Here We Go Again

I cancelled my next two appointments with Nikki. Every time I imagined going back into that room and sitting down with her, the conversation in my head went something like this:

[“Can you tell me why you were so upset with me last session?”

“Because you were being a cunt.”]

It was the kind of uncontrollable rage that I used to feel as a teenager, (and as a child, I guess), when I used to throw things and hit and slash at people with words because I felt so angry I couldn’t contain it. I don’t know how to explain how big and uncontrollable it feels. And I get even more irrationally angry at everyone else going about their lives and making cups of tea in the staff kitchen and chatting over their cubicles because why are they being so calm and normal when everything is imploding why aren’t they angry and spinning out and losing control too? 

It wasn’t because Nikki said a few thoughtless things at a particularly volatile time. I was (am) so, so angry because she isn’t the right therapist for me, and I so badly want her to be. I want her to suddenly be attuned and appropriate and helpful so that I don’t have to say goodbye to her.

She isn’t, though. She isn’t ever going to get it. She cares and she means well, but she isn’t equipped to work with me.

[I know that working through anger is an important part of therapy, but I felt sure that going in angry would just make her defensive, and the situation would deteriorate beyond my ability to handle it, so I cancelled my Friday and Tuesday appointments – it felt like a wise mind decision, not avoidance. By Tuesday, though, I was starting to calm down enough that I thought I would be able to keep my next appointment on Friday.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, her office called and left a voicemail.

“If you want to keep your appointment with Nikki on Friday then you’ll have to see your GP for a review before then. If you don’t have time to arrange it before Friday then let us know and we can reschedule your appointment.”

The anger imploded again. What. the. fuck. It’s a normal part of our healthcare system that you have to see your GP for a review after six sessions (which I hadn’t actually had yet – Nikki counted wrong) but why were they telling me this with two days notice? It takes at least a week to get an appointment with a GP.

And again, it wasn’t really about this incident. It was about all the times she’s forgotten to book my sessions, or forgotten to show up for the session, or told me she has to leave on time and then changed her mind, or told me she’s taking two months maternity leave and then changing it to four or maybe five. She’s not stable and consistent, and I can’t do this with someone who isn’t stable and consistent, but she doesn’t even seem to realise how hopelessly scattered she is. And I’m angry, because I care so much. I want her to be my therapist, but she can’t be.

I sat on it for a few hours, then sent her a text: Why am I getting a call on Tuesday afternoon to tell me I have to see my GP before Friday if I want to keep my appointment? I felt like I couldn’t calm the anger down enough to go back there until she’d acknowledged it was a fuck up and apologised.

She didn’t respond. She’s never, ever not responded before.

I went back anyway. This is how she addressed it in session:

“Sorry I didn’t have time to answer your text. It sounded like you were pissed off. But once they called back and explained, it was fine and you weren’t angry any more?”

It’d be nice if this kind of thing didn’t keep happening,” I said, but then I let it go.

Oh, and another example? In that session, she told me she’s decided to go on a holiday after the baby’s born, and she won’t be back until November. So, not two months of maternity leave. Not four months. Seven months. It shouldn’t matter, when I’m not planning to go back to her anyway, but it does.]

During that week of feeling uncontrollably furious, I kept functioning. I often cried all the way to the door of the office, but I went to work every day. I meditated every day, I went to a boxing class, I went to DBT, and even though I wanted to desperately, I didn’t self harm.

That decision had major consequences for the way I behaved. If I’d hurt myself, it would have regulated my emotions enough to be able to keep myself in check. But I didn’t, and I was impatient, sometimes snappy,  trying so hard to rein myself in, observing myself and not liking the way I was behaving but not able to change it. Following a phone call with a government funder, I sent a recap email with some information missing, which meant we had to send a second email, and I wasn’t apologetic, and I didn’t care.

The next Monday, I was called in to meet with our HR manager. The woman I texted after taking an overdose last month, who came to visit me in emergency and brought me Pringles and crossword puzzles, the one that the nurses mistook for my mother.

She told me that she’d had feedback from staff that I hadn’t been a good team player last week, that the Jewish mama who’s been my strongest, closest supporter told her I was coming across as arrogant, that I needed to be careful about bringing my personal issues to work and jeopardising my relationships with my colleagues.

It was true. It doesn’t happen very often, but when I’m in that state, I do come across as arrogant, and I’m not very likable. But fuck, I’ve never felt so betrayed. I’ve worked here for three years. These people know me, love me, support me. I reach out to them and confide in them. One bad week, and I’m being warned to watch my step? It hurts, to feel as though their respect is so precarious. When I had lunch with my boss on the weekend, and I was in a better place, he said “I love this part of you,” but I can’t be that person all the time. Unless I self harm.

So I went home that night and burnt my leg, badly. Then I went back to work the next day and thanked the manager for her feedback, spoke to the colleague that I know complained and apologised for my behaviour. I sucked it up and made nice and I want none of them anywhere near me, emotionally, ever again. It hurts that I trusted them so much.

I went to the Burns Clinic yesterday, and they wanted to schedule me for surgery today. I’m having it next week instead.

I might as well just kill myself.

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Here We Go Again

25 thoughts on “Here We Go Again

  1. This.shaking says:

    Dear Rea: I want to help and don’t know how. I get that where you are is beyond pain – it is anguish. Unbearable. Again and again. I understand in my body how you want it to STOP.

    I went back to some of your earlier posts and comments. Can you read them? I think especially Rachel on January 23 is with you.

    I am curious about why you postponed the burn surgery. Did that give you some sense of control?

    Can I say this, Rea? You might as well just live.

    Where is Everest? From my heart. TS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TS, I’ve been worried about you. You weren’t doing well and then you disappeared and I’m so glad you’re back.

      I postponed the surgery to fly to Queensland for the weekend and stay with a dear friend. Her daughter turned two and we ate cupcakes for breakfast and danced in the rain and talked for hours – but I didn’t tell her about the surgery.

      Everest is at home, but I had to take my foster baby Leia back to the shelter yesterday, and my heart is broken.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rea. I’m sorry that so many things are going badly for you.

    I know Nikki is unreliable, but what’s with her office staff not being on top of this either? Surely it should be their job as much as hers to keep tabs on the currency of referrals and reviews and no excuse for ALL of them letting it slip and being wrong into the bargain. Plus it’s pretty obvious that Nikki’s interpretation of your text as angry and her ‘not having time’ to reply is all about her feeling justifiably guilty and nothing to do with the actual words you used. For all that you have described really intense anger at other times, your text to her is perfectly calm and reasonable.

    I can understand why you feel like just giving up right now, but I truly hope you don’t.

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    1. I really appreciate you reflecting that the text was calm and reasonable, DV – Nikki tends to talk about the “intensity of the rage” when it comes to texts like that, which I find kind of baffling because I think it’s pretty restrained – but I’m biased, right? It helps to have another perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sirena says:

    That level of rage is really hard to live and function with. And to have felt that and NOT self-harmed is a huge step for you Rea, and also the self-care of going to DBT and boxing class and meditation is all really great! So okay, you self-harmed the next week, I am sad to hear that and I wish you hadn’t. But given everything you have on your plate, you did your best.
    That rage is pent up emotion that needs to be slowly released and it will be and the need for self-harm won’t be as much eventually.
    I am sorry Nikki isn’t the right therapist for you, it’s horrible to know that after you’ve bonded with her. But I think with the right therapist you will thrive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I’d recognise the right therapist if I tripped over them in the street! I started googling for a new one a couple of weeks ago and it got so overwhelming I had to stop. Can I just have Sienna? Or maybe Rachel’s or Q’s.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sirena says:

        You can email me if you want some help with the selection process. A lot of it is working out what you want/need first and then asking lots of questions. I took a 2 page interrogation with me to try and find the right one.

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  4. Rea, first, I’m so glad you posted. I’ve been thinking about you. You regulated so well, and for so much longer than you have before with outlets that didn’t cause you harm. You did well – and that was progress. I see so much progress.

    I agree with Sirena – with the right person you will thrive. And I see the progress and I see how hard you work… and all of that is worth staying alive for. Sending all my love. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been thinking of you, PD – I feel so upset that you’ve had to cut down your therapy for financial reasons. It’s not fair and it sucks. I’ve noticed that you haven’t been posting, but I’m not sure if that’s because something’s happened or you’ve gone private. If so and you’d be willing to give me access of course I want to keep following, but whatever feels right for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s horrible to know that she obviously cannot be the right therapist for you. I cried with frustration for you when you said that she’s now going for 7 months. How are you possibly meant to cope with that. I know, though, that you will thrive with the right person, as the others have said above.

    I’m sorry to hear that work were so unsupportive. I have had a similar experience and the betrayal is awful. I’m sorry you burned yourself, please try to be kind to yourself and get the help you need. With love xxx

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    1. It is horrible, and it makes me beyond frustrated with myself, because I explicitly recognized that she was flaky within the first month of seeing her, but I was so desperate that I glommed onto her and refused to let go because she was kind and caring. I totally screwed myself over.

      So sorry you had a similar work experience – I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thank you so much for your support.

      Like

  6. This is absolutely agonizing.
    You said, “And I get even more irrationally angry at everyone else going about their lives and making cups of tea in the staff kitchen and chatting over their cubicles…”
    Rea, that’s not irrational. That makes perfect sense (especially given the change in how they used to treat you vs how they are treating you currently – I can’t even imagine how awful that feels). When they make tea and small talk, it makes it obvious that no one understands the depth and intensity of what you are going through – and probably makes it feel like they don’t care – and OF COURSE that feels terrible to the part of you that desperately wants to feel loved and cared for and seen and understood.
    Those are normal feelings. Not irrational at all.
    Sent you an email this morning, and am sending as many hugs as you need / want. ❤

    Like

  7. Just wanted to comment that I do relate to personality changes at work when trauma has come up. I also lose my people skills and can no longer deal with things I usually can deal with, when certain parts of my past have been stirred up for whatever reason. I do think it’s extremely harsh for your co-worker to actually go to HR about something like that. If she was so troubled, why not at least go to you? We all need to cut each other a bit of slack at times.

    It’s too bad your boss seems to think he can dictate ‘how you are’ and only accept one part of you. Seems pretty dysfunctional to me. Take care.

    Like

    1. It’s such a hard situation, because it’s not unreasonable for them to expect me to behave with a certain level of courtesy as an employee, but at the same time, it FEELS incredibly unreasonable to expect me to be perfectly grounded and patient when I’m dealing with a major mental illness. Thanks for commenting, Ellen. Hope your work situation is improving.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hugs. I’m sending you hugs and care. I’m glad you posted, too. I had been wondering how you are. I’m sad to hear that Nikki has become even more unreliable, and I can’t imagine how hard and painful and awful all of this is on you, and then not receiving support and care, not being seen by this person who is supposed to be helping you. I am so sorry. You deserve better. That anger? I know how out of control and scary it feels because I feel it every time I am angry and it is work to shove it down. Bea says anger is energizing, that we can use anger to help ourselves get moving, get doing something, that anger can be a good thing. I don’t know. Maybe you can use that energy to keep fighting and live? Because I want you to live, to find the right therapist, to experience healing. You deserve that. 💟 xx

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    1. You’re such a gentle, caring person that it’s hard to imagine you feeling the same out of control anger. I’m sorry you have to deal with it too but it makes me feel like maybe I’m not such a terrible person. Thank you, Alice.

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  9. Oh Rea, so hard all of this. I am very proud of your month without self harming. And I am still proud of you even after SH. I do hope you can find something less damaging because you don’t deserve more damage. And I am upset with Nikki. Guess thats not that new, lol. Hope you are doing okay my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Remind me why we’re still doing this shitty therapy thing even though it sucks? Oh, yeah, because we’re nuts.
    I’ve been reading your posts and I don’t seem to have enough brain to comment right now, but I feel for you so much. Especially with DBT. I started DBT again last month and I don’t hate it as much as the first time, but still…argh. If you ever want to debrief about it or ask questions about it privately you know you can email me any time, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This.shaking says:

      Hi, Rea! So great that you noticed I was gone – like everyone else in the gang, I have bad days, not so bad days, who the heck am I today days …
      Yeah …. I imagine what if you could be as loving to yourself as you are in the post above, when you comment on your own post … I *love* that!!
      And I just read ahead, about your burn surgery .. I do want to bring you and Everest chicken soup and chocolate chip cookies again…xoxox TS

      Like

  11. Hi Rea,

    Not sure if you’ll get this. I emailed you once before….I’m the one who lived in Sydney, Australia who had the therapist for 5 years that ended pretty badly. I was wondering if you could email me back. I have a suggestion of somewhere you could go that could possibly help you.

    Hope you are okay. I am literally appalled by Nikki’s behaviour. You are right – she is clueless and imho, she really shouldn’t be working with anyone who has a complex trauma background. Her boundaries are non-existent and you are the one who is suffering. I also know how it feels to be so scared to lose someone like Nikki. Here if you would like to chat.

    Much love, Peta ________________________________

    Like

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