It seems I have ignited a mini-debate (very, very mini) in the comments thread of my last post for apparently having been less than complimentary about C in the post pertaining to same (I wasn’t particularly nice about him, granted, but I didn’t think I’d said anything incendiary either). Anyway, this was intended to be a comment, but unsurprisingly it became rather long, and anyway, I have NEWS. So here is a post instead. Lucky you!
Right, it’s like this. I do not hate C (A does; I don’t). When compared to the woeful CBT that I went through, or my experiences of a couple of dreadful assessors and nurses and twatbags I saw prior to him, he was a therapeutic fucking genius. Even A acknowledged on a couple of occasions (most notably this. Perhaps this to some extent too?) that he (C) was obviously intelligent, and even dared to wonder briefly if “he actually [did] know what he [was] talking about”. Believe me, coming from A in relation to C, this is a compliment.
However, if you’ve read this blog for a long time, you’ll know that it wasn’t as simple as that.
Surely the contemptuous tone in which I frequently wrote about him cannot have gone unnoticed? I used to have this pathetic worry in terms of this blog than the only phrase I ever used in my session reviews was “I laughed in his face,” because really, I seemed to write it every other week. When C and I had a good session, I admitted that and indubitably felt smug and self-satisfied about it, which I’m sure came across in the narrative (check out this gushing, for example). When we had a bad one, most of the time I would vituperate against him – but simultaneously I acknowledged the role the transference was playing in my ire.
And this is the crux of everything really; not only did C allow the development of a very strong parental/fraternal transference, he encouraged and fostered it. OK, it was psychodynamic therapy; transference is an issue therein, and that is fine. I understand the process, and I’m OK with the reality that that one has to deal with these feelings. What C abjectly failed to do was do, though, and what is a fundamental imperative in analysis-derived therapy, was to deal with the phenomenon. Therapeutic literature is pretty clear on this issue: a lot can be learned from transferential feelings and behaviour, but the work cannot be considered completed until the issues resultant from this type of work are resolved.
You must surely also recall all the goings-round in circles, the sitting pointlessly looking at each other, saying nothing (which happened with Paul too, to be fair, but those silences seemed to have more ‘contained’ ((in the non-analytical sense)) in them), the constant repetitive remarks from both parties. Feel free to reread the posts if you think I’m mis-representing any of this.
What I only occasionally detailed was how I’d often spend Thursdays (a) in tears – not because of the content of a session, but because of what C had said or how he behaved; (b) waking up from a mini-dissociative fugue as a result of that morning’s therapy; (c) having a bitching session about C with A over coffee; or, most commonly, (d) some combination of all (a) to (c) inclusive.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Paul is a worshipful therapeutic guru to whom you need to bow or I’ll shoot you in the face, but I will tell you that none of that ever happened when he was treating me. Well, that’s a lie – there were occasional tears (this awfulness springs mind), but the disparity between him and C is ably demonstrated by the fact that those tears were almost exclusively because of the content that the appointment had brought up, not because of Paul doing something to hurt me or otherwise fuck me off.
I remember some of the comments I got from my readers when I wrote certain sessions. “Sorry, but ‘C’ stands for ‘cunt’,” stands out. “Just change his name to ‘Fucker’,” was also quite nice. I also had another therapist challenge his competence a couple of times (though in fairness, the said person and I disagree on the various models of therapy). Often I disagreed with everything that was said against him, and in many of the cases I still do. The point I’m making, though, is that my weariness of the man has not been something that new, not something sculpted by my relationship with Paul; there were always concerns there, and I wasn’t the only one to notice them either.
Of course, I was always encouraged by my interactions with him, even where they were negative ones. In a perverse sort of fashion, my willingness to scream abuse into his face was a sort of backhanded compliment; it meant I was comfortable showing my entire self with him (something I’ve still not done with Paul, though I have rarely felt the desire to). However, my optimism was based on my expectation that my treatment with C would last until it had yielded tangible results (and C’s lie in my discharge letter to NewVCB that “mindful breathing ha[d] had some impact” does most assuredly not count as a “tangible result”). And so that optimism was justifiably destroyed.
Someone said on the aforementioned mini-debate that my relationship with C only became toxic when the end of therapy was announced. This I agree with, despite my acknowledgement that the relationship was never properly ideal, and indeed herein lies my point about the hope that I’d formerly held vis a vis my relationship with him. The thing is, although I obviously never expected my time with him to be permanent (surely the point of therapy is to eventually not need therapy any more?!), I was given to believe that I would be treated until I was better – better, as far as I’m concerned, being defined as being functional in the real world (ie. with work, strangers, phones, leaving the house alone, yadda). The literature and even the relevant guidelines from the odious NICE are, again, clear on this. Given that I was at the time diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the Northern Ireland PD Strategy (essentially a rip-off of NICE’s PD recommendations) also applied. None of this was adhered to.
Partly it wasn’t his fault. Indeed, mainly it wasn’t his fault. It’s the pathetic bureaucracy and evil postcode lottery that is seen so disgustingly frequently across NHS mental health services, piles of shite that they are. C, however, kept alternating between saying “I support your complaint” and then whinging that it actually was he, not Mr Director-Person nor any of his minions, that had decided on the ending point. Granted, C had to take a decision within a certain framework and context, but his position on that decision and on my indignant response to it alternated wildly between Point A and Point Z.
Another issue is that he never seemed to take serious my (in my view entirely legitimate) concerns about how the end of therapy was likely to affect me, psychologically speaking. Reading through my notes has been particularly insightful in this particular regard; for example, each time I used the word re-traumatisation in session, he put the term in scare quotes, as if to suggest that the premature cessation of the therapy could not possibly really result in further trauma. But believe me – it did.
On the point of trauma, when I told him that NewVCB agreed that I had Complex PTSD, C was highly critical of the diagnosis, proclaiming that it was “controversial” (see?! I can do scare quotes too!). Possibly so – it’s not included in either the ICD nor the DSM, after all. However, it is used by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and anyway – Zen Buddhist crusader C had already stated that he was not a slave to “labels”, so surely a less “label”-ly, more personally appropriate diagnosis is superior to that of “a high functioning borderline personality”. Oh, wait a minute. It was…!dun dun dun!…C that described me as having “a high functioning borderline personality”. (Incidentally, he was incorrect. Because I was incapable of functioning in society, my intellect should not have come into his judgement; in reality, I was pretty low functioning at the time. So there).
So. Am I guilty of revisionism? Am I wearing the opposite of rose-tinted glasses (shit-stained glasses, perhaps?)? I don’t particularly think so, though one thing I accept is that now having had the services of a truly excellent therapist, I might be more open to seeing where C was at fault. However, well before I met Paul, I noted on this blog that I was, in fact, “better off without” C. I think what the key difference in my transgression to “meh, screw you” has been is simply not being in a complete thrall to the man any more. I can clearly see where he made dubious judgements, but by the same token I can also acknowledge that he did do some good things for me.
Perhaps I’m being pedantic, but the long and the short of things is simply this. We did some good work, some times. The work with C did, in fairness, gave me some sort of meaningful foundation on which I could later build with a proper trauma therapist like Paul. C is an extremely insightful man, and he’s actually a wonderful psychologist. I’m just not overly convinced that he is a wonderful clinical psychologist [sponsored link] (ie. therapist). I’m not saying that he wasn’t better in that capacity than those I’d seen before, or that he isn’t better than many therapists who dine on a menu of tiresome, generic behavioural techniques. He was, and he is. But then, being hit in the face with a tennis ball would be better for me than any of that.
He’s a nice enough man. I believe that he generally wanted the best for me, and we certainly ‘gelled’ together; there were times of humour and there was usually some rapport. But, other than allow me to trust
(and then distrust) him, thus giving me scope for further psychotherapeutic exploration, he didn’t actually do much. He didn’t do much other than hurt me, that is, surely the last thing that should be one’s enduring memory of a competent therapist.
OK, news. Yes. I was sitting minding my own business on Friday afternoon, when the menagerie in the kitchen starting behaving oddly. Mr Cat was so scared of something that he stopped eating his food. This is the domestic-tale equivalent of a super-massive blackhole sucking an entire universe into itself. It simply doesn’t happen more than once in a lifetime.
Ms Cat followed suit. This means that the super-massive blackhole had just sucked in a second entire universe (I’m a proponent of M Theory).
In genuine shock, I staggered to the kitchen. Nothing was out of the ordinary, though there were some weird noises in the back alleyway – something I thought nothing of, really, because there are a few things out the back that someone could have been working on. I went back to the living room and tried to coax the cowardly felines back to their dinner.
They refused to co-operate, which is much more in keeping with their general behaviour. I shrugged, and sat down to read something or other.
Something must have caught my attention out of the corner of my eye because I looked up without thinking, and there – looking in my fucking living room window – was some hoodied spide. Looking in. Talking on his fucking mobile, as if to relay the details of what he could see in my fucking house. He fled as soon as he saw me.
Rather than go after the cunt, I stared out the window in a sort of stupefied apprehension for a minute, then sent a message to A and asked him to come home. Then I went out the back, wondering perhaps if the cacophony that had scared the cats was perhaps connected. Our gate-door into the alley was open, so yeah. A correlation looked likely.
Fucking cunts. We were burgled in 2005 and lost quite a bit of stuff; as a result, and as a pre-requisite of a renewed insurance claim, we installed an expensive but sophisticated alarm system. These cheeky bastards were not only trying to break in despite this, they had the temerity not to check whether or not anyone was in!
Long story short (well, -ish), A came home, we secured things as best we could and eventually went out anyway. You can’t be a prisoner in your own home; we’d have to have gone out sooner or later, so why not make it sooner?
We went out for a bit on Saturday too. All was fine, and I wondered had I perhaps misinterpreted Friday’s events.
Cut to Sunday. A third universe was then destroyed by our friendly super-massive black hole because A and I decided to leave the house. This is almost unprecedented. A and I loathe Sundays so much that we almost always lock ourselves away in the house, trying to pretend that the rest of the world does not exist. This week, though, we decided to go out for a couple of pints and a meal. I think A was even more overwhelmed by Sunday-itis than normal, so yearned to ‘shake things up’ a bit. We left the house about 4.30pm.
At about 6.30pm, my mother called me on my mobile. Had I been in the house, I would almost certainly have ignored her, but something must have compelled me to answer on this occasion. She asked where I was; I told her, and asked why she cared.
“The alarm people called me,” she said. “They’ve been trying to get hold of you. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there’s a confirmed intruder.”
We got a taxi straight back, and found the cops awaiting our arrival. They were pleasant but useless. A SOC officer came out a bit later, and although he took prints, apparently the quality of them was utter shite. Not that I’d have expected to see the wee shites brought to justice, anyway.
The following was stolen:
- A’s Mac Mini
- My iPod
- Several video games
Mercifully, the cunts had spotted neither the Kindle nor the satnav, and Friday’s occurences had scared me enough into hiding the two laptops. I will always be grateful for that, at least.
Of course, the theft is only a secondary issue. What sucks most about burglary is the breaking and entering element of it. Knowing that someone you didn’t invite has been in your private property. That they have, sometimes intimately, examined your things and made judgements on their material worth without a thought towards sentimental value. Simply that someone stood there, in your home, your safe place, looking.
And this is particularly exacerbated in this case because they had been watching us. They knew I normally left the house on Friday afternoons to meet A (I was running late the other day). Then they knew that we’d uncharacteristically gone out on Sunday. They were watching us.
It almost makes my ongoing sort-of delusion
(legitimate belief) that GCHQ read this blog look tame. At least they’re not looking in my window at me (or maybe they are? Perhaps the spide was one of them. He donned a superlative disguise, if so).
Our living room door and the alley door-gate-thing need to be replaced, and frankly – since this is the second time in little over half-a-decade – we intend to move now. That, of course, will incur massive expenses, both in terms of doing our present house up to the extent where it won’t completely require potential buyers/renters to be fumigated afterwards and, of course, as regards getting and furnishing a new place.
All this when I am £950 overdrawn. Our plan had always been to move, but the plan was that this would take place when I was back at work. Now, we’re hoping to make it by the end of this year. I will help A with a new mortgage in whatever way I can, but it won’t be particularly significant until I have substantially more money coming in than I currently do. Still, I’m just grateful that this happened now, when at least I see working again as feasible in the medium-term, rather than, say, six months ago where it was distinctly a future-aspiration.
Practicalities aside, I have obviously been affected by this incident. On Sunday itself, A and I were both…I don’t know, numb with shock? Too confused and fed up to feel? For a while, it even seemed that it had hit A worse than me. My mood has been slowly dipping for about a week now, so I didn’t really notice any reactive change in it after the burglary…until, that is, last night.
A’s step-mother is a friend of a man who’s a very competent DIY maestro. A spoke to him yesterday evening about the replacement of the two doors, as well as improvements to the general look and maintenance of the house, and he is coming round on Friday morning.
A reports him to be “a lovely fella”, but as soon as I heard that I was to be his host, my body went mental at me. Shaking, breathlessness, nausea – you know the drill. Psychologically, my mind went into a spin of utter terror. This is entirely and completely ridiculous. I have met this man before, albeit briefly, and there is nothing to fear. Indeed, after greeting him, I can in all probability loll about upstairs reading A Song of Fire and Ice. But my bloody head won’t listen to its own rationalisations.
However, the worse was to come. In preparation for the DIY bloke, A started tidying the house. Long-term readers may recall how I reacted to similar before. Well, I reacted in the same fashion again. Poor A; as he rightly said, this needed to be done, but here I was – this stupid, childish, pathetic ball of quivering madness. Who in the name of all that is holy has a phobia of fucking tidying up, for fuck’s sake? Furthermore, who has a phobia of tidying up in the wake of a legitimate fear, namely burglary? I shock even myself.
But there’s something there. There are faint, peripheral stabs of familiarity in the fear. As with the last time this happened, I haven’t worked out exactly what they allude to as yet, and perhaps I never will. But it’s a ridiculous, completely impractical disability; I can’t go on living with it.
Every cloud, though. Although I took Zopiclone last night (as both of us had done in the immediate wake of the break-in on Sunday), otherwise I survived the panic attack without drugs. This, I think, is A Good Thing. Moreover, had the burglary happened in February or March when I was completely off my rocker, this set-back – and it is a set-back; I’m just not sure to what extent yet – would almost certainly have seen an express delivery of helium arriving at our door.
But for now, we’re OK. Both of us. We got through the last break-in, in which much more was stolen (though was, in a sense, less disturbing; we didn’t have the ‘protection’ of the alarm then), and we’ll get through this one too. If we do move as planned, the next six months will be some of the most stressful of my life, but I have the support of NewVCB and Christine, Paul again at some point, and – more importantly – my mother, our friends and of course the lovely A himself. I think my prognosis over the aforementioned timeframe is dubious to say the least, but it could certainly be a lot worse.
Christine tomorrow, though unless there’s anything outstandingly amazing about it, I shan’t write about it until another time (if at all). At least she can help deal with the fall-out of the burglary in some fashion…or such is my hope, anyhow.
Also, if you’re about tomorrow, don’t forget that I’m hosting this month’s Blog Carnival of Mental Health. See you there
Anyway. That was my news. You can go to bed now.
PS. Thank you so much to Counselor Careers for awarding Confessions, in common with several of my favourite mental health journals, a Top 50 Most Inspiring Mental Health Blog award! I still don’t get why this blog is deemed worthy of awards and recognitions, but I do sincerely appreciate that it is. So thank you, very much indeed.
Now, off to bed with you!
EDIT (Thursday 30 June): I corrected all the mistakes above, then the computer crashed on me and WordPress apparently failed to take an autosave. I cannot be arsed to go through this tripe again, so you’ll just have to live with the multitude of errors. Sorry.