Wasting One's Therapist's Time – C: Week 13

After my epic rant about Georgie and her familial cunts on Wednesday night / Thursday morning, I spent some time trying to calm myself by re-reading the DBT material from C. It wasn’t so much about finding coping techniques to deal with my anger, but I needed something tangible to distract myself, and since I hadn’t adequately prepared for Thursday’s session, it seemed appropriate to look at that.

I was surprised to find myself less sceptical than I had been.  Parts of it still profoundly annoyed me; the authors’ decision to constantly provide unnecessary and frankly patronising examples of their points is still the main irritation.  However, some of the distraction techniques are, I feel, valid, so I took a pen to it and re-annotated it with thoughts additional to those I had provided last week.

This is not to say my scepticism has vanished; that would be a lie.  Nevertheless, I feel my view is more balanced than it had been, so I hope that’s a good sign.

C thought it was, but I’ll come to that later.  In essence I am not really sure what the value of Thursday’s session was.  I don’t blame him for that, as I was in a frivolous mood and kept randomly laughing and grinning like a maniac.  C was keen to remind me that our relationship is dyadic and as such sessions are a co-construction, so I should not blame myself entirely for one that is less useful than others (indeed, C himself actually cracked a couple of jokes, but then I like this in some ways as it makes the psychotherapeutic process seem less difficult and hostile).  Someone else voiced the view that it’s really better that he sees me in all my moods anyway.  I accept these points but nevertheless I feel I should have taken it more seriously than I did at points.  Although I wouldn’t consciously have said this at the time, on reflection I think my odd mood was driving me to play mindgames with him.

This is a bit stupid.  Surely the last person, other than a psychic, with whom you should play mindgames is a trained clinical psychologist?

Anyway.  I shouldn’t be writing this as C has asked me to try and stop post-morteming everything.  Of course I am going to write it anyway.  I don’t so much see these reviews of C sessions as post-mortems, not in the self-berating sense that they usually are anyway.  I just want to remember what happened with him on a weekly basis and try and make some sense of it.  He keeps notes on me.  Why shouldn’t I keep notes on him?  The relationship seems less asymmetrical this way, but in a non-damaging way (because of course making the relationship more two-way can on occasion be dangerous; a reality revealed could be an understanding ruined).

500 words and I haven’t even started.  The discussion with C commenced with a review of last week’s psychiatric appointment.  He has not spoken to Dr C yet; she had left a message for him whilst he was out of the office, and when he returned her call she was out of the office.  He assured me he would get hold of her the day after our session (Friday), which is now yesterday.

He wanted to know how I felt the appointment had gone.  I thought long and hard about how to answer his question.  On the one hand, my visceral reaction was one of sheer negativity.  On the other, when I later analysed the appointment properly, it did not at all seem so bad.  Furthermore, I was aware that I had slagged off the NHS to C before and then castigated myself endlessly for fear that I had offended him.

But it would be pretty pointless to lie to him; not only would it fail to deal with matters of concern, he would see right through it anyway and it would be an unnecessary betrayal of his trust.  So I told him I had considered topping myself in the appointment’s aftermath, but that latterly, after thinking about it, I hadn’t felt it was really that bad.

I did lament for a while the fact that I had to provide yet another history of my problems to Dr N and Dr C – perhaps unsurprisingly, this led on to a rant about the failure of the NHS to utilise its considerable beaurocratic resources.  I then also complained that since the referral to Dr C had clearly come from C, that the one from Lovely GP would end up getting cross-wired and that I would then end up being invited for a second appointment.  At that point, I paused, and then starting apologising to C left, right and centre for engaging in flagellatory discourse against his employers and colleagues.

C briefly outlined the logistical procedures involved in the sharing of patients’ information amongst NHS professionals.  Basically they can’t share any written information without my direct consent.  I wanted to ask why Dr C had therefore not asked me directly if she could contact him, as I believe she would need written as well as verbal commentary for her files, but I let it pass.  He also stated categorically that there will not be an overlap in the referral process.  I hope his assurances prove to be correct.

C wanted to come back to the issue of my apologising but initially asked what it was I wanted of the psychiatrists.  I said I wanted adequate medication and a fucking diagnosis as, whilst I do fully accept that treating the symptoms of whatever it is I have is the most important thing, I feel a need to have a name for this.  I feel like I am owed it after all the pillar-to-posting of the past decade.  It will at least help me to deal with being mental if I know what form that mentalism takes.

C talked briefly about the medication angle, though I have no recollection now of the specifics of his words.  Then he said, “…and they may or may not give you a diagnosis.”

“May not?” I challenged, alarmed, raising my eyebrows.

C shifted uncomfortably.  “I don’t know,” he admitted.  “I’m not in a position to know what they will do.”

I felt sorry for C cos it’s not his fault.  So I told him that that was fair enough, and let it pass.  If Dr C does not diagnose me, then I will rant at her.  I don’t like her anyway.  Though on the other hand, I don’t want her to abandon me.  Dilemmas.

C returned to the issue of what he termed my self-lacerations when I kept apologising for being nasty about the NHS and in particular the terminology I had used when rationally considering the appointment with Dr C and Dr N (I had said something like, “what was wrong with it, you stupid fucking bitch?” apparently).

He asked why I was so angry at myself.  I said that I was not so much angry as mystified.  I couldn’t understand why I had reacted so badly to the psychiatric appointment, to my cousin’s birthday party, blah blah blah.  I said its lack of sense had later baffled me.  Rationally I can accept that madness just is – but what about parts of my brain have ever been rational?

C pondered this then stated that to him the word ‘mystified’ had connotations of curiosity, intellectual questioning, reasoning.  He felt though that I was exhibiting at least irritation at myself and was not simply just enquiring.

I said that I took his point, and again advised that I had a constant need to self-analyse and that it was partly for intellectual reasons.  I need something to stop my mind atrophying.

“You take my point?” C said.

“Yes,” I replied, puzzled at the question.

“You could be referring to anything,” he said.  “You talk about this stuff in abstract terms.  You want to avoid confronting emotional issues.  By intellectualising these matters you are at least in part trying to distance yourself from emotions.”

Astute observation, C.  I laughed in his face, told him that I thought the word ’emotion’ and its derivatives were ‘despicable’, and then smiled enigmatically at him.  It was meant to be seen as a challenge, I think.

He proceeded by reminding me that I am a dichotomy, largely of my own choosing; I try desperately to suppress ’emotion’ then fall about in a panicky, incoherent train-wreck.  I conceded that this was correct, and told him about my awe on the North Coast at the weekend nearly turning me into a gibbering mess.

C asked why it was wrong to feel awe and wonder at the beauty of nature.  I told him that it was not wrong to feel that, but to feel it as strongly as I had done was surely unusual, and my anecdotal observations suggested strongly to me that ‘normal’ people didn’t collapse in a mess.

I monologued briefly about my competing emotions that day.  Apparently I said, “they should reconcile the two competing sides of their personality,” or words to that effect.

“They?” he queried.

“I meant ‘I’,” I said, honestly, then dismissed the matter and talked on about the day a bit more.  But he wanted to explore this verbal typo.

“I find your use of the word ‘they’ interesting,” he told me.  “Do you think its indicative of competing sides of your personality?”

“It was a slip of the tongue,” I replied, trying not to laugh.  “Have you gone all Freudian on me?”

“Slips of the tongue can be interesting, though.  They can be revelatory, and yes, I suppose that is a Fruedian idea – but I think it’s a valid one especially in your case.  But this is not psychoanalysis, you know.”

“I know,” I said.

“How do you feel about me telling you that?” he inquired.

I thought this was a bizarre question.  I knew it wasn’t psychoanalysis, so why should I react to him simply stating that?

I decided to turn it back on him.  “How do you think I should react?”

I was slightly disappointed to find that he was able to answer promptly and calmly, thus clearly having anticipated such a question.  He was concerned, apparently, by his reminding me that our therapy was not psychoanalytic that I would be worried about bringing up references to Freud etc.  I advised C that I was not thus worried; I had simply interpreted his comment as a statement of fact and had not upset myself over it.  I felt quite pleased that he seemed reassured by this.

In any case, the discussion returned to my suppression of my ’emotions’.  C drew attention to the terminology I had used in relation to the issue, such as the word ‘pathetic’.

Both of us lost our trains of thought when he chortled slightly, raised his eyebrows and said, “You’d love me to psychoanalyse that.”  For some reason, this small joke sent me into convulsions.  Sometimes I love C.

In any case, C stressed that emotions are as integral to our personalities as thoughts, relationships, blah blah.  He said that I need to stop over-intellectualising everything to avoid having to deal with them.  I admitted it all becomes too much for me sometimes, but then burst out laughing.

Poor C was puzzled.  I explained I was in a frivolous mood and kept apologising to him for wasting his time.

“Look, you’re doing it again,” he said.  “Self-lacerating.  Just tell me how it feels.”

I couldn’t enunciate exactly how it felt to be ‘frivolous’ – it just is – so I ignored the question and simply told him why I believed I was in such a mood.  “I had a rough night last night,” I said.  “I believe it’s a coping mechanism.”

That’s probably a load of psychobabble crap, but I couldn’t think of any other reason.  I had printed out my blog from Wednesday night and read extracts from it to him.  As I did so, I seethed again.  C conceded that I was under unfair pressure from my family to feel something that I didn’t feel and that I frankly have good reason not to feel.  I told him I would rather be bitter for the rest of eternity than succumb to G’s suggestions regarding V.

He said, in my view in an almost despairing fashion, “the whole thing is a tragic situation.”

I shrugged.  “I’m not the first child to be abandoned by their father.  My mother wasn’t the first woman to be beaten and raped by her husband.  My reactions are sheer self-indulgence.”

“There’s that self-criticism again,” C said.  “Is there anyone you can discuss these matters with outside here?”

I said that my first instinct when I saw the email from G was to forward it to A and D and then broadcast it to the world along with a customary rant.  He asked could I speak to my mother about how I ‘felt’.  I emphatically told him that that was out of the question, but as it happens I did later have a go at her, but I’ll maybe discuss that some other time.  The point I was making was that it is not appropriate for her to know the full extent of V’s impact on my life, as she will blame herself.  However, I am quite willing to point out to her that her conspiratorial email discussions are not just wholly inappropriate but deeply offensive.

Anyhow, I told him I was not prepared to behave in an emotional fashion in front of my mother, and indeed that I didn’t really want to do so in front of anyone.

“But you have expressed emotion here,” he probed.

“Yes, but as I have already stated, it is largely curbed.  You remember our earlier conversations on this matter,” I pointed out.

“Those in which you admitted that you protect me at times,” he pondered.

I recalled that he had asked me during said discussions if I felt he was incapable of dealing with me, so I took the opportunity to stress that I did not feel this in any way.  I told him that I supposed the matter was two-fold: on the one hand, it was complete self-interest as I would hate to be embarrassed about my behaviour in front of him, thus leading to endless post-morteming (as if there wasn’t enough of that already).  The second issue was borne out of altruism, though; I did not want to contaminate someone else’s mind with my reality.

He asked if I always post-mortem my sessions with him, which given so much of the writing on this diary seems a hilarious question.  Again, I turned it back on him, challenging him to tell me what he thought the answer was.

“I imagine you do,” he responded.  I was actually surprised that he did answer the question.

He went on to say that, whilst he appreciated the significant difficulty of doing so, could I try and stop post-morteming things.  Obviously you can tell what a success that has been.  I grinned like a maniac as he spoke, and eventually he asked why.  I said that I would try to stop (ha) but that I could not honestly conceive of it being likely, not at this stage anyway.

C accepted that, but said we will have to spend some time discussing ways to help stop it, as if reinforces all my self-criticism (not necessarily my post-morteming of my sessions with him, but in more general terms).

There were literally about three minutes of the allocated time remaining, and we hadn’t discussed the mood chart, the DBT and the discussion I had wanted to instigate regarding Marcus, all because I had rambled on about fuck all.  I briefly brought up the issue of DBT in response to his remarks about my self-castigation.  He asked me what I had thought of it.

I told him that he probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I had mixed feelings on the material, but I was keen to make clear to him that I wasn’t entirely dismissive of it.  A lot of my annotations had been very critical, and I had corrected the American English therein (sorry American readers – I’m just an anal twat Irish-Brit).  I pre-empted any worrying he might have done (that he almost certainly would not have done, let’s be honest) by stating that although I had written cynical remarks all over the stuff, I didn’t want him to be of the view that I thought it was all horseshit.  I said that I did genuinely opine that there was some potentially useful stuff included in the material.

C was concerned that my taking the time to so emphatically state that he was not to take my critical remarks entirely seriously was a further example of my protecting him, but nevertheless seemed really pleased that I had filled in the charts and the ‘distraction plan’.  He seemed pleased that I had “evidently spent a lot of time on it” and said that in fact he was glad my approach wasn’t polarised either for or against the technique(s) as it was healthy to have a balanced view; to recognise faults is natural and prevents the belief that the stuff is a miracle cure, yet to be too cynical would lead to a bias against it that would prevent it working properly anyway and would thus be self-defeating.

C said he would photocopy my sheets so he could read through my responses before next week.  I apologised for wasting his time and not getting time to discuss the mood chart and Marcus with him.

C pulled me up on the self-criticism yet again and pointed out that the situation was a co-construction.  Yet our plan had been to formulate our own take on the mood chart and discuss the DBT, and I had failed to allow us to explore that.

Still, never mind.  Better he sees me in all my weird and wonderful moods than not.


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3 thoughts on “Wasting One's Therapist's Time – C: Week 13

  1. For something you describe as frivolous and a waste that sounds like a fairly full therapy session to me.

    Mine tend to have huge gaps of nothingness when I seem to go into my own wee world – last time I found that I was curled up on the seat sucking my thumb which freaked me out somewhat – dunno if it’s disociation or just general weirdness but I can’t remember a lot of what goes on. Which is odd but then I get to read yours so I can make mine up 😉

    Take care sweetie xxx

  2. DBT is a great tool. I really learned a lot from finding out about the tools. Radical Acceptance is my favorite. It seems you did a good job with emotion regulation, but yes, I would agree, you seem fairly intelligent. DBT–Imagery is a lot of fun too!

    I’d love you to check out my blog, need smart minds to contribute.

    http://manicviolet.wordpress.com

    Best Wishes,

    Mea

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