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July 2017

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Therapy Again

I've been thinking all week about what I wanted to talk to my therapist about. On the one hand I don't think last week's session was helpful. On the other hand I don't think that was his fault. I think I just choose to talk about things that upset me on a day when my chemical imbalance was acting up. Which sent me into a serious downward spiral. Today went much better. On the one hand we didn't talk as much about things that upset me. We did talk about a couple of things that made me cry, and that was OK. I cry a lot in therapy because therapy involves talking about things that upset me. On the other hand I think it was really the fact that my serotonin levels are back on track that prevented a meltdown this evening.

I decided that what I really wanted to talk to him about was my treatment plan. If what he wants to do for me is what I need. Last week was traditional talk therapy. The theory there is that past negative experiences are causing maladaptive behaviors and by examining past negative experiences we can unlink them from the triggers and choose different behaviors.

My problem with that is that talk therapy has not really helped me in the past. The most effective therapy for me was DBT. The Event Sheet really helped me discover where and what my triggers were. It helped me realize that my internal critical statements, the ideas that are at the root of my fear, sadness, and anger are about being judged and found wanting. I'm terrified of being judged because I don't think I can ever be good enough. I know that, but knowing that doesn't hasn't helped much. I can do an event sheet and realize that I'm responding inappropriately to a specific situation but that doesn't really change my basic belief that I'm not good enough and eventually people are going to find out and abandon me.

There is another defense mechanism I have. Because I'm terrified of being judged every time I interact with human beings I have a sort of learned low self esteem that feels like a protection. I firmly believe that I'm just not important enough to other people for them to go out of their way to hurt me. It is really the only way I can leave the house. I need to believe that people just don't care enough about me to be looking at me and judging me. One side effect of this is that I don't really take things personally. When people do things that hurt me I usually assume that it doesn't really have anything to do with me personally. They must have hurt me by accident because I'm not important enough for someone to deliberately hurt. There have been a couple of times where I turned out to be wrong. When people were deliberately trying to hurt me. But it takes a lot of convincing to get me to believe that. Basically I'm inclined to believe that people just hurt me accidentally while they are trying to do something else that has more to do with them. That doesn't stop me from being hurt. If someone steps on your foot it still hurts even if they didn't intend to do it. It just means that when people hurt me I assume it means that they just don't care enough about me to avoid hurting me.

We also talked about my weight. He brought up the possibility that weight could be a defense mechanism to keep people away. Well, Duh! That is what the ACE study I have been telling every one (including him) to read was about. Yes, it is highly likely that my weight is an unconscious defense mechanism to protect me from male sexual violence. The only way I convinced my right brain to go along with the bariatric surgery idea was that I finally hit rock bottom in the physical pain department. My physical pain is finally greater than my fear of men. There is also a small possibility that my weight is also an unconscious defense mechanism to keep me home. The physical pain my weight causes me is really the main reason I don't go out as much as I used to, and not going out keeps me from putting myself in stressful situations. Bonus!!!

I have never been to a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. I really don't think a specialist in eating disorders will be helpful. Mostly because I haven't found dietitians helpful. But I haven't tried an eating disorder therapist so I can't be sure. My therapist is going to ask around and see if he can refer me to one. I don't have much optimism about this path but I'm reluctantly willing to try.

We also discussed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). I have a friend who had great success with that. I have my doubts. But I haven't tried it yet. So I will reluctantly try. He will get back to me about a referral on that too.

I am also reluctant to give up on this therapist because I like him and I feel comfortable in his office. He is nice and gives me a lot of emotional space to be comfortable. I think a lot of my reluctance is frustration. I have already invested nine weeks in getting him up to speed and I don't want to have to start over with another therapist. On the other hand if this therapist does not have the treatment skills I need I am just wasting my time with him, "chasing a loss".

On yet another hand I recently discovered an author who might help. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel. The reviews raise some red flags but it is worth a try. Or I can try reading some of the Mindfulness books and CBT manuals I already own.

I did a have a bit of a breakthrough today. For a long time I didn't think I was a stress eater, because I didn't know I was experiencing stress. It turns out my chronic lateness is probably the same thing. I spent all week ruminating about what I would say to my therapist. And then I found myself sleeping in the afternoon knowing that I was in danger of being late. I was actually late last week and I can see how that was probably because I was afraid of confronting him about not making progress. (He is very good about not pushing me to say things I'm not ready to say. But I'm impatient and stubborn, or rather my left brain is.) And this time I was almost late again because I was worried about not getting my needs met.

In the past when therapists asked me if I was late because I didn't really want to go to the event I was late for, I said "no" because my conscious (left brain) did want to go there. It was my unconscious (right brain) that was making me fall asleep so I would be late or miss the event entirely because she didn't want to go.

Take swimming for example. I love swimming. I love the pool. I love being in the pool. I hate walking down the hall to the pool, I'm usually out of breath and frequently in pain by the time I get to the locker room. And I don't like changing in public. And I don't like being surrounded by people. And I don't enjoy walking to the pool on slippery floors where I'm afraid I will fall. And I hate having to deal with wet swimsuits and damp towels. I love swimming but I hate going to the pool and being surrounded by people.

I think a lot of lateness when I'm going to Song's house has to do with my trying to do too many things. I load up an projects and plans that involve getting things together and lugging them down to the car and generally trying way harder than I should. (Because I'm afraid that no one will love me if I'm not good enough.)

So, my lateness is an unconscious desire to avoid something that my Left Brain has decided to do over my Right Brain's objections. Although this is a bit ironic because my right brain is the source of both the fear that I will be rejected if I don't try to do something (my need to deploy my "attention getting device") and my fear that I will be rejected if my attempt fails, and I am judged "not good enough".

There is a quote, usually attributed to Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world." I had never heard the quote I can remember that I was quite young when I decided to do that. That if I could see that something should be done, and no one was doing that thing, then I should do it. I should be the one to do what I could see needed to be done. I have been trying to break myself of this habit of selfless service to others, because it is killing me. I have spend most of my life trying to do things that I really didn't want to do out of a sense of duty, that someone should do them and if no one else was going to do them it would have to be me. That, to be a good person worthy of the respect of others, I had to act to make the world a better place whenever I could. (And idea that really resonates with the book I just read.) Even if I didn't really want to and I wasn't very good at it. It is a hard habit to break. Part of me really wants to do good and make the world a better place. But another part of me wants someone to take care of me for a change. I wanted people to do onto me what I was doing onto them. Help me. Take care of me. Love me. But even when I write that, part of me says: why would anyone want to take care of me, I'm not good enough, no one wants me. No one ever wants me. I'm just not very important to anyone.

It turns out what Gandhi actually said was: "We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do."

Which is a really interesting combination of "As above so below. As within so without." and "Magic is the art of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will."
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Comments

I love you and support you in your struggle.

EMDR works for me, but I'm not sure if it's the EMDR itself, or if it's the meditations that my therapist has me do while I'm listening. It may be one, or the other, or the combination of the two. If you like, I can put some songs in a dropbox so you can listen to them yourself and see if they help at all on their own.

If it is helpful to you, I find you beautiful. I find your worries and anxieties to be so wonderfully HUMAN, and your desire to grow past them very inspiring. I hope for you, and I do not find you lacking because you seek to grow. If you ran away from it and sought to stagnate, that would be tragic...but you do not. Everyone has good and bad days, and most of your days you are working to grow.

I don't know if that helps, but there it is.
Thank you. That is a helpful response.

I'm willing to give the songs a try.

I find that music goes directly to my right brain and bypasses my left. (Hmmm. That makes me think. I tend to prefer music that has a story and avoid instrumental music as boring. But my response to music is visceral not intellectual. There are songs that I used to love as a teenager that I now can not listen to at all because of how they make me feel. The stories in the songs have not changed but my emotional response to them has changed. It is something for me to think about some more.)
I love you. I am here for you. I am not leaving you alone. And my kiddos are very excited to have you visit. Don't let them bully you into baking if you're not up for it. (^_^)
Thank you.

It's not bullying it's just appealing to my desire to make them like me by doing something I'm good at for them. I'm Ok with that. They want baked goods. I want them to like me. And I teach them a valuable skill and help them feel competent at the same time. It's a win/win situation.
You will be sleeping with me, so that should buy you a few hours in the morning. (^_^)
EMDR worked for me as well.
Thank you for sharing this. I hope you find a solution that works. I'll have to find out more about EMDR.

I know it doesn't help to hear that you don't need to prove anything to anyone to be a good person--which you ARE--but I wish your emotions could believe it. Hugs!

Currently my therapist is concerned that I have bipolar II instead of just an anxiety/unipolar depressive disorder, which could mean that I should be on different medicine entirely. Still trying to cope with the stupid hypersomnia. :/