Sickness as Abandonment

All week long my therapist has been sick. Not severely sick, just a head cold. But when I got to my first session of the week, I immediately realized she sounded congested and I asked her about it. She said she has a bit of a cold, but it was nothing major.

Sure.

Except, it totally freaked me out. In the past year and a half, she’s never been noticeably ill before. She’s never cancelled or rescheduled a session for personal reasons at all. So I don’t know if I was worried she would get more sick and then take time off from work or what, but it really upset me.

Then for our second session of the week, she called me an hour before my session and left a voicemail. I was nervous that she’d called to cancel, but she actually just had a client cancel their session, so she wanted to know if I happened to be available to come in earlier.

I was a little irritated with her for unidentified reasons (probably her head cold, to be honest) so I’d considered just not showing up for session at all. I almost stayed on the train when it stopped by her office. But then I told myself that I didn’t have to go to session just because I was in the area, so I got off the train.

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(Un)tethered

I have weighed myself every single morning for the last year and a half.

Before that, I weighed myself maybe once or twice a month and it didn’t mean much. I think it was mostly just curiosity. The only scale we had in the house was a cheap dial scale that probably wasn’t even accurate.

But when I relapsed last November, one of the first things I did was order a fancier digital scale from Amazon. And from the moment it arrived at my doorstep, I have been tethered to that bright orange square of doom.

My therapist and I have recently begun tackling my eating disorder in sessions. I should have been doing this a very long time ago, but I refused to even acknowledge it was a thing. It wasn’t until it became concerning (enough) to others that I brought it up with her. I guess their concern somehow gave me “permission” to ask for help or something.

It’s been hard. I don’t make very much progress. Or at least I hadn’t been anyway (or maybe it just didn’t feel like it?). I wrote previously that my psychiatrist prescribed Ritalin to help me gain a more “top-down” way of using my brain, allowing for more executive control and rational thinking. That was about three weeks ago.

And I’ll be damned if that isn’t exactly what is happening.

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A Year of Bonuses

New Year’s Eve is always a weirdly emotional time for me. Similar to my birthday, it’s a time when I feel a lot of panic and anxiety about whether or not I’ve done anything worth celebrating. It’s also a time, culturally, when we’re encouraged to reflect and make promises to ourselves about all the changes we’ll make to be better in the new year.

Fuck that noise.

It’s just a damn day. Sure, the year changes and I guess that could mean something, but is it really that much different than the day before or the day after? No.

Last year I resolved nothing. My only goal was to survive. Anything above that was to be a bonus. And in that sense, I’d say this was a year of bonuses:

I completed all of my clinical coursework, including my first internship, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and scoring a perfect 100 on my comprehensive final practical exam.

I weathered a shit ton of relational and other challenges with a new therapist who is now someone I trust and value tremendously. I saw her once a week. Then twice. And now solidly three times a week.

finally found a psychiatrist that I don’t hate. In fact, I love my shrink. She is my favorite doctor that I’ve ever had, ever.

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A Long, Fast Week

I’m writing this from an airport. Our flight back to NYC was cancelled, rebooked, and the new flight has been delayed.

The joys of holiday travel.

Wife and I just spent a week at my sister and brother-in-law’s home, virtually attached to our nieces and nephew. We also spent a little over 24 hours with my “Mom” and her two golden retrievers over the weekend.

It was a long week that went by fast.

It was exhausting, exciting, stressful, frustrating, triggering, soothing, confusing, nostalgic, loving, fun, and unexpected. I would say it was both an incredibly joyful experience as well as tremendously difficult. But that’s okay, it can be both things at once. I’m trying to let it be, anyway.

It’s too hard otherwise. And this is how I went through my life – separating things into “good” and “bad” and putting huge walls between them to stay sane. But I don’t need to do that anymore, so I am trying to allow being “home” to be an experience that is complex and painful, but also really enjoyable and, quite frankly, something I need every once in a while.

I haven’t seen my nephew since he was born and he just turned nine months old. Too. Damn. Long. My nieces are growing like weeds and I HATE missing so much of their lives. My sister and brother-in-law are both wonderful people who I have a great time being around.

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Neutral

Things are going a bit better in therapy. Thankfully.

I didn’t really have much of a plan to resolve the mess my therapist and I found ourselves in a few weeks ago. It sucked. I hated every moment of it. But it somehow seemed necessary. It seemed like a place we needed to be in together.

And, in some ways, we’re still there.

But it’s better.

For several sessions, I just talked about whatever came up for me. That was sometimes superficial topics and sometimes deeper and more intense issues. She was supportive and thoughtful in her responses. I was able to get through a lot of important material that I’d been wanting to discuss, but didn’t get around to processing. We tend to spend a lot of time processing our relationship, so sometimes smaller things get left behind.

It wasn’t wasteful or tense. I actually feel like the past couple of weeks have been tremendously productive. And I’m impressed that we’ve been able to work together so well despite the ruptures and difficult emotions between us lately.

But it doesn’t surprise me. She’s a good therapist. I’m a good client.

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Not Funny

I ended up calling my therapist on Tuesday. I kept ruminating about her failure to talk with me about her short break next week for Thanksgiving, so at about 11pm, I called and left her a voicemail that went something like this:

“Hi, it’s Andi. I’m calling super late because this is the first chance I’ve had to slow down and breathe all day. And I realized that I’ve spent most of today obsessing over you not telling me that you’d be out both Thursday and Friday next week. I mean, maybe it should be obvious that you’d be off Friday as well, but it wasn’t. So it’s just really concerning and distressing to me that you didn’t talk about that with me. Especially since next week is Thanksgiving, which is something I’m super stressed about, which you know because we’ve been talking about it! And I know we’ve been in a weird, difficult place lately, but I’m still pissed that I have to go through that without you. It pisses me off and I need a place to discharge all of that emotion, so…here it is. Okay, bye.”

I felt kinda better after I hung up. It served its purpose.

She called back the next day and acknowledged my voicemail. She reminded me that she’d offered sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday next week to make up for the missed hours and said we should definitely try and talk about this during our next session.

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Sabotage

I’ve been trying to find a new psychiatrist lately. I don’t really like the one my therapist referred me to and I hate paying $300 per session when I have insurance. I’ve been looking for someone that my plan will cover and found three possible options. 

I made one appointment with a psychiatric nurse practitioner, but the customer service from her office manager was so abysmal, I could not see myself getting adequate care. If you can’t even get patient care right from the very first interaction, I’m not going to trust you with my mental health.

Then I found a DO (doctor of osteopathy) and he seems better, but he’s more of an addiction specialist. However he’s also trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy, so I sense that he’d have better interpersonal skills than my current shrink. I also found a female doctor who does psychotherapy as well. She’s not offering those services at the moment, but I don’t need them so that’s not a factor.

When I was trying to set up appointments, the female doctor didn’t have any openings for consultations, so I just made an appointment with the DO. When I checked her availability again, she had an opening for Monday at 4pm and then nothing else for the month. I talked it over with Wife and we decided it was best for me to take the consultation appointment since we didn’t know when this doctor would have another opening in her schedule. I can see both prescribers for consults and have a couple of possible options moving forward. 

Unfortunately, Monday at 4pm is also exactly when I have therapy.

I emailed my therapist on Saturday and explained that I’d needed to make a doctor’s appointment and the only time available within the next month was during our Monday session. I didn’t tell her it was with a psychiatrist because I don’t want her to know I bailed on the other guy. I offered some times before and after 4pm to demonstrate responsibility and investment, but I assumed she wouldn’t have anything open on such late notice. We’ve already had to reschedule my Thursday appointment this week to Wednesday morning because of a mandatory meeting regarding one of my scholarships, which was really stressing me out, especially since she doesn’t normally work on Wednesday mornings.

She wrote me back an hour later and said she had no other times available on Monday so she would see me on Wednesday morning. Alright, fine. That’s a little disappointing, but not disastrous. I did, however, start to worry she was pissed that I blew off her appointment for another one, but whatever. Nothing we couldn’t talk about next session.

But then this morning I got another email from her that just says,

I will see you on Friday.

WTF?! What happened to Wednesday?? 

I was freaking out, wondering why she’d pulled that session. Then, once my heart rate slowed down and I could actually think, I realized it seemed a bit strange that she sent such a short, vague email about something very important. IF she WAS pulling my session, she probably would have called to explain why. I doubt she’d behave in this manner, so I could not figure out what the hell was going on. I was so upset and my mind was just spinning.

Then I scrolled down.

In the email thread attachment, I found a message sent to her later yesterday evening, apparently in response to her saying she didn’t have a time for Monday:

No problem, I figured as much with such a late cancellation. I don’t want to do a Wednesday session. Friday is still fine though.

Well that certainly explains her confusing email; she was responding to my second email. There’s only one problem with that:

I did not send that second email. 

This is a mess. I have no idea what to do. I should probably talk to her about this, but I can’t bring myself to reach out again. I am not sure she’ll believe me. I’m not even sure I believe me. I keep wracking my brain, trying to remember if I wrote her back. I know I was very dissociative yesterday and, as I mentioned, anxious about her coming in for a Wednesday morning session, but I still wanted the damn session. 

Now it’s gone and I can’t help but feel like this is all part of a greater plan to sabotage my therapy.

Feeling Abandoned

I really miss my therapist today.

I saw her in session yesterday for two hours, but today I miss her. I don’t normally feel this particular sensation; it seems lonelier and more bereft than my ordinary “I miss my therapist” emotion.

It feels like I’m actively grieving.

I think part of what’s happening is that the conversation we had yesterday about phone contact and enacting tighter boundaries around the work we do outside of session has triggered me. I absolutely understand the reason she wanted to talk about this issue and I appreciate that she’s genuinely trying to protect me and our work.

But still, I think something has shifted in a way that leaves me feeling more inhibited in the relationship than I want to be. I feel abandoned by her. I feel like she’s been taken from me in some way.

Prior to yesterday’s session, I felt as though I’d arrived at a place in our relationship that made me feel rather comfortable about reaching out to her. She’s always emphasized that I don’t need a “good reason” or a justification for reaching out to her; I can call simply because I want to connect with her.

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One Crayon

The last couple of days have been so rough. I’m hanging in there, but I kind of feel like I’m drowning.

Thankfully my monthly peer support group for DID was today and that was a damn lifesaver. It is remarkable how healing it can be to sit in a room with people who have such a profound understanding of the fundamental way I experience this world. It was one of the best groups I’ve been to so far. We really touched on some deep and very important topics that resonated across the group, allowing for a really meaningful conversation that I think all of us needed today.

I always feel less crazy when I leave there.

I met my wife in Central Park after the meeting and we ate bagels while sitting on sun-warmed rocks, people-watching the walkers, runners, bikers, horse carriages, and rickshaws all around us. It was one of those experiences that feels surreal. The park was absolutely beautiful and the sun was soothing to my soul as it beat down on my cold skin.

Next was shopping. I needed a “business casual” outfit for an event later this month since all of my professional clothing is too big now. I found a blazer and button-down, but we both walked out of the shopping center with massive headaches because the lighting in those places is too intense for life. Plus someone had sprayed a truly insane amount of perfume and it was probably poisoning our brains as we browsed clothing racks.

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Scheduled Phone Check-In

Yesterday, my therapist and I had our scheduled afternoon phone check-in.

We’d agreed beforehand that I would call her, so I did. She picked up and said, “Hello?” and I said, “Hi, it’s Andi. Whoa, this is weird.”

“What’s weird?”

“I’ve just…I’ve never called a therapist and had them actually pick up the phone before. Usually I just leave a voicemail or speak with an answering service, so it’s a little strange that you just picked up and said hello.”

She validated my weird feelings and that prompted a discussion about talking on the phone outside of sessions. I told her it felt strange to just call to simply talk, not because there was some pressing crisis or emergency. I didn’t need her to intervene, I just needed to connect with her.

She told me that I’m allowed to just check in when things feel important or when I feel like I need to connect with her. She also reminded me that I’m allowed to be seen outside of crisis and I don’t need to require emergent care in order for her to want to help me.

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