Posted by lucie lu on November 24, 2008, at 22:14:33
In reply to Re: a therapy survey- » lucie lu, posted by twinleaf on November 24, 2008, at 18:48:01
> That was a wonderful description of what therapy has done for you, lucie. You may have posted this somewhere, but how long have you been with your present therapist? I'm curious also, if you want to say, what things came first- was it attachment, trust, or dealing with painful affect and getting better regulated? Actually, I'm sure they were all happening at once, but was there a particular thing that happened early on that made you realize you were with the right person and going to get better?
Thanks, twinleaf. Those are good questions. I've been seeing him for 6 years. I liked him from the start because he seemed so gentle and quietly respectful, and very calm. That was good for me since I was anything but calm. (I'd be so agitated sometimes, I would literally pace in his office during our sessions, couldn't sit still.) So that was the first positive factor, that his demeanor calmed me down. The second was that early on he established a pattern of encouraging me to call him whenever I felt I needed to, and he'd always call back reasonably promptly. This started to establish a sense of safety for me since I was really emotionally unregulated and frequently seemed to be having one crisis after another. So this started the attachment process but it was really insecure. Another problem was that between my dissociating and lack of internal order, I had trouble achieving any sort of continuity between sessions. I couldn't hold onto our connection between sessions either. We went from once to twice a week, which helped enormously. I think that's when the real therapy began (it was year 3 by then). One of the first things we worked on was developing my boundaries, e.g. I was feeling other family member's pain far too much to be of use to anyone. We continued doing therapy around a lot of issues, e.g. object constancy, but my emotional dysregulation and mood lability (bipolar 2) was still a very big problem, especially given my themes of loss. My T finally suggested that my pdoc add a mood stabilizer, and that ended up making a huge difference. Then we really could work on mood regulation and affect toleration. With that piece in place, therapy was no longer quite so acutely activating/painful and I could start learning to take risks, including to really try trusting him. You wouldn't believe how much work that took... We then worked a lot on my fragmented sense of self and trauma issues - this definitely followed the mood stabilization and better life functioning in general, which had to be done first. We worked through some very painful issues around loss, but I was able to tolerate it. Gradually my trust and sense of self grew enough that my inner world started to comfortably include other people. My inner world had long been populated with shadowy figures who milled around in my head, never seeing me or making any contact; I was really pretty people-phobic. I remember so clearly when that changed in my head. I started having all these "revelations" about what "normal" life might feel like, about rejoining the human race (now the figures in my head at least say hi :) There were other milestones, too - realizing that I no longer felt like a donut, that I finally had a solid emotional center. And that I could be upset and not capsize, and I could tolerate intense feelings without panic and worrying that it would never end. I feel different inside, steadier, calmer, more integrated. I have been a much better parent and partner - we spent a lot of time working on that too, particularly when my kids really needed me a lot. We're still working on new areas but it's so different now - more like "regular" therapy, where you have a problem, you go talk to someone, and you solve it and go home :) Nothing like the early days. But we are now very close and there's a lot of mutual trust and caring. Something funny - I felt like a teen-ager inside when I started therapy. Now I feel like a woman my chronological age (mid-fifties). So I really did grow up in therapy. I find that remarkable.
I don't remember there ever being a point when I knew I was going to make it, be healed. I still have some important issues remaining to work through. But I guess I do now have that confidence in him and me, that whatever needs to be worked on, we'll somehow get through it.
Sorry to give such a long-winded reply :)