Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A letter to my therapist

Last week after my clinical psychology session, I was lamenting to Adam that so often in therapy I sit in silence and say very little. I imagine I may look very blank and non expressive, but it's usually the case that the more quiet and withdrawn I am, the more I am struggling to contain everything inside. I feel it could be quite frustrating for T. Adam suggested I try writing a letter to T to explain how I am feeling. So that I did and for your interest, I have pasted it below. In the past I haven't put letters to my therapist on this blog because I feel like somehow it's not right, being that it is a letter for her and should be for her only, but I struggle with this because it's about me after all and useful for me to have on here for future reference too. In this instance, I have decided I will put it on and I just hope T wouldn't mind if she knew. Once I got into writing the letter I decided to talk about a few other issues while I was at it. Anyway... you can read for yourself! FYI, you might want to make yourself a cuppa cos it's a wee bit on the lengthy side!
(The only thing I have changed in the letter is the names, for obvious reasons)



Adam suggested to me that I try to write down how I am feeling during sessions and give it to you. This was because I told him that I imagine I may seem blank or calm or cold or quiet when I don't feel any of those things inside and I guess because Adam knows me, he can appreciate that I do sometimes seem this way and it could be mistaken for something it's not. Perhaps you don't perceive me as any of those things but maybe it would be good to tell you how I do feel anyway because I want you to understand me (not that I don't think you do: it actually amazes me how much you do seem to 'get' me).

As you know, lately I've been going through a bit of a detached from myself (selves) phase and this doesn't seem to be ending. I feel separate; disconnected from whatever is going on (presuming that it is still going on) inside my head. A lot of the time I feel nothing in day to day life. There are still times when I feel extremely anxious or other things but even then, I still feel disconnected from it somehow.

It's hard to come to sessions because I can't avoid 'feeling' and when I've been detached from this for so long during the week, in a way it's harder than if I am 'feeling' to start off with and come to sessions and just continue to 'feel' stuff while there, because I don't have to go through the process of adapting from numb to 'feeling'. So while, like today, I might be sitting relatively still, with possibly not much expression in my voice or on my face, it's not because I am not engaged or feeling anything, it's because I feel like I am doing my best to hold back a dam from breaking. Sometimes I feel like I just need to hold my voice steady and keep myself rigid so that I can prevent something from bursting out of me and taking over (or someone).

I feel really, really anxious a lot of the time in the sessions. I've found the relaxation exercises you started doing at the end really helpful and wondered if maybe they'd be helpful for me to do at the start of the sessions sometimes too? Sometimes I feel like it takes me a good part of the session to settle into it and break through from being so far away from myself and by then the time is nearly up. It would be good if I could get through this process quicker (it's like I have to break the ice inside myself all over again every week). Also, I quite often will convince myself between one session and the next that you hate me and I often come in feeling scared that you are going to tell me off for something (even though you haven't given me reason to feel this way: I'm just paranoid and feel like because of who I am, of course you would hate me).

If I am quiet and don't answer a question well, it might be because there is so much going on in my head that I can't decide what 'I' think, or I know that I need to keep quiet to stop someone else from shouting something out. I worry that you will think I am just not making any effort. Sometimes it's because I feel like I have become separated from my brain. It's like you are in the room with my body and my ears but I am separate from myself and am trying to look into my brain, which isn't mine, to find out what the answer might be, even though the answer doesn't seem to belong to me either; and sometimes I can't reach in to get the insight. (For example, this week when you asked me about my reflections about last week, I could remember that last week had been difficult but it was a struggle to really know what had happened last week or what any reflections I'd had on it were or how I felt. It's like I am trying to remember a conversation that someone told me about, not something that really happened to me).

Sometimes I just can't hear you properly because of the noise in my head. Or sometimes I can hear you but I can't make sense of what you're saying, because my head has filled up with a whirlwind/fuzz and I get stupid. And sometimes I feel like you give me really insightful feedback about my situation and then I just give you a one word response, which I feel guilty about, but I am always listening (as long as the fuzz allows) and I try to recall and reflect on what you've said afterwards and find this insight really helpful even though it may not look as though I've considered what you've said at the time.

I've been thinking more about why I am so disconnected from myself and not believing I have DID lately and I'm sure it has something to do with the stress of work since I started my new job but I think it's something else too. The others wanted so much to speak to you and I was the one always stopping that from happening. I think they didn't like that I won't let them speak and that I edit everything they say and also I was tired of doing this. I think the separation happened because I don't have the energy for them anymore (and am also really, really, really scared about what it is they might have to say to you) and they don't want me to hear them either because I just control and edit them when I do. I think the being scared about what they know that I don't (and maybe them not wanting me to know) aspect of it might be why I have become separate from them on a daily basis and why it feels like they are not there at all anymore.

Maybe that's why I don't feel like there are any parts but I still see myself acting like someone else as if I am an observer. I'm just not 'feeling' them or knowing what they're thinking, but they are still doing it. It's not that they don't exist (even though a lot of the time I still don't believe they do). It's gotten harder for me in a way, being so separate, because I feel like I am not real. At least before, if say, Pan was out, I felt like I was there too with Pan, experiencing things with him (her). Now I just feel like I am far away and I can hear a child talking and I can't feel anything. So often lately I've shouted out to Adam mid sentence: 'I want to be myself!' and he's been startled. It's because I'm not in charge anymore and feel like someone else is living my life for me. Other times I'm so separate, I don't even realise someone else is in charge. I just feel unreal and alone but I think I definitely don't have 'parts'.

Anyway, I don't know if I'm going to change any time soon. If it's because of work, then that's not likely to be changing yet. If it's because others are keeping me out and/or I'm scared to hear what they want to say, then I don't know how to change that. But I have been wondering, maybe it doesn't have to mean things can't move forward? Apparently I can still communicate things with you and get in touch with what's happening inside to a certain extent in the sessions and maybe others might still be able to speak to you despite me not even believing they exist. I don't think you should hold back from talking about parts with me in case it sends me over the edge because otherwise I feel like I am never going to make any progress in this. This phase of nothingness could go on a long time and I'm not prepared to wait for it to take its course because I know in the past I have been this way for many years. If you can help me to get in touch with the others it would possibly be a good thing.

Whatever needs to be communicated to you (still part of me thinks there is nothing but presuming they are wrong) is something that will make me feel awful. I don't think we can get around that. I'm trying to get a balance between nothingness and overwhelmed but maybe it's just not going to happen because whatever it is, is overwhelming. Perhaps I am wrong and there is a way, which would be great, but I don't know what that would be. Maybe although feeling the things that happen physically in my body at times is hard, it's not as bad as it could be if I remembered what happened. So presumably, if a part remembers something and wants to communicate it to you, they are likely to feel bad too. And what if they can't talk to you? Maybe the things that happen in the session are that part's way of trying to communicate. Maybe reliving it is the only thing they can do. Too many maybes! I hope these maybes might help you to know what to do with me, although maybe you already know what you're doing, in which case: great!

Anyway, I'm too scared to directly ask you about this so I may as well add it on the end of this letter: the child parts still want to go to the special children's room. I'm not sure how I feel about this and I'm not sure how you feel about it (in case you may have changed your mind and not think it's a good idea on reflection) but I am sure that they want to and have been waiting for the roof to get fixed for a while now. So, perhaps you could let me know what you think?

Also, I know I said I didn't think having a psychiatric assessment would really help me to believe I have the issues I do and I still agree with that but there is a part who thinks in a more black and white way and is sure that this is what should happen. I am only telling you that because they want you to know it, not because I want it to happen, although they do want it to happen. How can I ever make one right decision with always opposing opinions?!

Oh and about Grace. I think it's fine for you too ask her to help me in the sessions because it obviously does help when you do but I get nervous that one day I am actually going to switch and Grace will take over completely which would probably be a bit strange for both you and me. So far I have tried to hold her back from doing that and she has just helped me to feel better but there is always the potential for it to go that way. If it does happen, there's a possibility I might just get up and run out the door, so you'll know what's happened if I do that. Grace is all about action and if the action needed is for me to get going, then that I may do.

Lastly, I hope you realise how much I (we) value your help and appreciate the energy and patience you have for working with me and I feel you have helped me a lot in the work you have already done with me. Like I said before, it amazes me that you seem to understand me so well and it feels really good to be understood, especially when I so often don't understand myself! Thank you for this.

After I emailed her the letter I felt very nervous that she would be annoyed at me for writing to her. I seem to send her something by email more often than not between sessions these days (most commonly blog posts that I think would be relevant). I've asked her before to tell me if it's annoying but she never has said anything to suggest it is and she always thanks me for my 'correspondance'. She has said that she would be happy for Ebony to write to her more. I guess she can't really say that and refuse to hear from others can she? That would be preferential treatment of one alter over another. I can't help feeling though that one of these days I will send something and it will be the straw that broke the camels back in terms of her patience and I will get a lecture about her time or that if I have things to share I should keep them for the sessions. I know some other therapists don't allow letters or contact but I am just grateful that T does allow this: I think she realises how helpful it is because I am so much better able to communicate by written word when it comes to 'feelings'.

Needless to say, I had worked myself into a frenzy by the next session and was sure she was going to shout at me or have a stern lecture for me that would cause me to crumple into tiny bits, but she again thanked me for writing to her and said that she thought it was very helpful. Phwew! More about that later....


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