I had so much trouble coping yesterday after my therapy session. I had the critical “mother” voice who kept telling me that I’m just so disgusting, weak, pathetic ; that I deserve to be punished, that I deserve to just die. The defiant teenager who kept telling me that I should hurt myself so that people will take me seriously, that I should express my anger in a destructive way either by hurting myself or destroying things.
I had so much trouble that the thoughts persisted until today. I was on the verge of tears all day today. I felt alone and defeated. I was hopeless.
The weather was relentlessly gloomy and rain persistent the whole day. It reflected how I felt because of how relentlessly depressed I am.
So, after I finished tutoring, I decided that I needed to seek help. I couldn’t handle it all myself. So I did. I walked through the sopping wet streets of campus, in the rain, to the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) center to get some help from the trained mental health professionals.
By a stroke of luck, when I walked up to the ever pleasant receptionist, D, she informed me that the on-call psychologist was S! Perfect. I felt relief and nervousness all at once – relief because I’ll be see by my own psychologist and nervous because I only just saw him yesterday.
When he walked out 10 minutes later to greet me, I felt an immediate need to apologize for being there but instead, he was the first to apologize because he had had me waiting for so long. He explained that the power had gone out in the block where his office is situated and so he hadn’t gotten the message from the receptionist that I was there for a walk-in session.
He asked me how things were going and my answer was an apologetic, “Well, I’m back… Again…”. I know people say, “Oh wow, you’re so brave to seek help” but I really don’t feel that way. I feel needy and I feel like I shouldn’t be bothering people. I know that S has told me multiple times that I shouldn’t feel like I’m a bother when I need help but it’s hard to shake that old habit of beating myself up.
I hesitated a little before dissolving. The tears were quick to come as I related how hopeless I feel and how deep my despair was. I told him that I understood that talking about difficult things would mean that I would have a difficult time coping afterwards. I knew that going in to yesterday’s session. I knew it but I still couldn’t help how I felt. I thought I was strong enough to face the pain but I obviously wasn’t.
S did not dismiss how I felt. He validated my feelings and also showed a genuine concern as he gently rebutted all the negative self talk that I had been giving myself all day yesterday and all morning today. Every time I would say something negative, be it blaming myself for all the things that have happened or calling myself pathetic, he would have a counter argument.
I listened to him with half belief. Half because it’s so very hard to convince myself the real truth; that not everything is my fault and not everything is mine to fix. He didn’t stop trying throughout our 40 minute session. He tried different tactics to help me see the truth and to forgive myself. I was impressed by his skills as a psychologist, employing all the tricks he knew to get someone standing on a figurative edge of a rooftop to come back down to safety.
After 40 minutes, it finally worked because something he said to me finally clicked. I said to him, my voice dripping with despair, “I don’t really want to die, you know… I just want this pain to stop. I don’t know if I can handle anymore… I don’t know if the part of me that’s been holding me up can take anymore beatings. That part of me has been beat down so much…”
“Have you ever talked back to that voice?” S asked. His voice was clear, suddenly cutting through the muddiness of my despair. It was like a sudden ray of light that finally broke through the gloomy, dark, rain clouds.
“No… I don’t think I ever have…” I said, thoughtfully. “I don’t think that part of me has ever fought back before… It’s always just taken all the beating and scolding…”
“Maybe it’s time for you to start talking back to it. ‘I’m tired of listening to you. I’ve been dealing with you for far too long. These things matter. These things are important…'” S said.
“Yeah…. Yeah. You’re right. Maybe it’s time for this part of me to get angry and fight back…”
“You are angry for a good reason. It’s just finding what that is and where to direct it…” – he’s referring to my inability to feel anger or rather, my reluctance to allow myself to feel angry.
“Right…” I said, as my mind started to clear. It felt like the dark storm clouds of my mind were lifting as we said those words.
Incidentally, at the same moment I received the wisdom I needed to get through the rest of my week, the rain stopped outside and the sun shone through. It was a weird coincidence but it felt good. I pointed it out to S. He laughed and said, “Wow. Your unconscious controls the universe!” and I closed my eyes and pretended like I was doing so. We both laughed. It was just what I needed.
“I guess you needed a little appendix to yesterday, huh?”
I laughed and replied, “Yeah… I thought to myself as I walked here earlier, ‘You just can’t leave S alone, can you?'”
“Well, I was actually half expecting that you’d show up… I’m just glad that I’m the one on duty right now. It would’ve taken you a long time to repeat everything…”
“Yeah. I’m glad too! I came in today hoping for some wisdom and I got it”
S then reminded me of the Crisis numbers that I had previously promised I’d call if I find myself back in a crisis. I told him that I think I got what I needed to carry me through the rest of the week. He thanked me for coming in and I thanked him for having me.
It felt strange to be thanked for seeking help. It felt strange because he’s the one providing me a service and help that I needed and yet, he thanked me for being there. It actually felt good. It made me feel wanted.
Anyway, I’m so thankful for today’s session. Sure, I cried for the most part and was quiet quite a bit because I didn’t know what to say, but S persisted and we got through to an important break for this week. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it many times, I’m so glad that S is in my life. Time and again, despite how whiny and annoying I am, he’s been there for me and he’s helped me through.
I just need to learn to do this for myself too so that I don’t run to him every single time I feel the grip of despair.