Tag Archives: safety

Let me dig myself a grave

Let me dig myself a grave to lay my body in
Once my body’s quiet I pray restfulness begins
For I can’t take my mind no more; this panic and this stress
Instead I’ll lay my body down and give this mind a rest

A rest from what, I’m not quite sure, but pressure’s rising fast
A tidal wave heads toward my shore, from which I cannot last
The wave will catch me in its might and wrestle me about
Under water I’ll be flung and there’ll be no way out

Instead I’ll dig myself a grave, a peaceful place to lie
Buried, hidden from the world and free from passers by
This grave where I’ll lay myself down will be a welcome cave
Protecting and embracing me while my mind melts away.

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Therapy / The Question

I had therapy with Bean today. It had been a week and a half since I had last seen her. I had meant to write a blog about how last session went, but I must’ve gotten sidetracked and never actually got around to it. Because I never wrote it down, I don’t actually remember what transpired during me and Bean’s last session together. I did remember one small detail and that was it – sitting with the swirling feeling in my chest, and connecting it with a specific traumatic incident. She had asked me the first time I ever felt the swirling in my chest, and I had told her that I felt it only after ____ had happened. And that I felt it ever since. But… this post is about my session today, so let me bring us back to that.

Today’s session was at her home office, since I was out of town on Monday – our usual session day – and she’s only in her other office on Mondays. So given what has transpired there, with her husband and all of that, I was especially anxious leading up to today’s session.

She asked me how the medication was going, and if I was having any side effects. I told her it was going well, and amazingly I was experiencing hardly any side effects. She asked me if it still feels like my brain is coming apart, and I told her no. She agreed that this was a good thing.

I asked her what we talked about last session, since I couldn’t remember most of it. I told her the only part I remember is the swirling in my chest. She said that yes, we did talk about the swirling feeling. And that while discussing the swirling, I got to a place where I couldn’t speak. It was then that she enlisted the help of R. She said that R came forward and spent a good amount of time talking with her. She said they talked about my anger, and what happens when I get into that angry state. I said, “what angry state are you referring to?” And she said, “well when [such-and-such] happens and that makes you angry.” (I have no memory of any of this.) She also said that she and R discussed that I may have “other parts” that I am not very aware of yet (??-not sure what that’s about). And she said that R was the one who ended up leaving when the session was over. Bean said that when R walked out, she was very calm. She said it the first time it seems I’ve ever left a session calm. For some reason that struck me as funny (maybe because it made me feel so self-conscious and exposed) and I laughed out loud. [I thought I hid my fear and anxiety better than it seems I actually do :/.]

I talked about the little kid I take care of, and how wonderful they are. I told her about how close we are and how I love to make them laugh. [I am using “them” because I’d prefer not to disclose the child’s gender.] I talked about feeling calm on the drive back with the family from the desert. How I actually felt peaceful and content, and what a strange and odd feeling that was. That my stress and nervousness and anxiety and racing thoughts seemed to have subsided completely, and what was left was just a warm glow. A contentment. I remember thinking, “I wish I could feel this way all the time.” And I told Bean that.

I brought up the fact that I am starting to believe that these “parts” of me are, in fact, made up. That they are, in fact, not real. That it is obvious that I dissociate, it is obvious that I have these different states that I get into, but that what happened when I was diagnosed DID by my ex-therapist was that my mind turned these states into something more than they really are.


Bean: Okay, I hear what you are saying, and I respect that. I am wondering though, after one of our earlier sessions you had written me an angry email and had signed it “R”, and then you had written me another email right afterward apologizing for the previous email and asked for me to please ignore that. How do you explain that?


Brandic: 
Well, like I said, I do have dissociated states that I get into, and when I wrote that first email was when I was in one of those states. It’s just that I gave that state a name, and that is “R”.


Bean: 
Okay… I see. I’m also wondering, do you remember when we spoke on the phone that time when you were having a really hard time and you were really dissociated? And you were really scared, and you couldn’t speak?


Brandic: 
Yes…


Bean: 
Well, when I asked if you could take a step back, and if R could come forward, you seemed to shift into a state where you were able to talk, and you were actually quite calm. Do you remember that?


Brandic: 
Yes…


Bean So how would you explain that then. Was it that you just shifted states? Because what I observed is that you went from being in a very frightened, scared, and overwhelmed place so much so that you were unable to speak, to shifting to a place where you were able to feel much calmer, and carry on a conversation. I imagine that it was quite a relief for you when you were able to get into that calmer state.


Brandic: 
 It wasn’t a relief at all.

 

Bean: No?

 

Brandic: No because it didn’t feel like me. I wasn’t connected to that state at all. It didn’t feel like “me” at all. I didn’t feel calm.


Bean: 
So were you feeling scared of what was happening then?


Brandic: 
No, I wasn’t scared at all. I wasn’t feeling anything. I don’t feel anything when that happens. When I go into these states. I’m just watching.


Bean: 
So it sounds like you were simply in a depersonalized state then…?


Brandic: 
Yes, I was in a depersonalized state, but it wasn’t just a depersonalized state. Because these different states are different. They have their own way of acting and their own way of talking that stays consistent. It’s not like I’m either feeling like “me” or I’m feeling depersonalized. No. I’m either feeling like “me,” or I’m in another one of numerous states that show up and have recognizable ways of being and acting that are consistent. For example, with R, well, R has a unique way of being, a consistent way of acting. That’s not just simply depersonalization.

What happens after this, and what was said, becomes quite blurry. I think she may have asked me what I want her to say if another one of these states presents themselves, if she notices a change in me. What should she say, what language should she use that won’t upset or trigger me. I told her not to use “parts.” That was the word my ex-therapist used and I feel like it implies DID (even though I realize everyone has parts of them). I said I would prefer if she used the term “states.” She agreed to that. Also, she asked if it was alright if she used the term “inner world,” or if there was a better term. I told her that to me, the term “inner world” is for people with DID who have created this whole elaborate world inside their heads. Sometimes with caverns, sometimes with many rooms and many floors, and a room for each alter, and a garden, etc. I told her that I didn’t think I had an “inner world” since I don’t have anything like that. She said, well what can characterize what’s going on inside you? As opposed to what you are presenting on the outside… I said, “Inside. Just say, ‘inside.’ Because there are times, and this is quite often actually, when my insides don’t match my outsides. There’s a discrepancy. For example, I may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed on the inside, but be acting calm and content on the outside. The outside doesn’t convey what’s going on inside.” She said that was very helpful, and that she would start saying “inside” instead of “inner world.”

 

And then, THE QUESTION

Brandic:  So you don’t think I’m DID, do you?

Aaahh! Even though I asked the question in a very directed manner (with the seeming assumption that the answer would be “no”), and asked it in a very nonchalant way, the reality was quite the opposite. I had no idea what she thought or how she would answer. In fact, even asking it made me feel like I was hurling myself off a cliff. Once I threw it out there, I could never take it back. But somehow the words were out of my mouth before I could even stop them.

 

THE ANSWER

Bean: Well, as someone who studies DID and dissociation extensively, I can say that I think that DID is an area that is highly misunderstood, and that there are lots of falsehoods that people believe about it that we need to educate people on…

She went on, but I cannot honestly remember the rest of what she said, except that she never actually answered my question either way. She never said, “No, I don’t think you have DID.” She never said, “Actually, yes I do think you have DID.” She didn’t even partly answer it by saying, “Well, I’m not sure about the DID, but it’s obviously that you do have DDNOS” like so many therapists in my past have done. Keep in mind, these past therapists were not DID experts. She is.

To be honest, I am quite relieved she answered it like this. Because the truth is, I don’t really want to know. I think if she had said no, that she doesn’t think I am DID, I would have been upset. And I think that if she had said yes, she does think I have DID, I would have been upset. The former because it would feel like my experiences were not being given the proper credit they deserve. And the latter, because it would feel like she is just another therapist who is being manipulated by me into thinking something that isn’t even true and isn’t even real. The fact that she played it safe, and basically stated that DID is a misunderstood thing (without answering my question one way or another), made me feel good. It gives me a sense that it’s maybe a possibility for me, but that the diagnosis isn’t the focus of our therapy. I think she is also respecting my need to not know yet. I am still working it out for myself, and that is okay.

And then, before I knew it, the session was over. I started feeling overwhelmed, I didn’t want to speak, the room started becoming shimmery, and Bean was asking me if I was “just watching.” I wasn’t just watching, but I couldn’t tell her that. I couldn’t bring myself back into my body. I couldn’t bring my attention off the shimmering bookcases, since the shimmering was comforting, and the rest of the room, and my body, and her sitting there across from me, well none of it felt safe because I was going to have to leave it. The world that I left behind for the shimmery world was cold, and harsh. The shimmery world was warm, and had soft edges. I didn’t want to be back in the regular world, so I stayed in this world as long as I could.

Then the doorbell rang, signaling that her next client had arrived. I didn’t actually register it for what it was (thankfully it is much more muted in that back room), but as soon as she said, “Oop, there’s my next client,” I began profusely apologizing, as though I had done something horribly wrong. I lept out of my chair and left her office as quickly as I could. I needed to use the bathroom, and so I looked at her pleadingly, and said (feeling very, very young), “Will you be here when I come out?” She told me yes, that if I hurried, she would be waiting for me when I came out. She ushered her next client into the office (thankfully I didn’t have to see him/her!) and was standing there waiting for me when I came out of the bathroom. She walked me to the front door and warmly sent me off. Even though I left feeling horribly anxious and vulnerable (which is usually how I feel upon leaving therapy), I also felt reassured that she cared enough to have her next client wait so she could say goodbye to me properly.

I don’t mean nothing to her… 🙂

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Boundaries, safety, and trust in therapy

When in your life, you were not taught how to have proper boundaries; when you were given mixed messages about what was expected of you; when expressing your needs was punished or ignored; when the only time you felt you got real attention was when your body was being violated – how do we develop a healthy sense of self? How are we able to navigate complex relationships? How are we able to express our needs, without fluctuating between the extremes of angry rejection and clingy neediness? How do we determine who is safe and who isn’t?

These are just questions that are floating around in my mind. I don’t really have the answer to them. I guess this is where therapy comes in. Therapy teaches us these things. Therapy models proper boundaries, and in the relationship you learn to trust and express ones needs in a safe way.

What if, however, therapy relationships haven’t been safe? What if boundaries have been blurred? What if one is allowed, and even encouraged, to fluctuate between extremes within the therapeutic relationship? What then?

The reason I ask is, I’ve had a prior therapy relationship that was extremely unhealthy, boundary-blurring, and co-dependent. Because of this, I’m extra sensitive and aware of any times where boundaries are being blurred in my current therapy relationship.

Does that mean that my reactions to things that my therapist does are actually overreactions? Are my feelings justified and do I have a right to feel hurt and betrayed and unprotected? Or, do I just not know how to handle the natural ebb and flow of a therapeutic relationship, due to my history of unsafe relationships?

I guess only time will be able to answer these questions…

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Safety in therapy

It looks like I probably won’t be seeing Bean at her house anymore. Well, one last time this coming week looks like, but after that at her official office. It’s probably better that way, but I can’t help but wonder why we couldn’t have worked it out at her home office.

See, Bean’s husband is always there. And he doesn’t hide away when clients are coming and going. He’s right there, smack dab in the middle of things. He apparently even answers the door and lets clients in when Bean hasn’t yet finished with the client before. Just this past session, as I was leaving, he came out of the kitchen and joined Bean and myself, who were standing there saying our goodbyes. I was feeling anxious, and I usually like petting one of her cats – the black and white one who reminds me of my cat – before I leave, especially if I’m feeling scared or anxious. It gives me an extra sense of security. But the husband coming out and joining us, and then mentioning something about the cat (something about how old she is), well that’s just not okay to me. I have enough of a hard time as it is just coming to therapy. Add this extra layer of unpredictability and I just about lose it. Of course I didn’t lose it; I kept my cool, and politely excused myself to leave. However, I was screaming inside.

I wrote her an email saying I just can’t be interacting with him, it’s not acceptable to me, and she wrote back saying yes maybe seeing each other at the other office would be better then. I can’t help but feeling a small bit of betrayal. Wouldn’t she be willing to work, even in the slightest bit, to help me to feel more comfortable at her home office? After all, her home office is only a 10-15 minute drive from my work, compared to a 45 min to an hour drive to her other office. It’s much more convenient for me to come see her at her home office instead.

It seems like there could be other solutions… Like, couldn’t she simply ask her husband to stay away, or to stay in another room during that one time every week that I come around? Couldn’t we figure out another arrangement if she’s in session with someone before I get there, other than her husband letting me in? I’m happy waiting outside in the enclosed garden area…? Does she not value our relationship enough that she’s not willing to make a few minor adjustments? Does the comfort of her husband outweigh my own comfort, despite the fact that she chose to have a home office? Has this never come up amongst her other clients? Are they happy with him being friendly? Greeting them? Starting conversations with them? I can’t imagine I’m the first, but maybe I’m largely mistaken. Maybe I am just overly sensitive and making a mountain out of a molehill. It is my molehill, however, and I will do with it as I chose. I just wish that I felt as though my comfort and safety were a priority to her. I guess only time will tell…

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A miracle

I want to share with you a miracle that happened this morning. When I woke up this morning, I felt calm. That’s it. That’s the miracle. And it was an amazing and wonderful feeling.

Every morning, pretty much without fail, when the alarm goes off the screaming in my head starts, and I am flooded with terror. The thought of getting out of bed is not only overwhelming, it is unbearable. I wrap myself up even tighter in my covers and delay the inevitable for as long as possible. Finally, when I can’t afford to stay in bed one more minute, I painfully peel the covers back and thrust my body out of the bed despite the shrieks and protests in my mind. The entire morning is spent trying to reassure myself that I’m okay, that I am safe. My partner can hardly say a word to me in the mornings because it usually results in me shrieking, running and hiding, or both.

But not this morning. This morning, when the alarm went off, my mind was quiet. Things actually felt okay. I felt like I was actually able to breathe normally. My heart was beating at its regular speed. I was calm. I was calm.

Every week when I see my therapist, she asks me if my mornings have gotten any better. Every week I tell her, no still hard. I always wondered why she asked, because I didn’t see it changing in the foreseeable future. This has been going on for… well… at least a year.

But it did. It finally changed. I don’t know if this was a one time deal, or a longer lasting change. I don’t know, but I’ll take it. I was actually able to have an adult conversation with my partner this morning, and that is rare if not nonexistent.

So I am feeling a bit up this morning. A celebration of sorts.

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Still not well/ Therapy update/ Betrayal

I have a splitting headache, but I have a desire to post anyways. So here we go.

As you’ve probably gathered from the title, I’m still not feeling well. I’m still having stomach pains, and I have this gnawing headache that just won’t go away. And of course being in bed all day has exacerbated my back pain, so… good times all around :). But we won’t dwell on these things.

I ended up going to my therapy session yesterday, despite feeling as bad as I have been. As I was driving there, I realized I probably shouldn’t be driving. I was getting weak and dizzy and not able to focus very well on the cars ahead of me. Oops. Luckily we didn’t get into an accident!

I’m trying to remember what we talked about. Hmm. Bean was very aware of my not feeling well, and she kept commenting on my fluctuations in the coloring of my face. She is almost too observant sometimes in my opinion.

I remember mentioning that I had lost a friend of mine who had been molested by an older man and who ended up dropping out of school. That was in junior high. And that I had found out a month or two ago from my mom that I had apparently been questioned by detectives about it (!!!). No memory of that. :/

I remember becoming a frightened young girl in session. Telling Bean I was scared. I’m not quite sure what we talked about. Eesh my memory is foggy at the moment isn’t it.

After that part had surfaced and I had to come “back”, it was extremely hard and I was extremely anxious.

Bean said something like, “I bet that if your partner needed you right now, that if there were some emergency type of situation, that you’d be able to instantly shift gears and help her. Would you say that’s accurate?”

I said yes.

She said, “So you’re good at the quick transitions. What seems to be hard for you are the slow transitions. Does that seem about accurate?”

I agreed wholeheartedly. I am great at making quick transitions. I can switch in and out of states at the drop of a hat when needed. But as the clock clicks toward the end of therapy, it becomes excruciating, and I never want to leave. It just feels so safe there.

She said, “so what we need to work on are the slow transitions. One step at a time of course.”

Okay Bean, whatever you say.

Another thing that hasn’t helped while I’ve been so sick is that I had a friend essentially walk away from our friendship a few days ago. For really no reason other than he has too many “other things” going on in his life. Other things. Huh okay. This friend was an online friend, but still we had grown quite close in the several months I knew him. The ironic part about the whole thing is, I was leaning on him less and less toward the end. It became more of a light, carefree friendship. Or at least that’s how I saw it. So why he felt the need to end the friendship, well I’m still at a total loss. All I can say is that it hurts. It really hurts.

However strong I might act on the outside, however I might act like these sorts of things don’t affect me, they do. They really do.

I think that’s all I have the energy for at the moment. Readers thank you for sticking in there, those who I know and those who I don’t know. And if you’re feeling up to it, maybe you can send some healing thoughts my way. No obligation of course. 🙂

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