Living Black & White

Woke up this morning and got started on my day, thinking I’d enjoy my day off work. I didn’t have any plans besides reading and catching up on the blogs I follow religiously, and get some needed study time in.

I did that a little bit (except for the studying part), but couldn’t help noticing that I was feeling really strange. Like I don’t exist. Like I don’t even have a name. I tried saying my name a few times, hoping to feel some recognition or “togetherness”, but it just didn’t sound right. It was as though the name didn’t belong to me. Like I’m no one. Not part of this world. Just floating somewhere, and I don’t even know where. How am I? I don’t even know if I am. There’s nothing. Just emptiness.

That continued on for most of the day. I attempted to study, but just couldn’t focus, no matter how hard I tried. So once again, I put my book aside. I can’t remember anything else from the day up until my therapy session. It’s been a long 2 weeks between sessions. Way too long.

It didn’t quite go the way I had planned. Not that I plan my sessions, but I at least know more or less what I want to talk about or what issues to address. I was surprised by the direction it ended up going in. We spoke about my excessive suicidal ideation over the past two weeks. She told me she was worried about me, and the truth is, I’m worried too. It just seems to be getting worse. We agreed that I would consider admission to hospital for a small amount of time (maybe a few days), which is something I never seriously considered before. I had thought about it once or twice in the past, but for the briefest few minutes. This time though, I think it might just be necessary and a good thing.

My therapist pointed out my black and white thinking during our conversation. I didn’t recognize that’s what was happening. After our session though I realized that I had been in “all or nothing” mode during our entire session. If she hadn’t mentioned that thinking pattern I wouldn’t have even known I was in it, and I wouldn’t have realized that I’d been doing it the whole time. I really should start noticing it from now on. I’ve never paid much attention to it. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this thought process:

Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism used by many people. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).

I feel really horrible. I feel like the worst client ever (did I just do it again?). Replaying the session back in my head and trying to see things from another perspective other than my own, I realize that the things I said could possibly have made her feel like I was “attacking” her and her skills as a Psychologist. Which wasn’t my intention at all. I think she’s the most amazing therapist. I told her in the beginning when she asked me about my suicide plan, that I didn’t want to talk to her about it, because I always feel invalidated by her, and that she doesn’t take me seriously when talking about that topic. She explained why she says what she says during those times, and I finally get it. She wasn’t invalidating me, she wasn’t careless about it, she was encouraging me to see my own strength and resilience. And now that I understand, I’m grateful for it and to her.

She pushed me today and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all. But she knows what she’s doing, and like she says, therapy isn’t always easy.

I’m feeling really shitty, embarrassed and weird about it. Shitty, weird, embarrassed, and exhausted. I just want to crawl into a hole and hide away for a while. My bed will have to do instead.

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20 thoughts on “Living Black & White

  1. I remember coming from my trauma background and how black and white I was. I didn’t really consider the extent until just now, reading your post. My wife would regularly warn me about using the words never and always. I didn’t understand why that was a problem. t was “always” on one side of a situation.
    I think that is natural when dealing with deep difficulty. Categorization of this nature helped me to sort. Now it seems extreme, but back then it was just, as you say, all or nothing, convinced or unconvinced, in or out of whatever it was. I think was mainly a search for stability within my own soul. A perfectionism goes with it.
    It is decades later now and I’m learning a whole different definition of perfection. I’m a little mellower these days and less hard on myself.
    Life has a way of sorting itself out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi ART. In my last relationship (my longest to date), I was told that I infuriate her sometimes because I only see “one or the other”, but I would argue with her, because I just couldn’t see what she was talking about. So now I realize that she was onto something. Not a great realization, but I guess we have to become aware before we can begin to know what needs fixing in our lives and within ourselves. I have no idea how to begin to change this “cognitive error” as my therapist called it. But we’ll probably be working on that in therapy too, so I’ll try to be gentle on myself. Like you say, “Life has a way of sorting itself out.” Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. I remember my perfectionism used to be in following some kind of pattern or ideal. Now it is more of a stepping back and seeing where life is taking me in every situation. I no longer have a “default mode”. It’s situational based and what was the best answer the last time I was in a similar situation may not not be the best answer this time, depending on the variables.
        I do a lot of consulting in my spirit with The Most High/higher self, and am often shocked to find answers so different from what I would naturally be inclined to adopt, work so well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. completely understandable you would feel so shitty and exhausted, sounds like you had a big breakthrough seeing things from a different perspective. That in itself can be emotionally exhausting and really hard too, so massive pat on the back. Im also told by my therapist i heavily use black or white thinking which i didnt even realise.

    As you say therapy isnt easy, hugs xx. its definitely all about recognising things that we didnt realise about ourselves. The thoughts and behaviors we have and sometimes learning to change our thoughts which come so naturally to us or have been inbuilt in us / taught to us for years. I think you are being so hard on yourself feeling weird and embarrassed about it, for therapy to work at it best it needs to be an honest process and its important that you say when you feel or think certain things (even negative) or are feeling invalidated. As a pschologist she would be well trained and know that you aren’t attacking her personally, just expressing how you feel/felt and that is all part of the process. Im pretty sure you are not the worst client, if you were the worst client in the world you would even be thinking about her and how she felt 😉 xxx

    I find a two week inbetween therapy really hard work too. Im paying privately (im in the uk and found no support from the NHS unfortunately) and having to take another loan out and cover it.

    thinking of you, reach out to us bloggers if you need it. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. I always enjoy reading your comments. You say things that make me think and enables me to see things from a different perspective.

      “for therapy to work at it best it needs to be an honest process and its important that you say when you feel or think certain things (even negative) or are feeling invalidated. As a psychologist she would be well trained and know that you aren’t attacking her personally, just expressing how you feel/felt and that is all part of the process.”

      I really needed to hear this, and I should remember it in future. I hold back sometimes out of fear of possibly upsetting her, but I guess that negates the point of therapy. I’ve always tended to put others before myself, think of their feelings first, so it’s very difficult to remember that therapy is supposed to be about me and my feelings. I just need to work harder at that I think.

      I have 5 sessions left (4 after Thursday) that I don’t have to pay for, and I’m stressing out over that. I struggled to fall asleep last night thinking about it. I have no idea what I’m going to do after that, as I can barely afford one session a month on my current salary. I’ll maybe have to take out a loan as well (if they’ll give me one that is). I’m sorry that you’re not getting any support from the NHS. 😦

      *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That really means alot ❤ I always worry about commenting, so thank you so much 🙂

        You definitely deserve to be able to put yourself first. To be honest though, i get where you are coming from as when i was getting therapy through the NHS I often did not open up so much because i felt guilty of the therapist having to deal with it in so little sessions! I see now that it was actually the right time to be "selfish", instead selfless. Therapy is your time to do that and your feelings are valid and important in your recovery. they need to know everything that is going on to be able to help 🙂

        Really hope they will re-think giving you more sessions. the stress of worrying about it can really add to our problems.

        take care xx

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I had a great session with my therapist on Thursday, and we spoke about my holding thoughts/feelings back from her, fearing how it would make her feel. That’s one of the things we’re working on… How to take care of myself and focus on ME during therapy. I’ve decided to be 100% open with her from now on, in order to prevent misunderstandings in the future. If she hasn’t abandoned me yet, I doubt she ever will. It’s only been about 3 months, but she knows me well already and has stuck by me, so I need faith that she’ll continue to do just that.

          We’re going to try applying for more sessions, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I also just found out that I have a job waiting for me in my dad’s business from August, so then I’ll be able to afford to continue seeing my therapist. Problem solved. 🙂

          I hope you’re feeling better today. Remember, I’m here for you. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thats brilliant sounds like a really positive session, well done! Keep the faith, it sounds like you have a good therapist 🙂 , I have my fingers crossed re the extra sessions. Thats great news about the Job, so pleased for you.!!

            Hope you are well, here for you too ❤

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  3. Hey Rayne. I understand how you’re feeling “all or nothing” “black or white” “all good or all bad” are thought patterns which I have as well I tend to lean more towards the negative side though. I learned in psychology that this type of thinking is common in things like depression so it’s not all you as a person but your illness, you’re experiencing symptoms of an illness and you can’t be blamed for having it so don’t be so hard on yourself 🙂

    I’m so sorry to learn that you have suicidal ideation going on, as you probably know I’ve been there, If you do end up going to the hospital I hope it goes well for you and you get the help you need.

    Also I’m reading this book called “It’s Kind of A funny Story” about a boy who goes into hospital because of depression. I strongly recommend it, It’s the first book since I’ve had depression that both me and it could agree on reading, I’ve almost finished it now and I think it would be a good book for you as well. Thinking of you ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi lovely. My therapist and I worked a little bit on the black and white thinking patterns in our session yesterday. She said to have a scale from 0-10 and rate a specific thought as either untrue or true and assigning a number to that thought. So for example: “Everything is messed up”. How true is that statement? Let’s give it a 5/10. Then going into detail with that number and thought. “This is messed up” and listing what I feel isn’t working, and then what IS working. So at the end you can see not EVERYTHING is messed up. Then re-framing that thought to something true, like “certain things may not be working out the way I’d like them too, but there are also things that ARE working out”. I can’t explain it as well as she did, but you get the point. 🙂

      I’m out of crises mode, so won’t have to go to the hospital. I’m taking things one moment at a time and trying to take care of myself. Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll definitely have a look for it. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a really tough session, a hard one to have to walk away from and sit with until the next visit. I hate when they end that way. So shitty.
    Also, I am sorry you’re struggling with the suicidal ideation. I know there is pain in there, perhaps feeling overwhelmed. Sending support and thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a sweetheart. 🙂 As bad as this session felt, I’m grateful for it. In hindsight it was really valuable. Yesterday’s session was really good, so all horrible feelings are now gone and I feel at peace again with therapy. Yay! I was definitely feeling overwhelmed… Experienced it again for a little while today, but am okay now. Thank you so much for your support. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you are feeling better (or did feel better) – it is always nice when those horrible feelings can transform into something meaningful and beneficial.

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  5. So amazing that you have this great relationship with your therapist and that she really knows you. I think she is right to point out your resilience and strength as I believe there is a connection between suicidal ideation and feelings of powerlessness. I also have an amazing relationship with my therapist who I’ve been seeing for 6 and a half years. When I started seeing her I had the emotional age of a 2 year old, clinging onto my ex-armed robber lover and calling him mummy all the time. Now I am old enough to get a job and I am going to get one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was really lucky to have found her, especially when I did. She’s amazing and the most important person in my life right now. Your statement “I think she is right to point out your resilience and strength as I believe there is a connection between suicidal ideation and feelings of powerlessness” makes so much sense. I’ve never actually thought of that. When I’m feeling that way it’s because I feel hopeless and powerless… Like there’s no other way out.

      I’m glad you’ve also found such a great therapist. They make all the difference in the world. Well done, you’ve come far, and I know you’ll continue on this good path. Wishing you all the best. 🙂 ❤

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