C: Week 10
When I say ‘week 10’, it is and it isn’t. I have been seeing him for 10 weeks. However, the first three sessions were assessment meetings, and the seven since have been ‘actual’ therapy.
I’m not sure if I mentioned in my last post that I launched into a complete vituperation against the National Health Service to C last week. I also told him that CBT was a ‘pile of toss’. I had been panic-obsessing about these comments all week as I feared that I had offended him. I don’t think I slagged him off specifically, but I know when I hear criticism of my employers (who are a charity and are thus also only trying to help people) that I get really pissed off and defensive of them. OK, so I am mad and (presumably) C isn’t, but he is still human, and it would be unnatural surely if he didn’t react to some of the stuff I say. Yes, that could be countertransference, but surely it is also just part of being human?
Anyway, I went in and the first thing I did was to tell C that I felt I should apologise to him. I explained why, and said, “I’m sorry”. I don’t remember his exact response, but essentially he wanted to know why I cared if I had offended him. Of course he recalled my begging him not to abandon him last week, and presumably he felt that these issues were related. He kept pressing the issue, which I frankly found a little embarrassing, but I do recognise the necessity for his doing so.
At one point he said something like, “…you fear you’ve slagged me off…” at which point I interrupted him and enquired in a panic if I had actually slagged him off directly. Again he asked why I cared. I gave a cursory assessment that although it was partly selfish in that I didn’t want him to boot me out, it was also partly altruistic; I genuinely didn’t want to offend him. Of course he still wanted to know why the possibility that I might have done so really mattered to me. In any case, he refused to comment on whether or not he was offended, or whether I directly criticised him; this annoyed me somewhat, but he said to get into territory like that was only avoiding the real issue as to why this all mattered so much to me.
My initial reaction to his probing regarding this was that he was fishing for clues as to whether I experience transference in relation to him, and he probably was. Do I experience transference towards him? Probably so. I certainly analyse our sessions ad nauseum after they have taken place, and wonder what I should say to him at our next meeting. I worry and upset myself on weeks that he is not available. But if that is transference, it is more nebulous than the form that that phenomenon normally takes. I don’t want to sleep with him, I don’t experience anger towards him, I don’t want him to ‘parent’ me (or at least not consciously – but given the absent father thing, maybe some deep, hidden part of me does?).
I kind of want him to be my friend, I suppose. Even though I discussed several friends that I have here, the reality is that I’m incredibly lonely and my social circle is non-existent, or at least it would be were it not for A’s multitude of friends and acquaintances, with whom I enjoy associating. I don’t have enough contact or meetings with my own friends to have a proper social network of my own. It’s not that my own friends aren’t great – they are. Just circumstances, which vary depending on the friend in question and on my variable moods, get in the way.
But I digress. I suppose I want C to be my friend. Yet, the thing is, I am not sure that I really want a normal friendship with him. Had we met in different circumstances, given the little I know of him, I think it’s possible I would have done – but the nature of the client-therapist relationship is so asymmetrical, of necessity, that obviously that is not presently possible, nor is it ever likely to be. Part of me is curious about C’s private life, or what he is really like as a person. But I am not entirely sure that even if he would share these details with me that I would really want to know. I’m not sure what I have made him out to be through the course of our bizarre relationship so far, but whatever it is, I don’t want to shatter any illusions I may or may not have.
It was suggested to me by the author of this excellent blog that perhaps my necessity to apologise to C is actually my protecting him. Even though I read this very insightful post only the other day, I hadn’t thought of that. But re-reading it again, it does sound very like it. I think this is particularly clear from the incident described a few paragraphs ago where I got worked-up as I thought he thought I had “slagged him off” and I didn’t want to offend him.
I have so far written over 700 words, and I have only covered the first 10 or 15 minutes of this morning’s session with C. Perhaps I analyse too much. I admitted to C that I was keeping this blog, and that a large part of the reason was to self-analyse. I half wanted him to ask for the URL as I feel that in some ways I articulate myself better in writing, though in fairness to myself I am – when in a situation in which I feel comfortable – reasonably articulate verbally too. But he didn’t, reasonably enough, and I didn’t volunteer it. One thing I did say to him was that re-reading parts of the blog, it was evident that I was very, very angry.
We discussed this for a bit – the reasons for my anger, the people with whom I am angry (V, my family, to some extent Mum). I confessed that I then tend to feel guilty about my anger with people – for example, the other night whilst at MMcF’s, I posted on Twitter that I felt bad for slagging her off on my first post here. C and I have certainly discussed in the past my perpetual post-mortems of my behaviour – I do this with pretty much every social situation that I force myself to go to, I do it with appointments and meetings, everything. Evidently my worry over the aforementioned NHS rant to C was an example of this. He pointed out the guilt I experience over my anger is essentially a similar thing.
I became upset at some point, and I think (though I don’t recall entirely) that it was to do with these anger/guilt issues. As is my wont, I tried to stop it, or at least hide it. C said, “you’re trying to stop yourself being emotional.” I (semi-)laughed and responded, “you’re very perceptive – either that or I’m a terrible actress.” Although C laughed at this, he did of course pursue the issue.
The ensuing discussion basically consisted of my contempt around issues of emotion. Neither of us seem entirely sure why I have such utter contempt for tears, upset etc, especially when I am willing to share some of the details of my depression with other individuals (and not just even close friends). But he did even note that the way I say certain words – ‘weeping’, ’emotion’ etc – was said with contempt and disgust. (Incidentally – I told him I try to avoid the words ‘I feel’ in favour of something like, ‘I think’. When he asked why, I explained that ‘feel’ has connotations of emotion; ‘think’ implies rationality). He said that although I don’t like expressing emotion in front of him, I still end up doing it. Why, then, he wondered, is it such an utter disgrace to do so in front of others?
It was a fair question. It is probably because he is a third party – ultimately, although he is a consummate professional, does he really give a fuck about me? Probably not, beyond his professional concern. So I suppose his view of me does not, at the end of the day, really matter. (And yet of course it does, but that is not a rational assessment). Another issue is that I rather unfortunately grew up largely around other women, who were not afraid to openly display their upset, which used to infuriate me, even as a child (though the specific reason for this childhood reaction is beyond me). Perhaps most interestingly though, I did admit to C that perhaps my inability to express emotion of this nature was to protect those involved.
For example, I think it is quite evident that a lot of my issues pertain to V’s appalling treatment of my mother. My mother recently asked me was this a factor in my depression. I made some non-committal grunt in reply, and she said that she had “gotten over it” so so should I. Aside from that being a rather simplistic expectation, my belief of course is that I ought to hide her history’s impact upon me, as I have no wish to upset her and make her feel guilty, which she almost certainly would, whether irrational or not.
I also told C that I felt my madness was preposterous. I told him about Colette in the CAB (see here), and other people with depression with whom I have corresponded, who have (or at least have had) real problems. A few bad things have happened to me, of course, but in comparison I have not, in terms of my experiences, led an awful life. Of course, I did not choose to be mental – who would – but I still think that I shouldn’t be feeling this way when I have no real reason to be. C summed it up perfectly; “You feel it is indulgent” (though then he said, “Or rather, you think you feel it is indulgent”, in reference to my feel/think comments above – this cracked me up. It’s not the first joke he’s made either – one that sticks in my mind was, upon his seeing my Newcastle United socks, he quipped, “supporting Newcastle is not going to be good for your mental health”. I like a bit of humour in this process. It makes it slightly less hideously difficult). Anyhow, I don’t think C was implying that he feels it is indulgent; but this was the word I was searching for that describes perfectly my attitude towards the whole sorry thing.
Basically the upshot of the entire session is that even though I try, in most circumstances, to appear cold, rational and emotionless (except in relation to animals and some inanimate objects), that is most assuredly not the case, and these two sides of my personality need to be reconciled in some way. Although not specifically discussed, I presume this is yet another defence mechanism of mine. C said that although I have had a breakdown, I could also view the coming of these fucking ’emotions’ to the fore as a breakthrough. (Needless to say, it doesn’t fucking well feel that way – but I do take his point). He wants me to get to a point where I can behave around others as I behave around him. I told him I genuinely cannot ever foresee this – not entirely anyway. But he wants to work on it in any case.
But oddly, this session with C was not all doom and gloom and pure psychotherapy. After telling him my two cats were named after characters from GTA IV, I told him of a conversation with A the other day. I was rubbishing myself to A, and asked,”what have I actually achieved in my life?” A comfortingly replied, in (of course) a tongue-in-cheek fashion, that I had completeled GTA IV. Although this was not entirely a validation of my social and intellectual prowess (!), I did find the comment rather hilarious.
I relayed this exchange to C, who also found it amusing. We then briefly discussed GTA IV; C hasn’t played it, but did enquire as to its difficulty. Clearly he is at least familiar with the series. I opined that it was not as hard as previous incarnations of the franchise and recommended it to him. For some reason I continued that A and I had been to see two films recently – The Damned United and In the Loop. I said that I had wanted to see the former as it is indubitably (and, presumably, unwittingly, as it is actually about Leeds) a portentous look at Newcastle United, and the latter as it was as cynical as fuck – right up my street. C was certainly familiar with In the Loop – I don’t think he has seen it, but perhaps he has watched The Thick of It, which is essentially the non-film version of In the Loop. In short, C and I had a normal, if brief, conversation!
I have no idea why I feel the need to analyse my 50 minutes with C in such minute, anal detail – and I’m sure I haven’t even covered half of what went on today. But I want to make sense of it, and committing things to the written word seems to help me to do that.
This entry was posted on Thursday, 7 May, 2009 at 12:40 pm and is filed under C, Psychotherapy with tags anxiety, clinical depression, depression, insomnia, major depressive disorder, mental health, mentalhealth, psychiatry, psychology, Psychotherapy, social anxiety, therapy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.