Martyrdom in the Key of C: Week 21
So, yesterday saw C’s much anticipated return from his fortnight’s leave. As described here on Wednesday, I was pretty mental over the weekend period, but other than that, my madness was, by its own standards, fairly low-level during C’s absence. I had been surprised by this, thinking I’d completely lose the plot without him, but although I spent most of the time feeling really low, with (up until Thursday) occasional mood swings, things generally weren’t as bad as they could have been.
To this end, I was actually incredibly anxious about seeing C again. As stated in Wednesday’s post, I became irrationally convinced that he’d want nothing to do with me due to BPD, but besides that, I was just generally scared of seeing him. I am not sure why; I think it’s because I’ve found psychotherapy so difficult hitherto that a break from it was more welcome than I had anticipated, even though on previous breaks I’ve gone utterly doolally. Maybe it’s simply the fact that he had prepared me well in advance for it. I don’t know. Whatever the case, I was very nervous yesterday morning.
Anyway, I arrived laughably early (I was coming from A’s rather than Mum’s, and overestimated the traffic I’d encounter); in fact, before I suspect C even arrived. I started worrying that he’d see me sitting in the car park like some pathetic little girl hoping to catch a glimpse of him. So I left and went and hid in the car park of a shop local to the hospital, amusing myself with Twitter and a text message to CVM.
Anyway, I went back, and eventually he came out and got me. I asked how his break had been. He screwed up his face in uncertainty, and said, “it was alright.” I was still coughing and spluttering from my flu-ish illness and when I explained that I had been ill to C, he said that it made two of us, and that he was just recovering himself.
This is absolutely horrible, but I was actually inwardly satisfied that he hadn’t really enjoyed his break, and indeed that he’d been sick for part of it. I did state towards the end of this post that I hoped he’d have non-serious swine flu. Bad SI. Bad bad bad. I see it as his commupence for going and abandoning me for three weeks, just at the time I needed him most (in light, at the time of his leaving, of Dr C’s assholery).
Do I really think this? Horrifically, part of me does, yes. Rationally, of course C is entitled to his leave, and if he is abandoning me, then I am hardly the only one, bring as psychotherapy is his 40-hour-a-week profession, not 50-minutes-a-week-devoted-to-SI. Of course, I make a point of never acknowledging to myself that he has other clients, as I would find the idea of that hard to cope with. Meh. Transference and reliance suck.
Anyway, he asked me where I wanted to start the proper discussion, and I shrugged and looked blankly into space. He presented the perennial question, “how do you feel now in this moment?” and I told him that I was anxious about being there. To my surprise, he didn’t for once ask why this was, but just nodded thoughtfully for a minute. Then he asked how I had felt about the discussion we had regarding the fabulously fool-proof definitely-guaranteed-to-prevent-suicide-super-D plan we had supposedly formulated together when I’d last seen him.
I had told him at the time, and I repeated it yesterday, that the problem I had with this was that by the time I’d become distressed enough to need to do these things, I was too distressed to actually be able to actually do them. I said, “we did end up in Casualty, as it happens.”
I admit that the statement was deliberately provocative, but it was true, wasn’t it? (See Wednesday’s post – in fact, all events I will refer to here, unless otherwise linked, probably relate back to Wednesday’s post). We did end up in Casualty. C shifted in his chair in a disconcerted fashio and I relented and explained that we were not there because of me, but A.
I related the incident to him. In fact, I quoted from this blog when describing A’s injury, telling C that it was like “…a gaping mouth vomiting up blood.” C laughed, and told me that that was “very descriptive”. I said that I’d missed out on a career as a lyricist, and he laughed again.
Anyhow, I told him about my resourcefulness that night, but that I then had what A had called a “mini-PTSD” afterwards. I told him how I didn’t remember it clearly, as if I was outside myself, like seeing it take place through one of those two way mirrors one sees on cop dramas, and how I had believed until the next day that it was a dream. I was reluctant to use the word “disassociation” as C has pulled me up on using psychiatric language in the past. I can’t see what the problem is personally; surely it’s good to educate yourself about your conditions? But anyway.
I went on to tell him about the metaphorical vice, as I had with A. (In fact, I referred him to a song by Morrissey, called Something is Squeezing My Skull). C probed me – gently, to be fair – on this, seeking a more specific explanation, but I ended up saying I couldn’t articulate it any better, and that I was sorry. He said that it was OK, and pointed out that here I was apologising to him again, as is often my unnecessary (in his view) wont.
I moved on to the social security saga, and this was when the session became somewhat confrontational.
I told him I wanted to appeal the decision made by the SSA wankers, but that I was concerned that I didn’t have the mental capacity to fight a battle with them. However, I complained, they get away with wank like this because they rely on people like me backing down over issues like this.
C was confused, which is unsurprising as the social security system in the UK is a convoluted, murky quagmire. He kept asking me what “work related activity” meant, and I kept telling him that I was as clueless as he was about it as the SSA told me fuck all. My rant about them was vicious, possibly even more so than the invective published here on Wednesday, though what I told him essentially consisted of the same material I wrote here.
At no point did he say this, but I got the impression he felt I was being unfair, both about the SSA themselves and towards those people who claim benefits to which they (in my admittedly subjective view) are not entitled.
I said that as I didn’t know what “work related activity” meant, I was concerned that it would involve a group of people, and that I would crack up. I said, “if they ask me to do something like that, I will do something…something bad.”
I ranted on for a while longer, though I don’t recall the specific content. Eventually he pulled me up on the above statement, asking what I meant.
For Christ’s sake, C. You and I both know you know exactly what I mean, so why ask stupid questions? Why is it necessary for me to articulate the actual words?
But in any case I did; I told him, as I had told Mum, that the SSA would be sorry when they were standing over my grave.
“But,” C said, “a lot of people get anxious going into a room with a group of people they don’t know.” He did not verbalise this, but the inference was very strongly “just go and fucking do it.”
Let me be diplomatic: I did not think at this point that I was getting a sympathetic hearing from C. Let me abandon diplomacy: I wanted to reach across the table, grab his glasses, and shove them down his fucking throat. I protested against his position, stating that whilst he was indubitably correct, most people did not seriously contemplate self-harm or even suicide over such a thing. Surely that is correct?
This is where he really enraged me. He said – he actually fucking said – “you idealise suicidal gestures here, seeing them as an act of revenge, seeing yourself as a figure of martyrdom for all oppressed by the social security system.”
Martyrdom! FUCKING MARTYRDOM! He actually accused me of having a martyrdom complex!!!
I was utterly astonished by this statement. So much so, that for once in my life, I was stunned into silence. He was still babbling on about something or other, but I couldn’t even hear him, never mind listen. Martyrdom! That was all I could here.
Eventually, when I was able to fucking speak again, I interrupted him and told him that I did not see myself as a martyr. I think I might have laughed incredulously at him.
I went on, stating that yes, there was a principle involved, but that I was no fucking martyr. Yes, it would be partly about revenge, I admitted, but it was mostly about desperation. No one ever listens, no one ever cares. There is no guarantee that topping myself, or trying to, would make anyone sit up and take notice, but one thing seems to be guaranteed – nothing else does.
Then I asked him what he knew about suicide anyway. He went to think about it but I didn’t let him answer and launched into a defence of the act of suicide (I have a post in the pipeline that will explore my position on this in more detail later).
“People like you assume that suicidal behaviour is the act of irrational and/or selfish people. Many people I’ve spoken to who are serious about it are perfectly rational, seeing it as the only viable option to put an end to an unpleasant situation, when other options have been exhausted. I didn’t ask to be born, just like you didn’t. If I didn’t like living in Northern Ireland, I would leave, and I wouldn’t be stopped. So why am I told I can’t leave another place I don’t want to be?”
I think he said something along the lines of me idealising the act of suicide again.
“No,” I spat, with measured but nonetheless evident contempt, “I am merely sick of society vilifying the act and those who engage in it when most of society will never understand the phenomenon properly.”
He looked at me for a few minutes, then averted his eyes to the floor. I have no idea what he was thinking, but I sensed, rightly or wrongly, deflation.
I felt a bit bad then. I had not at any point raised my voice to him or got up and paced, head-banged etc like I had felt almost compelled to do, but I did rant at him quite personally, about quite a controversial subject.
The thing is, I spend half of my time on this blog ranting about C. I make it sound like I hate him sometimes, and that all he ever does is frustrate me. Transference issues completely aside, the reality is I actually like him. He is intelligent and personable, and although he is a traditional blank canvas, he nevertheless conveys enough of his character, if not his personal life, that I do get a very strong sense of his personhood. I like him as a person, insofar as I know him, not just as my psychotherapist.
His role as my psychotherapist puts the poor sod in a different light for me though, and as such this is where transference comes in. There are days when I long to be with him and just sit with him, or even have him comfort me by putting his arm round me (and for all of you who still think I want to fuck him, can I just say that I do not mean it in that way). There are other days I hope to never see him again. There are days I am indifferent to him. There are days I detest him. There are days he frustrates me. There are days I am totally blown away by his ability to analyse me. There are days I wish I could just have a normal conversation and a bit of a laugh with him. Etc etc etc ad infinitum.
So poor C. He takes a lot from me, and one day I do hope to lose it properly so he can fully understand, or at least observe, my anger, my desperation, my complete and utter distress. And yet simultaneously I don’t want to thus lose it, as I have a burning need to protect him from it and, more selfishly, I would be mortified in the aftermath of such a breakdown.
In any case, I digress. To diffuse the atmosphere of tension, I told him about my mania – depression – mania – depression over the weekend, in particular that I was especially disturbed by the amnesia when I found myself curled up in the corner on Saturday night, not knowing how or why I got there.
I also said that I was horrified about more arguments with A, and although I don’t remember the causes, that I assumed I had started them.
“There’s a book,” I started, “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me. Have you heard of it?”
“Yes,” he said, “though I haven’t read it. What’s it like?”
I briefly outlined my take on the book, but stated that the title was the only reason brought it up. “I don’t hate A, of course,” I told him, “but I sometimes behave like I do, then I freak out when I feel he is on the verge of abandoning me. I hate you. Don’t leave me.”
C nodded, and said that that was maybe why I had ended up as an amnesic lump curled up in a dark, lonely corner (my words). As A had walked off on me, I withdrew into myself, seeking comfort by rocking back and forth in the foetal position in a protective corner.
He was trying to explain what he thought of this, but got toungue-tied. He said, “I’m looking for the words here, but you’re looking at me in a way…” he trailed off.
I realised I was probably staring at him in a fixated, piercing fashion. As stated above, sometimes his analysis stuns me. Sometimes it’s like he’s a mind reader. In short, when he gets into the actual psychology of my situation, my intellectual interest is piqued, and my interest is focused solely on him and his subject, not me and my problems. This is something C has sought to avoid with me, as I stated here before (his words were, at out third meeting back in March, that we had to “be careful not to intellectualise matters, which would be an attractive situation for both of us”. For what it’s worth, I actually think I’d get a lot out of intellectualising things, but maybe not in the right way – he is keen to explore emotional bullshit, whereas of course I am not).
Anyhow, I apologised to C and turned my head markedly away from him. He then went to great pains to reassure me that it was OK to look at him, but I could only glance at him thereafter, as I feared unsettling him again.
But that was really it anyway. It wasn’t a productive session, but neither was it a complete waste of time; we’d had a gap of three weeks, and this meeting served to bring us back up to speed with each other.
And regarding martyrdom? On reflection, I think I took such utter and complete offence as he probably hit the nail right on the bloody head.
This entry was posted on Friday, 21 August, 2009 at 4:23 pm and is filed under C, Moods, Psychotherapy with tags anger, anxiety, bipolar 2, bipolar 2 disorder, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, bipolar II disorder, borderline personality disorder, bpd, clinical depression, depression, insanity, insomnia, madness, major depressive disorder, mania, manic depression, mental health, mentalhealth, panic, panic attack, psychiatry, psychology, Psychotherapy, social anxiety, social security, suicidal thoughts, suicide, suicide ideation, therapeutic relationship, therapy, transference. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.