therapy

I miss him

Have you ever loved someone so much it physically hurt? Well, five years ago I started hurting like that, and I’m still hurting now.

It hurts most late at night when I can’t sleep.

I am hurting because I lost him. Losing him was just unimaginably painful, even though I knew all along we couldn’t be together. I cut him completely out of my life when I lost him because even though I could see him around, the pain of seeing him would be too much.

I lost a lot of friends at the same time because I feel I can’t see anyone connected to him.

I actually fell apart over this. I’m trying really hard to put my life back together but I miss him. I talk to him when I go to bed. I cling to a handful of memories and replay them in my head, over and over and over.

I avoid everywhere I might see him. I try to think of him as dead, to get some closure… but of course, he isn’t dead. He’s very much alive and living not even half a mile from me.

When I asked him years ago if we could meet, to end it all properly, he told me he couldn’t give me closure. Why did he tell me that? Did he want to keep me as a future option in case his marriage didn’t work out? Was he actually in love with me? I will never know. We never even slept together. We did the right thing for many months, seeing each other as friends (albeit friends who admitted they had feelings), and then he nearly died, was in hospital, and it all had to stop.

I am told, in therapy, that I fell for him because I wasn’t loved as a child. I didn’t get what I needed, so I projected all my needs onto him. I’ve been hurt by men, so an infatuation that was unreciprocated was safe.

I don’t know so much. It feels like I fell in love with a man who was, for a time, a kindred spirit, a lost soul, an angry and confused person just like me.

It feels like I grew up when I fell in love. So how can that be me being a child? What if he wasn’t some reenactment of everything I never had?

What if he was just the love of my life?

 

therapy

My double life

I worry about this double life I’m leading. I have it easier than some, in that I’m not out working and mixing with people all day, every day.

In fact, it was trying to work and function when very ill that led to me completely unravelling a couple of years ago.

But I still put on a front, a false me, in company.

False me is: cheerful, capable, talkative, smiling.
Real me is: miserable, scared, hopeless, ashamed.

Or is it the other way around? Is my current state influencing how I feel about myself, stopping me from going out and working and doing things that make me realise I don’t have to be ‘real me’ all the time?

What is real and when is it the depression talking?

In therapy, you get told to sit with your feelings rather than push them away. This week has seen me spend a lot of time in my head back in the house where I grew up, feeling how I felt as a child, connecting with a lonely little girl.

I can definitely see how taking that time makes me more aware of what I went through, and what I’ve lost. It helps me understand why I am so angry, changeable and messed up.

But getting the balance between acknowledging pain and getting on with life can be very difficult. Impossible, at the moment. I really struggle to see how I will get back to a ‘functioning me’ – whether it’s real me, false me, or a combination of the two.

I struggle to know where to even start. All I know is that writing helps, and so maybe a bit more of that before I try to get everything back.

daily life, therapy

Too many labels

The discomfort I feel at the current thinking behind my diagnosis is reaching fever pitch.

They keep trying to stick me with new labels and I keep resisting. In particular, I’m resisting Borderline Personality Disorder, because it’s such a bullshit concoction of ‘symptoms’.

Symptoms of what? It’s not an illness, is it? So what is it then? It seems to me that it’s a marker used by the medical profession to flag up difficult, volatile patients who are:

  • usually female
  • have suffered trauma
  • aren’t afraid of sticking up for themselves.

I know I have PTSD, that’s been confirmed. I am wondering about bipolar disorder, but then I think that PTSD and depression covers it just fine.

Anyway, the more I resist, the more of a tangle I get myself into.

Here’s where I’m at with my current thinking, inspired by disinterested psychiatrists and their lazy assumptions:

  • I have gone into a manic reaction (bipolar 2, cyclothymia) with rapid-cycling moods lasting several days at a time. I can’t sleep and am overthinking everything (bipolar, borderline personality disorder).
  • I feel hopeless and worthless (depression) and these feelings keep coming back (recurrent depressive disorder).
  • I have been feeling a lot worse since they started sticking new labels on me (reactive depression, generalised anxiety).
  • I got really angry at my clinic a month or so back when a psychiatrist cancelled on me, claiming I had previously said I wouldn’t see her (borderline personality disorder). I told them to go fuck themselves (borderline personality disorder).
  • Since then, I have been reluctant to engage with psychiatric services because I feel so worthless and am scared of being disliked (avoidant personality disorder).
  • I have retreated into myself and prefer the company of my imagination (schizoid personality disorder).
  • I have become quite fearful of attending my psychotherapy sessions because I’m worried about what is being said or thought about me (paranoid personality disorder).
  • I’ve had nightmares and outbursts at home, usually triggered by a remark or something on tv about abuse, and I’m totally exhausted and numb (complex ptsd).
  • I jump out of my skin when someone walks in the room (ptsd, anxiety, social anxiety) and oh yeah, I keep cleaning the kitchen (ocd, anxiety).

So, what label do you think they want to stick on me today? Therapy starts in an hour or so. Let’s see what they have to say.

therapy

Working through grief

When it hits you just how much you’ve lost in life, it hits hard.

Many people who end up in therapy arrive there because their coping mechanisms have broken down. They  may have been super-efficient types masking a lifetime of pain, or people who were broken by a particular incident and stayed broken.

I tried very, very hard in the early months of psychotherapy to present the face I normally show the world. I held it together, as I did through work and through life for many years. I was unemotional and articulate, when all the time my therapist was observing how disconnected I was from my feelings.

It’s true. I switched my feelings off a long time ago. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but being numb and distanced became my protection.

The more stressed I became, the more rigid my protective structure felt. I started building it in childhood when I was being abused. It grew increasingly toughened during my teens, through rape and on through an unhappy relationship, the death of my father, the loss of two babies… and the eventual loss of my health.

I have to say at this point that life hasn’t been all bad. I have a beautiful son. I have friends I love, but I haven’t been seeing them lately. I’ve not felt up to it.

The final retreat came a few years ago when I was emerging from a not very happy relationship. This man was the love of my life, but I presented to him the same face I present everyone else, and he too had layers and layers of pain hidden away. We met at the wrong time.

When I found that I couldn’t get over him, I sought help. Now, having heard myself talk empty words over many sessions, I am starting to experience feelings.

I am wondering, several months into therapy, whether I am not only grieving for him… I am mourning all my losses.

 

 

therapy

Living with trauma

My head has been completely fragmented for a long, long time.

It makes it very difficult to function. I’m not currently able to work, and I can’t concentrate very well on anything. I also experience total, obliterating exhaustion. Viruses seem to hang about for months and exercise… well, what exercise?

I started psychotherapy last July and it is very challenging, as it should be. My main problem so far seems to have been getting up the courage to even trust my therapist, let alone share all that has happened to me.

I have talked about abuse, about really dark things, even about my habit falling in love with people who don’t love me back… but I keep being told that I am not connecting with my feelings.

This made me very angry when it was first suggested. What do they know anyway? But actually, I am starting to connect with my feelings and experiences, many of which have been buried for more than thirty years.

I actually cried recently. I cry at home but somehow opening up in therapy, letting down the defences I have built, is extraordinarily difficult.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Do you know what it’s like to walk about feeling slightly detached, like you aren’t part of things, like life is going on around you?

I seem to have become used to an overwhelming sadness, a numbness. For many years I just gave up and didn’t care if I lived or died. I think starting therapy is acknowledging that maybe I do want to live, and live better. It’s just that I haven’t found out a way of doing that yet.