I love my therapeutic group. I do.
However, sometimes, the things we discuss can be so triggering. I absorb emotions from others easily and do whenever someone is distressed, I start feeling distressed as well.
That was what happened in today’s session.
I was feeling fine, teetering on the line between good and fine. Towards the end of the session, one of the members was so distressed and anxious that I started to feel what she was feeling too.
Then Kyle ended the session with a really sad thought about how this year will be the first year he’ll be spending Thanksgiving without his ex-girlfriend of 7 and a half years. For once in 3 weeks, I was hit by my own sadness and memories of my ex. I hadn’t thought about him, the divorce, or how he is for about 3 weeks and I had been starting to feel proud of the fact that I am doing okay without him.
For the last 5 minutes of the session, I started to think of my own situation and how lonely I would be during Thanksgiving.
“My friend invited me to her home for Thanksgiving,” Kyle said.
“I know how you feel. It sucks. I’m sad for you. I’m also sad for myself because I know exactly how you feel. Maybe you’ll have a good time with your friend,” I said, trying to put a more positive spin on the situation. Inside, I was feeling sad and vulnerable.
When group ended, I hung around at the lobby of CAPS, thinking and evaluating my feelings. I asked myself if I needed a walk-in.
After 5 minutes, I decided that I did because of how I was starting to get more distressed. YT came to greet me. She happened to be S’ supervisee.
When I sat down in front of her, I said, “I’m baaack!” in a sing song voice because I had seen her a few weeks ago when I had cut myself and was suicidal. She had made me write a safety plan that we both signed for accountability’s sake.
Then I launched into a rant of increasing intensity about how tired I was, and how overwhelmed I was. I told her of my trigger during group and the trigger that I got subsequently.
Just before my meeting with YT, I had received a message from a friend that reads: “Apple has been trying to call you to come in for an interview. Your voicemail isn’t working. Please call them back!” I nearly had a panic attack.
Self-criticism of my skills and intelligence intensified – I had already started having thoughts that I’m not cut out for computer science again earlier this afternoon. The triggers didn’t help matters.
I told YT how I also feel like I thought that I was getting better but then I had nearly gone into a panic attack. I hadn’t thought about suicide in a more serious manner until now. The thought of driving my car into a traffic light or into the river was very appealing to me.
I am exhausted. I want things to end. I want to quit life itself. I told YT all that. When she asked if I could take a break, I told her that I feel like I can’t. Besides, what does it mean anyway? It doesn’t sound like a concrete step I could take. It just all seem so arbitrary.)
We talked about 50 minutes while I cried freely. I think I had badly needed that because the tears were cathartic. I started to feel better as I listened to her. She told me of the progress that she sees in me. Of how despite having the gut reaction of wanting to get a knife and cutting myself, that I sought help instead. She also told me that my interpretation of recovery is too linear – that recovery is characterized by a series of highs, lows, dips, and peaks. That what is happening to me today is normal and should be expected. She also said that I had bottled up 30 years’ worth of pain, emotions, and rage that hadn’t ever been processed.
I started to feel calmer.
“You said you have 4 days off right?” She asked.
I nodded. Fall break begins tomorrow and I’d taken all 4 days off.
“Would you like to write down a plan for those 4 days? Sometimes being able to visualize things really helps you refocus,” YT said. I really liked her very concrete methods of visualization. They really help me.
When she suggested I write the safety plan the last time, I didn’t think it would be effective. However, it turns out that it was actually very effective because the safety plan has kept me from doing anything rash.
So she pulled out a pad of paper, and handed me her pen. She instructed me on how I should write the plan. Then as she prompted me, I started to write down all the things I want to do for the next 4 days.
As I wrote down more and more things, I started to feel calmer. I also started to smile because I started to feel like I have something to look forward to.
I think she could tell that I was feeling better but she still checked in on my suicidal thoughts. I told her that I am not thinking of them anymore. That I am not going to do anything because I still have things to look forward to and things I want to do.
Then as I gathered myself, physically, and emotionally, she made a comment about my large backpack and how heavy my load is. We then had a few moments of small chat before I thanked her profusely for her help.
I’m so thankful for CAPS. Without it, I wouldn’t be as far along with my progress as I am now. Without it, I might have done something drastic and passed on my pain to everyone else around me through suicide.