I wasn’t looking forward to therapy today. I knew the chances were J would want me to talk more about the events of last week. On Wednesday I had downed a load of Vodka and Lorazepam. Due to the amnesia overdosing on Lorazepam brings, I don’t really remember what I’d said to J on the phone when I was drunk, or even what we talked about in my session on Thursday.
It didn’t take long for J to steer the conversation around to what happened last Wednesday. She asked how I was feeling about it. I wanted to lie and say I feel appalled that I behaved that way and I’ll never do it again. The truth was harder to say. I told her I feel guilty for upsetting my wife. That much is true. But what’s also honest is that in many ways I don’t regret it. That’s because I feel like it was the only way I could’ve expressed what I was feeling.
J’s first reaction was to ask to whom I wanted to express myself. I couldn’t say exactly. She pointed out that as far as she was aware, only herself and my wife knew what had happened and asked what I was trying to say to them. I said my parents and a few close friends also know, because I didn’t want her to think it was an effort to get her attention. Yes, I called her to intervene when I was feeling dangerous, but I know I don’t need to act out for her to listen to me.
Then she refreshed my memory of our phone conversation. Apparently I either said or suggested that her job was to keep people safe. She didn’t seem happy about that. I felt like I’d pissed her off, and I guess I probably had. But feeling like she disapproves of me or judges me in someway instantly makes me withdraw and get defensive. I didn’t want to talk about it.
I know the timing was bad. I had gone straight off after my session with her that day and taken a potentially lethal concoction of drugs and alcohol. Of course that is uncomfortable for her. I tried to steer away from that issue by confessing I’d been planning it that whole day. I stupidly told her I had bought the vodka before our session. She asked about the Lorazepam. I said I’ve always got Lorazepam on me.
It became quickly apparent that I had made things worse. She seemed shocked that I had come to my session, in her words, ‘with the means to potentially end your life, here in the room’. I started feeling like I was being told off. I felt like sarcastically stating that I was never planning to do it there and then, during therapy. I know I’m feeling attacked when I feel sarcasm rising up. It’s a defence.
J made it very clear that she didn’t want me carrying drugs around with me. She said it makes me open to acting on my impulses. I tried to explain that it wasn’t an impulse, it was something I had wanted to do for the whole of the previous week and managed to avoid. That was again not a good answer, because then she wanted me to say why I hadn’t told her I was feeling suicidal.
I understand I put her in a difficult situation. She needs to be fairly confident I will keep myself safe, or let her know when I am having dangerous thoughts. But I felt guilty today. I felt like I had got everything wrong and she was resentful that I hadn’t been open about what was going on for me. I guess it was hard for me to realise that the trust goes both ways in our relationship and I had broken her trust in me.
Thinking about it now, I can also see that J’s questioning of me today and some of what she said echoed what I hate about my relationship with my mum. My mum has historically, whether she meant to or not, always made me feel guilty about the impact I have on her. And J did that today too, when she asked me how I thought she would feel if I killed myself after one of our sessions. It came from a place of genuinely wanting me to be safe, but it was cutting.
My instinct was to say I hoped she would feel that way whatever time of day I killed myself, if such a thing happened. I didn’t want to be forced to take responsibility for it. I didn’t need to think about that hypothetical guilt. It felt like the same kind of emotional blackmail my mum has used to control me all my life – which ironically is part of the reason I want to do self-destructive things in the first place. To assert control. To show that I am in charge of my body and my destiny.
Now I’ve unjumbled today’s session, I know it’s important I talk about all of this with J. Because she isn’t my mum; she is empathic and open-minded and will listen to how the session impacted me. At the same time, I get so scared of screwing up my relationship with her, because I need her so much. Especially at a time when I feel like I’ve been abandoned by my family. I couldn’t handle her rejecting me too.
Photo: Kelly Hunter, Creative Commons.
8 Comments Add yours
Wow, a lot happened! Very intense blog post, and I can only imagine how hard it has been for you. I carry Ativan around with me too, but I don’t take a lethal dose. I do have suicidal thoughts sometimes, and I definitely plan it out or consider things…. but I don’t attempt anymore. There are reasons why, so maybe they will help you? I think this is a topic I will write a more indepth piece on for next week as well:
I’ve tried so many times, and never succeeded. I end up in hospital with a tube down my throat, or puking, or being in pain.
If I’ve continuously failed, so maybe there is some reason that I’m still here. I don’t know why I’m still here. I am.
It hurts my partner when I do it. I used to feel like I have no control and my thoughts result in actions right away. Now when I think such things I observe them, and let them go down the stream of consciousness, but I don’t act. I don’t do everything they say I should or must do. My mind is broken is it will lie, try to trick me, or generally have “shoulds” that I am not doing and feeling bad about but those “shoulds” are there because of abuse… so they aren’t real shoulds.
Watching your thoughts and not acting on them is hard, and it hurts, and it makes you feel deeply, but as you watch and not act you begin to slowly reclaim your power. One small step at a time ❤
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had similar experiences. It’s good to have the reminder about observing thoughts and letting them pass by. I know it really, but struggle to put it into practice. Laura
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It’s hard, it takes time… you won’t be perfect right away, and likely never perfect, but you can do it with practice. It’s like math: if you don’t use it you can lose it. ❤ One day at a time ❤
Very nice post! Thank you for sharing. I think I know how you feel in our reactions and emotions in regards to your therapist. I got drunk a few times and emailed my therapist some scary emails where I said I wanted to die. Those next sessions were intense. I felt like I let her down and at the same time felt mad because she seemed angry with me. She wasnt she was just concerned for me.
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It’s all very conflicted isn’t it? I guess it’s important to keep faith that J and I can work through the intense stuff and stay connected at the same time. It’s horrible work though!
Hi there friend
I so relate to this–I remember doing an OD with drugs and alcohol then calling my therapist. Our T’s are genuinely concerned for our safety and I used to find that sooooo hard to handle–“how do you mean you care”–Plus which I still find it really hard to understand the impact my pain has on others. Then of course there’s this whole thing about not wanting to screw up the relationship…
What I can offer is this:
1) High fives for going to the session–you could so easily have avoided it
2) Keep on working at the therapeutic relationship.. it is hard but it really does help us to understand what plays out in “real life”
3) Please Laura, please: just throw the pills away. Chuck them. The only way I learned to stop cutting and taking ODs was removing the means … I used to get fearful / anxious just walking past a pharmacy and the thought of being able to buy blades and paracetamol. But I did eventually manage and now I only occasionally want them …
Take care now
Love Serena xxxx
Up until very recently, I always carried some means of suicide on my person. I never told anyone about that behavior. I’m glad you and J have started this conversation and hope you’re able to work through the intensity of this particular incident.