I went into my last therapy session horribly worried and nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to feel connected to her. For the first thirty minutes or so, I sat there, unable to speak, trapped inside myself. I was able to give short answers like yes or no, but other than that couldn’t get a word out.
Bean asked me what I was feeling and I shrugged my shoulders. She said, “Is that because you don’t know? Or because you can’t say.” I told her it was because I didn’t know. She then asked me if what I was feeling was numb, shut down, or blank. She said that it may not seem like it, but there’s a subtle difference between these. I told her blank. She asked if it would be alright if we move out of that blank space for a moment, and then we will go right back into it. I began to feel panicky. I asked her what was going to happen, what was I going to feel when we moved out of the blank. She said that whatever it is is okay, since we will be able to move right back into the blank. That it will only be for a few seconds. I said okay.
She told me to start imagining words in my head, and start spelling them out. I did that. I can’t remember the words I chose but there were several. As I was spelling them out in my mind, the feelings that I hadn’t had access to came rushing in, like a dam being opened up in my mind. Pure panic, anxiety, and overwhelm. I told her, “Too much, too much.”
She tried getting me to go back into that blank space but it didn’t work. I was left to sit amidst the storm of overwhelming feelings. It was excruciating. I scrunched up my face, trying to shut it all out, but I couldn’t. She asked me if I was feeling a lot of pressure. I nodded, my eyes closed. She asked if there was pressure in my chest. I nodded. She asked if there was pressure in my head. I nodded.
I put my hands to my head, wanting to disappear. I held my forehead and felt myself slowly slip, slipping away.
From the observer position, I watch myself begin to speak cheerfully to Bean. Asking her if she’d seen this one Robin Williams movie. Her and cheerful me chatted for a bit, until she asked me a question (I can’t remember what) that brought me right back up front, with all the pressure and panic and overwhelm. Unable to speak. Hands immediately go to my head.
“Is your head hurting you right now?,” Bean asked. I shake my head. “Just a lot of pressure?” she asked. I nodded, slowly feeling myself fading away again. The okay, cheerful part of myself starts in, chatting away as I observe from a safe, far away place.
The rest of the session proceeds like this. Any time Bean asks me a difficult question my “okay” part isn’t able to immediately answer, I’m sucked back into the body with all the overwhelming feelings and pressure. Then I go away again, and watch myself carry on a light-hearted conversation. The “okay” part tells Bean all about these old school transcripts and written evaluations that my mom had given me from seventh and eighth grade. She also tells Bean the story of my vice principle calling my mom and telling her I’d been raped at a party (see prior post). Bean was (appropriately) shocked and appalled.
Then, just like that, our session was over.
One good thing that came out of this session was the realization that I have these two main parts of myself that operate on a daily basis. The part that I think of as “me” – the one in touch with all my feelings, emotions, inner workings, and then the “okay part” who comes on when I get too overwhelmed, or when I need to act “okay” (around my family, for example).
Another thing I just remembered about session was that Bean told cheerful me to try to watch and become aware of what happens when I “switch states.” Cheerful me asked what the point of that was. Bean said that the more aware you can become of the process of switching, the more control you can have over the process, and you can actually get to a point where you can move “in and out of states at will.” I have yet to have mastered that. I’ll let you know when I do.
And that, in a nutshell, was my last therapy session. I see Bean tonight, and I’m sure will be updating you all with how it goes.
[Oh and for the record, I felt connected to Bean again after this last session 🙂 ]