As promised, here is part 2.
I will post more when I’m more awake but I just wanted to say that I had a decent session with S today – one that ended with him being pleased that I surrendered the paracord bracelet that I was going to use to hang myself with on Monday, and that I asked him to make me promise that I won’t buy more knives.
To be honest, though I willingly surrendered the bracelet, deep down, I didn’t want to. I wanted to have a choice. But I felt that I was a danger to myself.
On Monday, I got drunk because I was triggered – the trigger led me down my usual spiral of negativity and ended with me trying to cope with alcohol. In the midst of my drunkenness, I wanted to hang myself. It was a good thing that when I got home (my manager and coworker drove me home), I passed out. When I woke, the feeling had passed so I was safe.
So, despite my desire for a choice, I also felt like I needed to help S protect myself. He told me last week that he’s worried about me and he’s worried for these moments where I might lose control and do something that will be too drastic or serious to recover from.
I realized that I asked for help today. I’ve been trying to do everything myself for the longest time but today, I asked for help. It feels like a huge step for me.
I left feeling anxious, confused, distressed, and needy/clingy as I always do post-therapy. Today, even more so because S wanted us to go back down to just one session a week.
He’d said, “When there’s a lot of anxiety and fear, a lot of times the thing to do to manage that is to gradually do what you fear. And that’s kinda how we’re going about building that resilience. That way the child will come to understand that she’ll be okay and the adult and the teen will take care of her”
He gave me the choice to disagree with his decision but I didn’t take it because he was right. I need to face that fear.
For a year and a half, I’ve been clinging on so tightly to S. I never want to let him go. But it’s the equivalent of me hanging on to the rock in the middle of a raging river while looking at the shore longingly. At some point, if I want to get to the shore, I’m going to have to let go of the rock and make my way there.
S assured me again today that whenever I want to talk to him, he’ll be happy to talk to me. So the rock will always be there whenever I feel too afraid to continue. I could look back with comfort knowing that it’ll always be there for me should I need it. But once I start to make the journey towards the shore, I’m going to start feeling more confident and stronger. And once I get to the shore, I’ll be happy that the rock provided me with the strength to do it and I’ll be comforted to know that if I ever find myself back in the river again, that the rock will still be there to save me.
I’m also stable today because I took care of myself. After the session today, I was anxious and I didn’t have a focus. I didn’t know what to do. I was indecisive. Finally, I took my skateboard out and went skating around my campus. I wanted to familiarize myself with the pavements because I intend to skate around campus during school. I ended up having a really great time.
I was so excited and giddy inside. I kept squealing with glee as I skated around.
Then after that, I asked a friend out for lunch because I needed to feel a connection. It was a great time at lunch. Right after lunch, I messaged my coworker and close friend to see if he’d be okay with me hanging out at his home. He told me we could hang out for 2 hours. I ended up staying there from 2.45pm to midnight because we kept playing video games.
Although I ended up not getting the haircut I was supposed to, and not having the dinner that I thought I would, I had an amazing time because I felt that great connection – even if all we did was just sit on the couch all evening and tapped at our phones as we played. I feel so comfortable around N that it really does astounds me. I’m usually awkward around people but he and I click really well.
So, I took steps and practiced some coping strategies. I think the child is slowly allowing the adult to take care of her. It also seems like she’s starting to let go of her desire to hurt and kill me. It’s slow but I feel like it’s happening.
I just hope now that I can last an entire week without seeing S again.
This was me, a year ago.
I had long hair and a different mental state. I was often a little less aware of myself, a lot less mindful and I struggle with many things. I struggled with depression, anxiety disorder, and ADHD.
I have a bald fade on my sides and back of my head, accompanied by a mohawk with a fading teal color. I have my left ear pierced two other times so now I have 3 earrings on my left ear and one on my right. I still struggle with depression, anxiety disorder, and ADHD. In fact, my struggles this year have been so much more severe – so much so that I’ve been close to suicidal attempts each time I was triggered.
So what’s the difference?
Besides the stark physical difference where my hair is concerned, I feel like looking at the current picture, I can’t help but feel more me than the picture above it.
People have been pointing out the same thing.
I had coworkers who have said, “You know Jules, I can’t remember you with long hair. Somehow, it always feels like you’ve had short hair all this time!”, and “Jules, I cannot imagine you with anything but the short hair!”, and “Your short hair really suits you! Brings out your personality!”
They’re not the only ones who have said that. The group therapy leaders in Spring 2016 had said similar things – B had said, “I feel like you have a sense of confidence in you that I’d never seen before!”, whereas C had said, “It’s not just hair! It’s you. The hair encompasses all of you”
Somehow, I feel more comfortable with my wild mohawk/shaved do that I ever did with any other haircut. No longer do I uncomfortably brush my hair away from my face or try to tie it up to keep it out of my ears and face. Instead, nowadays, whenever I reach up to touch my head/hair, it’s to admire the way it feels on my head. Nowadays, I enjoy touching my head/hair and I’ve stopped fidgeting with how it looks. I even like to stroke the back of my head because it feels good to feel the tiny hair under my fingers. It feels velvety, almost like stroking a soft short-furred animal.
When I look at myself in the mirror, I can’t help but smile. The number of selfies that I’ve taken have increased. Every single day, I want a record of how I looked that day. I know no one else cares how I look despite the fact that I keep posting my selfies on Facebook, but hey, I care.
Despite the similarities of circumstances and things that I’ve been struggling with as the me last year did, I feel different. I feel like I’ve changed so much, grown so much, learned so much. Like I’ve mentioned yesterday, I feel like I’m stronger. Even if it’s just by a little bit. I feel different.
I’ve also just deleted about 40 people off my Facebook list of friends because I no longer talk to any of those people. It felt like a burden had slid off my back. Somehow, just doing the mere act of clicking the “Unfriend” button had a significant mental health impact. It’s like I’m starting anew.
On my stablest and calmest days, I can do this without freaking out. I’m glad that I’m having a stable and calm day today. I’m glad that I am able to have a day like this to recognize the changes that I’ve made for myself that has led to a stronger me.
I can’t believe how much I’ve changed and grown as a person since starting therapy last year.
The Jules last year would have freaked out, felt thoroughly ashamed, beat herself up, and be devastated had she heard what S told me yesterday because the last-year-Jules was a different person then.
When I walked in to therapy yesterday, S quickly said, “So before we get started, I wanted to mention something real quick. And I really appreciate you bringing me Starbucks multiple times but it’s probably we need to… Keep a lid on it for now. I don’t want to be like, shaming you or anything. It’s really not a big deal…”
I had been bringing him Starbucks quite a few times lately. It’s more because I’m trying to show him gratitude for his hard work more than anything.
“No no no… Gotcha… I know. Yeah, it’s not a big deal either you know? But yeah, gotcha!” I said. I started to feel heat creep up my neck. I wasn’t necessarily feeling embarrassed or ashamed but I do have seemingly automatic physical responses to embarrassing moments even if I’m not fully experiencing that feeling at that time. It’s really strange. I didn’t know if S noticed or not. If he had, he might think that I was just lying.
“And again, I… I really appreciate the sentiment behind it. There’s really not any guidelines about that sort of thing… But just kinda a general consensus is, it’s like, on a regular basis, just…”
“Right! Right… Gotcha!” I said, interjecting because I was feeling uncomfortable with the situation.
“Yeah…” S said. I knew what he meant, and he knew that I knew. “Any reactions or…?”
“No. I think that, that it’s good that you mentioned it,” I said. To be honest, I had started to wonder how many more times I could do what I was doing before I would be told to stop. I’m actually glad that I’m told to stop – only because I keep spending money when I probably should be saving.
“Okay. As long as you’re cool with that…” S said. He seemed a little uncomfortable, bringing up the subject. It’s funny how sometimes we both act so uncomfortable and awkward around each other despite having worked on such an intimate level for a year and a half now. “In that case, how have things been going?”
I for one was glad that we were done with that initial topic and was able to talk about what was really burdening me for the past week. That said, I wasn’t trying to be dismissive on purpose. I think I still need to work on being able to handle uncomfortable situations.
I explained to him today, as we saw each other again for the second time this week, that I really didn’t feel ashamed when he told me not to bring him anymore Starbucks. I told him that every time that I did, I was feeling good after therapy and when I feel good, I want others to feel the same – so I always try to do nice things for people. One of the ways I show my love and appreciation is through buying people things. So the Starbucks, I told him, was really just an extension of that. I wasn’t in any way trying to control or manipulate him in session. I wasn’t trying to make him feel like he owes me more than he does to his other clients. As I told him all that, I realized that I was calm.
I told him that if this had happened last year, last-year-Jules would have been so devastated to hear that he wouldn’t accept any more gifts. Last-year-Jules would’ve considered it a sign of rejection and she would’ve withdrawn, which would’ve affected the course of the therapeutic journey. I told S that I feel much more mature, much more secure in our therapeutic relationship. It seemed to me that I now consider him my partner and though I still deeply respect him, look up to him, and still adore him, he’s no longer on my pedestal as he used to be. I now see him as a regular guy who works just as hard as I am in therapy. I’m still curious about him – like how old he is, why he decided to work in a college instead of starting his own practice, where he lives, if he uses social media and stuff like that – but I’m not as desperately dependent on him as I used to be.
I’m not independent yet either but I’m at a spot where I know I am depending on him but at the same time, I’m no longer ashamed that I am and that I’m ok with the fact that I have to use him as a crutch for now until I can walk on my own. I’m not there yet. We both know that. And he’s even told me before how it’s ok to not be there yet.
I told him all that today. I told him my observations. “I feel like I still have that really great respect for you. I still look up to you and think highly of you. But it’s less desperate…”
“Less desperation. Less dependence even…” S said, “It’s interesting. It’s almost paradoxical. Sounds like last year I was more up on that pedestal but there was actually more desperation and less trust on your part…”
“Yeah, more fear,” I added. It really took me a long time to trust S enough to be truly vulnerable with him.
“More fear, okay. And so now, I guess there’s more of a partnership. But you don’t idolize me, there’s less desperation, I’m not as on the pedestal…”
“Yeah, I have quite a lot of difficulty with accepting that you’re just as human as I am… Whenever I get those drinks at Starbucks though, I’m just doing it like I would any other friend. I get 4 every single time – ok, one for myself, one for CG, one for D because I really like her, and oh, one for S. If I had done that last year, it would have been like ‘This is a gift, this is a big deal. If you don’t take it, I’m going to be so ashamed’ but it feels different this time. It’s more like, ‘Wow, that was a great session! I feel great right now! I want to do something nice!’ almost like a, ‘Hey you worked really hard with me today. Here’s a little something. It’s not a big deal. It’s not to ask for favors, but it’s more like I feel good. So I want to pass it along. Pay it forward I guess…'”
He then said something that I wasn’t expecting. He said, “As you’re saying this, I wonder if I haven’t been giving you enough credit. Or I haven’t seen as much of a progress. And what I mean by that is, I was kinda nervous about talking to you about this because I thought to myself, ‘Oh no… She’s going to be devastated or ashamed or something if I bring this up’. I was worried about what it would be like for you when I go on vacation. But hearing you talking, it sounds like you’re farther along than I thought! You’re less dependent on me than I thought. That feels really good for me to hear! I wish I had given you more credit!”
I wasn’t expecting that at all because that was just another reminder that the psychologist that I used to put on a pedestal before is also as fallible as I am – that sometimes, he does make mistakes, that sometimes despite his years of experience, he does overlook things. And he admitted that he overlooked my progress – that I am a little more stable than he had thought I was.
I did explain though that though I can be very positive and calm, the child also takes control away from the adult very quickly whenever triggered. So I can go from telling him how I’m starting to depend on him less to telling him that I desperately need to see him again tomorrow in a matter of moments. Yes, there is definitely progress but there is also definitely setback.
“You’re talking to the adult right now,” I reminded S. “The child is in her room right now. She’s not out and so the adult can take control”
I’m not trying to negate the progress I’ve made but rather just to face the reality that I am struggling with myself on a daily basis. As we talked about that more and also hashed out some things I could do for myself while he is gone for vacation for the next two weeks (Boo!!), I realized just how far I’ve come. I’ve still got a ways to go ahead but wow, I am amazed.
Since the adult is still in control right now, I can continue to be positive about this day despite the fact that I was still hit with negative things that triggered the child. I hope that someday, I’ll be able to get the child to trust the adult and that for once, all three selves will come together and be truly united.
For now, I’ll take whatever good and positive moments I can get!
Oh, uh, and yes, I won’t be seeing S until August 3rd. I forgot to mention how kind and considerate he was to think about me because he’s still very concerned about my emotional state and my suicidality. So, he actually spoke to a colleague of his who’d seen me a couple of times before during walk-ins (I’ve spoken about him as well here) and set up appointments for me to speak to J while he’s away. It felt good when he told me that he’d talked to J and that J had agreed to take me on for two weeks because S wanted to make sure that I had good support while he was gone. I think that’s probably also why I’m a lot more stable than I was last year – I have a buffer in a manner of speaking, until S comes back.
Still… I can’t wait for August 3rd.
** Note: We talked about plenty of other things too (and I did spend yesterday’s session just bawling my eyes out and a little bit of today’s session doing the same thing) but this felt like the most important and the biggest epiphany I’ve had this week so that’s why I wrote about this instead of the whole session.
It just occurred to me today that if I don’t want my psychologist to read into something or ask me how I feel about it to talk about it, that I shouldn’t bring it up. I just realized that every time I go in to speak to my psychologist, almost everything we talk about has a purpose of being there in the conversation. Somehow, he’s always able to tie everything back in together in a neat way. Even the things that I thought were just throwaway comments always end up back on the table and tied in with other more “important” things that I’ve talked about.
Today, I wanted him to help me figure out why I was so upset on Saturday when I was telling someone about something matter-of-fact about leaving Malaysia. I had nearly cried as I told this person the story that I had talked about before. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did and so I brought it up in today’s session.
Of course, S asked me why I felt the way I did. I told him that I didn’t know. I mean, dude, I just told you I don’t know, why ask me again, right? But somehow, him asking me that made me think a little harder than I did on Saturday when I first experienced this feeling. And somehow, I figured out that the reason why it hit me so hard this time around despite having already talked about it before was because of one small detail that I had forgotten about until last Saturday. Talking about it with S today made me remember it again.
And as I left the session today, I realized that if I don’t want to talk about something, I really shouldn’t bring it up. I brought up an issue that I didn’t really want to talk about today which led to me bawling my eyes out uncontrollably for 10 minutes.
I know I know. If you don’t talk about it and bring it to light, you can’t learn from it, grow from it or change your life. I know all that but sometimes, I think I just want a break from facing my demons, y’know? Anyone else feel this way?
Btw, sorry for the sporadic posts here lately, guys. I’ve been struggling with my ADHD pretty badly lately. I can’t even focus on conversations much less sitting down to write blog posts. Also, I’m in the middle of finals so I’ve been less inspired to write as I haven’t been thinking about anything but studies lately.
On a happier note, I have received the highest grade for math in my life! I got an A+ with 107.69% and got 84/80 for my final exam which landed me with the title of “Best in Section”. I got into the 99th percentile out of the 700+ student too. I have never been happier or more excited in my life. I was shaking and out of sorts for hours yesterday when I found out. It has to be my biggest achievement to date!
So I’ve been pretty down the whole day today – I think it’s probably because of the stress of finals. I have 3 art pieces due on Monday and I work doubles for the next two days and a lunch shift on Sunday. That means that I will have little to no time to finish the art projects.
I think I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the negativity and ended up being quite depressed the whole day. I tried to question myself why I’m feeling so sad but found no answer.
I tried self-affirming and couldn’t get anything positive from it – in fact, I started feeling angry as I told myself affirming things. Not quite sure why…
Then I tried clicking on to the “7 Cups” website. I’ve heard of this site before in the past but never really looked around.
A couple of questions popped up and after I answered them, a “Growth Path” appeared for me that took me through 10 steps of growth filled with mindfulness activities and guided meditation.
I am actually feeling a little better than I did before I started the exercises. So thanks to that, I wanted to post this site on my blog for anyone who might either need such activities to help them through the rest of the day or for anyone who might just need someone to talk to. It’s free and very user friendly.
Here’s the link: 7 Cups
I hope it’s helpful for you as it was for me.