I managed to get some sleep last night after writing my last post, and woke up far too tired this morning when both of the alarms Husband set rang. I knew I had to get up to go and meet my new psychologist but I just wanted to curl back up under the duvet with my dog snoring beside me. What can the psychologist offer me that I haven’t already been before?
The receptionists at the health centre know me by voice and I think now they know me by my face too. We were waiting probably five minutes before the psychologist called for me. I was really surprised when I saw her, she looked really young and friendly – not like the ogre who is supposed to be my consultant psychologist, the one who had me contemplating suicide for the way he treated me.
We spoke through our previous phone conversation, and how Dr Eyebrows fobbed me off over DBT, before she explained how this session would give her an idea of what therapy might benefit me best. It might not be a straightforward ‘named’ therapy, but rather bits of treatments that cobbled together could help me in the long run. That might even include bits of DBT if needed.
She asked me initially how I’ve been doing the past few weeks so I told her honestly that I’d been very depressed and empty, though I emphasised that I wasn’t suicidal. This then lead onto us discussing how I’ve lived with my BPD even before I had the diagnosis. I explained that I’d always had periods of stability where I can live pretty normally (if normal includes background sadness, which it does for me) and then something might trigger me off and I’m back in full-blown depression, or it might build to a psychotic episode. Talking about those episodes was bizarre, as Husband had to describe them to the psychologist as I often struggle with recalling the emotions and actions that happen before and during an episode.
“What does the build-up to such an episode look like?” she asked him.
“Like there’s a storm coming,” Husband replied without a beat.
‘Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The oncoming storm.’ – The Ninth Doctor, Doctor Who.*
There was a lot of talking about relationships. Mostly around the one I had with my parents. I grew up thinking I had a pretty good relationship with them – or at least, that’s what I got told a lot. On the outside of our home it probably looked that way, but since they’ve died and especially since my mental decline it’s become pretty clear that my parents were dysfunctional at best, even neglectful by most standards. The first time I cried during the session was when the psychologist quickly deduced that I’ve always been able to deal with pain, abuse, trauma, neglect, because that’s what I know. It’s what I can survive. But love, compassion, sympathy – all of that is very alien to me and I don’t trust it when it’s shown to me. How did she know that? I didn’t even know that feeling was able to be described and yet she took it out of my head. Wizard.
I compared how my parents were with me to how my in-laws treat me. Whenever I was upset as a child, I don’t recall being comforted. “Pack it in or I’ll give you something to cry about.” When Shandy died, my mum-in-law took me aside to show me a dress she was considering to wear for our wedding but it was also so we could talk privately. She told me it was okay to be upset for losing my dog, and when I started crying she immediately hugged me. I froze up, and when I did she told me it was okay to hug her back. In that one moment, I felt more like a daughter than I had felt my entire life before that.
(The psychologist really commended my in-laws as a whole actually, saying that they were an example of good parents and a strong relationship. I wonder if there’s a sticker out there that says ‘First Class Parent’ that I can get for my in-laws.)
We spoke a lot about traumas I faced as a child, including the fact that I can speak about certain events with pretty much no emotion. And of course how I was let down by the people in my life that should’ve been there to protect me and look after me in the wake of those events. She noticed little things during the appointment too, such as when I cried I didn’t take a tissue until Husband passed me one – she said that was a indication of how little I valued myself. Also the way I held myself back from crying. That’s what happens when you’re punished for showing emotion as a child. She wasn’t derogatory about my ability to communicate my feelings or the way I had done so, which is always a nice change. She was also really appreciative of Husband and his ability to feed in with the things I was telling her, she even asked him how he was feeling in himself.
There were so many things discussed that we actually ran out of time during a 90 minute appointment. So I’m booked in to see her again at the end of September, but in the mean time she has put me on the waiting list with a therapist. She’s also recommended that I try a group therapy kinda thing where it’s a meeting of people who have been through similar traumatic experiences. I’ve never really had the chance to do anything like that so I’ve said yes.
It was a very positive experience, and I feel a weight off my shoulders. I wouldn’t say the dark cloud has completely lifted but there’s some sun coming through the breaks.
I have an appointment with Nurse Awesome at the beginning of next month. I’m coping well with the lower dose of venlafaxine, so maybe I’ll be able to drop again when I see her. That’s up to her though and I respect her decisions around my care.
I hope I can get back to writing for enjoyment, but one step at a time.