Difficult Semester – Another Visit to CAPS

This has definitely been a really difficult semester for me.

For the fourth time this semester, I had to go to CAPS for yet another on-call session.

This plus the fact that I’m only in school for another 2 weeks is the reason why I have not been posting anything on this blog lately.

I’ve been struggling with feeling down and haven’t felt motivated enough to do anything. I’ve been slacking off on my math homework as well and so I’m struggling with the conics section.

I had a very insightful on-call session with my psychologist and it was an hour and 10 minutes long conversation. We covered a lot of things – most of all, we covered why I had cut myself the evening before.

I had been feeling numb and dissociated lately. I cut myself last night because I needed to feel something. Something other than the desperate despair that I had been feeling lately. Something other than the anger and the frustrations that I’ve been carrying around since the weekend has ended. Something to show that I could still feel.

I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel anything before I cut, while I cut and even after I cut. I didn’t feel any emotions after I cut, though I did feel a lot calmer. For some reason, I felt like I needed to look at the cuts – to see a physical sign of my depression. Seeing the cuts gave me peace of mind – strangely enough.

I was fortunate to be able to meet with my own psychologist again today. I was able to learn a great deal about myself and about what I’ve been feeling. I’ve been suppressing them and denying them because they’re too painful to bear. They’re too difficult to process.

In the conversation we had today, I learned that my psychologist is not frustrated that I keep having to come back in to CAPS to see him – despite having only seen him yesterday. He is committed to helping me and I need to believe that he is. I wanted to tell him how afraid I am of the possibility that he is disappointed in me – I view him like he’s my mentor/father/older brother. So his opinion of me seems to matter to me a great deal. And I was afraid that when I walked in to CAPS today to see him that he would say, “What are you doing back here again? We just spoke yesterday!” – but he didn’t. Instead, he told me that he’s glad that I came in to see him again. He told me that he and I have a good connection and that because of that, he’s able to help me figure out things better.

At one point, I came to a huge realization (“I can’t affirm myself because when I do, I feel guilty”), and it came without any pre-planning on my part. The words had just tumbled out of my mouth and both of us sat there in stunned silence for a few moments.

I said to S, “What was that? I swear that just came out… I can’t affirm myself because when I do, I feel guilty… Have I ever told you that before?”

“No… That’s the first time you’ve ever said that. And I’m actually surprised too…”, S said.

Then I started laughing and he did too.

“Wow. How do you do that? You know… I always leave here feeling awed at how you are always able to figure stuff out for me. I’m always thinking… How did he manage to get us to this point and this revelation? I mean, I know you’re an experienced therapist and that must be it but really… I’m always amazed…”

He then revealed to me that he’s been a licensed psychologist for almost 10 years and had been doing therapy for many many hours in his career. But he also wanted me to know that I’m not just any other client – that we have developed a bond and a relationship in which the conversation can flow well. I’m thankful.

I’m so very thankful for this patient and kind psychologist. I had actually gotten to a point in the conversation where I had expressed my fear and anxiety, “Why do you care about me? Why do you want to help me? How are you not frustrated at me for always going back to the same things over and over? How are you not frustrated at me for being so addicted to my depression? You’re not a part of my life, so why would you care? In fact, why would any therapist care?”

My friend, El, had said that they care because it’s their job.

In retrospect, now that I’m reading what I said to S, I’m beginning to think that I was extremely rude to him in saying that. Now I wish I could’ve taken it back because it sounds so accusatory. It’s not. I don’t mean it that way at all. I just feel so anguished and disbelieving that anyone would or should care about me.

He responded to my question with a question that was redirected to me. (I have realized that S does this a lot – answering questions with more questions. And usually answering them in a way that would mean that he would not have to express his own opinions. He’d usually redirect them back to me or reuse my words to explain things. It’s a little frustrating sometimes because I want to pick his brain sometimes…). He said, “Remember a few weeks ago when I asked you what God’s purpose is for you and you had said that maybe it’s so that you can help others? Remember all those random people you met, whose lives you had no part in, that you had helped just by your simple gesture of talking to them? Did you not feel like those were meaningful interactions for you? That you had found meaning in helping them. Yet, you weren’t a part of their lives… Why did you help them?”

I was again, awed. He had done it again. He had brought me another impactful revelation. He was right of course. He is helping me because I need help and he’s able to provide it – and along the way, he is able to find meaning in doing so. Just like I did when I helped all those other random people about two weeks ago.

S is awesome. Like all the other times, I had contemplated not going in to talk to him. I had tried to reason with myself that I didn’t need it. That I could deal with it myself. I didn’t even think we would have anything to talk about. We ended up talking for an hour and 10 minutes. Longer than our usual sessions. And we found more insight today than most days.

He told me that back when I first started therapy, I couldn’t even identify the feelings that I was experiencing. The fact that I can now do that and am consciously doing it is a good thing. He then suggested that I try to self-affirm for the rest of this week and be curious as to how I’d respond to those self affirmations.

He told me to say things like, “I am a good wife”, “I am good at math”, “I am able to do many different things and be successful at them”, “I am worth S helping me”, “I deserve therapy” and to see how I feel every time I do so. He wants me to “sit with my feelings” – as he would often put it.

Then as our session drew to an end, he asked me how I felt.

I told him how tired I was and how tired I am of struggling with myself. I told him that every time things go well or we figure something out, something else comes up.

He reminded me that I was self-invalidating again. That I do that very often – so it creates a mental block for me and one that is so strong that it’s hard for me to overcome.

I didn’t realize that for me to say that I am tired of how new things keep coming up was also another indication that I was self-defeating. I noted it and realized that I am so self-defeating all the time. S told me that I need to keep myself in the more positive realm of my affirmation – to avoid telling myself things like “Oh I may be good at math but someone else is better” or “I can do this fine but so-and-so is so much better” and the like.

I guess I never realized how I’ve developed this really bad habit and I never even realized that I had this bad habit!

At the end of our session, I felt much better than before I had walked in. I was thankful that I was able to defeat my anxiety and go in to ask for help. I was glad that I was even brave enough to ask for help.

I know now that I can’t do this alone. And I’m glad that I have a partner in my psychologist, a steadfast partner who is there to help.

I think I’ll be able to deal with the rest of the week better now. At the very least, I might not be as prone to cutting myself as I was this past week. I will try the things S suggested. Ultimately, he can only do so much – the rest of the work is up to me.

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