She Used To Care, And Now She Hates Me

“I’ve just finished my therapy with a difficult self-harming patient….hospitalised a couple of times this year with self-harm, very rigid views and belief systems…very controlling about what can be said and what’s said…

Those words have been playing over and over in my head for four months now. Difficult. Rigid. Controlling. Those are the words my last therapist, Anna, used to describe me when she was referring me on to a new therapist, after she abruptly cut and run, even though she promised over and over that she’d never leave me.

Anna, who took me on walks to the park with her dog and visited me in the hospital and read me poetry over the phone, who was willing to be there for me all the time, any time, if I’d only reach out. Anna, who told me I was funny and kind and smart, who poured warmth into all the empty spaces inside of me.

I know that they aren’t mutually exclusive. I know that people can be kind, and smart, and rigid, and controlling all at the same time. But it’s thrown me off balance. I didn’t know that she thought those things about me – what else don’t I know? It makes me feel naive, and afraid, and I don’t know what to trust any more.

Almost two months ago, impulsively, I wrote to Anna, requesting a copy of my notes. It was a short, clipped email, and part of me feels bad about it. It was polite, and I don’t think I owe her anything more than politeness, but it also doesn’t feel good to be so cold. The last time I’d been in touch with her, it was right after she’d quit, and I was sending venomous email after venomous email, wanting to make her feel as terrible as I did. I hadn’t intended to contact her ever again, and I didn’t want to, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Difficult. Rigid. Controlling. 

A week later, she wrote back, three sentences, informing me that she did not consider it in my best interests to release the information to me, but that she was happy to speak with my current practitioner. I was expecting it, and I was enraged.

You don’t get to tell me what to do any more. You don’t get to make decisions about my best interests any more. 

It isn’t about the notes any more. It’s about power, and about taking the control back from her, and it’s about winning. I know she doesn’t want to give me the notes, and I want to make her do it anyway.

I guess she was right about me being controlling.

I wrote back, informing her that she had breached the legislation about access to health records, not only by failing to give a proper reason for withholding them (it has to be based on a serious risk to my life and health, not just my “best interests“), but also by failing to inform me that I’m entitled to nominate a GP and have the records sent to them instead.

Maybe it was just ignorance. After all, she knows I’m a lawyer, and it took me less than ten minutes to find the legislation and the relevant provisions. It would be a pretty stupid way to try to keep me from getting access to them. But it still makes me furious, because I’m lucky enough to have five years of law school behind me, but what about people who don’t know their rights, and can’t advocate for themselves?

(But I also know she’s right, that I am a danger to myself, and when I do finally get my hands on those notes, there will probably be a lot of blood.)

Last week’s session with Nikki was tough. After her disclosure the previous week, where she’d cried, and told me she feels the urge to protect me, I’d been feeling excited, and happy, and like I couldn’t wait to be back there again. I wanted to talk to her, suddenly. Her emotions had flipped some kind of switch, and I wanted to share difficult things. And I wanted to tell her what had happened with Anna. I’ve been seeing Nikki for over four months now, but I still feel raw about Anna abandoning me, too raw to even mention it to Nikki. She thinks we parted on good terms.

Over the weekend, I’d drawn out a therapy timeline, and sketched the name of each therapist I’ve seen. Aisha was written out on the keyboard of a laptop, with teardrops on the screen, and Anna was growing up out of the grass like a flower, but with clouds lurking overhead. It felt embarrassing, and vulnerable, showing it to her, but I remembered Lily’s box, and I made myself be brave.

We never made it to Anna, and it went really badly. I was talking about Jen, the kinesiologist I love and miss, the only person who’s ever really been able to comfort me, and I told Nikki that I think the thing that made the most difference was that she would just sit and hold my hand or rub my back, and that I’m much more tactile than verbal.

Nikki talked about how the therapy relationship is all verbal, and that “it’d probably feel pretty weird if I was sitting here holding your hand right now“, and that Jen “had to touch you because it was her job“, and then she put a hand on my shoe in a pointed, kind of mocking way, and I went home feeling dirty and disgusting and like I needed to tear myself apart.

I barely slept, and woke up the next morning feeling anxious. I was on the verge of tears all morning, and I felt like I had to self harm. Like I should self harm. I was still triggered by the therapy session the day before, and I felt clenched and sick whenever I thought about Nikki touching my shoe, but I also felt small and sad, and I wanted to reach out to her. For comfort, for reassurance, for understanding – for a verbal hug.

Can you remind me that it’s okay not to self harm? Is it okay not to self harm?

And as always, she was incredibly responsive – within two minutes, she’d replied, telling me it’s more than okay not to self harm, that it doesn’t help me at all in the long term, to do something to just get through the moment, and asking if something had happened.

I felt about a million times worse. Upset that the message somehow didn’t have the validation or attunement or care I’d wanted, angry at myself for reaching out when it never helps and I should have known better, angry at myself because you should feel better, normal people would feel better, and ashamed of bothering Nikki, of disrupting her day and then not even being grateful.

She asked if I needed to talk – she had a client in 5 minutes but could talk right now if it would help, or she could call me in an hour. But I didn’t want to – I was at work, and anyway, what would I say?

I tried so hard, though. I was feeling triggered and bad and she didn’t feel safe, but I texted her back, and told her I felt like I’d done the wrong thing, and I needed a “You don’t need to self harm for being an idiot and disrupting Nikki’s day for no reason” message. I’m proud of that, of pushing hard to stay open and keep reaching for what I needed when I wanted to withdraw.

I got the message I asked for, and then she told me she was going in with a couple of clients and that she hoped the rest of my day was nicer to me. That stung, and I felt shut down and abandoned, even though I’d chosen not to take her offer of a call.

About half an hour later, I got a cold email from Anna with an invoice for preparation of my file – once it was paid, she would courier the file to my GP.

She’d charged me over $700 for her time photocopying it.

(In the state next door to me, the absolute cap a psychologist can charge is $33. The recommended fee set by the Psychological Society is $140. And worst, worst of all, Anna’s hourly rate is $180, but she billed me at $238, the maximum hourly fee for a clinical psychologist. That’s the malicious part, the part that cuts deep.)

I can’t reconcile my kind, loving therapist with this person who hates me so much. Literally, I can’t; they’re split into two separate people in my mind. Oh, maybe she doesn’t hate you, maybe she just really wants to protect you from hurting yourself when you read it. Okay, but if she’s concerned about me, why not say that instead of just being a bitch?

I reached back out to Nikki, to ask her advice, and she thinks I’m angry with Anna. I’m not. I’m just so, so sad and hurt. What did I do wrong? 

One way or another, I’m getting those notes. I wrote back to Anna asking her to reduce the fee, given it’s more than $550 above the recommendation from the Society, and I called the government department responsible for information privacy to find out about making a complaint if she refuses. If all else fails, I’ll skip a month of therapy with Nikki and I’ll pay the $820 for them.

But I’m terrified of getting them, too. What the hell is in there that’s making her so determined to stop me seeing them?

She Used To Care, And Now She Hates Me

To Close Our Work

On Wednesday, Anna sent me an email response titled ‘To close our work’. Just reading the subject line flooded me with so many emotions. It felt like she’d closed a door in my face. After I’d spent 8 months gradually getting to know her, trust her, reach out to her, in the space of a week she’d decided to terminate therapy, and two email responses was the only processing she was willing to give me. More crudely, I’ve spent over $10,000 in out of pocket costs for therapy with her – is that really all she owes me?

I was choking on tears while I read through it. It was a much nicer message than the last one – she acknowledged that she doesn’t have the skills to help me and that she knows that must be devastating for me, and she apologised. But that mostly just makes me angry. She wrote a nicer email because I walked her through exactly what she had done and needed to take responsibility for. So she is either just parroting what I wanted to hear, or she genuinely didn’t have the awareness to recognise her role in the situation and how the termination was going to impact me and acknowledge that before I spelt it out for her.

I do believe that this objectively sucks, but I’ve also been struck with the realisation of how intensely my reaction is linked to transference. The phrase that keeps stirring my emotions back up is “I’m so sick of always having to be the grown-up – I’m so angry that she basically made me terminate my own therapy because she couldn’t face the fact that she can’t help me until I directly asked her to think about it“. For days I kept ruminating on this, and the fury was so big it felt like it was going to explode out of me somehow, that I was going to start hitting and kicking like I did when I was a child because I just couldn’t hold it inside me any more.

When I stepped back, and asked myself what I meant by “always having to be the grown up”, I realised I was talking about my mother. Of course I was. I mean, the therapist uniform should be a t-shirt that says “This is about your mother“. Emotionally, I’ve always had to play the adult role with my mother, to the extent that when someone gives her a compliment and she starts running herself down, I step in and coach “Say thank you” and she complies. Like Anna, my mother cares about me but has no idea how to help me.

I’ve been filled with a lot of rage this week, and not just at Anna. When my brother (who is probably the most important person in the world to me) texted me to ask how my day was, I told him to fuck off. I wanted to physically push anyone who got close to me, lash out at anyone who wanted to talk about anything meaningful. Anna has shut the door and I don’t want her to open it again, but I’ve been kicking it, beating it with my fists and screaming my rage. I’ve sent three brief but abusive “fuck you” emails, telling her she has no idea what she’s doing and she shouldn’t be a therapist. And I have zero remorse.

The other thought that has been poisoning my emotions is how far she has “set me back“. That it’s going to take weeks to even go back to Aisha and Jen, months before I’m ready to see another psychologist, maybe years before I can trust a therapist again. I’ve been outraged that she has damaged me, that she has “wrecked” everything, all the progress and the effort I’ve made.

One afternoon after work, sitting in the park with Everest, I asked myself calmly “So what?”. It wasn’t a dismissive, critical statement, but a genuine question – so what? And my answer is that it sucks, but in the whole scheme of life, it doesn’t really matter if it takes a year before I’m ready to go back to therapy. It has consumed me so much, been so intense that I’ve fallen into the belief that therapy has to be happening and it has to be working or nothing is okay and everything is hopeless. In reality, I’m only 25. Assuming I survive to be 26 (and so far I have an impeccable track record of staying alive), then what does it matter if I take some time off and spend my therapy money on a trip to Hawaii instead? It isn’t ideal and this betrayal has affected me and will affect my therapy in the future, but it just isn’t worth being so angry about.

I have a long way to go. I’m still sad and angry and I miss her and hate her. I still want to cut up the stuffed dog she gave me and set fire to it, and I want to send her a photo of a puddle of blood and tell her This is what you did to me. I want to break things and cry, I want to be held and I don’t want anybody near me ever again. But it already hurts less than it did six days ago. Hopefully it will hurt a little less tomorrow.

To Close Our Work

Lies My Therapist Told Me

I told myself I couldn’t respond to Anna until at least the next day, once I’d had a little time to calm down. That lasted an hour.

I got her email while I was at work, and barely managed to hold it together long enough to get through the rest of the day. Once I left the building, I started crying before I even got to the end of the street, and kept crying all the way home.

In my heart, I was sure that she was going to step up and we would keep working, keep trying. I’d picked the day that would be the most convenient for a session, and mentally set aside the clothes I was going to wear. I’d thought about which goal I’d pick for us to focus on moving forward. She committed to me, over and over, that this was long term, that nothing could make her go away, and I thought this was just another bump in the road.

I am so, so devastated that she’s given up on me so easily, and I am so angry that she thinks that 400 word email is all she owes me after all the promises she’s broken. But I’m so sad that she’s gone. I keep having flashes of the moment I looked up from my hospital bed in the emergency room and saw her standing there, at midnight, holding a stuffed dog for me. Of her sitting next to me while I cried, and reaching out to wipe my nose. Of walking with her through the park, barefoot. It’s almost like she’s dead, in a way. I keep thinking of everything I’ll never get to tell her. After pressing me to call child protection, she won’t be there for the fallout. I’ll never get to say goodbye to her dog. She’ll never wish me a happy birthday again. If I’m admitted to hospital again, she won’t come. And I want her.

Part of me regrets ever sending that email. Regrets not just going back to another session and telling her my plan and moving forward. It’s so angry with me for letting her go away when I could have stayed quiet and kept her. Another part of me knows that the way she’s handled this situation proves that she is not a skilled therapist, however caring she is, and continuing to work with her probably wouldn’t have benefited me in the long run.

I was in bed, sobbing, feeling so much grief and anger pressing on my chest. I had to get some of it out, and I couldn’t let her get away with that bland, no-big-deal email. I wanted to tell her that this isn’t a pleasant, shake hands, lovely to meet you parting, but a gut-wrenching devastating completely derailing betrayal, and I want her to own that. So I got up, and I sent her a rapid series of short texts.

“So much for all your promises. It might be “a bit hard” to start from scratch with someone new? Fuck you. I can’t believe you’re making me do this again. You kept telling me this was long term and I thought you were going to be my last therapist.”

For a little while after I sent them, I felt a little calmer, but then a different part of me took over and sent her an email. I think the abandoned child has been texting, and the angry, ruthlessly logical teenager has been emailing.

“Hi Anna

I wish I didn’t have to do this, but I feel I need to hold you to account one last time.  Your email seems to be avoiding the real point.  The ideal may be for me to work with a single psychiatrist/psychologist, but if you were capable of continuing to work with me, then the best approach would have been for me to start seeing one of them while still seeing you, and over time decide whether I wanted to transition across to work solely with them.  In our last session you recognised that it’ll probably take me months to find a psychiatrist, and that’s on top of the months (years?) it’s going to take me to come to terms with this failure and loss of trust enough to try again.  That is not ideal.

Perhaps my truth is different to yours, but I believe if you were really being honest, your email would have said something like this:

“I have come to realise that as much as I have wanted to support you, I don’t have the skills to be able to help you.  I recognise that my inability to support you effectively and the mistakes I have made have given you additional burdens and have been painful and difficult, and I am truly sorry.  I also realise that my request during our last session was inappropriate and I apologise for that.  I know that starting again with someone new will be really difficult for you and I wish you didn’t have to go through that, but in the long term I believe it is in your best interests.  Even though I committed to working with you long-term, I would be doing you an injustice if I wasn’t honest about this, because you deserve to get the help you need and through no fault of yours, I am not able to provide it.  It’s unfair and it sucks and I’m sorry.  

With that in mind, I think the most optimum way for you to get the help you deserve…”

I am very, very upset about how this has turned out, and very angry with you for letting me down.  Despite everything, I still like you, and I would prefer to end with pleasant well-wishes, but this experience is not pleasant.”

I managed to get through some work for an hour or so, and then sobbed for the rest of the evening until my whole face ached. The vulnerable child was remembering everything kind she’s ever said to me – “I’m right here and we’re going to do this together, okay? I’m definitely not going to leave you. I’ll stay on the phone with you all night if I have to. Can you tell me where you are and I’ll come get you and sit with you? Please, Rea, I want to be there with you.” – and desperately wanting her back. The angry child wanted to punish her for how much she’s hurt me, and wanted to send her a text telling her that when I kill myself, I hope it haunts her forever.

I finally fell asleep after 1am and woke again at 4, and it wasn’t long before I was crying again. I got up, and the children each sent her a text message:

“All I asked you to do was start putting my feelings ahead of yours and start working with me instead of talking at me. If that’s so impossible for you to do then you shouldn’t be a therapist.”

“I didn’t want you to quit, I just wanted you to do better and I hate you for giving up on me so easily.”

I cried all the way to work today, and all the way home. It’s so shocking and abrupt that I don’t know how to even start dealing with it. A week ago, she was telling me that we needed a psychiatrist to support our work, not to replace her, and she offered to set up 4 or 5 appointments with different psychs and come with me to each. And now she’s gone. How did she go away so quickly?

Tonight I sent her another email:

“Let’s talk some more about this pathetic excuse for a termination email, shall we?

“Whatever happens, I’m not going to go away.  I’m not going to go anywhere for a long time.  I’m committed to this.  I want you to know that.” 

Apparently this wasn’t true, but I believed you.

“I’m not going to get it right all the time, but I am willing to own it and try to do it better next time. Having you calling me on it is a good thing.  It’s not going to make me stop working with you.”

Apparently this wasn’t true either, but I believed you.

So when you were writing that email, what made you think you didn’t owe me an actual explanation of why you’ve abruptly decided you can’t work with me any more?  Not “I think it would be optimal for you to work with a single psychiatrist”.  The question was never about the most ideal way to do therapy, it was whether you can help or not, and a week ago you were offering to come with me to see a psychiatrist, not suggesting that I see one instead of you.  Why did you think I didn’t deserve an explanation of why you can’t offer the help I need?

At the very, very least, why didn’t you think you owe me an apology?”

It’s been over 24 hours, and she hasn’t responded to any of my messages. Today is her day off, so she doesn’t have any other clients.

Through all of this pain and anger, I’m still holding out hope. Hope that she’s going to come back and say “You’re right, I made a stupid, terrible mistake. I was wrong to give up on you and now I know you want me, I want to keep working with you. I’m so sorry, and I’m going to make it up to you.” A lot of me really believes that’s going to happen, and it’ll all be okay. Because she promised.

Lies My Therapist Told Me

Terminated

Hi Rea

I’ve taken a bit of time to get back to you, as I’ve been considering what you’ve said and the work that we have done to date. I agree that this year our therapy has been disjointed and just really focused on containment. However, I also think I am not able to offer you the help that you really do need. Over the course of our work together, it has been clearer to me that the most optimum way for you to get the help you deserve is to work regularly with a single therapist, and in my opinion, this should be a psychiatrist that can help you with meds and also psychotherapy. Another alternative is for you to become an inpatient in a dbt clinic where you can get the benefit of a team approach. I know that probably neither these options are something that you will like, but in my professional opinion it feels that they could give you the best chance of living a life that you can enjoy.

I really do hope you connect to the psychiatrist we tried to get you into. I am also giving you the names of two others that also do psychotherapy.  I’d be happy to advocate on your behalf if it would help in facilitating you to get into any of these services.

I have also notified the mental health crisis team at [hospital] and they have a list of psychiatrist they can tee you up with.

I have enjoyed getting to know you. You are a highly intelligent, creative and caring person. I wish you all the best and I hope that you will consider trying to work with a good female psychiatrist, even though the start may be a bit hard for you.

Kind regards

Anna

Terminated

Bit The Bullet (And It Didn’t Break My Teeth)

This afternoon at work, I spontaneously decided it was time to get in touch with Anna. I’ve had the email drafted for a week, but it’s been sitting unsent. I think I was waiting until it felt less important.

The next few days are going to be hard while I wait for a reply. I’ll keep myself distracted, but it’ll be in the back of my mind, and I’ll check my emails more frequently than usual, feeling a little sick with nerves each time I do. When I see a reply, my stomach will drop and my whole body will go cold. I’m terrified she’s going to tell me to find a new psychologist, and I’m terrified that she won’t and I’ll have to go back and sit in that office and talk about this stuff.

I’m not sure which is worse.

Hi Anna

Before I bring up last week, I would ask that you reflect on the things I’ve already given you feedback on and consider whether you’ve made an active effort to work with them:

  • Safety
    • Showing me how the windows open
    • Sitting on the floor
  • Communication
    • If I’m angry/frustrated about something, suggesting I take a break on my phone for a few minutes and then trying to discuss the issue
    • Asking me to share something each week
  • Regulation
    • Starting to introduce an activity like colouring or cards so that we may be able to use it when I’m activated

In terms of supporting me – you’re getting in your own way.  When I reached out to you because I was dreading the end of DBT, the session became about your guilt around your limitations.  Last week when I was self-harming and struggling to function, the session became about your anxieties around your own struggles with my therapy.  I so appreciate how much you care, but you’re not leaving a lot of space for me.

The message I got from you on Wednesday was: ‘I don’t know what to do – you go figure it out and tell me how to fix it’.  I’ve figured things out on my own my whole life.  If we’re going to work together, we have to work together – you can’t hand responsibility over to me like that.  You especially can’t hand responsibility over to me like that when I’m overwhelmed and barely managing to cope with the responsibilities I already have.  Probably you’re right that I needed some time to think about what’s going to work best, but this was obviously a planned conversation on your part, and I would expect somebody in your position to approach it in one of the following ways (or similar):

“I’m worried that working with me hasn’t been all that helpful so far, and I was wondering if maybe we could talk about some of the things we’ve tried so far and why they didn’t work, to see if we can figure out how to do things better.”

“I’ve been thinking about how I can support you, and there are a few options I was hoping we could discuss to see what works best for you.”

Both of those would have left scope to start the conversation and give me some specific options to consider and formulate some thoughts around before we met again the next week.  One option is for us to pick a specific focus (like self harm, or my relationship with my family, or a particular goal or belief system) and build sessions around that; another is for us to have ad hoc sessions where we discuss whatever’s happening in life at the moment and whatever issues/memories are coming up; another is a mixture of the two, whether structured (e.g. alternating sessions, 10 mins at the start of each session on current issues and the rest on our focus area) or just alternating as required.  Given that you have more experience with therapy than I do, I imagine you can also think of other options.

I would ask that you think seriously about whether we should keep working together.  That’s a frightening thing to write, because the idea of having to start over and look for another psychologist again is pretty devastating.  I very, very much don’t want to do that.  But I also have to be adult enough to accept that I can’t keep seeing you just because you’re nice and you let me bring my cat to sessions if you can’t actually help me.  I don’t really see myself getting better, but I might as well at least try.

My preference would be that you let me know via email if you think it’s best for me to start looking for another psychologist.  If you think one of the options I mentioned above (or another option) is workable for us, then let me know and we can discuss at a session.

Thank you for all the support you’ve offered me.

Rea

P.S.  Everest is Queen of the Park now.

 

Bit The Bullet (And It Didn’t Break My Teeth)

There Is A Screaming Child Inside Me

My session with Aisha yesterday lasted less than a minute – I told her I didn’t want to talk, and hung up. I feel very distant from everyone right now. Not angry or upset, but distant. I couldn’t even tolerate being in a room with one of them at the moment. I just want to be alone.

After I hung up, I lay down, curled up and started crying. But then I got curious about which part of me was crying. I closed my eyes, turned my attention inward, and saw a toddler, shiny with tears and snot and saliva, red-faced and wail-screaming. I picked her up, and she banged her head against my collarbone, hard.

I held her, rocking her a little, and she kept crashing against me, but didn’t struggle to get down. She calmed down, gradually, a little, and so did I.

During my lunch break, my GP texted me to ask what was going on, and said that Anna was trying to reach out to her, but that she didn’t want to talk to her until she’d discussed it with me first, and could I please call her? It was the perfect thing to say, and I’m so grateful to her – I feel like even if everyone else is sitting around discussing me, at least Serena has my back. That I’m her priority, not going along with whatever Anna says.

But I still didn’t want to talk to her. I texted her back to let her know I was on strike but okay, and I was cancelling my appointment for tomorrow but I’d see her when she got back from her holiday. She called, then texted to let me know that she’d been calling around and found a psychotherapist who could see me the next day, and a psychiatrist who could see me next week.

I felt an intense stab of pain when she said maybe it was time to get me on the waiting list for a new psychologist. My mind immediately leapt to the assumption that Anna had said she was giving up and she wasn’t going to see me anymore – even though I haven’t decided what I’m going to do and whether I’m going to go back to her yet, the thought that maybe the choice is out of my hands is devastating.

Last night the crisis team from the hospital called me – Anna or Serena must have referred me on to them. I didn’t answer, so they called again today, and texted, then came around to my apartment, but thankfully the intercom is broken so they couldn’t get in. I know I should be mature and reasonable and just talk to them so people stop worrying, but I still don’t want to speak. They’re going to keep coming back until I do.

It sucks that everybody else gets to have boundaries, but I don’t.

There Is A Screaming Child Inside Me

I Need a Dark and Quiet Place

After my session with Anna this morning, I sat in the garage at work and cried for 10 minutes, until I pulled myself together enough to go in and go to my meeting.

So far, my plans have been to quit therapy, quit my job, move out of the city, go on disability, cut off contact with everyone I know and find somewhere quiet and dark where I can just curl up with my cat and sleep forever. I’m not sure which part was triggered today but I suspect it wasn’t the Healthy Adult.

I’d thought that today we would talk about my trip home to see my cousin and her kids. It’s been two weeks and I haven’t spoken to anyone about it yet – after our last very connected session when I cried over the inner conflict and grief I’m feeling about my relationship with my cousin, I wanted to save it to share with her.

But she had her own agenda: to tell me how this isn’t working.

“We’re not shifting anything. Nothing’s changing. The things I’m suggesting don’t seem to be the right way to do it for you. I can’t even go near working with your activation because it’s too much, it’s too big. Everything’s really big.”

Anna knows that I’ve been self-harming because Jen sent an email to all of my team with the (very vulnerable) text message I sent her that night asking if she could call me (which she didn’t do, and yesterday told me is no longer okay), and telling them that I’d come to see her at the clinic last week. I feel so humiliated and exposed.

I want to curl into myself and withdraw from everyone; Anna, Aisha, Jen, my GP – all of them. I feel unfixable. I can’t manage my emotions. They’re too big for me. And they’re too big for Anna too. Why am I putting myself through the pain and the constant triggers of therapy when she doesn’t know how to help me?

“What do you want out of me? Because I’m at a bit of a loss about how to support you. Have a think about it and let me know.”

It was hard to stop myself crying when she said this the first time, and the second time, and the third. She could tell I was upset, but misinterpreted the reason, and told me it isn’t because she doesn’t want to help. I wasn’t feeling rejected or abandoned, though – just very, very alone. Things are hard right now. I’m struggling to get up, to get myself to work, to push through the fog and the heaviness enough to get through the day. This feels like too much. I don’t know how she can support me. I don’t know how to fix this.

It still would have been hard, but I think it might have been okay if she’d tried to help me with it. If she’d said “Okay, these are the things we’ve tried so far – let’s talk about each of them and why they were unhelpful and see if we can figure out something different“. Or if she’d said “Here are some other things we could try; what do you think about this one?”. But I feel like all I got was “Go away and work this out by yourself“.

I know that a lot of this pain belongs to the fifteen year old alone in her bedroom trying to decide what to do about the blood coming out of her eyes, and the sixteen year old with third-degree burns who took herself to appointments with a surgeon to decide whether or not to have the operation they recommended, who had a mother who cared but wasn’t capable of offering support. She’s tired and sad, and she can’t carry any more burdens by herself.

But I don’t know who to give the burden to. I can’t carry it either.

I Need a Dark and Quiet Place