Archive for countertransference

Article of the Week: Week Two

Posted in Article of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010 by Pandora

The Main Course

My favourite psychiatric article this week was on schizophrenia.  Specifically, the piece from X-Ray Technican Schools (I agree that this seems a curious place to have an article on schizophrenia) provided a concise, accessible but intelligent refutation of the many myths that surround this illness.

One of my pet hates is the mistaken belief that so many seem to hold that schizophrenia is, or at least shares key symptoms with, dissociative identity disorder.  I suspect I’m preaching to the converted on a blog about mental illness, but lest there be any doubt schizophrenia does not involve multiple personalities!!!

Another mistaken and highly stigmatic belief that I despise is that mentally ill individuals (especially schizophrenics) are more dangerous and/or violent than normals.  This simply is not true, as statistics frequently demonstrate.

This article analyses these two myths, plus eight others, discussing how they’ve arisen and why they are false.  Many thanks to Wounded Genius for posting this for us to find.

10 Myths About Schizophrenia

For Afters

There were so many excellent articles upon which I stumbled this week that it’s hard to narrow them down.  Here’s the runners-up that I’ve come up with.

A close second to the above schizophrenia article is a piece in the New York Times that discusses the “Americanisation” of mental illness.  By “Americanisation”, as far as I can tell they really mean “Westernisnation” (not that that’s a word).  This is quite a long article, but its well worth sticking with.  It goes into considerable and fascinating detail as to how some mental illnesses are (or were) culturally dependant, and how they now seem to be becoming increasingly homogenised – in line with Western interpretations.

The Americaisation of Mental Illness

Jonah Lehrer at Science Blogs have a post on daydreaming, and why it isn’t necessarily such a waste of time:

Intelligence and the Idle Mind

Science Daily reports that migraines may have links to child abuse.  This could explain a lot…

Abuse in Childhood Linked to Migraine and Other Pain Disorders

Finally, I want to have a look at two articles from Psych Central that discuss transference and the therapeutic relationship, both written by Sonia Neale.  The first discusses how the therapist can never really return your transference – not in a manner in which you would know it anyway.  It discussing how what it terms ‘transference love’ is very real, given as all any of us ultimately want (allegedly) is to be loved, but will always (sadly) be one-sided.

Transference is Not Transferable

The second article explores a similar, but distinct, aspect of therapeutic relationships – that fantasy that we can or will, eventually, be friends with our psychotherapists.  Ms Neale discusses why this is a bad idea, but argues that it’s not necessarily transference but a genuine connection that drives this.

Why You Can’t Be Friends With Your Therapist – Ever!

*SI walks away, whistling innocently*

Anything Else?

Any suggestions for Article of the Week are very welcome, as are comments on those posted here.  Get in touch or leave a comment.

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Flogging a Dead Horse with C – Week 35

Posted in C, Everyday Life, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 6 January, 2010 by Pandora

Christmas and the arrival of 2010 have seen some disruption to your usual service from SI. It seemed impossible to get a chance to write on the latest C session, given as these post seem to be the most ridiculously detailed.

This post shouldn’t be overly detailed, as a lot of it was repetitive bullshit regarding the annoyances of the previous week. Nevertheless, here we go.

Upon leaving C’s company the previous week, we had agreed that we would use week 35, the last week before a break of three weeks owing to Christmas, as a session to discuss how I would manage the so-called festive season.  In reality, that bit ended up taking approximately five minutes at the end, and although it was ever so slightly more helpful than some of the nonsense he’s come off with at other breaks (“breathe!”), it was still not entirely helpful.  But then again, he’s not my guardian, is he?  Much as I would like it that way.

I say we were flogging a dead horse because the majority of the discussion centred around the same crap we had discussed over the previous week (leave a comment or get in touch if you need the password) and the week before that, ie. my anger and distress about his decision to cut short my treatment, and my general disgust about the NHS’s abject failure to adequately treat me since I first sought help for my mental health problems.  I do understand that in some ways maybe C sees exploring my reactions to this as a form of projection or transference, and maybe in some ways it is: perhaps I feel so rejected and aggrieved because that’s how I was meant to feel about my father, uncle, ex, etc etc.

However, it endlessly frustrates me that I cannot just simply be angry because I have been so horribly fucked about by the health service.  Again, in this session, C reiterated that the 24 week limit (starting from tomorrow) was his decision; he said he was “not a robot” controlled by the NHS.

It completely contradicts all the stuff he says about my right to be annoyed and about how BPD should really be treated, and we went round and round in circles on how I could not reconcile his two contrasting views, and about how he either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain it properly.

I also, having decided as a result of the preceding week that he hated me, went to find out whether or not this was indeed the case.

I said, “if I ask you a question, will you promise not to answer with a question?”

He shifted uncomfortably, then admitted that he was unsure as to whether or not this was achievable.

I asked him anyway, on the proviso that if I thought he was “blagging” his way through his answer I would pull him up on it.

He did come off with the form bullshit such as, “why is it important for you to know that?” and whatnot, but I was pleased when he finally admitted that he too had found the preceding week “frustrating”.  So he is a human after all!

He said that I had been “very angry” with him, which I thought was unfair.  I told him that I genuinely hadn’t been angry with him, merely the system, until he confessed to having been the one that decided on the time limit.

“But you were angry with me then,” he pointed out.

“Yes,” I said.  “You had seemed so supportive of me prior to that; you agreed that my situation was wholly unfair.  Then you completely contradicted that by admitting to this arbitrary limit crap.”

And so back we went to flagellating that deceased equine.  More questioning demands from me, more bullet-dodging from him, no progress from either of us.

He had asked me in week 34 to seriously consider whether or not to continue with therapy, as I “had” to agree to the time limit as part of the contract (which strikes me as being quite unreasonable, as contracts are meant to be negotiated rather than forced in this type of setting).  Apparently if I don’t accept the limit, I cannot continue treatment.

“On that note,” I told him, “I am prepared to accept it, but only if you accept – because this works both ways – that I am going to fight it.”

He asked what I meant by ‘fighting’ it, prompting me to withdraw a copy of the letter to the advocacy groups out of my pocket.

“It’s only fair that you read that, given that you’re going to be involved,” I told him, handing the document over.  He took it and began reading.

I sat there and watched him reading it for a minute or two, then stood up and walked to the window, knowing perfectly well that he would almost certainly comment on this, as he had done two weeks previously.  Indeed, he didn’t disappoint.

“I’m wondering why you got up, SI…” he pondered, as he continued reading the letter.

“It’s not reflective of anything,” I spat cynically.  “I’m not denying my hurt or failing to face up to my problems.  I’m simply looking out the window whilst you are occupied with reading that.  Am I not allowed to get up, C?”

He shrugged and muttered something along the lines of that I was, in fact, allowed to get up, then continued reading in silence.

He eventually looked up and said, encouragingly, “it’s a good letter.  Who all are you going to send it to?”

I told him about the advocacy groups, Mindwise and the NI Association for Mental Health.

I was astonished – and delighted – when he then proceeded to actively encourage me to also send it to both the Chief Executive of my Trust, and the head of the mental health directorate of same.  In the end, he forgot to give me the person’s name, but as it turns out it’s been passed to him anyway (more details on how the letter has progressed in a future post).

C said, “you’ve also made reference there to people I think are in England – perhaps it would also be worth adding information about provision for personality disorders in other Northern Ireland Trusts.”

I asked him what such provision existed, knowing that people with the most serious PDs are in fact sent to specialist units in England as there are no facilities to treat them here at all.

C said a self-harm team exists in one of the other Trusts here.  “Although not everyone who self-harms has BPD, and not everyone with BPD self-harms, they would probably see a disproportionately high rate of people with your diagnosis,” he said.  “No such team exists in this Trust at the minute.  There’s discussion ongoing about making the existing team a regional, cross-Trust one, but it hasn’t yet come to anything.”

He talked on for a few minutes about plans our Trust has for action on personality disorders, and how they don’t seem to much be coming to fruition.  But the best part of the session was when he asked me if he could have a copy of the letter.

“I think it would be good for my line managers to know how you feel about all this,” he said.  He went on to say something (I don’t recall what) indicating that there might be some benefit to me in this, but was very quick to point out that it was my choice as to whether or not he did take a copy for them.  I readily agreed, of course, delighting in his apparent desire to act as my advocate to the bureaucrats above him.

Now, of course, I am convinced that he took the letter so he and his twatfaced bosses of evil can formulate some plan of self-defence in advance of hearing from the advocacy groups.  It was not in my interest at all – merely their own.  No doubt over the next few weeks we’ll see which way it actually is.

Eventually – I don’t remember how – I said that he must get sick of his job, what with all the whinging he would have to listen to.  “I accused you of being a sadist a few weeks back,” I said.  “Now I think you’re a mashochist.”

He accused me (sympathetically, to be fair to him) of splitting, which on reflection makes me slightly irritated, but at the time I agreed and called myself all the names of the day for employing this “silly psychological process.”

C leapt to my defence.  He said he knew that I had long since known I was guilty of splitting, but that it’s now “emotional for [me]”, not just something I recognise intellectually.  And it is OK, I do not need to berate myself for it, because I have suffered serious traumas, apparently, that have caused this defence mechanism (which is not silly, he contends) to develop.

On that note, as I recall it anyhow, we moved on to the discussion about the dreaded Christmas.

C’s advice was basically to get the fuck out if I felt anxious or overwhelmed.  I said that was easy to say, but he didn’t have to listen to my mother’s wrath if I did so.

He advised me to talk to her in advance, but I protested against this as well.  “When I told her about what happened with my uncle, she said I made it up to avoid going to his house,” I reminded C.  “So how can I justify my anxiety?”

“Blame your crowd phobia,” C said.  “She can’t be critical of that, can she?  There will be a crowd there, won’t there?

“Yes,” I replied.  “And they’re all part of the problem – it’s not all about my history with my uncle.  I have nothing in common with them and it’s a weird matriarchal set-up, where about 18 different generations all live under the same roof.  They’re freaks.”

He said, “are there children living there?”

I was horrified.  He was obviously wondering if anyone else is presently at risk from Paedo.

“Now you’re angry with me for putting the baby and all the other generations in danger.  I’m sorry,” I raced, in a bizarre panic.

C looked at me, his eyes wide-open.  “Where did that come from?” he enquired, surprised.

“Oh, you’re not angry with me?  Then I’m using you as a board for my anger at myself, am I?”

“OK, you’ve lost me,” he admitted.  “Just…just remember – get out.  Talk to your mother in advance, blame your crowd phobia if you have to, but if you feel yourself becoming tense, get out of there, even if only for a few minutes.  Allow yourself to be anxious about this.  How could you not be?”

And that, folks, was really that.  Of course, you know how ridiculously awful Christmas turned out to be, but I did remove myself from the others when I went so horribly mental, so I suppose I did at least follow the advice given.

As I was leaving, I wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said, admittedly cautiously, “you too,” causing me to laugh bitterly.  I think he knew that it was inevitable that the season would be utterly shite.

So, the three week gap is due to be over tomorrow.  Of course, I am convinced that C is dead again; either that or therapy will be cancelled due to the stupid, horrible, pointless fucking snow, and I need him so desperately at the minute.  Though I have not heard anything about a cancellation today, and I suppose I would have expected an advanced notification were the snow to fuck everything up on the monumental scale that it has in Britain.

The last time he was on holiday, in August, I didn’t miss him that much.  But this time I have, and I need him to help me pick up the pieces of the last few weeks.

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Protected: Why Does He Hate Me? C: Week 34

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , on Sunday, 13 December, 2009 by Pandora

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Countdown to Abandonment – C: Week 33

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 9 December, 2009 by Pandora

Those that follow the Twitter stream that I have allied with this blog will know that I did not intend to write a blog today (LATER: yesterday). I was feeling a bit low after CVM called me this morning to report that her father had sadly died early this morning (LATER: well – technically now yesterday morning). However, sitting here brooding won’t do either her nor me any good, so I decided to go ahead and write it anyway.

CVM is very much in my thoughts and I wish I could do something to ease the pain of her and her family. I am publicly sending my sincere condolences here. ❤ xxx

I know that I have an annoying tendency to open these posts on C with, "today was weird," or some such. Well, Thursday really was strange. It was totally bizarre. C was evidently puzzled by certain directions it took, and when I told him at the end that it had been “weird,” he actually responded by saying that it had, indeed, been “different” (for what it’s worth I feel reassured rather than invalidated by this).

I’m not sure if the written word can adequately convey the oddness of the session, because although it can look disjointed, it would take a better writer than I to convey the sudden and sharp shifts in mood, the nuances of the spoken tones, the randomness and subtlety of the non-verbal communication that took place. Nevertheless, as ever, I shall try.

It was very much a meeting of three parts. During the first – I dunno? – maybe 10 or 15 minutes I sat there petulantly, stubbornly avoiding his gaze and giving one word answers (at best) to any questions he posed. For once he had the decency to open proceedings, and not piss about waiting for me to do so. He said he was aware that part of me was attached to “here” (this annoyed me, though I did not say anything to him – I am not attached to his fucking office for Christ’s sake, I am attached to him!) and that I was concerned about the cessation of therapy. Wow, insightful. I’m absolutely profoundly impressed, Dr fucking Freud-Einstein-Mary Poppins.

I’m ranting about him now for stating the obvious, but I also got really pissed off when he strode into the territory of conjecture. He said he was also aware that I was unhappy that I only had 50 minutes of his time each week and that I was annoyed that I couldn’t just turn up or phone him or whatever outside that time.

This sent me into a rage. At no point have I ever said such a thing. Struggling to control my anger, I snarled that his comment was unfair, and that he was putting words in my mouth. I asked him to exemplify exactly when I had made these assertions to him.

He admitted that I hadn’t, and moved on, but I think I now realise where he got this from. Some months ago – I can’t find the relevant post offhand, sorry – I had asked him who I was meant to contact in an urgent situation (because if my life depends on it I still want to avoid the fucking Crisis Team). Could I have a CPN, a social worker – anyone at the two CMHTs based at C’s hospital? I don’t remember his answer but it was some nonsense about ringing Lifeline or the Samaritans. Yeah, thanks C. So he had obviously read this request – a reasonable one, in my view, given that CMHTs are meant to be multi-disciplinary and he is only one tiny part of them – as a demand for his attention outside of our sessions. This was profoundly irritating. If he had failed to understand my question, then he should have asked for fucking clarification.

Anyway. To follow on from the uncertainty of the last couple of weeks, he brought up the matter of how long he can continue to act as my psychotherapist. Apparently, he can offer 10 week blocks, with four weeks at the end to deal with the closing of the relationship. Fair enough? Well, no, not really; he can only offer me two of these blocks – ie. 24 further weeks (beginning on Thursday 10 December) in total. Now, that will amount to something like 57 total sessions (including the three assessment sessions at the beginning and the four ‘leaving’ sessions at the end) which ostensibly sounds fair enough. Unfortunately for me, BPD is well known to take a very minimum of a year to treat properly, and usually three or four.

I didn’t tell him this as, in the past, every time I’ve made reference to my diagnoses he’s come off with (or at least inferred) some crap about fixating on labels. Heard it all before, C. So instead I asked what I was supposed to do if things weren’t adequately improved by that point.

He said, “I would expect you to have made progress by then – I feel you have made progress.”

Great – I’m so glad one of us does. Most reassuring. I pressed on. “But what if I haven’t?”

He said something suggesting that I shouldn’t be expecting cures from psychotherapy, at which point I interrupted him by telling him I didn’t even believe in cures and, in fact, didn’t especially want them. My question, I insisted, was in the context of alleviating the worst of the psychological pain and providing me with coping mechanisms and greater understanding that I could take onward in life. What if that had not been achieved within his stated timeframe?

I honestly don’t recall his answer, but there was a strong inference in whatever it was that if we were unable to progress by then that there was effectively nothing he could do for me (an assertion with which I do not agree, but what do I know – I’m just the stupid mental that sits opposite him).

No arguing with that, then. That’ll be it. The end. Finito. Fuck you, SI. In response, I just sat there looking at the ground for a while. It’s difficult to articulate how I was feeling. It was a veritable cocktail of fear, dread, hurt, anger, bitterness and depression. I fought, ironically using the breathing exercises that C had so fervently espoused, against tears and rants. I fought them because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that this abject rejection completely fucking cut me to the core. But he knew. Of course he did.

After a minute or two, he proceeded with that usual question of ultimate annoyance, “how do you feel about that?”

One thing I’ll say in his defence was that at least he was completely straight for once. Often he dodges and dives from material that he doesn’t really want to bring up with me for fear of setting me off (or such is my supposition for why he avoids it), but on this occasion he was upfront and honest, and through my anger and hurt, I felt appreciation for that. I told him so.

He told me to think about this over the next week (“but not so much that you end up ruminating on it” – as if that wouldn’t happen!) and bring all of my thoughts and feelings on the matter to him in the next session. He said, “you’ll probably feel anger, frustration…”

Once again, I got really mad at him for putting words in my mouth, so he desisted from that angle of probing. Whilst it will indubitably be the case that I am angry – I already fucking am – and whilst it was indubitably the case that, in an ideal world, I could phone and/or meet him outside of scheduled sessions, how dare he presume any of that. If he wants to know my thinking on these matters he should fucking well ask me – it’s not like he’s never asked before. He shouldn’t just assume that his suspicions are gospel, regardless of the probability of their accuracy.

During the silence that ensued, I fought a mental battle with myself. One side was crying out, “but that’s another six months! You should be grateful!”

The other responded, “the NHS has failed you yet again, SI. They are ignoring all research on your diagnoses.”

For once, the negative side was, I am convinced, the more rational. BPD takes a long time to properly treat. It is as simple as that.

Finally I said to him, “why do you do this job?”

I knew he would respond with a question, and indeed he didn’t disappoint.

“Can you tell me why it is it important for you to know that?”

“I’m curious.”

Once more, I knew he would fail to answer, and instead question me again. Once more, I was correct.

“But what is it that gives rise to that curiosity?”

I laughed cynically in his face. “Just answer the fucking question,” I demanded. “Please.”

He looked away and appeared thoughtful for a minute. Eventually he said, “because I think it is of value.”

I nodded non-committally and waited for the backlash.

Well, apparently my questioning his decision to practice clinical psychology ties in with my intense rage towards him / the health service (because that couldn’t possibly be fucking justified could it? Oh wait, it could!) and my assertions last week that he was a ‘headfucking sadist’.

I winced. “Yes, sorry about that,” I muttered awkwardly.

“No, no,” he insisted. “You should bring that anger with you.”

I ignored him and said that it must be something of a nightmare to spend an hour with me every week.

He sort of laughed and said that I have to spend all the time with myself. (This could be read as an invalidating statement, which it shouldn’t be – there was more to it than this, but I don’t recall the specifics. Whatever the case, the point was actually made more sympathetically than I’ve made it sound).

“Yes, that is a disability,” I mused. “But honestly – I’ve been such an angry child here recently, it must be shit for you.”

I saw his eyebrow quiver slightly at my use of the term ‘angry child’. Excellent. It had been intended to pique his interest.

“I’ve been reading about schema models recently,” I proclaimed, triumphantly.

This is where part two of the discussion began. Let’s call it Intellectualise my Mentalism.

The other week, when I was convinced my therapy with C was coming to a dramatic and premature halt in January, I rushed to the Yellow Pages looking for suitable therapists. I was looking primarily for practitioners of psychodynamic therapy, as I have been receiving from C, because it’s the only type that I have found remotely effective to date. However, I was open to exploring both schema and gestalt therapy, having read quite a bit on both, and found practitioners of both in the vicinity. As two major studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for all symptoms of BPD (unlike stupid DBT), I have more faith in schema therapy, even though it does involve some wanky (if apparently advanced) CBT, for which (as you know) I have no time, so – convinced I was in imminent danger of abandonment from C – I Googled “Schema therapy borderline personality disorder” and came up with this book. On a whim, I bought it.

The book contends that people with BPD have five main strands to their character:

  • The healthy adult (the authors admit this seems an unlikely component, but make the reasonably fair point that many with BPD are not always going mental. Not that they put it quite like that, of course).
  • Detached protector – this mode sees the patient protecting the harmed brats that form part of her consciousness.
  • Punitive parent – “everything is my fault” mode. Must punish myself. I am usually pretty good at this, especially in session.
  • Angry or impulsive child – furious, mainly as a defence mechanism. It is convinced it will be fucked over. It is also angry that its needs / rights are not met. (I am a walking stereotype).
  • Abandoned or abused child – alone, no one cares about it, whinges, cries, blah de blah.

I told C that today I was the protector. I was avoiding his questions, getting irritated when he probed me – classic protector traits, according to the book.

We had a discussion around the whole concept of schemas, schema therapy and its development, which to my amazement resulted in him bringing up the term ‘borderline personality disorder’ in a completely unsolicited way. He went on to explain the schemas seen in BPD in more detail, to the absolute delight of my ears and my mind.

Feeling that we were on something of a discursive roll, I presented him with a print-out of this post from Kathy Broady’s blog. I had analysed the piece bit by bit in terms of its applicability to me.

I pointed out that it was written by a DID therapist, however, and that therefore it might not all apply directly to me.

He sort of shook his head and said, “there’s a debate in psychiatry and psychology as to whether or not DID and BPD exist on a continuum. At the very least, there’s often an overlap of symptoms. So therefore I’m sure some of this stuff can apply.”

(For the record I think I’d identified about 18 of the 20 signs Kathy listed as being applicable to me to one extent or another. Fuck! Is there more I don’t know about?!).

Satisfied with this response, I gestured for C to go ahead and read the list. Not wanting to sit there like a numpty whilst he read it, I stood up and looked out the window.

I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was looking at me, puzzled. I turned to him.

“What, am I not allowed to stand up now?”

“Well, yeaa-ahhh, you are,” he began, doubtfully, “but I’m just wondering why you’re standing up.”

“You’re reading that, so I’m going to look out the window,” I replied.

“I think you’re trying to distance yourself from the material in this article,” he told me. “It would be better if you sat down and faced it.”

So, the mere gesture of looking out the window is reflective of an entrenched tendency to avoid confronting one’s problems, is it? Well, fuck me, I’ve heard it all now. I was going to argue, but decided against it, not really seeing any point. I made an arm gesture of “you win” and sat down, internally laughing at how absurd I felt his deep reading of my meaningless action had been.

C read the list – to my annoyance, he read a lot of it out loud – then paused on one particular point. I don’t remember which one it was, but I’d provided an ‘analysis’ at the end along the lines of, “I do this, I do that, blah de blah.”

“Blah de blah?” he queried. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s just flippancy.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but where does that flippancy come from?”

“It’s stylistic,” I argued (I’m sure most readers of this blog will agree that I have a penchant for flippant remarks). “It’s just my writing style. You haven’t read any of my writing…”

“But…” he went on.

Enter stage three of the session – the mad, maniacal bit.

“Right,” I said authoritatively. “You don’t believe me that that’s how I write? Well, let me show you.”

From my bag I pulled out a print out of this post, my (latest) rant on the NHS. I began randomly reading some of the more colourful parts of the rants, in a deliberately exaggerated and dramatic voice. When I finally drew breath at the part where I talked about reading Grey’s Anatomy at the age of five, the completely befuzzled C interrupted me, exclaiming, “what’s happening here today?!”

He looked completely bemused, and on reflection I can’t say I blame him. It was a bit of a random tangent.

I defended myself on the grounds that I wanted to demonstrate to him that the flippant comments he’d seen on the trauma list were sod all in comparison to the flippant comments made by me elsewhere.

“But,” he said, metaphorically stroking his chin, “we’ve been all over the place today [I’m not sure that he phrased it quite like that]. For the first while I thought you were quite upset, quite agitated…now I’m not sure what you are…angry? And in the middle we perhaps intellectualised matters a little.”

“Oh fuck, I’m sorry!” I cried. “I led you into that.”

“These meetings are a co-construction,” he insisted. “I’m just as culpable for any straying off course as you are – we just have to be careful not to head into intellectual territory too much.”

He pondered for a minute and, referencing point 10 on Kathy’s list of trauma signs, said, “your rush to apologise just now ties in with that.” He noted that I had commented on the list that my self-blame wasn’t excessive because that for which I blame myself is, in fact, my fault.

“You do realise, objectively, that it is excessive, don’t you?” C asked.

“No no no, it’s my fault. It’s my fault,” I contended. “Just now I seduced you into that discussion on academic psychology. It was my fault, I’m sorry.”

Readers, why – WHY?! – did I have to use the word ‘seduce’? Why? A dozen other words would have sufficed. It just rolled off my tongue, as hyperbolic metaphors often seem to do.

He raised his eyebrow and narrowed his eye slightly. “Seduced?” he enquired.

Fuck. FUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK! Now he thinks I want to fucking fuck him. Fuck fuck fuck.

I felt my cheeks turn red in utter mortification and in my rush to defend my use of the term, on the grounds that it was figurative, probably made an utter tit of myself – thus reinforcing any belief he might have that my transference is of an erotic nature.

Fucky fuck, shit and damn. I did try my best to explain what I’d meant, but I was flustered, and in any case it probably looked like a case of the lady doth protest too much. So eventually I gave up, looked down and gestured for him to continue to read the trauma list.

Thankfully for once he had the grace to do as he was told and not press me. He read on in silence this time, and when he’d finished I asked him if he thought the points included were applicable to me.

He said that he thought they were, and indeed that a lot of it had already come out in therapy and that we were beginning to address those issues.

He handed me the list back, and I read over it. For some reason I then went into a dysphoric but energetic rant against myself, telling C that I was “nothing but histrionic” for thinking any of the list was applicable to me, and indeed for bringing it to him.

He listened to and watched me in a kind of bewildered way. Perhaps he’s not that familiar with mixed states.

“Well, this has been weird,” I declared.

He cleared his throat, as if for dramatic effect. “It’s certainly been…” – he searched for the word – “…different,” he acknowledged finally, with a slight wryness I thought, which I found bizarrely reassuring.

“I was nervous about telling you about the schema book,” I admitted to him, rather randomly. “I’ve always got the feeling from you that you think to so much as mention a diagnosis is to fixate on a label.”

“Not necessarily,” he began. “It’s very important not to fixate on it, indeed. You mustn’t allow yourself to be ‘built’ around a diagnosis. But it can have benefits, yes.”

“I’ve found it helpful,” I said. “For one thing it’s enabled me to connect with a range of people who have been a great support network.”

“Good,” he declared. “No, I have no problem with diagnoses. It’s just important that you know that it’s not ‘borderline personality disorder’ that comes into this room, it’s [my name].”

I nodded. I think I do keep a sense of perspective on the diagnoses; if someone asks me about myself, unless it has been directly in the context of mental illness, I’ll usually tell them I’m a rock bird with a love for reading, writing, pubs, sci-fi and Newcastle United. The illnesses are part of me, and I am not ashamed of having them, but they’re certainly not the whole story.

As I was about to leave, C asked me to think over the prospect of there being a maximum of 24 weeks of the process left in order for us to discuss it at the next session. He all but begged me to “bring the anger with [me].” I protested that I couldn’t do so with absolute impunity, as I couldn’t face being heard screaming at him by those in the offices adjoining his.

He looked extremely taken aback at this, which I still don’t fully understand. I have social anxiety for Christ’s sake, does he honestly expect that I can allow anyone but him to be party to my rants? In any case, his secretary phoned today. Having convinced myself at the weekend that he was dead (whilst simultaneously reckoning that he wasn’t dead, but nevertheless believing that he was), I was horrified about what she had to say. Mercifully, so far C is not dead and will see me on Thursday at the normal time – just not in the normal place, due to building work. He is temporarily moving back to VCB’s stomping ground.

In a way, it’s worse to lose it with him there than in his own office. The office in which I suspect I will meet him is next door to the one VCB shares with other psychiatrists. These cunts all have it in their power to section me should I really lose it, which is hopefully unlikely but frankly not impossible, especially with ‘They’ still hovering about from time to time (though wouldn’t you know it, the anti-psychotic has seemingly killed Tom. Just my luck to lose the ‘good’ psychosis and retain the ‘bad’). On the other hand, an advantage of this location is that the building is attached to the day bin and adjacent to the actual bin, so hopefully they’ll be used to having crazies losing it on them fairly often.

As for now, I don’t know what I think. The argument is still ongoing in my head – More NHS Fuckovery, I’m Calling an Advocacy Service vs. Well, It’s Another Potential Six Months, Be Grateful. The truth is I feel both at the same time. A little bit positive, but more than a little bit lost.

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“I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me” – Therapy Sucks – C: Week 32

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 30 November, 2009 by Pandora

The best-selling text written on borderline to date is a book called I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me, by Jerold Kreisman. I am struck by how much that title applies to this weeks session with C, which was fraught. Fraught fraught fraught. In a way, given parts of the post regarding last week’s session and my slightly more generalised anti-NHS rant of Wednesday, this should not be a surprise. On the other, given how passive – nay, submissive – I am known to be towards C, the fact that I was able to let it be fraught was surprising.

Not unlike last week, my memories are rather skewed. My most clear recollections involve me shouting at and insulting him and then threatening to walk out, then later breaking down and crying for what seemed like ages, in a defeated, resigned sort of fashion. Am I defeated and resigned? I’ll see if I can make some sort of sense of it all, but don’t expect miracles.

OK, so I went into his office and sat there like a knob, as seems to be fairly typical these days, as I refuse to start the conversation (no doubt an avoidance tactic). I had vowed to A that I would bring up the material in the aforementioned NHS rant, but as I sat there under C’s silent and enquiring gaze, I felt that I was going to chicken out completely. Eventually the silence led to the usual miserable whinge from me about wasting his time.

I saw my opportunity here – an opportunity to somewhat surreptitiously bring up my concerns, under the pretence that I was concerned about wasting C’s time. So when he yet again asked me why I felt the silences were so bad (apparently they can be very revealing and useful – since when did this become psycho-fucking-analysis?), I responded with something like, “well, we have a limited amount of time to talk about a number of things about which I need to talk. 50 minutes today, something like five more weeks overall.”

I don’t remember his verbal reaction (if any), but I think I noticed a split-second narrowing of his eyes at this, denoting confusion at the statement.

I have no idea what happened next. He must have probed me on my assertion that we only had five weeks of therapy remaining, though I distinctly don’t recall him doing so until later. In any event, I started babbling on about how I’d spent the preceeding few days looking online and in Yellow Pages for an alternative psychologist of a similar therapeutic bent to assist me on a private basis, but that I was having no success so could he please recommend someone, because if he wasn’t going to treat me until I was well enough to face the world without a therapist, then someone else would have to do so.

Again, the sense of confusion emanating from him was palpable, and I think he actually questioned why I’d felt this exercise was necessary.

I can only imagine that this was the point where I demanded specific answers from him on whether or not we were going to discontinue our relationship in January. Most (though not all) of the rest of the session centred around this, but I can’t be bothered to break it down into a specific chronology, and am not sure that I could even if I wanted to.

The very much paraphrased essence of this bit of the meeting was:

  • C – I never said it would discontinue in January.
  • SI – fuck you, you did.
  • C – I said we would review it.
  • SI – Same thing.
  • Repeat 700,000 fucking times
  • C – but you know it’s finite.
  • SI – but it would be irresponsible of you to make it finite now. MEGA RANT ABOUT THE NHS – Starting with point 1 from last post (if they’d done something with me when I first showed outward signs of being mental, then we’d probably not even be here), moving on to point 2 (it’s either the bin or C – latter is surely cheaper, but the NHS is such a stupid fucking bureaucratic mess that they won’t consider that).
  • C – you may well be right but unfortunately that’s the way it is.
  • SI – how do you expect to adequately reverse two decades of mental illness in less than a year?
  • C – answer not recalled but probably some politican-esque answer of avoidance.

Blah blah blah. He kept refusing to tell me directly whether his reference to reviewing things in January was a suggestion that we would end things then. He did, however, have the audacity to ask me what I wanted him to say. Hmm, that wouldn’t be obvious or anything, would it?

I said, slowly and menacingly, through (very evident) gritted teeth, that what I wanted him to do was to give me a straight fucking answer.

I don’t remember what he said, but it wasn’t a straight fucking answer – so I lost it. I absolutely, completely fucking lost it. I felt the anger well up in my stomach, like some sort of raging inferno, and felt it rise through my internal organs, eventually finding its way to my vocal chords.

I screamed at him, “I’ve fucking had enough of this. I’m leaving right now!”

And, indeed, I got my things together and went to stand up, but he started blathering on again – so, curious though still furious (I’m a poet, didn’t know it), I relented and sat back down. I think he was asking me where this anger was coming from or some such other non-sensical wank given that it was profoundly fucking obvious where it was coming from. (Or maybe not. Maybe I am angry at my father for abandoning me and C, in his role as a temporary surrogate father, is now bearing the brunt of that anger thanks to the perceived threat of abandonment. Oh yes. It must all be to do with one’s subconscious, mustn’t it? Nothing to do with the fact this uncertainty is fucking with an already fragile mindset. Fuck off, psychology).

I threatened to walk out again, telling him that if we were going to end things that we might as well just do it now rather than waste more of our time, but he kept managing to entice me not to leave.

I then spat at him (in something of a stylistic homage to part of this post) that he was “nothing but a fucking sadist” because he and the profession to which he belongs do nothing but make people relive trauma and misery and that it takes “a special kind of twisted individual” to think that that’s an enjoyable career path. I asked, rhetorically, if he’d use the old cliché of ‘I want to help people’, sneering about that being used as some sort of defence of his decision to practice clinical psychology.

I continued with my contempt-filled bile, telling him that he didn’t want to help people, that instead he wanted to “headfuck” them (I was gratified to see how agog he was at this. “Headfuck?!” he repeated, apparently aghast and astonished. Hahaha). “You’ve had your fun with me,” I asserted, vindictively, “so now you want someone else to headfuck.

He harped on the ‘headfuck’ comment for a bit, asking me to explain it, but I don’t remember exactly what he said and neither do I remember my response. So let’s (regrettably, cos that was fun) move on; at one point he asked what it would be like to end therapy. I said that I would have no real outlet to help me cope with the enormity of what I feel and of what I want to talk about. I said that I was emotionally (yes!) fragile in the extreme and that being left alone with the totality of my mentalism might well send me over the edge.

And how would it feel to continue, then, he pressed. Well, we have reached a point in our relationship where I feel that I can trust him enough to fully explore all that needs to be explored (not that that will be easy, but at least I think I can do it now). Our relationship is, I feel, the only adequate vehicle that I have – and have had – for a recovery of sorts. Only with his support and guidance can I face these things and, hopefully, move on from them. Or something – I don’t remember the exact nature of what I said. It was something like that.

Was it at this point that I uttered those tiny but synchronously hugely vile, belittling words? I don’t know, but this post is so disjointed anyway that it hardly matters. I said, “you can’t have escaped the fact that I’m very attached to you.”

He didn’t specifically respond to that as I recall, but at some point or other he did say that terminating therapy was going to be “a problem” whenever it happened, irrespective of whether we continued now or not and whether we’d worked through things properly. He didn’t say it, but the clear implication was that that would be due to my attachment to him. He’s right; I can’t deny it, it will be fucking horrible. The only thing I can say is that I would hope to be in a better mental place to deal with such a difficult prospect further into the relationship; right now, I am convinced that it would merely result in a hospitalisation – or even a possible run to catch the bus.

The long and the short of it is this: (a) we will review progress this Thursday rather than in January, as he recognises the enormous pressure that Christmas places on me, which will be compounded by his fortnight’s worth of absence at said point; (b) again, he stressed, there would be at least four sessions in the run-up to a termination of treatment devoted entirely to how to deal with that cessation (and it would probably more like six sessions); and (c) he is happy to continue ‘working’ with me as long as there is actual work being done – he won’t just do it for the sake of avoiding ending it.

On (c), I accepted the reasonableness of this position, but told him that if there were occasions where I found it very hard to talk to him about a particular issue, I did not want him to be of the view that that was me simply trying to manipulatively (not that that’s a word) extend therapy. I wanted him to be aware that some issues are just difficult to face, and it will take yet more time to address them.

He seemed surprised that I thought he would think that I would try to draw out the process, but assured me that he wouldn’t and didn’t subscribe to such thinking.

It was probably here that I started crying. I babbled incoherently through my sobs and he couldn’t understand me, and kept trying, in this annoyingly understanding and compassionate tone, to get me to repeat myself. Eventually I managed to articulate that, although I desperately want to continue with psychotherapy, the idea simultaneously petrifies me as I really don’t want to think or talk about so many things that I probably need to think or talk about (deja vu, anyone?).

I sat and cried for a few minutes, then started (literally) beating myself about the head as punishment for crying. He told me to stop it and said that I should allow myself be upset and indeed that he would actively encourage my tears if I was feeling an emotion that may precipitate them. For once I did as I was told, sitting silently in tears for a few minutes. As I said at the start of the post, for some reason I just felt terribly defeated – even though I shouldn’t because it seemed like I had got what I wanted – ie, C was saying that we could continue the psychotherapeutic process. Perhaps I felt defeated because continuing is agreed with the qualification that we are actually still doing something constructive – my visceral desire, of course, is to have him in my life permanently in some way. But this is armchair psychological conjecture; I have no idea why I felt this weird resignation. Perhaps it is simply that I was exhausted by riding on the rollercoaster that this session had been.

At what I think was my instigation, there was a discussion around the fact that it’s basically taken me six months and more to even begin to open up to him properly. I have discussed many things in sort of superficial ways, but I’ve not gone into much detail about specifics relating to my past at least and certainly, I have very rarely – if ever – behaved in a fashion like I did in this or the preceeding meeting whilst in session. I, of course, lambasted myself left, right and centre for being a time-waster.

C disagreed, opining that it was perfectly reasonable for me to have taken all this time to ‘test’ him, to make sure that he was worthy of my trust. Apparently he does not believe this to be time-wasting at all.

Whilst that is ostensibly reassuring, of course I find this a rather curious declaration on his part. If it was reasonable for me to have taken so much time to get to know him (well, kind of) before opening the floodgates, then how can it be unreasonable for me to expect long-ish-term therapy from this point to examine relevant issues from my past, or of transference, or of my life right now? The notion of continuing on some sort of rolling contract, rather than setting an initial timeframe of, say, six further months, seems incompatible to me with the idea that it was a positive thing to have used up the first six months essentially getting to know each other.

Anyway, I dried my eyes and apologised for shouting at him and for “being nasty”. Ever the psychologist, C replied by stating that if that was something I was harbouring, that it was good to demonstrate it to him, and that he would encourage me to do the same in future. He’s right of course, but it seems so terribly cruel for me to sit and shout “sadist! Headfucker!” or some such across the room, when the reality is that I don’t actually believe that and that I probably just wanted to hurt him (which I have no doubt he realises).

One thing I remember clearly about this session was that he seemed reluctant to let me leave. Normally, on the 49th minute mark, he pipes right up with the “we’re going to have to leave it there” line, and uses the remaining seconds for very brief housekeeping or, simply, goodbyes. On Thursday, I kept grabbing my stuff to leave, but he kept interrupting. It was odd and, looking back now, seems a little unsettling; he must have been seriously troubled by my mental state at the time.

Indeed, he said that he was concerned about how much I ruminate on therapy and that, that day in particular, he wanted me to find something else to occupy my mind, noting how difficult I had found the session.

I told him I would go home and kill people on Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

He laughed (I don’t know why because I was absolutely serious) but continued by asking me what I enjoyed.

“All my interests are solitary pursuits,” I advised. “Aside from GTA and other video games, I don’t do much and don’t enjoy much. I do enjoy writing the blog, but one needs a specific mindset to write about difficult things and I am really not in it right now.”

(As an aside apparently C now thinks this blog is a good thing, despite the cuntified whinging that I reported here. Well, not that he thought it was a bad thing then per se – he just thought I was too fucking braindead to be careful in what I wrote here. Anyway, he now believes, correctly, that I seem to find the composition of posts cathartic and that I have found immeasurable support through the people that read what I write. If you don’t already know, folks, this is absolutely true. Thank you).

In the end we agreed that I would make an effort to rejoin the gym – as they all bloody do, C thinks exercise is imperative in promoting mental health. What’s more, though, he seems to be of the view that the physical effort required in exercise alleviates anger, stresses, blah blah. Personally, I find the gym insurmountably boring, but I’m unlikely to try and do myself in there I suppose, what with the other fuckers about. I haven’t rejoined it yet, but I will tomorrow. As for that day, despite my expectations that I would go back to A’s and my promise to C to actively take my mind off the session, in the end I went to my mother’s house and straight to bed. Rather than reveal why, I let her think I was ill.

So, how do I feel now, several days later? To be honest I don’t know. Although C said he was happy to continue working with me as long as we were not just avoiding the end of therapy for its own sake, the lack of a more definite answer and indeed timeframe still annoys me, and I am nervous about this week’s session as of course we are to review progress to that point. I do think significant advances have been made, as it happens, and I assume that C must too otherwise he wouldn’t have felt it was reasonable for me to take six months to get to this juncture. But nevertheless – I am dubious about what he’ll arrange next. Another 10 or 12 weeks – or something more meaningful?

I am sorry that this entry is so confused and disjointed, but that’s an accurate representation of my mental state during this session and, to a lesser extent, of the entire session itself.

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Be Angry With The Filthy Whore – C: Week 31

Posted in C, Moods, Psychotherapy, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 24 November, 2009 by Pandora

Thursday was fucking traumatic, a state of affairs of which you are probably aware given my citation of the disturbing imagery of Metallica’s Until It Sleeps that evening. You’ll have seen on that post that my iPod was reading my mind again in playing it – and other songs on similarly dark themes – but what is most interesting about this is that this strange form of electronic ESP took place as I was driving home from an utterly pointless dissociative trip to a coastal town about 20 miles from home.

My first proper awareness of going to said town was when I realised I was in the centre of it. I do have a very vague recollection of noticing my normal turn off and thinking that the traffic was heavy, but at no time did I think, “why the fuck are you not in that heavy traffic?” I don’t remember deciding to drive on, and I don’t remember the journey. Another small-scale fugue-like episode. Sweet.

I had been quite good on the self-harm front of late, but the good spell has been broken. ‘Bitch’ and ‘grief’ are the latest, though I don’t remember doing the former (it must have bled like fuck though as I had seemingly used a towel to stem the bloodflow). Grief. Am I grieving for myself, or for what I should have been? If so, is that good? Presumably one is meant to say, “well, the self-harm bit isn’t good,” but you know me folks – not really one to listen to that sort of argument. A is raging with C; in A’s eyes, it is C’s fault that I have taken to cutting myself again. But it isn’t. It really isn’t. All C has done is facilitate triggering discussions, and been someone to whom I am hopelessly attached, which is hardly his fault. We can’t avoid matters of this importance simply because there is a risk it may act as a trigger; the entire psychotherapeutic process would then be pointless, and I’d be left as mental as I ever was.

I’m unsure as to what exactly this entry will amount to, as I remember surprisingly little of the session – perhaps unsurprisingly. But let’s start at the very beginning and see what happens.

C pointed out that he’d been looking through his diary and saw that our current contract was due to end shortly (he thought there were two sessions remaining after Thursday; I thought one, but as it turns out it will not matter). This was something of which I was horribly well aware. Having only begun to open up to C properly in the last few weeks, I was convinced that he’d see me as a manipulative bitch – it looked, to my cynical mind, like I was trying to wrangle more time out of him by leaving the avalanche of confessions until this point. Given that my primary diagnosis is borderline personality disorder, it reasonably follows (in my eyes) that he could believe me to be manipulative, as the psychiatric establishment still seems to think that about those who have BPD more than any other psychiatric problem.

Of course, he didn’t like either the idea that he would find me manipulative, nor in particular that he would think this because I have BPD – that fixates on labels, don’t you know. Actually, it doesn’t, because it’s what I think he should think anyway – the fact that BPD is the only psychiatric diagnosis to still be treated with open contempt by mental health professionals just reinforces that point – though to be fair, I have not experienced that disdain personally, thank God.

I honestly don’t think I was being manipulative – not consciously, anyhow – but it did look like it, and that had been my worry all week. Of course, C refused to concede that this was the case in his eyes. Did he point blank deny it? I think he may well have done, but I don’t remember clearly enough to say for certain. What he was willing to admit to was that I may, consciously or otherwise, fear the end of the relationship, and act accordingly to preserve it. Which is apparently not manipulative. Hmm.

The issue of the end of therapy raised its ugly head a couple of times during the meeting. What he said at this juncture was that we should “…continue seeing each other until Christmas, at which point [he’ll] be off for a fortnight, and then we’ll review the situation in January.”

Review the situation in January. You can take a wild guess as to what I think about that. He is going to throw me out with the dirty water in cunting January. Just over a month away, after the most stressful time of the year for me (ah yes, I’m sure you’ll be treated to a delicious rant about fucking Christmas in the near future, dearest readers). A tells me that this is not what C meant; apparently, he literally meant that we shall review the situation, and if further therapy is required (as if it won’t be), then that is what the case shall be. Well, Ms Rationality of course says, “yeah, right” to that. He is going to abandon me.

I honesty don’t remember how I reacted in session to the comment about ‘reviewing things in January’. I think I simply agreed and didn’t voice the aforementioned rejection worries, but I wouldn’t swear to it. As I said, it did indeed come up again, but I don’t remember under what circumstances. I can and do appreciate that the relationship can’t be permanent – in the most rational of ways, I don’t want it to be. I want to live an independent life, free of a need for a surrogate daddy. But can C realistically expect to change 13+ years of misery and being fucked about by the NHS in seven-ish months, particularly when I have such a strong neurotic attachment to him? Trying to be objective about it, I cannot honestly fathom that as reasonable, except in especially productive scenarios (which are about as applicable to me as…um…er…something that is very un-applicable to me). This is a personality disorder. It is ingrained into every metaphorical fibre of my self, the conscious, the unconscious, whatever – and it is causing me to self-destruct. Can something of such enormity and longevity honestly be treated adequately in just over half a year?

In any case, eventually the discussion – predictably enough – returned to the eminently delightful subject matter of the preceeding week. Eugh. It was me that raised it, though not exactly through choice; we were talking about something else (no idea what now) which triggered some sort of memory – it’s a shame I’ve forgotten what that subject was, as it would be useful to know these triggers, especially in cases where there is no obvious correlation, as I think the case was in this instance.

I became rather agitated and told C that I wasn’t “going there”. I hid.

Despite my telling him to leave it, he continued to probe me – but gently and quite subtly, to be fair. I eventually admitted that I was thinking about the Pandora’s Box.

My memory is even more fragmented from here on in, though some things do stick out in my mind very clearly. I was very, very careful not to verbally articulate much at all; at one point I desperately begged, “look, don’t you see where I’m going with this?” But it appears that he believes that I need to say the words. I still have not used the word ‘rape’, and strictly speaking he could still be under the impression that it was something other than rape – but he’s not that stupid.

He must have asked what was so troubling about verbalising this material, because I remember then telling him that I am fairly tolerant of articulating the gruesome information on this blog.

“Which is odd,” I mused, “given that it is all the more real when it is written down, even more so than if I verbally discuss it. It’s there, on the blog, in black and white.” (See here, for example).

I went on to postulate the idea that perhaps it is easier to deal with in writing because I can rationalise everything; life events become something that is seen in the third person, by a narrator, an observer with at least a modicum of theoretical knowledge of that about which she writes. If I have to talk about it, I have to feel it. I am there, in the midst of it, with the rawness, the vileness, the trauma of it all.

He agreed. He didn’t say so, but a sense that he wants me to feel that repressed pain was very palpable. Maybe that is why he was such a cock when I put this, and other shit, in writing for him – in fact, I’m certain it is. What kind of profession capitalises on other people’s grief? If I asked him why he became a clinical psychologist, I’m sure he’d respond along the lines of that old cliché, “I want to help people.” What, by making them relive their darkest memories, by making them suffer through them all again? Does that not take a special kind of sadism?

I am, of course, being a little facetious; I don’t believe C to be a sadist in the least, and I do believe he is in his job for the right reasons. But the human mind, and the sciences that arise therefrom, are odd things indeed. It strikes me as strange that it is an apparent psychological necessity to directly face that which you most revile in your past, before you can heal from the wounds it inflicted.

But this is not a post about the curious concept of psychology as an academic discipline, nor is it a post about the mindsets of those practising this form of figurative alchemy; it is a post about a session I had with my therapist. So…was it at this point that I lost it? I’m not sure, but anyway, in my next clear memory, all I could see in my head was the INCIDENT, or more specifically, the moments during which I was pushed to the floor of the outhouse in which it took place and served up as tasty piece of young meat for the delectation of my uncle. I recall very strongly that (in C’s office, not in my mind) I had my head in my lap and was pelting my skull with both fists with as much strength as I could muster. I have never done anything of this ilk in C’s company before.

And so he too did something that he has never done before; he raised his voice to me. He didn’t shout, but he did raise his voice just enough to try and penetrate through the mentalism that had tenaciously gripped my mind.

“SI!” he called. Well, he didn’t of course – perhaps it will surprise some of you to learn that I have a name, a normal, very ordinary name, and he used that instead – but you know what I mean. One thing I’ll not forget about this session was that he actually used my name three times, and at one point I used his too – these things are unheard of in the whole time we’ve known each other. Does it mean something? Why do I attach such importance to something so apparently normal and trivial? Is it because using names is personal, and that I want to see him as a person, not a canvas? Who knows. I certainly don’t, but I do know that that memory sticks with me.

I think he must have somehow brought me back from this mental place, but I don’t remember the specifics. The next part of the conversation that I recall was when he asked me how I felt about myself and that I told him that I felt like a “dirty, fetid little slut.” I then rationalised things for a bit, proclaiming that I am in actuality not a slut. Unfortunately, I still felt (feel) like one.

Then I lost it again. “I’m a filthy whore,” I spat, hiding from him again with my hands.

I think he actually went as far as to tell me that I am not a whore, but that could be a phantom memory. I mean, how the fuck would he know? I could have sold sex in 28 European capitals for all he knows. One thing he definitely did do was try and help me regain my composure. I sat up and pretended to be fine, sticking out my hand to measure how much it was shaking. I have used an incident when I was about 15 as a yardstick to measure anxiety; the day after I found out about an incredibly twisted lie from my first real boyfriend (a long story that I will have to detail some day), I went into school and, in English, happened to notice how much my hand was shaking. That denotes severe anxiety and/or anger. If the shaking is less than that, things could be worse.

I told C about this. However, a brief reference to the lying cunt of an ex must have touched on the self-disgust I was already feeling over my own lying to C about the INCIDENT (when we first met I told him it was ‘mere’ touching, but that was only part of it, obviously. More on this shortly). I told him this – still without using that word – and went into a major self-invective of utter disgust and abhorrence. It was filled with ranting about how much of a shameful, lying, grotesque, hateful slag I am, lying to the one person that might be able to bring me back a little hope in this sorry mental battle, and about how guilty and sorry I am, blah blah de blah.

When I took a second to draw breath, he jumped in to try and (a) reassure me that I had nothing to feel guilty about and (b) establish exactly what it was that I felt I’d lied about.

I answered (b) first, at least to the best of my recollection. He’d specifically asked in our initial assessment sessions what form the sexual abuse took. As is my wont, I had avoided articulating myself properly, and instead managed to answer the question merely by his probing. I think, though I am not certain, that he asked if I was raped, and that I said ‘no’. I am sure that when he asked if it was inappropriate touching that I said ‘yes’, and that I led him to believe that that was all. In my defence – and I told him this in the session to which this post refers – I have dissociated a lot of the INCIDENT. I remember ghastly, loathsome pieces of it in fleeting glimpses, like looking at still pictures in an album or, sometimes, short video clips. I remember the sensations of pain and terror in these moments too. I am grateful that the memories are so brief, but also resentful of it too, as it feels like it removes my power to understand the INCIDENT and my reactions to it. Furthermore, obviously part of me does remember it, and that part is mentally fucked – perhaps it would be easier to address were it all consciously there at the front of my mind.

Anyhow, I then proceeded to respond C’s (a) point. “I lied to you,” I said simply. “Aren’t you angry with me?”

“No, of course I’m not angry with you.”

“Why not? You should be.”

He sort of laughed (he mustn’t have realised I was serious), but seeing the look on my face, he desisted from doing so abruptly.

“SI,” he said again, firmly, looking straight at me. “Do you seriously think that I should be angry with you?” His tone was a more compassionate version of ‘incredulous’.

“Yes,” I began, “fucking dirty, lying, grotesque little bitch, fucking…”

“One,” he interrupted, rather dramatically, leaning forward and counting on his fingers as he did. “We had only just met and you can’t honestly have expected yourself to deeply discuss such sensitive matters with someone you didn’t know. Two, you didn’t lie, you omitted some information…”

“But then that’s a lie of omission…” I began.

“Three!” he went on, raising his eyebrow in a surprisingly authoritative fashion, signaling that I was to let him finish, “three, this is hard for you to talk about, so it is not surprising you withheld it. What is there to be angry with?! I am not angry with you, and neither should I be.”

Well, that was me told, then. I was quite taken aback by the forcefulness of his tone. Actually, ‘forcefulness’ is a horrid word to use as it has negative connotations – let’s say ’emphatic’ instead. He was incredibly emphatic. I gaped at him in a sort of stupefied disorientation for a minute or two.

He sat back in his chair, recovered his blank canvas and either asked me how I felt, or signalled for me to speak.

“Um…” I muddled. “That’s reassuring. I do feel reassured. But it also confuses me; you have a completely different attitude to it from me.”

He seemed to understand that in fairness, which not an awful lot of people would. He was able to see the black-and-white chain of logic that I was following in believing that he ought to be angry, but luckily for C things in his world do not seem to be as black and white as they are in mine.

I don’t remember how things ended. I know that I was battered and bruised psychologically (and physically to boot what with punching my head). At no point had I been tearful, but one does not need to weep to mentally suffer. I went and sat in the car and phoned A for catharsis and reorientation purposes. Although the trauma of reliving the INCIDENT had been the most awful aspect of the session, the fact that I fixatedly whined to A that C ‘wants to abandon me’ before I even touched on the rest of things is very telling.

In later discussions A urged me to tell C about this abject fear. What’s the point? C already knows I’m terrified of him abandoning me. Perhaps the real question is ‘is my attachment to him healthy?’ There have been mixed views on this from the readership of this blog. cbtish, for example, thinks it puts me in an intolerable position (cbtish is a therapist). Vanessa from eTransference, a clinical psychologist in training who has a particular interest in the phenomenon of transference, thinks it ought to be encouraged in many ways. Others undergoing therapy – bourach and thesamesky (who’s also a counsellor) for example – have their own struggles with the therapeutic dyad (bourach in particular will understand why I thought C should be angry with me, given this post of her’s).

I don’t know what the answer is; just that the attachment is very real. Just that I feel guilty for withholding information and for lying (though he wants me to stop that – and I’ve just remembered that the session ended with him asking me, again, to try and not post-mortem things in therapy. Oops. He was also worried, after what happened with VCB’s SHO in September, that his actions or words could have a…er…detrimental effect on me. Double oops. All I can say is that I think our current dialogue is progress, regardless of any self-harm that follows). And at least I am far from alone in withholding, and even lying.

But it’s still all a bit of a quagmire, yes?

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Until It Sleeps

Posted in Moods, Triggers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Thursday, 19 November, 2009 by Pandora

The iPod has been acting as a mindreader again.

I’m not in the habit of doing this as this blog is mine; my life, in my words. However, sometimes others just say it (whatever ‘it’ is) better than me, and this is very much one such occasion.

So, ladies and gents, I give you the nature of my present sorry existence – as presented by Metallica.

Until It Sleeps

Where do I take this pain of mine
I run but it stays right by my side

So tear me open and pour me out
There’s things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps

Just like the curse, just like the stray
You feed it once and now it stays
Now it stays

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me until I’m clean

It grips you so hold me
It stains you so hold me
It hates you so hold me
It holds you so hold me
Until it sleeps

So tell me why you’ve chosen me
Don’t want your grip, don’t want your greed
Don’t want it

I’ll tear me open make you gone
No more can you hurt anyone
And the fear still shakes me
So hold me, until it sleeps

It grips you so hold me
It stains you so hold me
It hates you so hold me
It holds you, holds you, holds you
Until it sleeps

I don’t want it, I don’t want it…

So tear me open but beware
There’s things inside without a care
And the dirt still stains me
So wash me ’till I’m clean

I’ll tear me open make you gone
No longer will you hurt anyone
And the hate still shames me
So hold me
Until it sleeps

(c) James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, Metallica (from the Load album, 1996).

I will write properly tomorrow, but in the meantime you can listen to and watch the video for the above here.


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