He May be Attacking but my Shrink is Not Resigning! C: Week 17

Or at least if he is, he did not tell me so, and he is still having supervision sessions with his boss so it doesn’t look like he’s going any time soon!  To be honest I didn’t mention my irrational fear to him about him leaving (that I expressed yesterday), but I am fairly sure now that if he were going he would have told me.  So I am sated…for now.  I wonder will his new job offer come in the next few weeks and then I will have to worry about this again?

We spent the first while talking about work..  I only mentioned briefly here on Friday that I had heard from the office, but basically it ran thus: I had not responded to the email about which this rant was…um…ranted, I have to attend another OH assessment (not panicking, not panicking…oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck…OK, am panicking), that they want a therapy progress report, that they wanted to know had I yet seen a “specialist” and basically what more “aggravating factors” there were in the workplace.  Since I had previously provided them with a comprehensive but diplomatic list of “aggravating factors” which they then completely refuted, this seem a stupid question to me, but hey, that’s management shit, right?  Also, given the previous OH report, they are hoping I will be back in September / October.  If not, or if they cannot make reasonable adjustments for my madness, they will have to enter the “incapacity process”.

I wrote back to Horse with a therapy progress report, telling her about Dr C and the diagnoses/tablet changes, agreeing to attend the stupid, hateful OH shite, and stating politely that since she had already merely refuted my discussion of “aggravating factors” that my going into further detail would be nonconstructive.  I simply detailed a few supervisory-esque matters that would need to be addressed in the relative short-term after a hopeful return to work.

Anyway, I gave C brief details then started ranting about work and how I think my colleagues are all “bastards”.  Then I castigated myself saying that they are not all bastards, but in my mind right now they are in fact all bastards, so let’s just go with the idea that they are all bastards even though in the real world only one or two of them are actually bastards.

C pointed out that this was a very black and white generalisation.  Really, C?  I didn’t know that, thanks mate.  I was tempted to ask him if I was splitting, but after last week I was feeling submissive and didn’t want to antagonise by making it look like I know more than him, so I didn’t.

He did accept in fairness that I both believe they are all evil and don’t at the same time, and asked what it was that terrified me so utterly about returning to work (in light of the fact work are hoping to have me back by October).

I told him that A had suggested I just leave my present job (or at least let them to dismiss me, so as I can continue to claim whatever dolescum money I can) and take a very protracted period off work until I was confident enough to cope.  C tactfully disagreed, at least to an extent anyway, stating that the more one promised oneself to return to public life when one was more confident, the less likely they seemed to be able to do it.

I panicked and asked if that meant he thought I should just go back to work.  The answer was not right now, but yes, relatively soon,not after a very protracted period.  We obviously have to work on some confidence-building/fear-elimination, just not use it as an indefinite excuse for me to remain off.  However, he said, he did not necessarily think that ‘work’ had to be my present job.  That was reassuring, because starting a new job whilst terrifying is actually less so than returning to my present one.  The problem is that when I have been offered interviews in the past year or so I just go mental.

I said that I didn’t actually want to go back to work at all, but I did want to want to go back.  I said I didn’t fancy wallowing off social security for the rest of my life and letting my mind atrophy.

Apparently I said the words ‘social security’ with a certain tone.  C searched for the word, but I butted in and said, “contemptuous”.

“Yes,” he agreed.  “Contemptuous.  Why so?”

I offered the view that although there were certainly genuine claimants within the social security system, that I did not want to be associated with benefit fraudsters and layabouts.

“Hmm,” he said.  “Black and white thinking again.  There’s no middle ground in this for you.  It’s either/or.”

At this point as I recall it he moved the discussion back to my actual present job.  The change of direction seems confusing, but will makes sense as my little story progresses.  So, what was it then that worried me so much about my present job?

Essentially, I said, no one listens to legitimate concerns (true), nothing ever changes despite promises that it will (true), they are so pedantically anal that nothing is ever good enough (mostly true) and that basically they all know what’s wrong with me and despite the nature of their business (voluntary sector social care) that they don’t believe I am ill or at the very least they are stigmatically judging me for my mental fuckuppery (probably not true but still my perception).

(C found the term ‘fuckuppery’ amusing.  I was glad to give him a couple of opportunities to smirk in this session).

I told C that if I have to walk somewhere during office hours that would, if I was taking a straight route, take me past the office that I walked ridiculously convoluted routes to avoid it.  My best attempt at walking right past it was on the other side of the road with my face covered with a scarf, which still resulted in a panic.  In fact, when he asked me to relive that day, I refused as I began to become incredibly jumpy and agitated.  Thankfully C didn’t need to probe me any further as he could see how the fear of the office was manifested.

I said to C that even though I had reasons to be angry, or at least irritated, with work, that I couldn’t explain my abject terror about something as apparently inoffensive about simply walking past it.

C’s conclusion is that the fear is not about the fact that things never change in the place, or indeed any specific work related issue, but more about my perception of others’ perceptions of me.  He said that I fear scrutiny, feel that I need validation and am petrified of being judged in a negative way by almost anyone.  This ties in with my self-contempt at being part of the social security system.  Much to my regret, his analysis is correct.

He said this led on appropriately enough to how I’d reacted to my shouting at him last week and indeed how I had responded to our first in-depth discussion of this blog.  He suggested that I ended up apologetically submitting to him in both cases because I feared he was scrutinising me and coming to negative conclusions about me.

I felt this was a fair comment, and indeed timely given the similar patterns of behaviour with A, about which I then told him, discussing the incidents at the weekend in some detail (though I neglected to include the information that one of the arguments that I started was about him).

To my surprise he suggested drawing a diagram of my behaviour on his whiteboard.  “It’ll give us some visual reference for this,” he stated.  “You may feel that this is a bit caricatured at the moment, but over time we’ll make it more specific to you.”

When he had finished the chart I made the unusual request to take a photo of it (so I could remember it all).  He was slightly taken aback by this, but agreed.  In return for his kind acquiescence, I stated that I would not put the picture on the internet.  I didn’t, however, state that I wouldn’t describe it *evil grin* so here goes.

Self versus Other

Self feels attacked by Other, causes feelings of being threatened or afraid.  Self is attackee, Other is attacker.  To mitigate effects of perceived attack on Self, Self must defend Self.  In defending Self, attacking role is reversed.  Self attacks Other.  Other is attackee, Self is attacker.

Self also attacks Other to induce potential abandonment as at least control is then had over said abandonment, rather than abandonment being in the control of Other.  Self perceives attack from Other as being evidence that abandonment is imminent.  Self must attack so as to justify imminent abandonment, therefore making Other (not Self) being the abandoned one, at least by proxy.  Abandonment justified because Self wants to abandon Other rather than have Other abandon Self.

Self then reflects on being attacker/abandoner-by-proxy, causing Self feelings of guilt.  Self submits to Other, partly in an effort to avoid abandonment that was previously considered imminent (as abandonment by-proxy is not ideal for Self either), but also partly because Self feels that Other is damaged by Self and Self is sorry for that.

Etc.  I am having to explain it linguistically here, so it seems more complex than his little diagram with connecting arrows and lines actually did.

We both sat and looked at it for quite a while, before C turned the whiteboard round because he didn’t want either of us to overthink the material thereon.  He did, however, ask me what I thought of it.

It was like most of my interpersonal relationships, whether current, at some point in the past or in the projected future, being laid out before me.  I felt it was a very succinct way of putting it all.

He said that as well as submission then there was my tendency to self-castigate when I later believe that the perceived attack from ‘Other’ (that brings on the attack-defend-submit behaviour) was not worthy of response, or at least not worthy of getting riled at.  “For example,” he said, “you may believe now that my having emphasised last week that your blog should be anonymous was nothing more than my emphasising that fact.  At the time you believed that I was attacking both your intelligence and your continued writing of the blog.”  (As it happens I am not sure what I do think of that now, but in any case he was just exemplifying).

He continued by stating that regardless of what I think later, it is important to remember that my perception of attack at the time said perceived attack is taking place is very, very real.  As such, I should go easy on the subsequent self-flagellation.

“But I need to criticise myself,” I protested.  “If I don’t, I run the risk of believing all my warped perceptions are real, and then will fall into deep, permanent madness.”  This was a reference to believing that the sun could see me and wished death on me.

C reiterated that my ‘warped perceptions’ were fundamentally real at the time.

I screwed up my face a bit and became (even more) fidgety.  He asked what was wrong.  I said there was something I felt I ought to tell him, but I didn’t want to.

He asked what I felt was going to happen if I did tell him about whatever it was.  I said I feared that he would have me sectioned because I was presenting episodes of genuine psychosis.

He said the only circumstances under which he would start using the Mental Health Act were if he felt I was seriously about to kill myself (or, although he didn’t say this – presumably for fear of offending me – if I was seriously about to hurt someone else).  My response to that was that in that circumstance sectioning would certainly be preferable to him calling the stupid crisis response team, a response which probably didn’t go down too well, but I didn’t stop long enough to observe his reaction in detail.

I went ahead and told him about the sun, and about how A had tried to rationally convince me that my delusion was just that (ie. a delusion) but that I apparently argued that A could not know that the sun was not sentient and malevolent.

C listened intently, then said, “this will maybe sound like leap of logic, but if we can relate this back to your colleagues for a minute, would you accept that both feelings are related to being, in your eyes, overly scrutinised?”

I hadn’t thought of that, perhaps unsurprisingly, but it seemed to make sense in a warped sort of way.

He continued by opining that if I had enjoyed being out of the sun that we experienced this week (remember I described yesterday about how much happier I was in the dark, underground pub than out on the street?) that perhaps this delusion lasted longer than just the period for which I initially felt it.  Ultimately, he felt that the delusion came back to this idea of being scared of having my persona attacked.

Curiously, I felt, he then stated that another comparison, tenuous as it may have sounded, was that my perception over the previous two weeks had been that he was, at times, attacking me.

I frowned.  “Do you think I see you as a being of harm and malevolence?” I queried.  “For the record, I don’t.”

“No,” he ventured, “but I do think you have fleeting moments where you might think I want to hurt you or wish harm on you.  Thus you defend yourself.  So, what do you feel now that you have told me this?”

“That you hate me because I’m psychotic and that now you’re going to abandon me,” I sighed.  “You see, this is why I have to berate myself at every turn for my irrational perceptions and thoughts.  If I don’t I will end up completely believing that you despise me and that the sun is out to murder me.  I’m clinging to a few threads of sanity here.  To just let this wash over me would be to break them or to let go of them.”

C nodded understandingly and sympathetically, but then uttered the immortal words, “look, I’m sorry, but we’ll have to leave it there.”  He indicated interest in picking this theme up again next week.

Before I actually left, though, two things of interest occurred.  The first was that he reported that, as mentioned, he will soon have a supervision session – unfortunately this conflicts with my appointment with him in three weeks.  The last time such a conflict occurred, C simply allowed us to miss a session.  This time, he has suggested that we rearrange the appointment.  I am certainly glad of that, because I crack up when he’s not there, but it does seem to me that he thinks I’m really mental at preset, if he is going to have a change of heart like that.

The next thing was, as I was about to go out the door, he stopped me and asked when I was next due to see Dr C, the psychiatrist.  Perhaps, given the sun episode, this question was entirely unsurprising.  I told him I had an appointment for the end of July and laughed that I would be interested to see what she thought of this.

Then I left.  An intriguing session.  I am not entirely sure what to make of it at this point, but it was certainly interesting.

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7 Responses to “He May be Attacking but my Shrink is Not Resigning! C: Week 17”

  1. That is fascinating. I can understand where he’s coming from and he seems to be making a lot of sense. It sounds like you’ve got yourself a useful one there. Rare but good. I’m glad he’s rearranging your session. Missing ones are horrible.

    You take care of yourself please sweetie.

    Hugs xxx

    • Thanks pet. In a sort of weird way I kind of already realised *some* of the stuff he discussed with me, but he put it in a much more tangible, “gettable” way. As I’ve said before here, and indeed to him, he’s the first therapist I’ve had to “get” me properly.

      Progress is slow, but I think it’s happening.

      Anyway, you take care too. You’re very much in my thoughts at present and I hope for once things go your way. Lots of hugs.


  2. Every time I visit your blog, I find more and more things to like… the best being that through your BRILLIANT storytelling, you always manage to make me feel as though I’m the proverbial fly on the wall.

    At times, its as if I’m a voyeur (the friendly kind lol) receiving my own therapy while simultaneously challenging Dr. Anonymous vicariously through you!

    Keep your chin up and be unrelenting in your quest for peace of mind… Progress is slow, yes. But not so slow that a stranger like myself can’t see it happening with each and every entry you post.

    You have more than just a little to be proud of yourself for. 😉


    • Wow, Kim, thanks very much, I appreciate your kind words 🙂 For what it’s worth I do love your blog too – I really ought to post more on it! Your recent anti-SanFranciscoJane rants were classics 🙂 (She’s a complete twat, by the way).

      And thanks re: ‘cunt’ – it’s possibly my favourite word in the English language. So direct, so poetic.

      Thanks again, I appreciate it. Take care 🙂

  3. Oh, and I like that you’re not afraid to use the word “cunt”. HAH! 🙂

  4. I fear scrutiny, feel that I need validation and am petrified of being judged in a negative way by almost anyone.

    Sounds pretty normal to me (not that I’m exactly a sound judge of what’s normal, but hey…).

    Self v/s Other chart sounds like a helpful exercise. Consider yourself validated 🙂

    • Sounds pretty normal to me

      I think the negative emotions are things that many people experience in relation to scrutiny/judgement; I just think C’s point is that my fear is utterly pathological. It may be a passing concern to a ‘normal’ person, but there is a sliding scale right to morbid terror, which is what he thinks I experience. He is right, but it’s hard for me to admit that, as I’ve always wanted to let on to the world that I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of me. I still keep telling myself that, but I’m no longer convinced by it. Time to face reality!

      Self v/s Other chart sounds like a helpful exercise

      It was, I think. Even A was impressed with C this week, so it must’ve been good! I felt all happy because A was nice about C so at least I’ll not be starting any more arguments about that issue for the time being 😉 I’ll just find other excuses… 😦

      Anyway, Phil, thanks as ever for dropping by. You take care x

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