A Lifeline

Last week my therapist cancelled our session due to a personal loss.

My heart went out to her.

It was a strange experience. Usually a cancellation would trigger my abandonment issues. But this time all I could think and feel was an intense sadness for her. What this cancellation means to me didn’t even enter my mind (at least not consciously). For the rest of that week I carried on with life as normal.

Of course, I thought about my therapist often, and experienced those same feelings of sadness for her situation. Along with a deep sense of care, and hoping for comfort for her.

Something inside me shifted on Monday. Certain frustrations in my life intensified, and I received some bad news regarding my emigration (a new plan has since been made however). I was feeling extra intense pressure from my dad and everything starting going haywire inside my head. I felt overwhelmed. To the extent where I just wanted to end it all, just wanted to make it stop.

And then the panic set in. The desperation. I wanted my therapist. She would understand. She always does. She was the only one I feel safe with emotionally. Our session was a couple of days away, but what if she cancels again? What if she doesn’t come back? What if our relationship changes due to her loss? Yes, now the attachment demon had arrived. Now it was about me again.

I felt ashamed by these new thoughts and feelings. How could I be so selfish? That’s when the self-hatred kicked in.

On Tuesday came the message I feared. My therapist was cancelling our session this week too. This brought back the memory of another attachment figure, my OT, cancelling two of our sessions back to back, and then sending an email weeks later terminating our work. The reason for the new cancellation was also a trigger. The memorial service was on the day my session was supposed to be. My therapist had said that she would be back in the office this week. So the thought that she was going to be seeing some other clients this week, but not me, felt devastating.

In panic mode all I wanted to do was beg her for a time, any time this week, even just a 10 minute call, which we had done before. I wanted her to know how badly I was taking this. The effect it was having on me. I felt like I had been on the edge of a cliff since the previous day, and now I was slipping. But despite the frame of mind I was in, I resisted my urges. Because I didn’t want to make things harder for her than they already were. Because I care about her.

But I knew I needed to do something because at that moment I didn’t trust myself with myself. I knew I needed to talk to someone. A professional. I thought of the therapist who I had two sessions with when my therapist was on leave. While I had been comfortable with her, I wasn’t comfortable enough in this situation. I didn’t want anyone that was even remotely connected to my therapist. I wanted A. Other than my current therapist, A knows me best and knows how to work (and deal) with me. We worked together for more than two years after all.

I reached out to her and asked whether we could schedule an appointment for sometime this week. I was worried that she wouldn’t have time available. But thankfully, she did. So we scheduled a video session for the next day. And even though I was in a horrible place for the rest of that day and evening, there was that little sliver of hope peeking through. Keeping me going. Keeping me safe.

Still, leading up to our session, fears that she would cancel as well, kept showing up. But she didn’t cancel. She showed up. It was like coming up for air.

We’ve had contact since we stopped working together when I moved over to my current therapist in 2018, but they were just text messages here and there. She still reads my blog. This has all been enough to keep our connection strong.

I didn’t know what to expect after such a long time of not seeing her. I thought I’d be nervous. That it might be weird. But it wasn’t. It was as though no time had passed. It felt familiar. Comfortable.

For some reason, my distress of the past few days and hours fizzled out as soon as I saw her. We caught up a bit. Some nice moments.

It was easy to open up about everything going on. And it felt so good to be able to talk to someone about this situation with my therapist. Especially with someone who is a therapist herself, and at the same time, knows me well. She provided different perspectives. Possibilities. Got me to list the evidence for why I can trust my therapist and know she cares about me. This exercise was extremely helpful, and not something I had been able to do, or see, in my distressed state.

What was also helpful was when A told that I’ve grown since we worked together, and pointed some of it out. It helped because I’d been feeling like a failure. A therapy and personal failure. Like I had regressed completely. It also felt really good when she said that it was nice to see me again. A much-needed boost to my self-esteem.

Ever the ethical professional, she asked whether I would be okay with her contacting my therapist to let her know that we had a “emergency” session. I actually really appreciated this because like she said, she doesn’t want to interfere in my work with my current therapist. Feeling protective though, I asked her to rather send her that message next Monday. I want to give therapist some “space” this week. She doesn’t need to be thinking of me right now. I’m seeing her on Monday (still struggling with the fear of yet another cancellation), so then we can discuss it as well.

This session was exactly what I needed. It felt like a warm, comforting hug. It was as though I had been stuck in a pit of despair and negativity, but had been pulled out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. I’m still struggling. But I’m coping.

We do what we have to in order to survive.

“You Don’t Really Want to Die, You Want Connection”

Maybe my therapist is right.

After all, why am I still here? Why am I still holding on? What exactly am I holding on for? Part of it is because I don’t have the courage to try to end things. The fear of failing and coming out alive but in a worse state terrifies me. Then there’s the handful of people who I know it will affect. Even if in the moment I feel no-one will even notice, or if they do, they’ll get over it quickly. But what my therapist said also made a lot of sense when she said it. It resonated.

The way a hug from someone special (and I don’t mean just with romantic partners) has the ability to snap me out of the suicidal space in my mind and put me on a high. The way a simple touch of the hand can make me feel warm and safe. Now, thanks to humans messing with nature, we’re in a time when even a quick hug is cautioned against.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m really struggling with this whole living alone thing. The days are okay. It’s the evenings that are the worst. That’s when the loneliness and bad thoughts peak. I’d give anything to have someone here, doing their own thing, or us doing something together. I just want to feel another presence here.

I miss living with M. It was so good for me. She was good for me. I miss having her and doggy in my every day life. And when M was away for a week or two, I still had doggy, so wasn’t truly alone. What I want more than anything is my own dog. Sometimes it feels like that’s never going to happen.

Earlier this evening, the tears that had been building and threatening to escape for weeks finally made their way out. It was excruciating. At one point I felt like I was going to die. I had to keep mentally saying to myself that no one has died from crying before (as far as I know). That went on for quite a while, and at some point I knew I needed to speak to someone right then. Obviously my therapist was out (we had a video call check in this afternoon – which I’m grateful for since she’s actually on leave). I also considered A, my previous therapist, but that was also not an option. The only other person that came to mind was M. It was after 8pm, so didn’t know whether it was appropriate to call her then, but I took the chance anyway. She didn’t answer at first, but she called back almost immediately and we spoke for over an hour. Those who know me, know I hate talking on the phone. But I really needed that. She made me laugh, talked about doggy, and just random stuff. Her daughter in law is staying with her for two weeks, but M said that I must come spend the weekend once she leaves. And my favourite part was when she said I should come say a quick hi to her tomorrow and meet her daughter in law, and then I can take doggy for the day. I haven’t been to the beach in months, so am planning on going for a long walk with her there.

I’m still very emotional, but at least I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

It’s been a tough few months. I feel like I’m in limbo. Stuck. There’s no certainty about when I’ll be moving to Sweden, other than the plan is before the end of the year (if the borders open up by then). So I might be spending Christmas alone. It’s all so unsettling.

Everyone around me seems to be moving forward. Getting engaged, falling pregnant. And then there’s me. Longing for that someone special, and feeling like that’s another thing that will never happen for me.

But hey, I’m still breathing.

A Long Day

Today was one of those days where everything that can go wrong, did. I had a few errands to run, and one of them had a deadline and was critical to get done. I’m aware that I sometimes make things hard on myself. So I can’t blame external forces for everything. I was the one who put this off because I didn’t feel like I could deal with it at the time. And it got to the point where I had no choice but to deal with it now. The last day. But it’s done now, so that stress and dread is off my shoulders.

The rain made things so difficult and I was soaked more times than not. But safe and warm in my pj’s in bed right now with my weighted blanket, the sound of the rain is so beautiful and soothing. Funny how something can so quickly go from being a curse to a blessing. Perspective really is everything.

I need a new script for my medication, and because Psychiatrists are so expensive, I can’t afford to go see mine. So I did what I normally do, I called to make an appointment with my GP. The receptionist told me that she’s no longer working there, and moved to another province. My attachment issues have been worse lately than they’ve been in a long time. So this felt like yet another bullet. I had no idea she was leaving! I felt she could have let me know (she knows my issues). Whenever I’d walk into her office, she’d greet me with a huge smile (and sometimes a hug) and an enthusiastic “one of my favourite patients!”. I liked her so much, and she was so good to and for me. I wrote a post about her a couple of years ago (you can read it here). Now I need to find someone else, and that caused my anxiety to spike. I think I’m going to ask my therapist if she knows someone I might be comfortable with. That’s the only thing that seems doable right now.

After that phone call I just wanted to call my therapist and make sure she wasn’t leaving me. I was so scared that I was going to lose her too. It felt like I was losing everyone I love and care about. I resisted the temptation to call her though. That’s quite an achievement.

I don’t feel so overwhelmed, irritated, or anxious tonight at least. All that’s left is exhaustion and a deep sadness. But it feels good to be writing here again.

It’s Not Okay

I shouldn’t be drinking wine (or any form of alcohol) when I’m on my own.

Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s a sense of rebellion in it, and for some reason, tonight, that feels good.

You see, I told my therapist I wouldn’t, yet here I am. I lied to the one person who has been my rock during a very confusing, overwhelming, and difficult period.

I’m struggling with this whole living alone thing. I’m so done with it. I always thought that’s what I wanted. But it turns out I need that knowing that someone else is around. I want to be alone, together… If that makes sense to anyone else. I have been getting out and spending time with my best friend every now and then, but I’ve found it’s getting harder and harder to leave and face the world. When I’m out there I just want to come home. But once I’m home, I’m relieved, but alone once again.

I have reminders set up for everything, because without them I tend to get lost in some or other world. I have a few special interests, and once I’m “in the zone” with them I struggle to get out of it. I’ll be working on a website design project and before I know it, 6+ hours have passed and I’ve forgotten to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, etc. I don’t realize I’m hungry or haven’t eaten in 10 hours until I feel dizzy and nauseous. So, as you can see, reminders are a necessity for me. When living with someone I basically follow their lead, and am reminded and more motivated to take care of myself and do the basic things.

The whole pandemic thing doesn’t make things any easier. Everything feels messed up and out of sync in the world. And personally as well.

So, therapy. Had my session today and told my therapist about a dream I had where she was pregnant. I then asked her whether she was, but wasn’t expecting the answer to be “yes”. I had meant it more as a joke than an actual question. It felt as though I had just walked in front of a truck, and I have no idea why I had such an intense reaction to that news. I think I tried to make a joke about how my mom always had this thing where when she would dream someone was pregnant, it would turn out to be true, and that maybe I got that from her. I didn’t want my therapist to know that I had just become extremely uncomfortable. But obviously she noticed. She told me that she hadn’t told any of her clients yet, that I was the first, and she was open to any questions I have. I asked her whether she would adopt me. Seriously. So weird I know.

I didn’t really ask any questions, other than things to make myself seem as though it didn’t affect me. Of course, I did have a couple of very quick tearful moments. She mentioned something about how she’ll still do online video sessions with select clients during her maternity leave. I told her she’ll be too busy with the baby and she’ll wear herself down. “Babies sleep.”, she said. And then I went on about how new parents quickly realize that babies are exhausting and she’ll probably be too tired. As if I have experience with that (which I don’t, other than being obsessed with babies, baby books and magazines when I was a teen). I think it was near the end when I asked her whether she was happy about the baby, and her answer and expressions warmed my heart. I’m happy for her, I really am. So then why do I feel so messed up about this? I’m guessing there’ll be more conversations and emotions coming from this. It shouldn’t matter anyway. I’ll be moving to Sweden probably still this year, and we will be switching to online sessions while I adjust anyway. But it feels like it does matter.

Since our session, everything makes me want to cry, and for a few seconds every now and then, I do. But mostly, it’s just sitting there, wanting yet resisting expression.

I didn’t realize until last week just how much my family moving to Sweden is actually affecting me. They’re over there having a great time, constantly out and about, living the good life. I feel like I’ve been left behind. Abandoned. Another big struggle has been my relationship with M (the lady I used to live with for those that don’t know). For the past few months I’ve been the only one initiating contact, and every time I’ve tried to arrange to visit her, she’s had some excuse. She also confused me so much. Her words and actions never lined up. The few times I got to visit and spend time with her and doggy, I would leave confused or hurt. She would go on about how great the guy who moved in after me is for her. I felt replaced. I felt that she was comparing us. So I tried so hard over the past few weeks to pull away from her. Not letting her know when I was going to be in the area. But I would slip up, only to have my call go unanswered and no contact. It was making me feel like shit every time, so both my therapist and myself thought it was better for me if I just saw our relationship as one that was only supposed to last a “season”.

But the “pull” I feel towards her isn’t that easy to ignore. And I gave in again today. I thought I couldn’t feel any worse than I already did, so what the hell. I called M, and she actually answered and we arranged to meet at our favourite coffee shop. She genuinely seemed happy to see me. But I’ve gotten that wrong with so many people before. So I could be wrong. And even though she also told me that it’s nice to see me, I found myself doubting her words. She brought doggy with her so I could see her too, which I was really glad about.

Today seemed to be a day of shock news. M told me that she’s engaged to the guy who moved in when I moved out. It happened on Monday, and again, I’m the first person to know. They’re 30 years apart in age. Not that I care about age, love is love. But it was the last thing I ever expected to hear. Her husband passed away two years ago, and her son in March. I once told my therapist, months back when the guy first moved in, that I think M has some unconscious process going on. Her daughter, who’s name I share, passed away a year before M asked me to move in with her. Then, she told me she needed to live alone, so I had to move out. Then shortly after that, this guy moves in with her, into what was my room. His name is the name of her son. So I thought that maybe she was “using” us on a subconscious level to try to fill those holes. It was the only thing that made sense to me at the time. When I saw her a couple of months back, she told me that this guy reminds her so much of her late husband. And now she’s engaged to him. She said she’s happy, and I want her to be happy, but I’m just worried. I didn’t tell her about the worried part, and am not sure whether it’s my place to share my concerns with her.

I think I’m having a bit of a mental health breakdown. I even sent my previous therapist a message last week asking whether she was angry or disappointed with me. That’s something I haven’t done in such a long time, so that’s a definite sign that I’m not okay. I’m not okay. Not even a little bit. My therapist will be taking a week’s leave in two weeks time, and we’re arranged a check in. She offered to do a video session during her off week to keep that stability there for me, but I don’t feel that’s right. She deserves a break, so I said we could just do a 5-10 minute phone call instead. I know she’ll only be gone for a week, but with how I’ve been, I don’t think I would survive a whole week without hearing her voice. Hell, it feels like I’m barely surviving as it is.

There’s just been too many changes. And for someone who takes months (and on a few occasions in my life, years) to adjust, it’s just too much.

Nothing feels okay.

Getting Through Challenging Times

This past week has been a difficult one for me. There was another episode with the dad, one that left me feeling terrified and paranoid for days. My body and senses on high alert.

The current state and chaos going on in the country and the world didn’t help with the paranoia. As the lockdown continues and so much uncertainty remains, each week that goes by seems to get more and more challenging. It seems harder to find and hold onto hope and positivity. To keep going strong.

I can’t control what’s happening in the world. In my country. But I can control my actions. And once again I’ve allowed myself to become absorbed in, and consumed by the negativity taking place on social media. I know the effect it has on me, and I also know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. When I’m already feeling angry and anxious, reading certain posts, the comments, and commenting myself, increases that ten-fold. I should know better, yet I allowed myself to ignore the warnings. That’s on me. And so, yet again, I’m making the decision to step back.

The breakthrough came in, and after, my therapy session. Leaving the house and driving to my appointment filled me with anxiety. The thoughts that I was being watched, followed, and would be pulled over and hurt, felt overwhelming. The thoughts and feelings followed me into my therapists office.

After a while I started feeling more contained. I’m so fortunate and extremely grateful that I get to see my therapist in person and have that safe space to go to each week. It’s been my saving grace so many times. So has she. Therapist has a calming effect on me, and I really needed that this week. She basically reiterated that I need to do what makes me feel contained, safe, and regulated, no matter how “weird” it may seem to myself and others.

So I’ve doubled down on my self-care and using my coping and emotion regulation tools. I’ve let go of all the expectations and pressure I’ve been putting on myself. There’s a time and place for that, and now is not that time. Thankfully the paranoia I’ve been experiencing has slowly faded.

What really helps through all of this is the connection I have (and feel) with my therapist. Physical distancing is hard on all of us, but knowing that there are people who care, even if it’s just one person, goes a long way. I had a lovely dream about my previous therapist, and sent her a message to tell her about it. And as usual, she replied. It’s so nice, and healing, to know that our connection is still there. That she’s still around, still cares, and hasn’t forgotten me.

This is such a challenging time. But we are resilient and can weather the storm. We’ve got this. ❤