Therapy is getting too hard

I’ve never felt as anti-therapy as I do at the moment. My session with J went so badly on Tuesday that I cancelled the rest of my sessions for this week. I thought that feeling might settle down after a few days but it’s still hanging around.

Usually, I look forward to therapy. I like seeing J, I feel safe and contained with her. I get some relief and comfort from her acceptance of my neurotic thoughts and emotions. It feels good to be with someone warm and compassionate who really hears me. Plus, those three hours of breathing space break up what is otherwise uninterrupted immersion in the chaos of my inner world.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to feel very overwhelmed. Here’s a list of the main reasons why:

  • It’s been 5 weeks since I stopped taking antidepressants, which has caused my anxiety to spike and possibly also led to a dip in my mood
  • My workload is unmanageable and I’m feeling under huge pressure at work, with little motivation to get anything done
  • I’m worried about money, as always
  • My wife is struggling with low moods too and I am concerned about her
  • My closest friend tried to kill herself last week and is still not in a good place
  • My sister, who just emigrated and is in a very new relationship, thinks she might be pregnant and that brought up a lot of confusing stuff for me
  • Last week I received my full medical history; reading it was painful and infuriating and those feelings have stayed with me
  • I’ve been ill for over a month now; it’s wearing me down because I can’t do anything that I enjoy without feeling sicker.

I didn’t want to sit in silence with J on Tuesday. Even though I felt like there was no point in discussing all of this, I reeled off the list so she could get an understanding of why I feel swamped and hopeless.

When I’d finished talking through this (and a few additional stresses I haven’t included here), she said, “What strikes me is that a lot of those things aren’t happening to you, they are happening to other people”.

Maybe I was already pissed off with her because she’d just told me her leave dates and that always stirs up difficult stuff for me, but this comment made me angry. I know that other people’s problems are not my own, but that doesn’t mean they don’t worry me or upset me. We all get distressed when people we love are miserable or in bad situations.

Her reflection sounded like judgement to me. It felt like she was telling me how I should feel or not feel, rather than listening to what was going on for me. And it was extra annoying because as I walked to my session, I anticipated she would say this. I didn’t want to explain to her about all these worries because I didn’t want her to say exactly what she said. Perhaps I just wasn’t in a mood to be challenged.

The session got worse from there. I felt spiky and resistant. She kept asking questions and I just wanted to walk out. Everything she said made me feel more like I was being pushed into a corner. I’ve had a viral infection for almost 5 weeks now, so she brought up my physical health and my recent problems with food. She suggested I get a blood test to check if I’m deficient in anything. The more she suggested things and raised things, the more irritated I got.

I know I need to take better care of myself. I know that to be healthy – physically and mentally, I need to eat properly. Knowledge isn’t the problem. And being pushed to do it makes me want to do it less. It makes me feel like I am failing. We’ve talked endlessly about my unwillingness to do what’s good for me, so J knows that I can’t just summon up from nowhere the desire to take care of myself.

We had a brief discussion about whether I should go back on the medication I’ve stopped and I made it clear that I don’t want to. Not because I want to feel crappy, but because I don’t want to be trapped in an endless cycle of going on and off meds – which is what my psychiatrist would be happy for me to do for the rest of my life. I think that’s a fair and legitimate concern.

Because I don’t want new meds and I won’t make myself do the healthy stuff that’s needed, J basically said to me that I can’t just “wait to feel better”. That remark has stuck with me. I know it’s a challenge. I know she wants to push me to think differently. But I am not ready for it, so it just feels harsh. It feels like criticism and I can’t metabolise that it comes from good intentions. I just feel like she’s frustrated with me.

I hate being angry with people I love. It leaves me feeling like I’m in the wrong. I guess it’s down to my upbringing, but anger is a ‘bad’ emotion to me. And I suppose the automatic assumption is that if I am angry, then I am bad. I’m drawing this conclusion because when I left therapy on Tuesday I hated myself so intensely that I came extremely close to doing something very dangerous.

This has turned into a bit of a ramble, but even after three days of pondering I don’t feel better about it. I still feel angry and resentful. I want to just throw in the towel and give up on therapy. Which I know is a knee-jerk reaction and is not sensible. But it seems a hell of a lot easier than having to talk about all of this with J next week.

Photo: Todd Neal, Creative Commons.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m sorry you are in such a horrible place with this. I empathise with you. Anger is an emotion that I’m not comfortable with either and anger wasn’t allowed when I was a child, so it’s doubly scary like it is for you. I think being angry with your therapist must be extremely hard because we always want to idealise our t’s and keep them good. I am often told I use “black and white thinking” and struggle to find the “grey”…

    My only suggestion is that she/he was trying to get you some emotional distance by pointing out that a lot was happening “to other people” but I sympathise that it felt judgmental. Hurts more than usual when it’s from t doesn’t it?

    I hope you find a way to talk to your t about your feelings. Keep writing, really helps me!!

    TT

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks. Yep I’m very much a black and white thinker too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can empathise with what you’re saying. I found that anxiety and lack of motivation were big problems during antidepressant withdrawal, more so than the typical “depression” symptoms, and like you I found that advice on how to “do” things differently was really unhelpful at that point. I already knew that I should be trying to increase my activity level, do some exercise, eat better. I had all the CBT tools to help me. Did that stop me from lolling on the couch every spare minute and living off vegemite on toast and cups of tea? No (but hey, scurvy is rare and there’s always OJ). One thing with withdrawal is that you may find that the symptoms come in waves and that there are short periods of feeling better in between where you can do a little bit more.

    It sounds very much as if you need J to just be there for you and that now is not the right time for her to be pushing. I hope you feel able to discuss your needs with her and find a level of support that helps instead of making you feel more cut off.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks. Your vegemite comment made me laugh, as I have literally just eaten some marmite on toast – while lying on the sofa…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. kynlee33 says:

    Similar thing was brought to my attention once. Once I actually practiced it, I have done somewhat better. Not better, but do things differently I guess.

    My therapist pointed out how every action or reaction I had to something involved people close to me, or other people in general. I don’t like people upset or drama, especially since I know what hurt feels like. Anger, worry, acceptance, and so forth.

    For example: I found it hard to miss certain events, like birthdays. If I missed one, then I knew someone would be upset, and if I was able to make another persons later it would seem like one was above the other. I would have to figure out how to put everyone back to balance. Either by showing up at a later date for the first, or just not going to the other event either!

    When she told me that anxiety around me is in part due to worrying about others too much, I was also upset! But she told me in a different way to ease my mind. She mentioned that for a while, just do things for me. If somethings uncomfortable to me, but willing to do it for the sake of others; don’t. Be selfish in a way. Try doing what I think feels comfortable. Doing something that meats an outcome that I want.

    It was a huge struggle. Sometimes I appeared like an ass. But my motivation came from, that I am doing this for me. I’ve cared so much for the world that its ok to just do it for me. Then I struggled with understanding that doing what was in my best interest, still made others upset. They may have felt like their feelings didn’t matter. In the end, reflection shows that my feelings also didn’t matter to that person.

    Its very hard to express. I hope it is somewhat understandable. Like I said, I’m better but not better. I’m still very into what people feel, but hurt that in all their troubles they don’t really care what happens to me. The weight the slightest decision has on me. Leaving me further in the dark.

    When all things were looking up, I lost something most dear to me. My reason for staying on earth. People said they cared, that they would be there. In time they all went back to their own life, and still have expectations and needs frok my decisions. I pushed myself further into the darkness with silence. No more therapy, just me laying in my room. Eventually I had enough of a one sided word, and was about to free myself when I guess the one I lost seen what was happening. He sent another here for me. Something to show me that I can’t leave yet, and I must continue bettering myself at all costs but still surviving in this wretched place we call home.

    And I know there are many many more out there with worse lives than my own. That doesn’t make me feel better, it makes me hurt even more. For the hirt they feel, and my inability to not move past how sad my own life is!

    From: A friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      It sounds like you’ve been on a tough journey. But I am glad you’re still focused on surviving it. Laura

      Like

  4. bethanyk says:

    It is so hard to feel judged. Sometimes i wish therapists would just listen. Period. End of story. Let me get it all out. Listen. Say that sucks. And let me go home

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Haha yes although in my sessions we would spend at least 45 minutes in uncomfortable silence as I could never make myself talk for all that time!

      Like

      1. bethanyk says:

        Ok wellllll good point!!!! I do sit in silence too! Oops forgot about that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. thenovelist says:

    Made a recent post on mental health and depression and left some tips, you may view…wishing you well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thank you, I’ll take a look. Laura

      Liked by 1 person

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