psychiatrist that knows I have experienced trauma attack my attachment issues? He said my psychiatrist and therapist were to blame because they should have contacted the hospital ER and had me released. His attacks were low and uncalled for. He asked how often I saw my therapist and I told him three times a week. He asked how I paid and I said with cash, he said oh a sliding scale rate, no full price asshole. I have a job a great job and I’m certain that I make more per year than you do. He asked how long I have been actively working on my “issues” and I told him at least a year and a half. He asked why I wasn’t better yet and that a year and a half is plenty of time to recover. I just laughed and told him the average time of intense therapy for DID is 5-7 years. He again attacked my therapist for accepting me as a client when she wasn’t helping. I told him that he could say whatever he wanted that I knew that I had made significant progress in a short amount of time and that I was in fact healing. Why would he try to instill hopelessness? He said I should go to the classes even though it sounded like I probably already knew everything that would be presented. Finally some credit for something. I was also told that I wouldn’t be given my MAOI because it was too expensive to order. I remind him that I have insurance. He said they can’t have meds on the shelf that can’t be prescribed to other patients because they could never afford them upon discharge. Really? I come to a mental hospital for “stabilization” and you take me off my meds. Dr. Asshole refused to let me go home.

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I attended the first class that afternoon and it was a joke. It was supposed to be an orientation but wasn’t even close. My next class was a music class that was so triggering I had to beg to be taken back to the unit. At first they refused to help me other than let me sit in the hall where I could still hear what was going on. It wasn’t until I became terrified and began to cry that finally one staff member said it is very overwhelming lets take her back.

Those two hours was it for psycho education. No wonder no one ever left here. No real education and no therapy. I soon realized this hospital was little more than a holding tank for people who they have little hope for.

To be continued……

 

Trust, Such a Nasty Word

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Circle trust

Trust. Such a simple word. Easy to spell, easy to say. Such a nasty word for those of us who have been hurt and had our trust betrayed. When your trust has been betrayed over and over it feels like the ability to ever trust again is gone. Alas, it isn’t!

Trust

 

Privately I have been writing about my experiences with therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors and nurses. When I examine how I have been treated by the majority of people in these fields it hasn’t fostered any rebuilding of trust. I have been seeing therapists for as long as I can remember. I can’t even count how many I have seen. It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I found a therapist I could begin to trust. Why is that? Is it me or is it them or both of us? I was trying to write about trust building in the therapeutic relationship and I got stuck, really stuck. The cursor blinking at me demanding I write something while I stared at it for a good 20 minutes stuck. I’m just not sure I have the ability to convey in words how trust happened for me.

My trust issues became even more mysterious after I trusted another therapist that I don’t even know. I talked with her twice and both times trust felt natural. What a surprise, that has never happened before! It wasn’t just me but also E, one of my parts. Is it getting easier to trust or is my trust in my therapist so strong that I trust anyone she trusts? I’m not sure which it is but I see it as growth either way.

As far as my writing about how trust develops in a therapeutic relationship, well I’m still stuck. More thinking and more self examination to follow.

Conceal It. Don’t Feel It. Don’t Let It Show.

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Disney-Frozen-Elsa-Let-it-Go

 

Frozen is a Disney movie that is very popular right now. I rarely watch movies or television but I decided to give this movie a try. Days later I am still thinking about how it relates to my life.

Almost everyone has heard the song “Let It Go”. I keep watching the video “Do You Want Build a Snowman“. In this portion of the movie Elsa’s parents lock her away after an accident occurs with her sister. Elsa has the gift of cryokinesis. Instead of accepting Elsa she is shunned for her gift and they attempt to teach her to, “Conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show”. It works, Elsa stays locked up even after her parents death. Elsa’s sister Anna doesn’t understand why her sister won’t come out of isolation. She begs her sister to come out but she never does.

I identify with Elsa, Anna and her parents. I have locked myself away in an attempt to, “Conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show.” I went to great lengths to hide my DID long before I even knew what it was. I became an expert in watching and reading people attempting to mimic their behaviors so I could hide my true self.  It worked. The walls surrounding my separate parts became very distinct and thick. I denied their existence and carried out my life a zombie. Years are missing from my memory. Was I really ever in my 20′s? I can’t tell you anything about those 10 years.

Today I’m more like Anna. I desperately want contact with the parts I have walled off. I want to see them play and laugh and share with me all the secrets they have been holding on to so tightly. No more isolation. I no longer want to deny the miraculous way my brain protected me. I want to celebrate the miracle of me.

I identify with so much more from this movie. More on that later.

My Name Is……

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break1 Break-the-Silence-stop-child-abuse-25008411-500-251

I am giving serious consideration to giving up blogging anonymously. I feel like there would be something very freeing about just being me. I want to stand up and speak out. I want to use my history to help others. I want to be proud of who I am and how hard I have worked.

I know there is a huge downside to choosing to use my name and speaking out more. I know there are those that don’t believe in DID and ritual abuse. If just one person benefits I really don’t care about the ridicule and negativity that could ensue.

I have the potential to do great things. I have the potential to make an impact. What could be more important?

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