Three Down, None to Go

* Trigger warning for thoughts of self harm

I replied to Jen almost straight away last night. Before I lost my courage, before I lost my mind from sitting with the pain, and (I hoped) before she went offline.

“No, I am not seeing the new psychiatrist and am not seeing Aisha any more either.

You’ve been a great support over the last couple of years and I really appreciate everything you’ve done – thank you.  But I am feeling very hurt and unsupported by you and am not sure when or if I’ll be back.”

I don’t regret it. It was honest, and as skillful as I knew how to be. I didn’t get a reply, and I’m not waiting for one.

I thought about cutting myself. I could see the blood, pooling around me while I sat in the bottom of my shower, and that triggered another thought – maybe I should overdose, too. I could already hear exactly what I’d tell myself: Jen hates you, you stupid bitch. She thinks you’re needy and clingy and too demanding and she wants you away from her. You’re a pathetic whiny little piece of shit and she doesn’t.fucking.care about you. I hate you, you bitch. You deserve this. You deserve this. 

I stopped, though.

Do you really want to hurt yourself? 

I pictured drawing a razor across my arm, and inwardly recoiled.

No. But I don’t want to feel this feeling and hurting myself will push it away. 

Already I don’t know how, or why, but I decided to stay with the feelings. It was probably Rachel’s fault. I sobbed until I was gasping, and I let myself feel all the rage and the hurt and the disbelief – how can this be happening again? why is this happening again? what did I do?

An hour later, I got another email in my inbox; from my friend R to Aisha, my last sort-of-remaining therapist (and his), with me cc’d. He and I are fighting, and he’d taken a screenshot of our text conversation and sent it to her. I was instantly diverted from my hurt over Jen to fury with him, and I decided it was time to terminate with Aisha.

I did hesitate, wondering if I was being reactive to Jen’s rejection and I’d regret it in the morning, but I felt very strongly that this was the push I’d been needing. I’ve been reluctant to contact her because I was scared of the feelings. I still am; I know there are a lot more to come. I love Aisha. I’m crying now, writing this. She’s given me so much unconditional affection that even with all my fears and insecurities, I really believe every part of me is accepted with her. I want her, so much. But that doesn’t mean she’s good for me. And while I’m already feeling crushed and devastated about Jen, I might as well get it over with.

So I typed out a quick email, Goodbye and thanks, and I sent it. The malicious part of me hoped that when she first opened her email, she would see the subject line and think it was a suicide note.

***

Hi Aisha

This [R’s email] has prompted me to write to you to formally terminate our therapeutic relationship.  It’s been 6 weeks since we spoke and 4 weeks since I got in touch to let you know Anna quit and you haven’t responded.  I feel very hurt and abandoned and it has brought home to me that I need a much higher level of support than you are able to provide.

I really regret that we are parting under these circumstances but I’m trying to remember that it’s not about right or wrong, just the reality that our relationship isn’t meeting my needs.  That said, I so appreciate all your patience and kindness and all the humour we’ve been able to share.  I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you; I’ll miss you and I wish you all the best. 

Everest also sends her regards – or she would, if she wasn’t busy trying to eat one of my pens.

Rea

***

I haven’t got a response, of course. If I do, it probably won’t be for weeks.

So this month has been a series of cascading failures. Anna, then Jen, then Aisha. I’m swinging wildly between emotional states – numb to angry to sad to relieved to self-loathing and back again. I don’t know what I did. It feels like it can’t be a coincidence, but I don’t know what I did. I’m trying to tell myself that even if it was because I’m too much or too hard or too something, that doesn’t mean that I’m bad or they’re bad, just that we aren’t the right fit for each other. It’s not helping much.

I was awake until 4am last night, restless, idly playing fetch with my kitten, but woke at 7am feeling okay, and determined that I have to start moving forward. I texted my GP, and asked her to call the psychiatrist I’d picked as my preference and see if she was available.

She’s not. I don’t even remember why, but she doesn’t feel she’s a good fit for me. She recommended a psychologist in my area she thinks would be perfect, and S pushed me really hard to do it, but the reality is that I can’t afford it. I’ve found 5 psychologists I would love to see, but even with the private health insurance that costs me $55 a week, it would cost another $400 to go twice a week. With what I earn, even if I went back to how I made it through law school, living in a condemned house and dumpster-diving/boiling pet bones for food, I couldn’t do it. Seeing a psychiatrist will cost me $40 – $80 to go twice a week. I know how lucky I am to have access to any level of care, but I’m still angry that my options are limited.

But I stayed calm, and gave her the number for my second preference. She got an international dial tone, and no message bank.

And then I started spinning out and catastrophising. There’s nobody else I can see. I can’t go to another male psychiatrist. Nobody is going to be able to help me. I should just give up. The universe hates me. Why do I even try when nothing ever works out? 

Being activated is full of contradictory states, for me. My head feels empty, but so heavy. My stomach feels like there is a rock resting at the base, but I feel the urge to eat, to fill it. My arms and legs can’t move but they want to flail and kick and lash out. I need to be very quiet and still but the silence feels blurry. I don’t know how silence can feel blurry, but it does.

I’m trying to be kind and gentle with myself. And when that doesn’t work, I play fetch with Everest. It has become apparent that the pen lid needs to be subdued with all possible force.

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Three Down, None to Go

15 thoughts on “Three Down, None to Go

  1. Ok, first off your kitten is adorable! She is awesome and now I want one 🙂 Next I just want to say how impressed I am with you. All this shit happening and you felt it and didn’t numb it out. I am sorry about the shit, that the professionals didn’t step up. Keep telling yourself that this isn’t your fault, and that it is ok to go through the grieving process, even though it’s painful and sucks. I don’t even know you but I am so proud of you (hope that is ok to say).

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    1. She is honestly the best cure for depression and anxiety I’ve ever had. Every time I think I’ll never be happy and my world is over, she starts leaping around in a cape or falling asleep upside down on my neck and I can’t stop laughing. You should definitely get one, or at least foster them.

      It’s more than okay – it’s probably the highlight of my day. Thanks E.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So cute! This video made me smile and got me out of bed this morning. So thank you (and Everest) for that! I echo what E said; I am so impressed and in awe of your ability to feel those feelings and let out the grief and rage. (and the shout out made me chuckle, whoops 🙂 Can’t say I am sorry for that). I know I keep saying it, but fuck, I am so sorry. When I read this post this morning, I felt really angry at the injustice you can’t access quality care to fit your needs. It really shouldn’t be that hard, or expensive. Especially with private coverage like that. You’re handling this so well, and without supports. I hope Aisha responds with more attunement than Jen, I truly do. You’re amazing Rea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad it was a good start to your morning! She has the opposite effect on me – I’m often late to work because she’s curled up with her head on my cheek and there’s no way I’m getting out of bed.

      It does make it harder. I’m keeping awareness of my relative privilege, but it’s disappointing to know there are things that could help me and I can’t access them. And two weeks ago I was actually looking at moving back home until I found there are only 2 psychiatrists in a 3 hour radius of my home city (both male) and I’d be lucky to get an appointment every 3 months, let alone twice a week. So going back isn’t really an option. My brother went home to be near family and he is having to fly to another state to see a psychiatrist, which is crazy.

      Thank you for the affirmation that I’m handling it well. I was almost in tears at work today, so it’s helpful to be reminded that in the relative scheme of things, I’m doing okay.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I can imagine! A lovely way to start the day.
        Goodness, that is so frustrating. Once every 3 months definitely won’t do. I am curious, you mentioned law school in your post, is that what you do for work currently?

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      2. I graduated two years ago and am a fundraiser/researcher/in-house counsel/company secretary for a not-for-profit that works in indigenous education and land rights. Part of me knows that for a 25 year old with major mental health issues and a blue-collar background that’s not so bad, but a bigger part of me is very ashamed that I’m intellectually capable of doing “better” jobs but mentally can’t handle it. I’ve been curious about you too – if you don’t mind sharing, what are you studying?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I get the self-judgment, and being able to hold that you truly are doing remarkably well (graduated from law school(!) ). I feel so similarly – every job I have, and this unpaid internship next year, I am so overqualified. It doesn’t feel good, but there are reasons we are in our current positions.
        I am studying psychology and a science discipline (it is pretty specialized, and I don’t want to talk about it publicly on here, because it would potentially make me not so anonymous, in terms of where I go to school). But would be happy to email privately about it!
        My undergrad was pre-med, and then after I graduated, I wasn’t able to pull it together to apply for med school, so I started doing social work at a non-profit I volunteered for my last two years of undergrad. And absolutely loved being in direct service. So while I never expected to be anything other than a medical doctor, I think where I’m headed will end up being really fulfilling for me.
        I hope the same for you – I hope that wherever your degree and work takes you, it ends up being really fulfilling.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I was very sure that your aspirations would be towards some kind of helping profession! Definitely something you will be well suited to. It must have been so challenging and confusing when you finished pre-med and suddenly the pathway you’d been expecting to follow changed; really glad you’ve found something else to work towards, though a bummer about the unpaid internship! I had some incredibly rewarding experiences on mine but also spent multiple weeks eating nothing but plain rice because thats all I could afford. Am definitely interested to hear more about your study if you’d like to email, but whatever makes you more comfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I never intended to get into the helping field (other than medical), but it does seem to fit!
        It was a huge loss, one I am still sorting through.
        The email I use for WP is thetherapyrelationship@gmail.com. If you send me an email I will respond. This email doesn’t go to my phone, so sometimes I don’t check it for a day or so (unless I am expecting something) Just so you know!

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      6. Ugh – I don’t want to feed your money anxieties, though. That was tactless. I did my internships in very, very remote regions so was completely relying on savings to pay rent back home and keep myself alive. So incredibly legitimate that you’re concerned about it – it’s a challenging situation to be in – but it sounds like you have thought it through and will find a way to make it work.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Haha, that makes me laugh – no, you aren’t feeding into anything. It is validating. The money stuff will sort itself out, I am not too worried. I just don’t like the constant stress.
        That sounds so stressful, I can’t imagine. Impressive you made it through.

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  3. I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard this has to be. You did so good, though, you wrote very clearly about your feelings. I do hope you find a therapist that works well with you. You deserve that support. Xx

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    1. That is a such a good reminder that it hasn’t all been for nothing – because a couple of years ago, I couldn’t have admitted those feelings even to myself, let alone expressed them on paper. Thanks Alice.

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  4. I am so mad (on your behalf) that you can communicate to professionals and not even get a response. I can’t understand that at all–it seems so irresponsible.

    And then that it’s so hard to find another provider! And they are so expensive, even after insurance! It’s just so messed up.

    And yet in the middle of this, look at you, your mindfulness, your courage to stay with the hard feelings. That’s enormous strength and very difficult to do. It’s also inspiring.

    As is your darling kitten, btw. I’m allergic, so I draw similar joy from my two dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard. I want to be cheerful about it, but it’s hard. I’ve always felt hurt by non-responsiveness, but until I started reading blogs I had no idea that I could expect anything else. It always helps to remember that everybody has to go through a bunch of unsuitable therapists before they find the right one, so maybe I’m getting closer.

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