Adult Children

I had another great night’s rest. I’m constantly tired (the story of my life), but for most of the day, much less than usual. Wow, I really needed all the sleep I’ve been getting. So I was in a good, healthy mood this morning. I had a few not so good moments, but they were bearable.

After work I met up with my business partner (let’s call her Kim) and Jasmine (who helps us with our marketing) to take some photo’s of ourselves for our new website and Facebook page. We had such an amazing time. Kim took photo’s of me, I of her, and Jasmine took some of the two of us together. I set my camera to auto mode for her, and gave her a quick tutorial on how to work it, as well as some composition tips. She took some good shots, and seemed to be having fun. She was just snapping away, even when Kim and I were fooling around in between our “professional mode”. We were running around, semi-climbing the trees. Just being big children. I felt happy. I was having fun, and it felt so damn good. I’m at my happiest when playing with children. My inner child feels free during those moments. I connect better with children than I do adults. I’m that person who you’ll see running around with the kids at an event or party, instead of sitting at the “adult’s table”. Kim, who is young at heart, is also a real adult child. I tell her that all the time, and she loves hearing it!

She’s 58, which I found out today! There’s no way! I thought she was 50! She’s one of those happy, full of energy, extroverted, and confident people. I always enjoy spending time with her and Jasmine. Even when we have our meetings over a cup of coffee, we have fun. It’s laid back and easy. Jokes abound. I’ll give you an example of what a character she is. She has these white sneakers that flash different colours when she walks. She wears them often, even in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. She certainly draws attention. The first time she wore them when we went for dinner, I freaked out when I saw them. But she made it seem cool! Seriously! The next time we went for lunch and she was wearing those shoes, one of them stopped flashing (apparently it was flat- shoes going flat? Who knew). When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress whether they have a charger lying around so my friend could charge her shoe. Jasmine went bright red. But Kim and I (and the waitress of course) just laughed. Now that’s the effect Kim has on me. When I’m around her, I feel confident and couldn’t care less about what people think. Her energy is contagious. After a couple of hours with her, I’m left feeling happy, but exhausted.

I’m coming off that high now. I don’t have any of the strong feel good emotions I had earlier, but I’m not feeling bad either. Just tired.

It was a good day, and I’m so grateful for that.

Alone

Did a photo shoot for some friends. Wasn’t up for it. Depressed. Did it anyway. They seemed to be having fun. I was on autopilot. Tried to have fun. It wasn’t happening.
Went out for coffee with them afterward. Felt empty. Could barely talk. Good thing they seemed to be talking among themselves enough for my silence to be okay. For me to be invisible. And they didn’t notice a thing. Empty… Lonely… Depressed… Empty.
Supposed to be working on the photo’s. Something I enjoy. But not in the mood.

Just want to disappear. Want to be alone. But so lonely. Don’t want to be alone. Want to curl up into a ball, with a warm hand to hold. Lie with my head on someone’s lap. So cold. Inside and outside. Want to be soothed. Only have myself for that. Don’t want myself. Too much sad to hold alone.

That’s enough for today. Going to rest my face against my special super soft little blanket. Sleep in my therapy “jacket”. Hold onto that special hug. Pull the duvet over my head. Disappear into the dark for a while. Alone. Always alone.

Dependence On Therapy

Since we’ve started working together, my therapist has mentioned quite a few times, that she doesn’t want me to become dependent on therapy. Whenever she’d say that, I’d feel uncomfortable and get defensive. Even though she would tell me that she didn’t say I was dependent on it, I still took it as an attack. And I think I have figured out why it bothers me so much. Deciding to see a psychologist (or any mental health professional) is terrifying. I was terrified when I first reached out to my therapist. Deep down inside, on an unconscious level, I felt ashamed.

Even up to today, that shame is still there. It’s died down a lot, but a few fragments of it still exist. The man who calls himself my dad contributed to that most of all. He’s told me so many times how some people need therapy, while others have strong minds, so they can deal on their own. How do I take it? I take it as him telling me, and thinking, that I’m weak because I’m getting help, when I should just suck it up and get on with life the way he does. So here my therapist is telling me that she doesn’t want me to become dependent on therapy, and in my mind it sounds like an affirmation that therapy is “bad, so you shouldn’t get used to it”. I know that’s not what’s being said, but that’s the way my overly sensitive, reactive mind takes it.

I see now why regular therapy sessions are so important. It’s not about being dependent on it. How do you become dependent on the process of therapy? It’s damn hard sometimes, and even if I’m okay during a session, it hits me afterward and sometimes I just want to crawl under the covers and shut the world away for the rest of the day. There were many times that I didn’t want to have a session. Where I wanted to cancel. But I knew that those were probably the times when I should have one. So I didn’t cancel, no matter how much I wanted to.

I read a lot of your blogs, and from what I’ve read, the majority of you have weekly sessions, some of you twice weekly, and you’ve also expressed a hesitation and even downright resistance to attending a session from time to time. So I know I’m not alone in this.

As my therapist mentioned during our short phone call on Monday (which was strangely helpful, which I didn’t expect it to be- mostly because I didn’t know what to expect in the first place), I need structure. I thrive on it. I feel unstable, and everything feels chaotic without it. My nervous system feels under threat. When things are structured, I feel calmer.

When I had 3 therapy sessions a month, I felt more secure. It felt more structured than it does now. Now it’s just all over the place.

Sometimes we open up a topic, but there’s not enough time in a single session to really delve into it. Then having to wait two or three weeks, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I don’t want to talk about something painful, difficult and shameful, and have two or three weeks go by before we can pick up on where we were. It feels like something is lost, and it gets disrupted. I know that the nature of therapy is that just because it seems something has been worked through, it might come up in future sessions again. Sometimes we think the work may be complete, only to discover that it actually isn’t.

Even when I write down things to discuss in the next session, it’s not quite the same. Those emotions that I felt, that were so extreme, die down, and it feels pointless to talk about it. If I do talk about it in our next session, those emotions are a distant memory, and I talk about the situation, or whatever it was, without really connecting with my inner world.

I think it’s important to have that safe, consistent space every week. I don’t show up just to see my therapist. I show up because I want to do the work. If you’ve got a physical illness that requires you to see your doctor every week for a checkup, does that mean you’re dependent and happy to go for those checkups every week? No. You do it because you know it’s important.

In keeping an open mind, if a person can become dependent on therapy, is that necessarily a bad thing? We’re dependent on work for an income. Which enables us to live, to pay rent, have food to eat, etc. So why would it be any different with therapy? The purpose of therapy is to help you heal and to craft the life you want to live. To help us grow, giving us valuable tools in order to function optimally in life. We’re still doing the work during and between sessions. But knowing that the next session is only a few days away helps, as you can more easily bring up any observations, experiences, etc in the next session, as it will still be fresh in your mind. Which, brings that sense of continuity.

Of course, right now I can’t afford to have regular therapy sessions. But when I’m able to, I’m definitely going to invest in it. The point of this post is just to share my view on how I don’t believe that one can truly get “dependent” on therapy, and why I think regular sessions are so important. I’m grateful for my therapist, who really tries to bridge that gap between sessions, and keep the therapeutic relationship safe and secure, which has been so helpful.

A while ago, I heard someone say that attending therapy is a form of self-care. I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on this. I like hearing different opinions and view points, so please let me know what you think about this topic.

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Moment By Moment

They don’t know. Pretending nothing’s wrong. That’s the way it has to be.

They don’t understand. They never will.

They don’t see…

How moment by moment, I’m fighting to keep myself alive.

It’s exhausting.

But still, I’m trying.

A Hostile Takeover

I’m an introvert.

When I spend too much time with a person or people, I start getting frustrated. Even with my friends. I need time alone. I don’t want to spend every weekend with people. Sometimes I just want to spend time with myself. Being lazy, watching TV, reading, studying up on things that I find interesting (such as psychology). There are many times where I crave closeness though. And it comes at the worst possible times. When everyone else is so busy with their lives that they don’t have time to spend with me. I tend to fall into a depression then, and feel unimportant and rejected. I’ve never actually had anyone hold space for me while I was going through a difficult time. When I really needed someone, just anyone, I was alone. Which is probably one of the reasons I’m so attached to my therapist. She’s helped me through a lot of dark moments. When I had no one, she was there. She was (and is) my person. I hold onto the hope that one day I’ll find that person who will walk with me through it all, and let me do the same for them. Through both the good and the bad.

Right now I’ve withdrawn into my shell.

I had to photograph a wedding on Friday. I’m a photographer but I don’t do weddings. But I made an exception in this case, as it was a small wedding and I know the bride. I was terrified. One of the reasons I don’t do weddings is because it’s the one event that you just can’t mess up on. You don’t get a second chance. And I just don’t have the confidence that I feel every other photographer has. I wanted to cancel every day for a week, wondering what the hell had come over me in accepting the job. But when I make a commitment, I stick to it, even if it hurts. Besides, it was a job, and I desperately needed it.

It was so stressful. And now I’m working on the photo’s, before putting together the package that they selected. I’m going to be working on it for the rest of this week. At least I enjoy it. All that anxiety had built up over the week, and now that it’s over, I’m exhausted and just want to be alone.

The photo’s came out better than I expected, but less perfect than I wanted. People keep telling me my photography is really good. But no matter how many times I’ve heard that, it just doesn’t stick. Unfortunately our brains have a negativity bias. The bad sticks, while the good seeps away quickly. It’s automatic, as the brain has a high sensitivity to negative stimuli. Fortunately, it can be changed (with a lot of hard work). You can read more here.

When I’m doing a photo shoot, I pretend to be confident, calm and collected. One of the reviews I received said “she was professional, calm and comfortable”. If only this client knew how I was trembling inside, feeling like a fraud. Don’t get me wrong. I love taking photos. It’s the interacting with people that I struggle with. And the fear of messing up.

In other news, my stepmom’s parents are here for the next two weeks (and they might even stay for 3 weeks), and I’ve been exiled from my room. I’m now staying in my step brother’s room (he’s sharing with his sister- obviously in separate beds). There are now 8 people in the house. It’s crowded, and noisy. I want peace and quiet when I wake up in the morning. To be able to sit outside and not hear twenty voices. I’m not a morning person. I have my own bathroom in my room. Now I need to share one with the kids and my uncle. I can’t shower when I want to, I need to schedule it around when they want to shower, and then I’m stuck with lukewarm or cold water. Even the kids get preference over me, which is frustrating.

I think of it this as a hostile takeover, hence the title. See how I blow things way out of proportion? It’s a talent of mine.

In our last session, my therapist used a REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) “technique”. It goes something like this:
My beliefs: I should have my room to myself. I should have all my stuff around me. I mustn’t let this upset me so much. I must get over it. She’s helping me eliminate the words “should”, “have to” “must”, etc. So I’ve been trying to re-frame those thoughts. Instead of “I should have all my stuff around me and have my space to myself” I’ve been saying: “I would prefer to have my room and space to myself, but they’re not going to be here forever. I’ll get my room back when they leave. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, and yes, I’m annoyed about it, and I get to feel that way”. It’s the anger that I’m trying to replace with less destructive, intense emotions. So I’m practicing this (my homework).

Wish me luck for these next few weeks!

I Am Not

I am not my past. The past represents those things we have been through. It’s external. Yes, it may leave imprints. It may have changed me. But it’s not who I am deep down inside.

I am not my mental illness, anymore than someone with a physical illness is that illness. It’s the deepest parts of our soul that make us who we are.

I also have a dark side. We need both the shadow and the light. This shadow side doesn’t make me a bad person. It balances me.

I will always just be me. Whoever that may be. Day by day, I’m learning who “me” is.

All Around Me

Can I see the wind?
I can see it move through the trees, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it blow across my face.
The effect is there, all around me.

Can I see my growth?
I can see it in my life, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it in my heart.
The effect is there, all around me.