March 26, 2010

Throwing a Mental Fit

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:06 am by eddejae

It is 8 o’clock in the morning… AND I AM AWAKE.

And I have already been up for TWO HOURS. This is highly unusual for me, especially as I didn’t go to bed until midnight. With the Seroquel, I usually sleep 9-10 hours. But I woke up at 6am, and just didn’t feel like sleeping anymore! Astounding.

Well, I promised myself I would write about yesterday now that I’ve had time to sleep on everything. I guess things always do seem better in the morning, or at least less emotionally overwhelming.

I have a confession to make. As I knelt down to say my prayers before bed last night (yes, I actually got on my knees instead of mumbling a prayer as I’m falling asleep as is my usual custom haha), I said “Dear Father in Heaven, I must admit, I am not very grateful for this day.” Then I just started laughing because I don’t think I’ve ever said that in a prayer before… but I’m pretty sure God has a sense of humor and was laughing along with me (I hope). But really, I wish I could have just skipped the day entirely.

For you see, yesterday was my first session with my new therapist. All day leading up to the appointment, I was a nervous, anxious wreck. I basically threw a mental fit that went something like this:

“What if I just lock myself in my room and refuse to go?”

“No, you can’t do that. You have to go.”

“But I just want to run away instead! Please please please don’t make me go?!”

“Grow up Edde. What happened to your commitment to recovery? This has got to happen no matter how nervous you are!”

“I know, I know. Fine, I’ll go… But I’m not going to like it!!!” (*insert pouty face*)

I think the worst part was sitting in the foyer waiting for the foreboding moment when the door would swing open and I would look upon the face of this stranger to whom I was about to “tell all.” Yikes!! I almost had a panic attack right then and there, but forced myself to breathe and calm down. “Get control of yourself Edde!”

At last, the door opened. He was tall. And intimidating. And very… professional. He shook my hand and said “Nice to meet you. Come on in this way and have a seat on the couch.” So there I sat, hands clasped, bending forward, while he nonchalantly leaned back in a comfortable lounge chair. I half expected him to prop up the footstool and maybe reach behind the chair for a bowl of mixed nuts, but he didn’t. All I knew was that while I was fretting and sweating and wishing I could be anywhere but there, this was all just a matter of course to him, and he was as relaxed as if he had been in his own living room watching tv. In any other circumstances, I would have found the entire scene to be incredibly humorous, but at the time I couldn’t feel anything but dread at the torrent of questions to come.

Sure enough, in his calm, quiet, articulate voice, he asked me about… Everything. For most of the hour we reviewed my entire life history from age three onward. It is stressful in the first place to have to talk about everything you have ever experienced, but when it is a complete stranger you’re talking to, it’s at least ten times worse (add to that the fact that I was intimidated, self-conscious, and wondering with every word I spoke whether he had “sized me up” yet). My heart was pounding, my breath short, my muscles tense, and my chest tingling with anxious energy. I was not comfortable at all.

While I proceeded with my “word vomit,” he furiously jotted notes on a yellow pad of paper, which made me paranoid. What was he writing about me? What conclusions was he coming to? I hadn’t even finished the session and I was already over-analyzing! We went over the various things that I struggle with – in fact, he made a detailed list and read it over with me to make sure we got everything. Then we picked two things to work on first – binging and the urge to self-harm. So that was ok. What concerned me more were his observations about the source of my mental and emotional instability.

First, he said he believed that the abusive relationships I found myself  in during college were probably more traumatizing than the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. That was a strange concept for me at first, but he said that as he watched me describe both experiences, it seemed that I became more disoriented and emotionally distraught when describing those traumatizing relationships than I did when discussing my childhood experiences. I recognized that as well, and I believe that is because I had already worked through those things with my previous therapist, so it is not as stressful for me to talk about anymore. Also, it wasn’t until after those relationships that my borderline symptoms really became severe, even though I have manifested a number of them since I was young.  His conclusion was that on top of the depression, anxiety, and BPD, I am also suffering from PTSD. Super. Collecting diagnoses now, am I?

Another thing he pointed out was the contribution of what he perceived as my “isolation” during my later childhood and teenage years. I was homeschooled from second grade until college, and he believes that because of that I wasn’t able to develop good coping and social skills. I’m not sure if I completely buy that, but I do see how my feeling “different” contributed to my issues with self-esteem and relationships. I was always “the smart one,” “the talented one,” “the good girl,”  – I was made to feel somehow different from everyone else, which was tough when all I really wanted was to fit in. Even in college, I never quite fit in socially. I have always felt that there was something somehow “wrong” with me, that I was a social/intellectual/emotional “misfit.” I think it was because of this that I began trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be. I became a chameleon of sorts, attempting desperately to blend in with whatever crowd I was with. Their interests became my interests, their values became my values, their attitudes towards me became my attitudes towards myself, etc. I lost all sense of self in conforming to whatever situation I was in or person I was with. At the time… It worked. I finally had friends, I finally felt like I was “fitting in.” But the trade off? I became a hollow shell. I had a hundred different masks that I could switch from moment to moment. While I was bright and lively and fun on the outside, I was dying on the inside.

At the end of the session, he gave me a list of books he wanted me to check out, and also a website where I could download “hypnosis” sessions. I’ve never been involved in any kind of hypnosis… I’m not opposed to it, but I’m curious how it will work. My only hang-up is that it costs about $12 to download one session… And he wants me to start off with at least three. Without a job right now, money is tight… But I guess I have to make sacrifices, right?

On the way home, I just cried and cried. For some reason, I felt hurt and I didn’t even know why. I felt somehow invalidated, for no real reason!  Looking back, I think my it was because when I told him I had been diagnosed with BPD (by two different psychiatrists, I might add), he smirked like “Well, I’ll be the judge of that.” That’s fine… But I just have a repulsion to the whole “know-it-all” attitude that some therapists and doctors have. I don’t know. My tears were not only of emotional exhaustion, but also of sadness and anger that my previous therapist just had to move two and a half hours away. I miss her so terribly. She was so reassuring, and always said everything perfectly. And she never made me feel in the least bit uncomfortable, invalidated, or intimidated. I still plan on calling her today, because I don’t know if this new therapist she recommended is the right fit…. Though maybe I just need to suck it up and stop being a cry-baby.

I also found out yesterday that my Cobra insurance will only last as long as the company I previously worked for exists. Turns out, the company will likely be dissolving next month which means… Bye-bye insurance coverage! If that happens, I will have to go back to the counseling services provided by my church, as they charge half of what a typical therapist would. Even then, I will be paying from my savings account, which I’ve already spent more than half of with all the medical bills I’ve collected over the last few months. Sigh…

Well that’s my rant about yesterday. Thankfully I’m not feeling anxious about it anymore, which is progress for me. Typically things like this stress me out for days at a time, but I’m pretty much over it now… Well… Until the next session… 😉

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12 Comments »

  1. kaladoyle said,

    Wow edde,
    I’m so sorry for all your going through. I just read one post and I feel for you. I felt alot of the things you felt. But I hope u have a better day. I’m gonna check up on ya later if u don’t mind!

    Aloha,
    Sarah

    Ps thanks for the encouragement on my page. I’m new to this but I feel better after writing into space:)

    • Edde said,

      Thank you so much for commenting! I’m glad you’re blogging – I know for me, writing is very therapeutic. It kind of feels like a mental and emotional “cleansing.” Once I get my thoughts feelings out on to the “page” they somehow seem more manageable and I can make some sense out of them.

      Anyways, keep writing! And I’ll be checking up on you too 😉 Take care!

  2. fiamarie said,

    Totally relate to the anxiety of a new therapist. We look to these people as they are superhuman, Gods that are going to save us, in reality it comes down to us… they can only guide. And when they seem so professional, so “deatched” in a sense it is even more frightening isn’t it? Also, that mask that you wore, I wore it too, sometimes still do. Became whoever I was with wanted me to be. There were so many of me, and one day it seemed it all shattered and there I was in pieces on the floor. Trick is how to pick ourselves up and put us together, but how when there was no us. I am just starting to discover who I am and I pray the same for you…

    • Edde said,

      You’re right – it’s definitely frightening. The more detached the therapist, the more unnerving the experience. After talking with my previous therapist on the phone about my session yesterday, we came to the conclusion together that this particular therapist is probably not a good match for me… So, back to the search.

      Hmm… your comment about being shattered into pieces on the floor reminds me of a movie I once saw called “Joshua.” In this particular scene I’m thinking of, a woman throws a crystal vase against the wall and it shatters into smithereens. Joshua gathers up the pieces, and in one of the final scenes of the movie, presents her with a figurine of an angel that he had made from the broken pieces… The whole idea being that after it had been broken and pieced back together, it was even more beautiful than before… I like to think that’s what we will be. 🙂

      • fiamarie said,

        awwwww how sweet… I think I might have to rent that movie:)

  3. Stacy said,

    Sounds like we’re in the same boat of looking for a new therapist. I saw my last one for 13 years, and still see him occationally, so I can understand how it is to loose someone you trusted. I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes for you. Sorry this one didn’t seem to be the one for you. I try one out on Monday. After reading your post I’m a bit more nervous than I was before. 🙂 Sorry it was so stressful. Hopefully our time and emotional investment in looking for the right person will pay off in the end.

    • Edde said,

      Oh dear I’m sorry I made you more nervous! I really hope Monday goes well for you… I’ll also be interested to know how your experience goes.

  4. CMcAlister said,

    Dear Edde,

    Despite your hard time yesterday, it seems like today was a success! Now I know this is none of my business, in the end only you can tell who you will or will not progress with. At the least this new therapist seemed to give you some very positive insight to the cause behind your BPD. In the way you expressed it it seemed like you agreed with him at least on a logical level about that. My only advice (take it for what it is worth) would be to ride it out a little bit longer. Who knows, not only may he be able to provide more insight that others wouldn’t (because we are all vastly different and will see things very differently) but you might have been presented with an opportunity here in a socially sterile environment of learning how to deal with that anxiety. And if you are able to overcome that with a complete stranger, it will definitely build a foundation for you when you enter back into the social world.
    Also Edde, I would be very honored if you would read and post on my blog. I mostly talk about faith and hope. I know you are also very spiritual person and would be honored if you would read it and add to it if you wish:

    http://wordsofthesilverlining.wordpress.com

    I’m glad you are doing well Edde. Keep it up.

    • Edde said,

      Thanks for the input! I really do appreciate it. You’re right – I think do that, ultimately, I did gain some new insight into the development of my disorder. I also liked the fact that he was very thorough in the questions he asked, though it was hard for me to open up. I’ve been thinking (and praying) a lot about whether to continue with him or not. I decided to talk to my previous therapist, as she has wanted to stay involved as I transition into a new therapist. After telling her how the session went – the things we talked about, the conclusions he came to, the homework he gave me, and how I felt afterwards – she suggested that he might not be a good fit after all. Just the fact that I was uncomfortable and anxious the entire time, and then broke down afterwards, wasn’t a positive sign. Sure, it’s hard to talk about the past and your feelings, especially with a stranger, but it felt like more than just that to me. Maybe it’s just a personality clash – but in any event, she confirmed my gut feeling that something was just “off” with the whole thing. Interestingly, after talking with my mom about it, she said basically the same thing you did – ride it out a bit longer. However, she said that after she thought about it more, she just got this strong impression that continuing with him wasn’t the right thing. My old therapist is going to keep helping me find someone… I’m putting my trust in God that he’ll lead me to the right person.

      Thanks for sharing your blog with me! I’d be happy to read and comment!

      Take care… And thank you again SO much for your advice and support.

      • CMcAlister said,

        You gave it a lot of thought and discussed it with others that is perfect. I’m really happy for you and your decision. Stay positive and patient and all will work itself out. Sometimes when we put it ALL in the Lord’s hands things begin to click. Keep on this track. You’re doing great.

  5. ivypixi said,

    Congratulations on staying strong. I think your line about “collecting diagnoses” really hit home with me. Before I had graduated high school I had more diagnoses than I had fingers. I found it very overwhelming. I have come to understand, keep in mind I am not an expert, that sometimes a new diagnosis voids an old one. Also, I believe, sometimes what seems like a disorder all on its own, like depression or anxiety are actually an aspect of Borderline. When I have any mental issue I like to think of it as a piece of my mental health puzzle. That though helps keep me from feeling too overwhelmed.

    Personally, I have always researched any therapies before trying them, such as hypnosis. I have done a lot of research in the past and that is one I have never come across. DBT is the most common style of therapy for Borderline and it is also used with PTSD patients, at least to my knowledge. I have one last, somewhat personal piece of advice. Make sure you are compatible with your psychologist/psychiatrist! It sounds like you were able to open up during your session. Congratulations! Just make sure you are relatively comfortable with him and that you feel that his abilities meet your needs.

    You seem like a committed strong person, who can be successful. Good luck. You can do this!

    • Edde said,

      Yep – in the last four years, I’ve been diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, dysthymia, major depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, bipolar, and finally BPD and PTSD. Whew! I agree with you though – a lot of these things are actually a part of the borderline package… That is much less overwhelming way to think about it.

      Ya know, I did try DBT (in groups) a couple of times… I really liked the skills I learned, but it was hard for me to open up to a group, and I would quit after a couple of weeks because at that time I wasn’t really committed to recovery. I kind of wish I had some sort of DBT program to go to though, even if it was just once a week, to keep the skills fresh in my mind.

      True, I was able to answer all the questions the new therapist asked me… But it was extremely uncomfortable and I just had this gut feeling it wasn’t right for me. After a lot of thought and discussing it with my previous therapist, I have decided to try someone else. So the search continues… Sigh.

      Thank you for your encouragement 🙂 I wish the best for you as well!


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