Therapy today: Treading water

To sum up today’s session, J said it might have been more useful for me if she’d done her ironing while I took a nap. She wasn’t wrong really.

I was not in a mood for talking, or being with another human for that matter. On these kind of days, it is a blessing that I can work at home. Going into the office when I’m feeling withdrawn and introverted is exhausting. It leaves me feeling like my lungs are being crushed and I can’t squeeze any air in.

The mood that was with me today wasn’t one I could describe without a metaphor. I feel confused and stuck, and that gives me a kind of paralysis when it comes to letting go of the past or thinking of the future. It is very much like treading water – the struggle to stay afloat in one place is so tiring that there’s no energy left for moving away.

J asked me whether I was feeling grief today, and academically I suppose that’s true. I can clearly recognise my losses, but I don’t connect with them. I don’t feel them, I just know they are there. I think I’m resigned to knowing them. And I don’t consciously feel sad about them because I feel as though I have only got what I deserve.

There’s also a ton of uncertainty around for me at the moment. I have this sense that I can’t believe in anything because everything I used to believe has been turned upside down. My past is a web of lies, misinformation and confusion. I thought this police case would provide some answers, some hard facts that would help me understand and explain my history. It emerged in the past few weeks that most of the information recorded after the abuse was uncovered is either missing or has been destroyed. My parents haven’t helped fill the gaps because they can’t remember anything about it.

I can’t explain the past and then I am also scared of the future. I’m scared of having another breakdown. Not because of how it felt to be there, but because of the work involved in piecing everything back together. It has been a colossal effort, getting back into my life. Now I know how hard it is, I don’t think I could face it again.

I’m also scared that my life will never be more stable than it is right now. In the space of minutes, I can still switch from OK to suicidal – the balance tips so easily. I’m often intimidated by being outside the house, or with other people and as a result I end up hiding at home. My social life only includes other mentally ill people, because I feel so alien and ‘less than’ with anyone else. I have very little interaction with my family because I find talking to them too distressing given everything that’s going on.

I’m working part time and with inconsistent levels of commitment and effort. My inability or unwillingness to work full-time has a significant impact on the financial security of myself and my wife. I have the added pressure now of knowing that should I lose my job or become too ill to work, we couldn’t afford to stay in our home. We are only just making ends meet as it is.

That’s why I’m in this stuck place where I can’t figure out how to think or what to say in therapy. There are so many loose ends at the moment, it seems pointless trying to find a single one and focus on it. When I am this confused and overwhelmed, it feels easier to be silent. I did think of cancelling today, but I wanted to see J and I knew it was better to go than to hibernate. I suppose I have to give up berating myself for not talking and remember that sometimes it is enough just to sit and know she is there.

Image: Michael S, Creative Commons.



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