On Connection, And Saying Goodbye

Yesterday was my last full day in the clinic. All that was left for me to do was to see my psychiatrist and the psychologist I’ve been seeing here this morning.

I woke up late yesterday morning, and felt somewhat disconnected from everyone and everything the entire day. My stomach had also been giving me issues, so didn’t feel too great physically either.

My time there was filled with anger, tears, anxiety, frustration, melt downs (both mine and some others), hard work, and drama. But it was also filled with care, support, friendship, connection, laughter, and silly fun. I learned a lot, and feel as though I have grown.

Coming into the clinic I didn’t want to connect with anyone. I had this almost defiant attitude. I was tired of connecting, attaching, loving, then losing. Of course, that intention didn’t last. When you spend so much time with people in an intimate and healing setting, you can’t help forming bonds with some people. Besides, it was exhausting trying to keep up that “distance” attitude.

The intensity of my connection to these people isn’t as intense as my connections usually are. I think I managed to strike a good balance. I made sure to spend time alone and give myself space from time to time, instead of my pattern of sticking way too close to a person or group of people, afraid that I’ll be rejected or forgotten about if I’m not with them the entire time. There are a couple of people I’ve met here, like my two roommates for example, who I hope to stay in contact with. I’d like to continue building these relationships. But I’m not as emotionally invested in it as I usually would be. Meaning, I know it might not happen. That we might lose touch. That it might not work out. But even though that wouldn’t feel good, I’m actually okay with that too.

Over this past week, I was hit with a revelation. It’s nothing I haven’t known before, but until this week it had just been head knowledge. People are going to come into my life. It’s okay to connect. It’s okay to form attachments. It’s a beautiful part of life. It’s also okay if things don’t work out. Yes, it hurts when people leave and relationships end. But I’ve been through enough “abandonment” and endings to know that I’ll survive. Boycotting connection is even more harmful. As humans, we thrive on connection. We’re built for it. It’s a basic human need.

I felt good when I woke up this morning. I was ready to leave and come back home. The goodbye’s were sad, but I also felt so grateful to these people who have been a part of my life over these past two weeks. I took a piece of each of them away with me. They inspired me.

It’s strange being back at home. I don’t quite feel like I belong here. I miss the clinic, but not too much either. I feel a little lost, but I guess that’s normal. I have to adjust to life outside that sheltered and safe place again. I’m not entirely sure how I feel. How I’ve felt since I left the clinic. But that’s okay. I’m going to read a chapter of a novel I’m busy reading, and make it an early night.

It’s the best thing I can do for myself right now.

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Safe Haven

These past two weeks have been a nightmare.

Elizabeth and I broke up last week Monday. I want to write about it sometime soon, as I feel I’m still processing this. I don’t want to get into it right now.

On Friday afternoon I hit a crisis point. I had been dealing with suicidal ideation since even before the breakup, but it came and went. It wasn’t until afterward that it started to become a permanent fixture in my mind. My current living and work situation, and a few other things as well, were leading me down a very dark road.

I went to a job interview on Thursday. The first interview I was actually looking forward to, as the job seemed perfect for me. Even though I was feeling like shit, I managed to compartmentalize and focus on the interview. I felt it went well from my side. I was supposed to hear back from my agent by the end of the working day, but I didn’t. On Friday morning when I hadn’t had any feedback, I emailed my agent and asked her whether she had heard anything. I was positive. So positive. Later that morning I received her reply that I didn’t get the job.

That was the last straw. I was in the office with the dad and stepmom, and I had about an hour or so (can’t remember) before it was time to go home. I had a “meeting” with my ex business partner (we still meet up to chat and help one another with our individual businesses) directly after work, so I went to meet up with her.

She could see I was in a bad space. I broke down right then and there in the restaurant. Usually I’m able to keep my composure in public, but not this time. To cut a long story short, I ended up admitting myself into the clinic that day.

I’m still here and I’m glad I made the decision to come in that day. As I mentioned before, Saturday evening’s are usually my worst days. Since I’ve been struggling a lot with suicidal ideation and had my plan in place, I knew the weekend was going to be a hard one. If I hadn’t been in here I don’t know if I would have gotten through the weekend. I’m still not completely over the suicidal ideation, but I’m very slowly starting to regain a sense of distant hope and the will to live.

Attachment: Here We Go Again

I’ve gone and done it again.

I got attached to someone else. My psychiatrist.

When I first met her, that Friday that I booked myself into the clinic, I can’t remember most of our interaction. I saw her four more times after that, and didn’t know what to make of her. So there wasn’t an instant attachment, like I had with my therapist the first day I met her.

Then, yesterday, everything changed. I went to a DBT program that the clinic organizes for previous inpatients. As I was signing myself in, I felt a presence behind me, and heard a voice. I turned around and saw my psychiatrist. She smiled warmly at me, greeted me and asked whether I had an appointment with someone. I told her that I was there for the DBT group. She smiled again, and told me that she’s proud of me, which caught me unawares. She asked me to walk with her, and started asking how I’ve been, what’s been going on in my life, etc. I was surprised when she asked me about something I had told her in one of our sessions a few weeks ago. Surprised because I didn’t think she’d remember that so clearly. Especially since she sees a lot of patients.

Eventually we got to her office, and she announced me to her assistant (who I really like- she’s awesome), with a “look who I found”. It’s nice to be remembered. The instant my psychiatrist touched my hand, that was it. I became attached to this woman, right then and there. My vulnerable child self emerged, and I could feel her hunger for love and care. Psychiatrist had just done something that made her feel warm inside and cared for, and she wanted more.

The three of us spoke for a few more minutes and then Psychiatrist had to leave to go see patients. But before she left, she told her assistant “take good care of her”. She left with a gentle touch on my arm. I didn’t want her to go, and the vulnerable child felt so sad watching her leave, thinking that she might never come back.

The group was really good, but near the end we had to lay on the ground for some meditation. After a few minutes of that, I suddenly felt this overwhelming sadness. I felt my vulnerable child self becoming activated again. I started crying (I’m glad no one would see me), and just kept thinking over and over again “I want Psychiatrist and Therapist”.

Why do I find myself getting attached to someone because of a simple, caring touch? It’s not like that with just anyone though. And never with men. I can feel when it’s genuine and there’s a measure of care. And that’s when it happens. It’s an amazing feeling, but at the same time it’s terrifying. It’s just one more person to worry about being abandoned by. But I can’t stop it from happening.

My therapist is still my favourite and most powerful attachment. I’ve got a session with her tomorrow, and I can’t wait. She sent me a voice note last night, just as I was getting out of the car to go to group, telling me that she’s proud of me. I had reached out to her and told her that I’ve been struggling with abandonment issues a lot this past week or so, and I was in a young and vulnerable place. I told her I was forcing myself to go to the group, even though I didn’t really want to (I’m glad I went). It was so nice hearing her voice again, and I always love hearing her say that she’s proud of me. So I got two “I’m proud of you” messages yesterday. It felt good.

I’m seeing my psychiatrist next week Friday for an hour. But I don’t want to see her only then. It feels like a lifetime away.

What the hell is wrong with me?!

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part Two

My experience at the clinic was a positive one, excluding the Friday of course. Once I settled in, I started feeling better. Friday evening I slept straight through, as well as every night I was there. Which isn’t normal for me. Usually my first night sleeping out I barely sleep at all. What made it different this time? Maybe it’s because I felt taken care of and safe. That could be it.

The first night I got room service, since I had a lot of social anxiety, and didn’t want to be around so many strangers in the dining hall. The food there was better than I thought it would be. I lost a lot of weight last year, and from a healthy weight, I’m now underweight again. I’ve always been small built and skinny, and I hated it. I’d get mocked about it in school. While others were worried about gaining weight, I was desperately trying to pick up weight for most of my life. Four years ago, I finally achieved a perfect weight. But last year, I lost it all, and more. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to go back to that weight. I’ve started eating 4 meals a day (including a protein shake). So the 3 big meals a day and 2 snack times (and hot chocolate in the evenings) at the clinic have made a difference.

I had two awesome roommates. One of them was a lot like me … The two introverts. We’re still in contact, and she refers to me as Psychologist, which I secretly love. The other one (Roommate #2) is a complete extrovert (I’m still in contact with her too), and would drive me and Roommate #1 crazy (but she knew that and was proud of it). Being in that environment, no one judges, and no matter how ‘weird’ you are, they accept you. After all we’re in the same place together, and there for somewhat similar reasons. I liked most of the people there. So many different characters. It felt like a big family. I miss the environment and the people there. Even the nurses were great.

Then there were the groups. The groups are focused exclusively on DBT, so I went to a few of those. We also had art therapy. I miss the routine there, so I’ve been trying to stick to it at home now. Lot’s of self care, eating better, having a mug of hot chocolate before bed (strangely enough, it helps me sleep), and a host of other things. It’s bound to become habit as long as I keep sticking to it.

If I could, I would have stayed for the entire three week program. At least I know that when I really need it, I can go back again.

Here’s what I learned from my time at the clinic:

It’s okay to reach out for help, and accept it when offered. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.

Just because I feel ashamed of doing something I never thought I’d do, like going into the clinic, doesn’t mean that I have to give in to that shame.

Support groups are valuable.

A non judgemental environment, where I’m accepted, is so important. I want to surround myself with such people, and spend more time with those who make me feel like I matter, that I’m accepted and loved just the way I am. I need to find those types of people too.

I need to keep my heart open. Because the most unlikely person, might just become someone really important. Go out and meet more people. You never know who might be going through similar challenges.

Routine is valuable and important to me.

I can’t just help and support others all the time, I must also allow others to help and support me. I can’t be responsible for everyone to the detriment of myself (thanks for this revelation Therapist).

Some people are just draining. Spending more time with those who lift me up and make me feel good, is so healing. Limit my time with people who deplete my energy. I say “limit” because I don’t want to not spend any time with them, as there’s a difference between those who drain my energy due to a difference in personality (introvert vs. extrovert), and those who are a negative force in my life.

And most important of all…
The clinic isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, hence my avoidance of them my entire life. Making assumptions and judgements about things, from other people’s accounts, or from what I see in the media, is a recipe for disaster. Everyone’s experiences are different, so why fear those things that might end up not being scary at all.

Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part One

On Thursday morning I was reading something on the internet, when I started to feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, that feeling erupted in a full on trigger. I immediately turned into a mess. I became that 14-year-old who had just been broken by someone she had looked up to and trusted. Images and emotions consumed my mind and my body. The emotions were far more powerful and painful than the images themselves. I felt like I was dying.

I wanted to phone my therapist right then and there. There was a huge battle going on inside me. Trying my hardest not to give into that desire to call her. We only had an appointment for Tuesday (yesterday). Then, I don’t know why, but the thought came into my head to phone a psychiatrist (I’ve been wanting to go to one for a while now). So I picked one of the two that was recommended, and phoned her office in a state. I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist, so why I felt the need in that moment to call her, I can’t tell you. She was so nice to me. I wanted to find out what her fees were, and instead she asked me whether I was on a medical aid. I am, so she suggested that I book myself into the psychiatric clinic where she works, and then I won’t have to worry about paying anything. I could see her first thing in the morning. I was so upset that I agreed. Psychiatrist had to keep reminding me to breathe.

So early the next morning, I packed my bag and made my way to the clinic. I can’t remember much about that morning. I remember seeing my psychiatrist, and being a nervous wreck.  All I know is that I was so scared. Not even scared. Terrified.

I’d never been in a psychiatric ward before. Later that day, I would feel ashamed that at my age, after having avoided it for all this time, I was now in the very place that I never thought I’d find myself. But shit happens, and now, in hindsight, I’m glad I went in. I was in the general ward, so it was voluntary and I could be discharged whenever I wanted to. But Psychiatrist recommended that I at least stay a few days.

The next thing I remember is lying on the bed in the room I would be sharing with two other women during my time there. I don’t even remember how I ended up in the room. I have no memory between sitting with Psychiatrist (even that is a blur), and finding myself on my bed. I had even unpacked my bag during that time. What the hell? Dissociation, that’s what the hell. I was curled up like a baby, unable to stop crying. Feeling disoriented, confused, and terrified. I didn’t know what was going on. Could I leave? Or was I trapped there forever?

Lying on that bed, I just wanted Therapist. I felt like a five-year old wanting her mommy after waking up from a horrible nightmare. As I mentioned earlier, I had fought against the desire to call her on Thursday, and plenty of times in the course of our relationship. But this time I couldn’t fight it. I wasn’t in touch with reality. I phoned her. So you must know the extent of my distress for me to have done that. The phone call is a blur as well. I can’t really remember what I told her, and what she said. But I can remember the feelings. How soothing and comforting her voice was. It felt like she was holding me. After our call, I continued crying. Partly because I felt like Therapist really cares, and I could feel that care. I guess it was tears of relief? I don’t actually know what it was. I was also still crying from the overwhelming feelings I had been having since going in that morning, and the day before. A little while after that, I started to feel more calm. Slowly coming back to reality.

This might sound really strange… Even though I am glad I had gone in and my experience had been pretty good, I still feel traumatized from Friday. I’m not even sure why. But I know that speaking to Therapist that day, made it a little less traumatic.

In the next post I’ll write about my experiences in the clinic, and what I’ve learned from it.