Quick Thought From Therapy – Therapy #102

I’m feeling pretty wiped out today because of my monthly blood loss so I’ll just plonk this one here until I have more time to expound on it:

Today’s wisdom from the psychologist’s couch is:
 
I’ve repeated many patterns in my life due to many different reasons – but one of the most notable one is the fact that I constantly feel the need to want protection from outside parties (in a very child-like manner). Today I realize that I don’t need that anymore because I am perfectly capable of protecting myself. However, I do not discount all the things that have happened in the past because all those things are the REASONS why I am able to get to today where I am able to self-love.
S approves of my “epiphany” and told me that what we’ve talked about before, about the Adult, the Child, and the Teen, are all leading up to this. That that is definitely the trend we’ve been going on.
It had definitely been an eye-opening session. Through it all, I kept saying, “Wow that’s interesting…” to which S noted that I might be trying to distance myself from feeling the extent of the moment. He promised that we will deal with that in future sessions!

Another Walk In Session 

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. 

My list – written with shaky hands so my handwriting isn’t the best.

Another Walk In Session 

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. 

Thoughts From Therapy #87 – Feeling Pride

Today’s session with S went relatively well – as usual we always run out of time when we start to work really hard. I say relatively because I really enjoyed his company today, but I was also just feeling raw and weepy. I like how I can feel safe enough to go to his office and be able to open up and just cry.

I haven’t cried in a week, and crying is so cathartic but it’s something that I find great difficulty doing outside of CAPS.

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Psychologists Are Humans Too

I find it ironic that therapists/psychologists are so very calm, collected, and seem to have their life so perfectly balanced when you see them in their office – their comfort zone. However, once outside of that space, they are just like all of us with insecurities, fears, dreams, hopes, and such.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that they’re just as human as we are, especially when we sit across from them in their office and we’re the ones getting their help and expertise. It’s so easy to forget that they too have their own preconceived notions, their opinions, their strong emotions, their principles, and their own lives essentially.

I hold my psychologist to a high regard because he has come through for me multiple times and he’s shown me that he deserves my trust and respect. He is also essential to my growth as a person, as it is because of his help that I am who I am today. Sure, I did a lot of the leg work myself, but without his gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudging, his patience, his calm and collected nature, and his great skills, I wouldn’t have been able to do the work.

I have developed a strong attachment and some very strong emotions towards S as a result. Initially, I saw him as my rescuer – the person who came through for me when I needed someone the most. I put him on a pedestal as a result. For the longest time, I couldn’t ever be angry with him, or have any emotions that in any way were negative because of how highly I thought of him. Even when he messed up one time and reacted in a way that made me think that he was dismissive of my thoughts, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him or to even accept that he had messed up.

Then, as therapy progressed and I started to learn and grow, I started being able to speak to him more about our relationship. Slowly, through the months and weeks, I lowered the pedestal until now, he’s someone who I deem as my partner in this journey of recovery. He’s finally on solid ground with me and though I still hold him in high regard, I am no longer idolizing him as I once did. I’m able to speak more candidly about how I feel about him when the situation arises. I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I could do that now.

At our session today, I was actually able to finally reveal my strong emotions towards him. I even said, “I have great affection for you, S. And sometimes, I even say to myself, ‘I really love S’. But it’s not the kind of love that you’d think. I mean, it’s like you’re someone I really hold dear but I’m not attracted to you – well, that’s the thing you see… I don’t think I am. I’m sometimes confused and that’s why I’ve never really brought this up before. I have a lot of fear that I may be attracted to you so I don’t want to be that person. I mean, first of all, you’re married. And secondly, you’re my therapist! I mean, I don’t want to be that client that crosses the line… So I’ve always been afraid of my own feelings towards you…”

S looked bemused. I was somewhat babbling because I felt like I had to make myself as clear as possible so as to not cause any misunderstanding. I truly did care and even love him, but not in that way, you know?

“So you have these strong emotions for me. This strong attachment with me. And somehow, you feel that it’s wrong. And that you shouldn’t have these feelings…” S said. He wasn’t reacting in a way that I thought he was going to (i.e. freak out). He was in his comfort zone after all – every week, he is in charge even if it may seem like I’m the one who brings up issues for us to talk about but really, he’s the one in control of the flow of the conversation. I wonder if the situation would’ve been different had I revealed this to him while we were outside of CAPS.

“Yeah… Because I’m confused you know? I mean, I don’t think I’m attracted to you but I didn’t want to take the chance… I was afraid… I don’t want to ruin this relationship!” I said.

“So you push the strong emotions away. You try to bury it. And you tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel this way,” S said.

“Yeah… Because transference seem to be a kind of stigma in the psychology community – that if your client has transference, it means that it’s bad… I mean, from everything I’ve read…”

“So you’re getting all this from the psychologists’ perspective,” S said.

“Well, not just psychologists but also clients who have  had bad experiences by crossing the line…”

“Jules, it’s okay to have these feelings. And I don’t think that it’s the case here with you, but even if it’s sexual, that it’s okay to have these feelings. What’s not okay is what happens after you have these feelings. It’s not okay, for example, for you to show up at my house. It’s not okay for us to engage in anything inappropriate. Or to blur our boundaries. But your feelings are valid. Those emotions are there so that you can better connect with people. When you push them all away, you don’t get to fully experience this connection because you’re holding back,” S said.

“We’ve never really established our boundaries before,” I said.

“Yeah, I was just thinking about that recently and realized that we never really did…” S said.

“Yeah, so I’ve sometimes been confused about that. Whether something is okay or not. And then I feel bad about stuff…”

“Well, it’s my job to set up these boundaries. It’s on me to do these things. Like the time when I told you that maybe you shouldn’t bring me anymore Starbucks. It was on me to make the call. It’s not on you to do that…” S said. It made me feel a little better because he was taking the responsibility that I had taken on myself. “I do want to check in with you about last week…”

Here we go, I thought to myself. I nodded.

“How did you feel that went?”

“Well…” I said, hesitating. “A part of me was thrilled. To be honest. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit… I mean…. Yeah… But I was thrilled because I don’t think we’ve ever been outside of CAPS together for a length of time”

“Nope!” S said.

“Yeah… So I was thrilled because I got to see you again. And this time, outside of your office. I wanted to talk to you again so that was nice that I was able to. But I’ll be honest… I was actually expecting you and so I was prepared because I overheard the grad students talking and they let it slip that you were coming to relieve one of them. So I had time to prepare myself… But it seemed like you weren’t expecting me”

“Yeah. I wasn’t expecting you. But ever since I found out that you were going to be a Peer Educator, I had already thought to myself that at some point, we’d bump into each other in one of these events.” S said.

“Yeah, I know. And I was determined to not make it weird. So I tried really hard not to be awkward. But… I did feel like you were awkward around me,” I said pointedly.

He sheepishly smiled and said, “Yeah… Yeah I was… Let me normalize this… I don’t think any of us are really comfortable seeing our clients outside of our office. I think it’s definitely awkward and that it’s normal. We usually just go with the client’s lead and see how they respond and we’ll act accordingly…”

Aha! I thought to myself, I knew it! He was being weird and awkward last week during the Alcohol Screening event. He seemed a little embarrassed by it. I then explained to him that I just wanted to be able to treat him normally, like I would any other person. I also told him that when I see him outside of the office, though he’s still my psychologist, he’s also at that point just S, who’s getting lunch, or S who’s getting a drink, or S who’s manning an outreach booth, etc. I said that I was fine with him interacting with me normally.

“Yeah. Well, we can say hi to each other and talk. Say we’re at the campus center and both of us are getting lunch. I can talk to you but I can’t be your friend. This means that I can’t go and sit with you and have lunch together. We can’t have dual roles – so that means we can’t be friends because I’m your psychologist.”

I nodded. I knew that. I’d done my research back when we first started working together and learned about the fact that psychologists aren’t allowed to be anything other than a psychologist to their clients.

Anyway, I then told him that I was glad that he outlined some of our boundaries. It’s going to make it easier for me to know how to respond to him or how to act around him. I was glad we had this talk because it’s been a long time coming. It only took a year and a half for us to finally address the elephant in the room. 😄

After today’s session, it made me realize that S felt vulnerable last week during the event and so acted awkwardly around me. It made me realize that S too experiences these negative emotions, the way that I do. It makes him all the more endearing to me because it means that he’s as real as real can be. I appreciated our candor and our time together.

Today was a validating session – despite the fact that I still shed some tears because I had brought up some difficult emotions – I left feeling largely stable (though unsettled by how stable I was feeling) despite going in to the session thinking that I was going to leave with distressing feelings and thought as I usually do because we’d been “stirring the pot”.

It was a pleasant feeling. It was a feeling that I haven’t really experienced in a while now since my depressive episode had lasted 9 months now. It felt good to be calm and stable.