“Be Kind To Yourself”

These were the words spoken to me by my therapist yesterday. I’m struggling, a lot, and needed that reminder. It’s times like this that I’m especially grateful for therapy and a great therapist.

My inner critic has been especially boisterous this past while, as have the critical voices from my childhood and beyond. Every attempt at positivity and self-compassion has been met with these negative voices shutting it down. Separating out the voices and recognizing which is my own inner critic, who is ultimately just trying to protect me, and which belong to those people in my life, who due to their own issues and projections have targeted me with their hurtful words, has been helpful.

“You’re useless, a waste of space, and will never amount to anything”, “you don’t deserve love, a hug, attention”. The voice of others. When these kinds of words come from people you love and are supposed to trust, who you are dependent on as a child, they build up and almost become like a part of you. It’s extremely difficult to challenge them.

“You can’t do this”, “it’s not good enough”, “you’re too much or not enough”. My own. To my inner critic I can say “thank you for trying to protect me, but it’s okay if I am unsuccessful at this. I’ll learn from it and do better next time”, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s good enough”. This voice is trying to protect me from rejection, shame and pain. See the difference? For me at least, it’s easier to deal with my own inner critic.

When I got home from therapy I was exhausted and wanted to take a nap. But the critical voices were so loud (“you’re just lazy, you should be working”) and I was struggling to tap into my own self-compassion. I then remembered C’s words “be kind to yourself”. In that moment I decided to pretend that she’s talking to me instead, and to speak to myself the way she speaks to me, with kindness and compassion. And it worked. So I ended up taking a guilt-free 90 minute nap, one I desperately needed. By pretending that C that was talking to me, I slowly started to find my own self-compassionate voice again. So that’s another simple little tool for my coping toolkit.

It’s so easy to get lost in all the voices of negativity. Both those around us and those within us. So if you struggle with this, maybe this concept can help you as well. I hope you have someone whose kind and gentle voice can help guide you in finding your own voice of self-compassion.

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Struggling

I’ve been struggling a lot these past few days.

My sympathetic nervous system and good old Amy(gdala) thinks I’m in constant danger. My emotions are all over the place. For a couple of hours yesterday I felt completely empty, then another torrent of emotions.

Reading my previous post back, I’m aware that my current emotions will pass, but then what? It comes back again at some point. Like the ocean and waves, it’s never ending. Like I told my therapist today, using coping tools and skills is hard and exhausting.

My sensory system is even more sensitive lately too. Everything feels brighter, faster, louder, leading to me losing my shit much much quicker. Anxiety is a bitch. And my trusty benzo’s? Well, no effect, they’ve been pretty useless. Although I wonder if they haven’t actually been working, and I would have been even worse without them?

Thank whoever for therapy today. It was intense, and most of it a blur, but C was once again very comforting and helpful. We didn’t do much “work”, as most of the session was focused on helping me get regulated and become present, but I was exhausted afterward. I still am.

At the end of the session I got nice firm hug from her. I needed that so much. Hugging a stuffed toy just isn’t the same as close contact with another human. Just as an aside, we don’t always hug after sessions. It’s only happened about three times because firstly, sometimes I’m too ashamed/scared to ask for one, while other times I just don’t feel the need. I wouldn’t like regular hugs, because then it just becomes like a routine and while I thrive on routine, this is something different.

I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning. Just the thought of another day gives me a sinking feeling. I could take the day off work, but even that feels depressing.

They say struggles make us stronger, but it feels like the opposite is true. I don’t feel stronger. I feel weaker instead.

The Photo That Made Me Smile Today

I haven’t written about it, but last week was a difficult one for me, with BPD and PTSD symptoms in full swing. It’s hard enough dealing with one of those things, but together? At a few points I literally thought I was going to die, or that I was busy dying. Unless you’ve experienced something like this, you’ll probably think I’m exaggerating. But it all feels so real, so intense in those moments. The flashbacks, the physical bodily sensations, and on top of that the fear (and being convinced) of abandonment, among other things. It was just a horrible few days, and even despite having spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning with two friends, I still feel some of the effects.

After therapy today (which really helped me make sense of some things, and made me feel heard, validated, and held), I came home feeling a little lighter and more “here”. I came across this gorgeous photo of a Golden Retriever (my favourite dog breed), and couldn’t help but smile. It warmed my heart.

Sometimes it’s that one tiny moment of happiness that whispers “stay”.

celine-sayuri-tagami-448870-unsplash
Photo by Celine Sayuri Tagami

Writing and the Lack of it

I just realized that I haven’t written any new posts this month, and it surprises me that I’m still getting new followers. Had another one just a little while ago. Thank you, and welcome, to my new followers.

In the online world, and having witnessed a couple of my favourite blogs remain inactive for months now, it’s easy to start in with assumptions. Especially considering the topic of mental health/illness that we write about. Questions such as “Are they alive? Are they okay?” run through my mind. So for those of you who have been part of my blog for a while, I felt an update is in order.

Life has been a bit of a roller-coaster. I have a lot more demands on my time from both a work (mostly this) and personal standpoint. I’m dealing with a difficult client and an increasingly difficult father. I swear he gets worse with age. I seem to have been given the role of “fixer” again. “When things fall apart, let’s call on Rayne. She owes me anyway. Fuck her boundaries.” My goal is still to get out of this place before the end of the year. Just hope I survive until then.

Because of all this, I’ve had to take as much time to myself to do other things as I possibly can. I’ve only seen a friend once this month so far, as I just want to be alone when I have spare time. I feel all “socialed” out. I’m overwhelmed and stressed. But I’m hanging in there.

Another reason I’ve been quiet is that with weekly therapy sessions now, I don’t feel the need to write and process on my blog as much as I used to. I still process between sessions of course, but I tend to take those thoughts directly to my therapist as it’s still relatively “fresh” in my mind. She’s been really lovely, and is a great therapist. Of course I still miss A (my previous therapist- the best ever), but I know I made the right decision, so that helps.

Please know that even though I might not post as much as I used to, I won’t ever close this blog down. It’s too precious to me. Last week I spent some time reading certain old posts to get some insight into something specific, and it really helped. So there’s a lot of value in having this space.

It’s been a long and busy day, so I’m going to unwind by working on my new puzzle. If that’s not mindfulness, I don’t know what is.

Building The Therapeutic Relationship

My therapy session last week Wednesday marked a turning point in my relationship with my new therapist. I usually do 30 minute sessions with her, as that way I’m able to see her every week. But I wasn’t ready to leave this time… I wasn’t in a good space. So she said we could stretch it to an hour session. The nice thing about having her work part-time at the clinic is that the patients don’t have set times for sessions. Which was a major problem for me when I was still in there, and after figuring that out, my therapist started giving me rough times for our sessions (+/- an hours difference), which was so much better for me than not knowing at all.

At some point during the session I realized… I’m growing attached to C. I never thought it would happen. It’s terrifying, and was one of the contributing factors to my intense moment on Friday. I had become really good at containing myself when it comes to emails and texts, but had a relapse on Friday, which culminated in me sending her a panicked apology email after the first one I had sent. She was nice about it though, and in her reply told me that I didn’t do anything wrong (I had been convinced I had, and that she would “drop me”). We had a session today, and spoke about it. She told me that she won’t do that to me. She won’t just reject and abandon me. The relief those words bring is profound. Although I still don’t trust her fully just yet, but like she says, it’s a process.

She had asked me last week if I have any items or objects that I use to help soothe and regulate myself, and helps me feel connected to certain important people (like A) or places. I showed her one of the cards that A had sent me (and that I carry everywhere with me), and also that I have a “therapy jacket” from my early days with A that helps with that. When my therapist asked me last week what I can do to take our safe space, that feeling, home with me when I leave, I told her that I can’t seem to hold onto things like that. I jokingly told her I could take her with me though. That was a nice light moment. Before I left today she told me that she has something for me, and after packing out her whole bag (this had me laughing, because as a lot of women know, this is a familiar scene), she handed me a piece of rose quartz. It’s significant because in her office there are some small pot plants and a big rose quartz ornament thing, all of which I love touching and looking at, so she uses them as grounding objects when I dissociate. Anything I can touch and play with helps significantly. So I loved that she gave me that, because it reminds me of that space and of her. When I got home I just crashed onto my bed, got under my weighted blanket, put on an episode of a series I’m watching and just held onto that stone the entire time. I decided to just listen to my body, no work, no nothing, just watch TV for as long as I wanted and take a much-needed nap. When I hold this stone I feel calm and soothed. I can’t believe how much it helps. It has the energy it’s intended to have.

I sent A an email last week. She told me that she doesn’t want me to feel guilty or have regret at having moved to C. That she agreed and supported my decision, and that she was proud of me for taking that step. Those words meant so much to me. I realized how much guilt and fear I have been holding onto. Reading those words felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. “It’s okay”.

I haven’t been doing well lately. Life is too much for me to handle right now. So many things are going wrong. Yesterday and today I’ve been angry at the whole world. Myself included. And I’m not too sure where all this rage and hatred is coming from. I’m aware that I’m being irrational in some moments, but I’m struggling to find a more balanced and mature way to handle things. Half the time I don’t even know why I’m angry. What I’m really angry at or about. I’ve had intense cravings and desires to relive the drug and alcohol filled days of my 20’s. Just one of the reasons I’m angry at myself. During today’s session I threw my arm band and punched the wall. Essentially throwing a teenage tantrum. I was relieved when my therapist didn’t yell at me, and there was no negative reaction from her, which helped calm me down. Maybe a part of me wanted her to yell at me. Maybe I wanted a reason to hate her and not feel the attachment. I apologized and told her that I’m not angry with her, which she said she knew. I spent the rest of the session just crying. I’ve been filled with so much anger the past couple of days and when I would start to feel tears coming and the anger dying down, I’d resist. But in the session, I just couldn’t anymore. I know it’s okay to cry. I know it isn’t good to shove it down. But still, I couldn’t break through that wall until today.

I just feel exhausted now. All that pent-up energy is gone and I feel like sleeping for a couple of days. I’m thinking of taking tomorrow off work. And that means all work, not just from my office job. I’ve been trying to do too much and solve too many problems that I just don’t have the strength for right now. I need to take care of myself.

This post seems to be a little all over the place, but I couldn’t be bothered about that, so it is what it is. I need to process and my brain isn’t functioning at optimal level.

A Good Therapy Session

I’m feeling a bit better today. Clearer. Less confused.

Last night I went to group and during the break I saw C on her way out. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed during group, and without even thinking about it, I ran to catch up to her. I had no plan. So when the first words out of my mouth were “I want A”, I was surprised. I can’t really remember much of what happened next. I vaguely remember C saying something and asking me questions, but it’s all a blur. I had sent her a message the day before telling her that I want to cancel our session for this week. I had bumped into her just before group as well, and told her that we could have a session next week instead. What I remember very clearly during these weird few minutes during group break, was asking whether we can still have our session today.

So that’s how I wound up in her office this afternoon. I spilled the beans, and told her everything I mentioned in my previous post. My doubts, self-doubt. Thoughts. Feelings. All of it. And C validated me every step of the way, which just made opening up easier.

She asked me what had happened the previous evening. What had changed between me seeing her an hour earlier and being adamant about not having our scheduled session, to my request to have the session after all? That one stumped me. After a little introspection, it hit me. Attachment pain (as one of my fellow bloggers puts it). The OT I had worked with last year was facilitating the group last night. The first time in months. During group I had been fighting that feeling of attachment, among other things going on in the group. Missing A and wanting to go back to her hadn’t left, and the two situations fed off one another, culminating in a big attachment mess in my mind.

The reason I had initially canceled our session was because I felt I needed more time to figure this shit out. I have also been wary of how things were going and didn’t want to deal with C this week. It came out during the session that another reason was that in my mind she was the “bad object” (she used this term) I wanted to get distance from.

Just as an aside: This is very hard for me, but instead of referring to her as “C” like I’ve been doing up to this point, I’m going to refer to her as “my therapist”. I’ve realized that’s one way I’ve been keeping her at an emotional distance, so I need to change this.

Anyway, we spoke about a lot of things in only 45 minutes (it was supposed to be a 30-minute session, but we went over) that have come up since we started working together, including the relationship. One of the things I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my therapist hugging another client, came up too. She actually brought it up, which I was grateful for, since that was one of the things I wanted to discuss with her. She said that A and I had established boundaries over the course of our relationship. It had been a process. Painful and frustrating at times. But I settled into it eventually, and it became the norm. I was used to those boundaries. To the way things worked. I knew what was acceptable, what wasn’t. And now some things work and look different. So it’s normal that I’m feeling confused, unsure, and insecure. She said that whenever there’s a threat to a structure I’m comfortable with, that’s when I become unsettled. She mentioned a few other instances of this (things I haven’t written about). One of them is the time she came into my room when I was still in the clinic, to see one of my roommates (who didn’t want to come down to her session). Things like this that threw me off. When she said this, it just all clicked into place. It cleared up the confusion I had around these times. About what was happening inside me.

As the session progressed, I found myself softening toward her. I told her that I feel like I abandoned A, and that I didn’t do things the right way. But I’ll send A an email about this when she gets back (I see she’s currently away on leave). The more I spoke about her, the sadder I felt. At some point I switched and felt anger toward her for being away on leave. “again“. My therapist pointed out that A had suddenly become the “bad object” and she, C, the good one. That’s when I started crying. She was right. And I hadn’t even been aware of it until she mentioned it. Her tone of voice changed to soft and gentle, which only made me cry harder. She told me that it’s okay and possible to have two “good objects” at the same time. I remember A had also pointed out how I tend to do that.

So much of what my therapist had said this session made so much sense. So many things seemed to fall into place.

Today was the first time I felt she was really in tune with me. The first time I actually felt some real connection to her. In the short time I’ve been seeing her, she’s taken a lot of crap from me, and always handled it amazingly well. No matter how much I’ve acted out, she remains calm, patient, and surprisingly, compassionate. She deserves a medal for that. As does A, although I was more “well behaved” with her.

This was truly the most valuable and insightful session I’ve had since starting with my new therapist. Which gives me hope for future sessions. So I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with it. With her. I hadn’t realized until today that I had actually subconsciously been fighting against her. And as she mentioned again, it will always remain my choice to be there. If I decide I want to go back to A, that will be okay. Even though I feel better now about working with her, it feels even better knowing the option, the choice, is still mine, and there.

Things still don’t feel quite “in place”. I’m hurting a lot, and it’s extremely hard right now. But at least after today, things seem to be moving forward in a positive way with this situation. All I can do is give it time, and truly try to give this my all.

I Don’t Want to Hug You, But They Can’t Either

Since the weekend I’ve started having stronger emotions coming to the forefront. Mostly sadness. I’ve contemplated getting into contact with Elizabeth again, thinking that maybe I’m ready to resume a friendship. I’ve been feeling the loss more. So maybe now isn’t such a great time. I’ve also been struggling with thoughts of “I made a mistake” ending therapy with A. I’ve been struggling with self-doubt these past few days. I’ve been missing A a lot. Not just missing her personally, but also missing our work together.

I had a therapy session with C yesterday. While I was sitting waiting for my appointment, she came out with another woman, who I assumed was a client. This woman hugged her goodbye, and in that instant I felt something. Jealousy and anger. They weren’t intense emotions, but not very subtle either. When I got into C’s office, I asked her whether that woman was a client, and it turns out it was. I had hoped that it was a friend instead.

Naturally, C asked me what I was experiencing. What had that situation triggered in me? I struggled for a while to communicate my thoughts, as I was also feeling confused. I wasn’t quite sure what I was experiencing, or why. I don’t feel this incredible connection with C, so why did it bother me that another client hugged her? I ended up leading her down a different road to what I only later realized wasn’t the whole truth. It wasn’t intentional. But it at least gave us some material to work with, so I don’t feel too bad. I’m going to bring up the subject again in our next session though. She was really on the money when she said that it seems to her that I just want to feel cared for today (yesterday). To know that I’m loved. When she said that, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I hadn’t even really consciously been aware of it until she said it, and I realized how right she was. And I still want that today.

On Monday I wanted to send A an email telling her that I’ve been thinking about returning to therapy with her, but that I’m not sure if I should. That I’m confused. But I didn’t send it. I could just imagine her saying “that would be inappropriate” with regards to sending her such an email, since C is my therapist and I should be talking to her about these things. So I just ended up sending A a quick text message to say hi. It helps so much just knowing that she’s still around, and we can still communicate. I just wish I could see her again.

I didn’t talk to C about this yesterday. It’s on my agenda for the next session. What happened yesterday, how I felt, just made me even more confused than I’ve already been lately. I also feel fear somewhere inside, but I’m not sure where it comes from and why it’s there.

With regards to whether she allows hugs, she told me that she doesn’t mind hugging her clients or her clients hugging her, as long as she doesn’t think it’s going to do them more harm that good. And as long as it’s with express consent. Then she asked me what I need then and there, and if I would ask if I want/need something. I told her that most of the time I’m too scared to explicitly ask for something, like a hug for example. But that I do sometimes ask… I’ve become better at it. In that moment, I didn’t want a hug from her. I didn’t want to hug her. Even after our session, I just thanked her for the session and left. It had been one of those days where I didn’t want to be touched by anyone, and even being close enough to touch felt overwhelming. So, I didn’t want a hug. But I didn’t want her other clients to get one either. Messed up, I know.

My roommates in the clinic haven’t been in contact with me. I sent them each a couple of messages, and they replied, but days later, and with messages that can’t even really be seen as a proper reply. The worst part is that I saw they went somewhere together last weekend. I know I said that I understood that this might happen, and that it would be okay. But that “no care” attitude is gone, and has been replaced with feelings of rejection. I’ve removed them from my contacts. I’m not going to run after people anymore.

I feel a little lost. Lost. Alone. Sad.