Spring Break

As you already know, my sister gave birth to a perfect little boy two weeks ago. I’d originally planned to be there when he was born, but due to my intense class schedule, I decided against making the trip. My sister said she’d rather have me there for a full week during my Spring break than for a quick 48-hour trip anyway. As it happens, my Spring break starts today. Which means I’ll be going to therapy this morning and then making the several hour drive to my hometown.

I’m technically not staying IN my hometown. Wife and I will be lodging with my “Mom” during the stay, who lives about 15 minutes outside of the town I grew up in. Also, my sister lives roughly 15 minutes on the opposite side of said town. So we may need to drive through it, but I don’t plan on spending much time in it.

Still, it’s hard to even be in the area. Living in NYC has made me into a true urban gal. I remember making the trip last year and going on a rant about how much I hate rural and suburban America. I’m pretty sure at one point I yelled, “I even hate their stupid guard rails!” Just driving along highways past towns that resemble the one I was raised in can be an intense trigger.

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I haven’t been there in nearly eight months and it did not go so well during our last visit. The company is fine. I get along beautifully with all of the people I see when I travel there. It can be hard to navigate the specific dynamics in play simply because it is so reminiscent of the past, but the joy I feel far outweighs any negative emotions.

The system, however, was thrown into total chaos.

As I mentioned previously, ANPs and EPs hold very different value systems. So simply being near my immediate family causes the ANPs to feel a strong draw towards a previous life. They don’t have the same anger and disgust that the EPs do toward these people. They miss them and love them and struggle to understand why we don’t just go visit our family. Which, of course, creates tension between parts as well as fear among the EPs that someone will switch out and end up creating an unsafe situation (which has not happened yet, thankfully).

Unfortunately, all of this chaos and in-fighting led to some self-injury. I have no memory of it. I would wake up in the morning with fresh cuts on my thighs and have no clue how or when they were put there. Julia, a part who has written here before, was particularly distressed by the push-pull between parts and reached out to Zooey during our last trip for support. Zooey was able to text with her periodically throughout the trip to help her feel safe and supported. But upon returning from that trip, we were still in a state of distress and that was the beginning of the end for our relationship with Zooey…

Only a few days after we returned from the trip, Julia confessed that she felt intensely suicidal – in part from the effects of an unraveling system. Zooey decided that a hospital stay might be the best option if the system was truly unsafe. I firmly believe that a hospital is the absolute last place someone like me should ever be, but I understand why she made the decision she did. We were there for a total of three days and it was absolutely awful from beginning to end.

Right after being discharged from that hospital is when Zooey proclaimed that we needed “more intensive treatment.” So she gave me an ultimatum – either enroll in an intensive program, or she would have to stop seeing me. My first choice was to not do any program, which I told her very clearly. I thought it would be too hectic to interrupt my classes, work, AND internship for two entire weeks (not to mention disrupt therapy itself). But she stood her ground and demanded that I choose between the original two options she’d presented. I caved. I chose her. And that’s how I ended up doing a two-week trauma treatment program, in another state, in the middle of my Fall semester.

We truly responded well to the program and I’m actually very glad we went. But when we came back, things were weird between Zooey and I. I thought it was just some strange re-adjustment period that would work itself out. But then she went on Thanksgiving vacation. The session immediately following her vacation was quite tense and session following that is when she terminated my treatment.

So I supposed that, going into this trip, I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m scared of the system unraveling again. I’m scared of self-injury reappearing or the eating disorder getting worse. I’m scared of all the emotional chaos and triggers and tension that always comes up within the system when we’re near my hometown.

And I’m scared that once I return to NYC, everything will go to shit with a therapist I’m just beginning to trust. Maybe she’ll forget about us. Maybe having a week away from me will make her realize she really doesn’t want to work with me after all.

Or maybe things will simply be weird between us once I get back and it will mark another beginning of another end.

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16 thoughts on “Spring Break

  1. alicewithptsd says:

    I totally understand the mixed feelings and anxiety about going to your hometown. Since memories have reappeared and I am not hiding what happened from myself anymore, the anxiety i have grows bigger the closer i get to “home.” At the same time, I am glad to see the people I am visiting. My self harm and ED always gets worse when I return there.

    Do what you need to in order to soothe yourself, and rely on your support people. I know those words are easy to say, and so much harder to act on. Can you do some yoga every morning, or take a walk, paint or draw or journal? I don’t know, really just whatever helps you. I find that I have to work very hard to stay in the present when I visit. Strong mints or sour candy help me, and i csn use those all the time.

    I can understand why it feels scary and uneasy to take a break from therapy right now, just as you and the new therapist are starting to build some trust. When Bea was on vacation, i felt untterly abandoned and anxiety ridden. I posted a “Dear Bea” email on my blog, that i never intended to send. You encouraged me to share my feelings with her. I did not send that email, but i have shared a lot of thr feelings i had about her going away, and my fear of contacting her. My very long winded point is that maybe you can let the therapist know how nerve wracking it is to be leaving right now, and tell her some of your fears about the relarionship? Maybe you could arrange to have a phone check in while you are gone? I don’t know.

    Anyway, you are not alone in so many of these feelings. I hope you are able to be kind to yourself and enjoy your visit with people you love and who love you. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thanks for this great response, Alice. I did (sorta) mention my distress over making this trip in session this morning, so she suggested we schedule phone session during our normal office session time. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it, so I think she’s going to call at that time and we’ll “play it by ear” to see if a quick check-in makes more sense or a full session. I brought some distraction stuff like arts & crafts, music, sensory stuff (mints, lotion), and I have my journal (and of course my computer). Hoping to get into some exercise as well. Already stressed about being off my normal routine, but trying to not be a total insane person. Thank you so much for letting me know I am not alone – that means a lot ❤

      Like

      • alicewithptsd says:

        It sounds like you really planned well, and have lots of good coping things with you. I hate being out of my routine, too. Maybe try to look at this as a break, a rest– your routine and all the hard stuff will still be there when you get back. I don’t know. I’m so glad you talked to the therapist and that she is going to call at your normal session time. I think that’s good– even just a check in can help you feel connected. I really do hope this trip is a good one for you, and that you are able to enjoy the break. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoe says:

    There is an uncertainty that we all feel with our trauma but you have it magnified because you don’t know when a part is going to switch out and put your body and eventually your mind through more distress. That’s a fear and a worry unique to DID that I find not a lot of us can’t relate to unless we have it.

    The fact that you want to see the people you love and deserve your love and love you back in a good, healthy way is progress. If you make the trip it will be more progress regardless of what happens. Yesterday I learned that I avoid what I fear. If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t go. This is why I say I think you’re strong. Even with all these valid uncertainties and fears you’re planning to make the trip. That’s strength. That’s admirable. That’s progress. I’m hoping to everything that this trip doesn’t turn out like last time. Just remember: you had all the reasons to avoid it, but you didn’t.

    And that’s progress. Always.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      True true true. You’re right (per usual). I think half the battle here is not totally psyching myself out. I think most of my anxiety comes form the fear of HAVING anxiety! There’s a reason I wanted to make this trip. These are good people that I love very much. The first couple days might be an adjustment, but I know it will be worth it to push through. Thank you xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. kat says:

    i understand all your fears and worries, but you can only change some things, not everything. so for the things you worry on but can’t change, your worrying won’t help. try to only worry about things you can change, and once you do all you can, there’s no more reason to worry on them.

    and remember, this is not the same trip. it is different, the T is different, there will be a different outcome. these are all reasons to try to think ‘positive’ about it.

    i know, i know, easier said than done…but give it a shot if you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anxious Mom says:

    I so hope your trip goes well. That’s a lot of different fear factors at play there, but look how brave you are, going even though you know what triggers lie ahead as well as the possibility of things going wrong. Enjoy these days with your new nephew. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cat says:

    I haven’t been able to back in over 15 years, so I admire your courage and I do hope it all goes well. I completely understand your fears of history repeating itself. Every time I hear another part of the Zooey saga, it makes my blood boil. She demanded so much and the fact that you responded and had positive experiences would naturally build a very strong bond between you… and then she dumps termination on you during your session….tut.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Boost Connection says:

    That comment about hating the guardrails is too funny for life lolol. I hear you about your fears around this trip though and it sounds very complicated. Try to remember that you will handle it the best you can and really take care of yourselves. Sending positive vibes your way, H-team!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Drea says:

    Hi Andi, I really feel you on the therapy-break anxiety! During my spring break last week, I had a difficult time maintaining connection to my therapist and spent a total of about three weeks in a fairly triggered state (the week prior, the week during, and the week after). I had decided ahead of time that continuing to live my life and take trips is something I want to do, versus stay home for the sake of not interrupting my usual schedule. But it sure is hard to be away, and cope with the thoughts and fearful feelings that arise. Hang in there, and use your DBT skills to stay as in the present moment as you can, knowing it isn’t always easy or possible. That usually helps me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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