Tag Archives: mental illness

Vacation

My therapist Lee, is on vacation.  I didn’t I think it would bother me really not seeing as I have so many walls up and don’t share a whole lot of my feelings in my sessions.  I tend to speak about mundane things and not dig too deep.   I mean, I do talk about my mom and my grief and how hard it is to have my son gone.    I keep my feelings safely bottled up behind walls because of what happened before.  You may read that about that here:

Yer Fired!  

I sometimes feel like the floodwaters of emotions have risen too high inside me and the dam will break soon.  So many feelings have been percolating in her absence.   I must have felt some degree of safety in just sitting in her bland and  non-descript office.

I found myself walking through WalMart mindlessly going up and down each aisle looking for something to buy, even though I didn’t really need anything.   Just to I’m not sure, maybe get my mind off of my feelings? Like that one magic item could bring me a piece of transient joy, if only for a moment.  But search as I may it remained elusive.  It felt like I was shopping for comfort.  As if there is a hole in me, a friend I have lost who was dear to me has left a space I cannot fill and I was trying to fill it with a purchase?  How strange yet true.

Well just slip me in a straight jacket now.  So many losses makes me want to insulate more! So I can’t get close to anybody, then I can’t lose anyone anymore.

The last time I can remember feeling happy I was six years old.   First grade.   It was my second year of school following kindergarten  and I was so excited to learn.

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Photo:  me first grade 

Things in my home began declining from then on.  Other than short periods of calm or transient periods of fun,  I haven’t been truly happy since around this age.  It feels like it’s been a three-ring-shit show ever since.

All I know is, deep down inside of me there is a burgeoning sense of change.  Of self-love.   It is never too late to start over.  It’s never too late to be the person you could have been.  It’s not too late for me!!!

 


Yer Fired!

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A few years ago I had a horrible experience with a therapist I had been working with for 2 years.    It created such a breach of trust which still impacts me to this day in my current psychotherapy and work I’m trying to do with my therapist, Lee.  Learning to trust again after it has been broken by so many is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

There was nothing fun about sitting with my shrink and have her stare at me while I tried to cough up my feelings that were too painful and shameful to utter aloud.  So instead I put on a good persona and artfully tried to dodge the elephant sitting on my heart that I wished I had the balls to say, but I was way too much of a pussy.  I knew if I did I would risk looking like an asshole.  I had learned early on to hide vulnerable feelings so the hungry ones wouldn’t devour me.

It took me weeks to get to the point of even mustering “it” up.  The emotions carried that much shame for me to say.

It took me awhile to get the courage up to spit out what I was hemming and hawing about saying for that 40 minute session.

The thing I said well, it made me feel weak, embarrassed, vulnerable, powerless.   All feelings I HATE.  All feelings I don’t have skills to tolerate very well.

But I did finally spit it out, because I wanted to get healthier and I thought that puking up what’s hard to do, would get me there.  I needed to tell the shrink that there is a fractured part of me; a splintered, inner-child like piece to me, who I can sense at times, is stuck chronologically at the age a lot of my child  abuse occurred.  The embarrassment for me, was that this child-like part of me seemed really attached to the therapist.  Who was younger than me.

I breathed in quickly after saying all this to her as it took all the courage to muster to say.  So I braced and waited, hopeful for a good outcome.

*****

I was totally  blindsided by her response.

The therapist began laughing out loud saying, “you don’t really feel that way, do you?”

Then I felt my face burn beat red, humiliated on top of the existing shame.  Mother fucker.   I wanted to bolt out the room and never come back. But instead I found my legs wouldn’t move, frozen like a deer in headlights.

I “present so well” and hide my emotions, I’ve been it doing for so long.  I had created a seamless veneer simultaneously as the abuse was happening in childhood.  To protect me so that no one could “see”  how ugly I was.   Some primitive defense mechanism to be sure.

The therapist was oblivious to my dual nature despite a factual understanding of the complex trauma and rather largish case file containing my trauma history.  She denied my inner fragility and vulnerability at the expense of making a chiding remark , and was unmoved by what I had shared.  She began booking next weeks appointment.

*****

Sitting there in that chair in her office feeling ashamed, my brain flooded with similar events from my past, I had try to  bury long ago.

Especially the young, impish, fractured, splintered off part of myself I thought I could seal behind a wall and bury alive.

But that girl’s muffled voice broke through from behind the bricks that day  choking back her pitiful fucking tears.

*****

There she was again, from behind the woman veneer.   Stirring somewhere from latent consciousness.  Crystallized and I’m still paralyzed.

I seem to walk through life, reflexively, a continuous loop of internal thought patterns,  “I am bad. unlikable,  unwanted,  unacceptable….. I am un-lovable.”

*****

When I told my shrink how I felt about her, she scoffed that I must be wrong.  It stung.   Walls went up.

Usually, I reject me before anyone else can hurt me.    Well, I fucked up.

******

I am ashamed….of me.  Ashamed there is a child in me so needy and desperate for love.

I am realizing that shame is a bigger part of my emotional make-up than I ever knew. It’s inescapable presence envelops me like a blanket.

If I don’t deal with “it”,  I will continue to live in misery.  How can I deal with it if I’m not even being believed.  That Mickey Mouse post-secondary degree douchebag clinician that attended a cut-rate graduate school whose clinical skills were on par with a third grader, doesn’t know shit-from-shinola about incest,  complex trauma, or the presentation of dissociation! She fucked me over!

Before that session I might have passed for an average girl, walking with a seeming look of purpose, unfettered by any stress. And in some ways, I guess that would have been true.

I left however, restricting my gaze downward to the cobblestone street, tears staining my cheeks, reflecting the ugliness I still hold inside.  Ugliness from which I haven’t been yet able to wriggle free.

I later called her and told her that laughing at me and not believing me at a most vulnerable moment was too shaming and unacceptable.  That I was done, I won’t be coming back, that she, she was fired.

*****

BDSM and bondage isn’t about rope and and submission for me any more, for I’m out of the lifestyle.

The riskiest scenes take place on the inside, with the chains that bind my very soul.

 

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I’m a Marketing Dream

It occurred to me the other day as I stared blankly out of the window, not wanting to get out of bed, just like every other day, I am in the Bell Jar.  

So many of the commercials on TV for medications to treat depression are so fake.  They depict people suffering with it having a seemingly mild case of the doldrums. Just moving as if stuck in molasses.

They never show you what depression really looks like.

I am willing to let a pharmaceutical company film me to get a more accurate depiction.  It would look something like this…..

Voice over of announcer: “Depression robs a person of their energy.”

Camera pans to me sitting in the middle of my living room with a mountain of dirty laundry staring at it like the woman from Close Encounters of a Third Kind.  Saying, “I know I should wash you” and then just shaking my head no and finally collapsing back into the cushion and saying “fuck it.”  I am down to one pair of clean panties this is now my “edge play.”

Voice of announcer:  “Depression feels physical.” 

Camera lens catches me glancing outside at the morning school bus through the window .  I move to the kitchen and stare at the heaping pile of dishes that has amassed in the sink and repeat “fuck it” as I then head to the bed and proceed to pull the blinds and dive in to the sheets.  (Time elapses)   I rise in my pajamas in a haze hearing the afternoon school bus pulls around the block again.

Voice of announcer:  “Depression causes changes in appetite.”

Last scene too fucking easy.  Like a vampire rising from the mist I awake from bed to eat a box of Girl Scout  cookies.  Because anyone knows that if doesn’t come out of a package or ready-to-eat microvave box, then food isn’t consumed.  Camera fades with me on the couch with said cookies in the middle of the night swearing at the Girl Scouts, blaming them for peddling their crack.

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Real Depression?

Depression is wearing the same pear of sweat pants and tee-shirts every day like a uniform, and having hygiene fall to the wayside til’ someone has to insist a shower is taken.   Brushing teeth? what’s that? there’s no energy.  Sleeping 16 hours a day feels natural.    Feeling black even when the sun is shining.

Depressions steals a person of their  emotions.  Such that life holds neither joy, nor sorrow, no anger, no pain.  It steals away the ability to imagine, to dream, to hope for a better day.  It is the great equalizer changing healthy,  robust,  thriving people into living, breathing, vacuous zombies pondering their very existence.

*******

Why doesn’t Roche, Pfizer, or GlaxoSmithKline want to show what real depression looks like?  Because their drugs are largely ineffective against severe forms of it.   You will look and feel the same on their drugs as you will off them.    Big Pharma doesn’t want anyone to know that.  If the efficacy of their products aren’t much better than a placebo than Lord have mercy, where would their capitalist enterprise be?

I have tried 13 anti-depressants over my lifetime and only one did something.  Not a great track record for pills as monotherapy.   If you are mildly depressed, pills may snap your serotonin back into shape.  Buddy, if you have a severe case of dysthymia, and some C-PTSD you are not going to have that sort of response.

Millions of people are suffering with depression.   Big Pharma wants to profit from the pills they produce to treat a condition that is largely unresponsive to pharmacological intervention.

The most common reason for people to become depressed is sustaining stress and trauma.  Until we become more pro-active as a society about preventing trauma both in childhood and in adulthood we are destined to fail by looking for a pharmaceutical panacea to remedy the problem.

Learning how to intervene once children and adults have been identified as having been exposed to trauma and getting these individuals trauma informed care, we have the hope of healing them.

People need people.  The broken trust that happens through the process of trauma needs to be repaired.   Pharmaceuticals certainly have their place as an aide.  The way out of depression starts with the desire; the wanting to climb out of the bell jar.  Once that decision has been made to seek help, the human factor, not a pill, will always be a more effective “treatment”.

 

 

 

 


All the Cool Kids See a Shrink

I started seeing a shrink when I was ten.  I thought it was pretty cool to go to the Hostess outlet store on the way to the Psychiatrist’s office but that’s where the cool  ended.   I never knew there were huge stores where they sold just treats.  Hostess, if you don’t know, are the manufacturers of Twinkies.  The best tasting or nastiest American treat depending on who you are.  I think I heard once that a Twinkie has a shelf-life of 10 years.  That, however could be pure folklore.

9DF7A98F-7DFC-4FF1-86C8-12A94695A3AC.jpegMy mom used to pick me up from grammar school and take me to the Psychiatrist’s office.  Dr. Mary Bain.  She was an elderly woman, maybe late 60’s early 70’s.  She was a short, soft-spoken slight woman.  She was always well-dressed.  Her hair was short, curly,  and neatly groomed.  She had an easy manner about her.   Her office was well appointed.  Multiple degrees hung behind her desk, bookshelves lined the wall, filled with thick books for which some titles my child’s mind couldn’t yet pronounce .  An expensive mahogany desk separated us during sessions.  She had a fair amount of stuffed animals in the office placed about.  A few lamps gave a more home-like ambiance.

I had stopped eating solid food and medical doctors determined that there was no physiological explanation for my constant nausea and lack of appetite.   I believe now, that I was in such an extreme anxiety state, my stomach was literally in knots.  I had already lost so much weight that it was deemed extremely urgent an etiology be found.

I used to dread seeing my mom’s face showing up in my classroom window alerting me that it was time to get dismissed.  I felt ashamed somehow, of her, and of having to leave.  I just wanted to blend in with everyone else.  I already felt like people may be able to “see” my unworthy-ness so this just added to that.  I clearly remember asking her to just have me dismissed from the front office.  No more “pop-ins” at my class.

I have vague recollections of sitting Dr. Bain’s office waiting area.  Every other person waiting in queue was a grown-up.  They played old people’s music.  One song I recall that is seared in my brain was:

I remember sitting down on the carpet playing with an old broken set of Lincoln Logs.  Let’s be real, no doctors office ever has any set of toys that work.  Just as I would be about to put a foundation together in some fort that I was building, she would call me in.

I don’t remember much of what happened in those sessions, except that it was really boring and she asked a lot me of questions.  She had me do a lot of creative writing assignments at home.  I remember her giving me a lot of positive feedback about my writing when I returned the stories back to her, even though they were darker in nature.  For example,  one story I wrote was about a child trapped in a castle with a vampire.  She said that I had some talent for creative writing.  Whether a lie or true, she held my fragile self-esteem, as one patch on a grand quilt.

My self-esteem had benefited from therapy with Dr. Bain but she was unable to find the cause for the anorexia.  Because I had lost so much weight from not eating, my pediatrician told my parents that if I continued to not eat, he would need to put in a g-tube into my stomach.   My parents informed me of this and I was terrified. I didn’t want that.   My mom begged me to eat anything, to please just try, so that would be avoided.

I ended up going to McDonalds.  I hadn’t eaten solid food in so long, that it hurt my esophagus as one French fry went down.  It had a scratchy feeling and I hated it.  I kept thinking about the tube, so I ate another one.  No exaggeration, it took me probably a half hour to eat maybe 15 fries. But it was a start.

It took 10 more years before the real reason why I couldn’t eat came to light, the incest.  By then, the damage had been done.

If you or someone you know has a child whose eating patterns suddenly change, don’t be afraid to start a dialogue with the adult in their life.   If you are the parent of a child, start a conversation, ask questions, it may save them years of pain.  No one ever asked the me right questions. Even my brilliant well-intended Psychiatrist missed it.

For the record, I like Neil Sedaka.


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