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.