YESTERDAY I WENT TO THERAPY. YES I DECIDED THAT RATHER THAN END IT AND DIE, I’D CHOOSE TO GO TO THERAPY AND SPEND TIME TALKING WITH EILEEN. SO I DID.
WHEN I GOT THERE I HAD TO FILL UP A FORM TO ALLOW THE ORGANISATION WHO FUNDS OUR THERAPY TO SPEAK WITH EILEEN AND OTHERS INVOLVING OUR CARE, THAT WAS EASY. THEN CAME THE HARD PART, WHERE I ACTUALLY HAD TO TALK AND TELL HER WHAT WAS GOING ON. I TOOK A DEEP BREATH AND WENT FOR IT.
I TOLD HER I’D BEEN SUICIDAL ON SUNDAY NIGHT. THAT I WANTED TO DIE. THAT I COULDNT TAKE ANY MORE OF MY THOUGHTS, OR OF LIFE IN GENERAL. THAT MY HEAD WAS SWIMMING AND I HATED HOW I FELT AND I WANTED OUT OF MY HEAD. SHE LISTENED. AND SHE ASKED ME TO EXPLAIN MY THOUGHT PROCESSES A LITTLE BIT MORE.
I TOLD HER THERE WAS TWO OPPOSING VIEWS. AN OVERWHELMED PART OF ME, AND A NUMB PART. SO THEN SHE ASKED ME
“CAN YOU STEP BACK AND BE SEPARATE FROM THE TWO PARTS? THESE ARE PARTS OF YOU, TRY TO STEP BACK AND ALLOW YOURSELF SOME SPACE AND THEN WE CAN HEAR FROM THESE PARTS”
SO I DID THAT. ALL OF A SUDDEN I SAW A ROOM. IT LOOKED LIKE A LONG SQUARE ROOM, WITH A COUCH IN IT, AND GLASS WINDOWS. I COULD SEE MYSELF STANDING ON ONE SIDE OF THE GLASS, AND THE TWO PARTS OF ME WERE INSIDE THE GLASS. I TOLD EILEEN THIS AND SHE SAID WE’D GO WITH THAT. SO WE DID.
WE DID SOME EMDR, AND SHE HAD ME TELL HER WHAT I SAW. WHAT I SAW WAS A LITTLE GIRL, ABOUT SIX YEARS OLD. SHE LOOKED LOST AND ALONE. SHE LOOKED SCARED. HER EYES WERE GLASSY AND SHE WAS CRYING. EILEEN ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO GO AND COMFORT HER AND AT FIRST I DIDNT. AT FIRST I TOTALLY RESISTEED IT. BUT EILEEN PROMISED THAT SHE’D BE WITH ME IF I WENT INSIDE THE ROOM. THAT IF THINGS WERE TOO OVERWHELMING I COULD COME BACK OUT AGAIN. SO I DECIDED TO GO IN, GO OVER TO HER, AND PUT MY ARM AROUND HER. LIKE I SAID SHE LOOKED TO BE AROUND SIX. SO I WENT IN AND I FOUND HER AND BEGAN COMFORTING HER. I FELT LIKE SHE NEEDED SOMEONE OLDER TO REASSURE HER, AND THAT PERSON WAS ME. THEN EILEEN SAID
“THIS IS YOU AT A YOUNGER AGE, YOU ARE HER ALL GROWN UP”
OH MY GOD. I WANTED TO CRY. ALL OF A SUDDEN I FELT A HUGE LOSS. LIKE LOSS AS IN I FELT HER SENSE OF ALONENESS AND HER NEED FOR LOVE, FOR CARE, FOR CONNECTION. AND I SAID TO EILEEN
“I SHOULD HAVE HAD THAT GROWING UP! AND I DIDNT. AND IT HURTS. I DESERVED TO FEEL LIKE MY NEEDS WERE BEING MET. INSTEAD THEY WERENT AND I WAS BEING HURT.”
EILEEN REACHED OVER AND TOUCHED MY ARM.
“ITS OK LIZ, SHE SAID SOFTLY. ITS OK TO FEEL THIS WAY. YOUR DOING GREAT. YOUHAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL THIS WAY.”
I REALLY WANTED TO CRY BUT I DIDNT DO THAT. I FELT MYSELF BECOMING ANGRY BOTH BECAUSE I WANTED TO CRY AND DIDNT WANT TO ALLOW MYSELF TO DO IT, AND BECAUSE MY NEEDS HADNT BEEN MET GROWING UP. I TALKED TO EILEEN ABOUT MY FAMILY FOR A WHILE. ABOUT HOW MY LITTLE SISTER WAS ALWAYS SHIELDED FROM EVERYTHING AND HOW I WASNT. HOW WE HAD TO CARRY THE WEIGHT OF EVERYTHING GROWING UP, ABOUT OUR DADS DRINKING, WHEN THERE WOULD BE ARGUMENTS AT HOME, WHEN THE ABUSE CAME OUT AND IT WAS KEPT ALL HUSH HUSH, EILEEN AGREED.
“YES SHE SAID. THAT IS A VERY VALID POINT. SHE WAS SHIELDED FROM SO MUCH, AND YOU WERENT.”
WE DID SOME MORE EMDR THEN AND WORKED WITH ALL THE FEELINGS THAT ALL THIS INFO BROUGHT UP. IT WAS A HARD SESSION. BUT I HAVE TO SAY I FELT ALL THE BETTER AFTER IT. EILEEN SAID I DID GREAT AND WE GOT A LOT OF HARD AND IMPORTANT WORK DONE. I TALKED TO HER ABOUT HOW WE’D DISCONNECTED LAST WEEK. SHE SAID ITS THE NATURE OF RELATIONSHIPS AND SOMETIMES IT HAPPENS BECAUSE SOMETHINGS RUNNING IN THE BACKGROUND, BUT THAT THEN WE FLAG IT AND IT GOES AWAY AGAIN AND THE CONNECTION COMES BACK. I SAID I HATED IT WHEN WE WERE DISCONNECTED, AND SHE SAID SHE KNEW THAT, AND HAD GOTTEN EMAILS DURING THE WEEK FROM YOUNGER PARTS ABOUT IT TOO.
I’M REALLY REALLY GLAD I DIDNT KILL MYSELF AND DECIDED TO GO TO THERAPY INSTEAD.
This week we were really apprensive about therapy. To be honest we did not want to go. We were very resistant and in a grumpy mood and were procrastinating about getting dressed, putting on our shoes, and leaving to goto therapy. But we did go and it turned out to be ok. We started off by telling Eileen that we felt resistant and didnt really feel like talking about anything. She asked me what part was feeling like that. She told me to just sit back and wait for the part that felt like that to say why it was they felt that way, and if they didnt want to or couldnt that it was ok, that we’d just invite them to express their feelings about why. So I did, and eventually after a few minutes of silence some opinions started emerging from different parts. Basically it boiled down to the fact that after last weeks session where we talked about the whole getting better thing and what getting better means to us that whole conversation led to a lot of internal chaos and panic and just general anxiousness and unease. So eileen decided that maybe we could park that for a while and just not talk about getting better or discuss it. She did say that therapy is not a linear process and that its more of a journey and its not a straight line and you dont jump through certain hoops to get well and stay well. That we’d always be working on that and relapse was ok and even necessary sometimes. I sure was glad to hear her say that, it felt like a relief that she didnt think one way about it. I did ask her if she ever felt like she was sorry that she started working with us, but she said no never. That she sees us as not just a person with a complex illness, but that she actually thinks of us as a person first, before she thinks of us having the did. That also felt like she was really validating us and I felt much better when I heard her say that. We got on then to talking about Dr Barry and how last week she had asked me if I had goals in therapy, what are they, do I need to talk to Eileen about them, and make new goals, and how I felt uneasy and unhappy answering her questions, but I also felt obliged to answer her so I did. I talked about how it felt hard when I felt like sometimes I have two therapists in both having Eileen as my therapist, and Dr Barry as my psychiatrist, but whom I also do kinda do therapy with her sometimes as we talk avbout abuse and the past and trauma and stuff. Eileen said it must feel confusing to be stuck in the middle of both of them and I said yes it is, that I want to do the right thing by both of them, that I dont want to disappoint either of them ever. She asked me if I thought I’d be able to talk to Dr Barry about it and I said I didnt know if I could. So we decided if I felt up to it I could try and if I didnt then to just leave it. Then I talked about boundaries and about how sometimes we wished Eileen would tell us more about her life and stuff outside of therapy. But I said how I knew that it probably wasnt a good thing if she was to do that, that it was probably unhealthy and not the right thing to do. She said its important that the therapy is about me and us and i said I knew that but that it makes her more real when she discusses her own life and interests and stuff. She said she understood this and that she knows a lot of our past experiences have been where other people therapist and professionals have made it about them instead of about us. And how she doesnt want to repeat that pattern. I love her for that. She said she thinks I’ve really been exploring my therapy and relationship with her this week and thats perfectly ok and she’s glad we talked about it. All too soon the session ended and we were leaving to go home. Of course my taxi was late so that frustrated me and I was starting to stress about it. But in the end it came and I got home and everything was good. I did tell Eileen how last night the kids were wanting to text her but how I stopped them because it was late and I thought she might be in bed and I didnt want to give her a fright. She said we could always email her if it was very late and the kids wanted to talk and texting wasnt an option. So I said ok we’d do that. I’m so glad I did go to therapy and we had a productive session and I got a lot out of it.
I thought tonight I’d write about our therapy journey and our experiences of being in therapy. We’ve been in therapy since age 17. It all started with a hospitalisation when we were 17 for acute stress disorder, it was during that hospitalisation that we disclosed some about our abuse and a psychiatrist was contacted and diagnosed us with major depression and ptsd. It was our first ever experience of seeing someone for mental health related issues. After the hospitalisation we kept on seeing the female psychiatrist for about 10 months as an outpatient. She put us on meds and she got us a therapist. However we didnt really click with the therapist. Her name was Eileen, but its not the eileen we see right now. It was a different Eileen. At the time when we went into therapy we were also struggling with anorexia and she would weigh us much to our annoyance. We hated being weighed, which is one reason why we did not get along. We saw that Eileen for about 8 or 9 months, but we did not really get anywhere with her, to be honest I dont know why we kept on going. I could say we were young and didnt know what we needed, didnt know better etc. Eventually our then psychiatrist said we’d recovered enough to stop seeing the therapist and just stay on our meds. Of course that did not last long. We were I’d say a year without any help for our issues and then the shit really hit and we were back getting help again. This time we went to a specialist place for survivors of abuse. We started working with a wonderful therapist named Attracta. She was so caring, kind, compassionate, and we clicked with her and grew to really like her. We disclosed a lot to her and it was actually initially her who diagnosed us with the did. Of course we had a psychiatrist assess us too back then and she came with us for the assessment and it was then that they diagnosed us did. Our insiders had talked to her in session, were sending emails to her, and disclosing bits and pieces about the abuse. Back then our host Shirley was around too and she really had a lot of input in the therapy too. But we did not continue with Attracta long term, she decided that she had lost her objectivity around our case and so she decided to refer us to Margaret who was a colleague of hers. It was devastating to lose attracta as we’d placed so much trust in her. We were really suicidal after therapy ended and we attempted suicide six months later. We started seeing Margaret and we found her to be totally different from attracta. She was quite cold and distant and would do things like prepare for us coming in, for example she would not come get us herself from the waiting room, she had a secretary from the office bring us to her and when I challenged her on this she said she needed time to prepare and ground herself before our session. I never could understand that if I am honest. We stuck with her though for about a year and a half. She did lots of tests on us, she was a psychologist so was able to do the testing, we did lots of depression scales, dissociative experience scale, somatoform disorder tests, other did related tests, etc. After I ended therapy with her I was able to get all of my notes and results of those tests which made for very interesting reading. I was also able to get all of my session notes from both her and attracta. The thing about that place was it was run by the HSE which is a government body so they had to keep very detailed records. I’m glad I was able to get them. It helped a lot. After ending therapy with Margaret I took a short break and then I started with Coleen. Coleen was a breath of fresh air. She was very creative and did not only do talk therapy but did play therapy, art therapy etc as well. When she figured out we had did she did lots of things to accomodate insiders, such as reading to the littles, doing play therapy and art therapy with us too as well as the regular talk therapy. We really liked her and we were with her for 2 years. We would have stayed with her but in 2005 we went back to college and the times didnt suit us and coleen was cutting down on her hours so we decided that we’d finish up with her much to our disappointment. She found us someone else but unfortunately she wasnt very good. The new person pat worked from a psycho analytic approach which was not what we were used to and did not suit us at all. So we were not comfortable and only continued seeing her for about 2 or 3 months. Then a turn of events happened which led up to us being hospitalised in a psych unit for a month. After that first hospitalisation we were without a therapist and it stayed like that for almost a year. For that year we weere in and out of hospital all the time, and overdosing constantly, doing things to harm ourselves or hurt ourselves, it was a nightmare. Eventually in March of 2007 I knew I needed to do something because we were not getting any better. So I rang a specialist organisation and asked them to find me a therapist or I’d end up dead. They found me joan. Joan was a psychologist and psychotherapist. She was a good therapist but had very lose boundaries. She did a lot for us though and I do think she saved our life. She was accepting of the did and got to know a lot of the insiders in our system. She was instramental in us getting a did diagnosis from did experts in 2010. She helped us to make that happen so that we could continue to get the funding for our therapy. What made us leave joan after four and a half years was one day when liz whose one of our insiders talked about severe abuse and her memories of it and Joan changed the subject on her and it really hurt liz. We tried to salvage the relationship but after that we just didnt feel safe any longer. So after six weeks of trying to rebuild our relationship we left. I’d called Coleen and asked her if she still practiced, and after some talking we went back to her and were back with her for 18 months. She was still her amazing self and was very good to us even visiting us in hospital when we had the cancer scare. She was always so attentive to the littles. But I knew I needed a specialist in trauma, and someone who treated did. I didnt think I’d find someone as this is Ireland and did is so rare to begin with and I did not believe there would be anyone who specialised in treating it. But I did a search and I found Eileen. Initially when I found her and read her profile it said she’d worked as a psych nurse for 27 years, and that she treated trauma and personality disorders. Obviously she did a lot more too and worked with a lot more than that but on that basis I emailed her and we talked. And thats how I came to my current therapist. I’ve now been with her almost 3 years. I can honestly say I think I’ll be with her for a long time to come. Its been an amazing 3 years. She has helped us so much with inner communication, we’ve done EMDR, we’ve worked on so many issues. Out of all of the other therapists I had I think Coleen was the best and if I hadnt have been able to find Eileen I probably would have continued to see Coleen. So that my friends is our journey through the last 17 years of therapy. Its certainly been an intense one.
So this week when we saw Dr Barry, I talked to her about the fact that every time someone says I am improving, it triggers us. Its like we have this huge fear aroud it. We think it means a loss of our support system, and that has been so helpful that we couldnt bear to lose any of it. Dr Barry said it means much more than just that we’re doing better. She said the work we’ve been doing with Eileen is so important, and how she sees so many positive changes in us this past year. And its not just that we’ve stayed out of the hospital for a year. It is much more than that. She says we need to internalise peopls positive comments about us. She said she can see the huge conflict we’re having with it. How much we’re struggling with people saying nice things to us. Its like because we’re just used to people being negative about us, from past experiences of that, from our early life experiences, and then also from other professionals over the years saying we’re too complex, too needy, too sick to treat us, to mentally unwell, its like now if anyone says otherwise to us we’re on edge, on guard, etc. Its really a horrible place to be in. Dr Barry said clearly its effecting us as its come up for us during her appointments a lot over the past number of weeks. Even during our last therapy session, we had to talk about the challenges around being told we’re improving and getting better. Its like working out what getting better means for us. And thats hard. I’m glad Dr Barry understands the dilemma we’re in. It helps that she’s so understanding and stuff. We’re trying to take on board what she said about internaling positive messages and comments from other people. I gave her some writing that we’d written over the past couple of months, 3 pieces of writing. She said she’d read it during the week and give me some feedback next week in our session.
This week therapy was tough. We talked about me not having a sense of self. Because I feel I dont. I always worry about everyone else inside, how they are, what they need, what they like dont like, and I neglect what I want, like and dont like, need etc. So we talked for a while about my sense of self. And then Eileen had me think about it a little bit. And I couldnt really do it. I was struggling with that. She told me to think about the core of my being, and I kept feeling child like. She said that that was probably another part, and she asked me if it was ok if that part stepped back and gave me space to work with this. So I tried again. Then all of a sudden it hit me. A sense of knowing, a sense of feeling authoratitive, like I could accomplish things, Eileen said it was a sense of “I can look after myself, I know what I need, etc”. She said this was my sense of self. Someone who is able to take care of things and of us. We worked with the pulsers then. She had me tell her how I was feeling in my body, and how I was experiencing this. That part was hard. But I did it. When we finished I felt very happy and like I knew myself a little bit better. It felt good.