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.

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.

Comparing Therapists

I know it’s something I shouldn’t do. It’s something I didn’t want to ever do. Yet, I find myself doing that very thing sometimes.

As my regular readers and those who have followed my blog for some time know, I changed therapists earlier this year. You can read this post if you want to know more. At the time I knew I had made the right decision. And even though there have been moments where I’ve questioned it, I still believe it was the right one.

Even now that I’m not seeing my previous therapist, A, for sessions anymore, it was agreed that I’d still check in with her from time to time and say hi (she has also sent me messages first). I also like sending her a funny video or cute picture. And she still consistently replies to me each and every time. This makes me feel secure in knowing that she’s still around and still cares about me.

From the beginning, C, my current therapist, told me that time management isn’t her strong suit. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We all have areas we don’t do great in. But this really bothered me in the beginning of my therapy with her. It doesn’t bother me as much anymore, and sometimes I actually even find it enduring. But then there are times like yesterday where it gets to me. I had been upset with her because she hadn’t replied to an email I had sent her earlier the week. I hadn’t asked for a reply, or even posed a question, but still wanted her to reply because I was ultimately reaching out for connection.

When the session started C could tell that I was upset and frustrated. I took out my play-dough and just sat playing with that. She had told me to get some a few months ago, and it’s awesome and so helpful! Anyway, I eventually told her why I was upset, and feeling hurt and wanting to push her away, told her that I want to go back to A, because she always replied between sessions. I also told her that just when I feel I can trust her, this happens and that trust is gone. But after the session yesterday I realized that’s not the truth. I do trust her. My black and white thinking just gets in the way. I get the idea of holding both the positives and “negatives” about others, but the application of it is another matter. I still struggle with either/or. I can do it, but it takes a lot of effort, and when strong emotions are involved it’s even harder. One thing I can say is that when I specifically ask C for a reply, she does, as she reminded me in our session yesterday. So she is consistent in that way.

This whole thing wasn’t actually about the email. There were other factors too, and they were the real issues.

When I went to sleep on Thursday evening, all of my dreams revolved around A, so waking up I missed her like crazy for the rest of the day. C had also told me about two weeks ago that my psychiatrist, who I also have an attachment to, is emigrating in February. Abandonment schema activated.

What I also hadn’t realized until C mentioned it, was that I know it’s almost time for a break in therapy. We have one more session next week, and then only on the 16th January again. That’s the longest I’d have gone without seeing her. And with the news that my psychiatrist is emigrating after having just come back from her honeymoon, I was worried that C will also decide to leave when she gets back in January. She told me that she’ll come back, she’s not planning on leaving. I know it sounds strange to some people that I have to hear those words of reassurance, but it really does help me. I gave her my journal from my Box of Hope yesterday to write something for me for while she’s away, which she agreed to do. I’m really grateful for that.

I know my therapist cares, because she’s done a lot for me, and still does. Things she didn’t and doesn’t have to do, but that mean a lot to me and really helps. It’s not fair to compare my therapists. I know that. They’re two different people, with their own ways of working, strengths and weaknesses, and both of them have helped and continue to help me in so many ways. But I also know that I’m human, have attachment issues, and that it’s part of my process. I don’t want to have moments like this again, but it’s okay if I do. I’ll work through them.

It’s something that we humans do in most other relationships as well. “So and so never did that”, “I never had this problem with so and so”, for example. So I know I’m not alone in making these sorts of judgments and comparisons. And I’m pretty sure that most therapists are guilty of this at least on one occasion with regards to their clients as well.

We’re all human after all.

Permanent

I came across this song the other day, and it touched me deeply. I cried through the whole thing. For those of us with attachment issues, and hold the pain and shame that so often come with it, these words are beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. They’re so special.

“She’s Gone Forever”

My therapist went on leave for two weeks. I knew about this for two weeks before her break, and during that time, I didn’t think much about it. More importantly, I didn’t know how I felt about it. Like I told her in our session two weeks ago, I’m happy that she’s making time for herself, and taking this break. In Thursday’s session, she brought up her leave again, and asked me whether I want to discuss it and how I feel about it. I can’t really remember what I answered. It’s like a chunk of my memory has been erased (I’m so tired of this happening). So I don’t know what I had said. But I appreciate that she always discusses this topic, and tries to make it easier for me. She doesn’t just throw me into the deep end.

We have this special emoticon that represents a hug (not the traditional hug one). We made a deal to only use that one for us, not for anyone else. That little symbol comforts my soul, and brings a smile to my face every time she uses it. I sent her a text on Friday, as it was the last day I’d be able to until she gets back. I asked for one of our special hugs, and she sent me one. I hold onto that one simple little thing. A simple thing that means so much.

I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the contributing factors of my recent surge in abandonment fear, is due to me knowing that she’s going to be away. Even though, like I said, I didn’t give too much thought to it, I think it was stored in my subconscious instead.

It’s not about not seeing her for a session. I wouldn’t have been able to see her for a session in that time anyway. The weeks when we don’t have therapy, I’m perfectly fine with our contact between sessions. Some weeks it will only be one text or email. It’s more when I have something to say, or am feeling insecure. Sometimes I initiate it, other times, she does. Checking in. So that’s what makes her going away hard… We won’t have any contact. I miss her. And I’m sad that she left me alone (that’s what it feels like anyway). There are moments where I think that I don’t know if I ever want to speak to her again. Then other moments where I just want her to come back. I’m being selfish. And this feeds into the emotion I’ve been struggling with for the past while, which I’ll write about in my next post.

I once got asked by a friend of mine, who went to therapy for a year herself, why and how I can be so attached to a therapist. She understands attachment, but not between a therapist and client. I realized that no matter how you explain it, a lot of people won’t truly “get it”, unless they’re in the same boat. Almost all of you who have BPD have this same attachment to your therapists. I always relate to your posts on this topic. So I know I’m not the only one who gets upset and chaotic when our therapists go on vacation or take leave. Counting the days down until they return. Days that feel like weeks. It’s hard. And others don’t understand why we struggle so much with this. But they don’t need to understand it.

The words “she’s gone forever” came into my mind when I woke up this morning. I know it didn’t come from my adult self, but from the little part.

I know it’s not true though. She’s not gone forever. But why does it still feel like she is?