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Adult Survivors of Bullying

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Hi, I was wondering if there were any adult survivors of bullying here? What impact did it have on you? Do you still battle any demons?

I was bullied for 27 years and am always looking to talk to other survivors out there. I was curious if there were any here?

Take Care,

Elizabeth

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I suppose I qualify for this. I used to get the crap beaten out of me on a semi-regular basis by neighborhood kids as a school-boy. It sucked. Did you see my essay on this topic, "The Long Term Effects of Bullying" on the main site by any chance? A ton of people have responded there.

My bullying experience has made me quicker to anger than I think I would have been otherwise. It has also increased my awareness of being vulnerable in the world too, I'm pretty sure. I recall the day in 2003 when the second Iraq war began. I was watching CNN with a family member. He was excited by the site of the tanks rolling along - at the expression of military might that those tanks represented. He seemed to identify with those soldiers and that might. I did too but in quite a different way. My first thought was of all the veterans-to-be who were going to get emotionally wrecked with PTSD based on having to be there in that combat. I identified with victims-to-be I think in part because of my past experience. Having been subjected to some violence makes it so that it is harder to see a sword and not think of the double edge having the potential to cut back at you.

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I was bullied as a kid. I just blogged about some of it, in fact. The bullying, along with other truma has more or left left me a mess of an adult. I have much anger that the adults in my life never intervened. And never very trusting in social situations. Even decades later. >sigh<

I'll be following this thread. It's of high interest to me.

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Hello Everyone :)

I think a lot of people who hurt others are often in a lot of pain themselves and desperately need loving. What better way to defeat bullying than to embrace it with affection ... I think of it as 'proactive positive reciprocity'.

I don't believe in punishing bullies as I'm not sure what it accomplishes. Two wrongs don't make a right.

It's wrong to hurt people. Period.

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I was bullied from 1st grade through high school. I think I was a vulnerable target because my parents divorced when I was in 1st grade. High school was more tolerable because I was just a social outcast then, and I worked hard to get good grades.

All I can say is that it has affected me all my life, mostly with depression. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in 2nd grade and I still suffer today. I can't seem to handle it well when people treat me badly - I get such powerful feelings of helplessness and rage. I know it's bad to react with rage, so I just go home and lose sleep over it and get more depressed. It is a real struggle for me to overcome it. I read the article on the bullying, and it gave me hope that I can learn how to see myself differently (not as a pathetic loser,) and how I can react differently when people do nasty things.

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I can relate completely. In adult survivors, PTSD and depression are highly common. Also, the lack of trust in social situations. I can relate to all of it.

This is why I feel it is so important to call this what it is: ABUSE. The term bullying, in my opinion, minimizes the problem. Its like saying "your feelings are not valid. What you experienced is not valid." It is getting to where the term enrages me, you know? Everyone calls it bullying and I know its the term we all know. However, it just seems to minimilize the problem, IMO.

Mark, I will check out that link. Thanks.

Birdonthewire, I would be interested in reading your blog. I blog myself on this subject.

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I think in my case, my life was more affected by my _perception_ that I had been, or was maybe going to be, bullied. There were a few real incidents, but then I ... adapted. I didn't become a follower of a bully; it didn't go that far. But I became ... acquiescent ... when someone attacked people around me. I can remember being grateful, watching someone "pants" a friend of mine, that it wasn't me. I recognize this as a mild form of "survivior's guilt" ...

At that age (middle to high school), I thought of myself as a pacifist, that no amount of provocation was worth a physical fight.

Some years later, after high school graduation, I was working in a drug store when a younger co-worker, a current football player at the old high school, began to taunt me. I quietly suggested, at the end of that day, that we go out behind the store to solve the problem, because it was interfering with a job I wanted to keep. Like most bullies, he didn't take me up on the idea.

What he didn't know is that, despite the differences in our sizes, I'm quite sure I'd have killed him, or died trying. That taught me a little about what I might be capable of.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi malign,

What a great way to describe it: "collateral damage." Yes, even if someone may not have been directly abused, witnessing it does produce "collateral damage."

Allan:)

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It's called the Flying Scottsman. It's about this man, Graeme Obree, who becomes the fastest cyclist in the world by building a revolutionary bike in his garage. He's very driven to prove himself and he suffers from depression. The movies starts out with a young Graeme being bullied - his father buys him a bicycle that helps him to flee the bullies. The bullies grow up to become complete losers who resent Graeme's success. When Graeme suffers a setback in his career, one of the bullies goes to him and tells him how worthless he is, which spurs Graeme to try to commit suicide - it shows how much power the bullies still had over him. When Graeme finally goes to couseling, he opens up about how the bullying made him feel worthless.

I homeschool my kids because the school they are zoned for is notorious for bullies. Both of my kids have grown up to be completely awesome, and they often volunteer for community service projects. Sometimes people will criticize me and asked about socialization. I just reply with,"Yeah, is is healthy socialization when you're made to feel worthless because you don't wear $100 jeans or sneakers? Is it healthy socialization when you're scared to death of getting beat up simply because there's something different about you? Or because you look like a good target because you look "weak"?! The kids who thrive in school are the bossy extroverts. God help the kids who are sensitive and intelligent, or who end up on the bottom of the totem pole because of bad luck. . .

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Hi everyone, I was just reading this thread and thought I'd reply, because I am also an adult who was bullied as a child, all the way through high school. I was slapped around, called names and put down by a number of people. Even as an adult I have had people single me out. For example, I was at a water park with my son and his girlfriend several years ago. We were in the wave pool having an enjoyable time when my sons girlfriend told me that there was a father and son behind me who were flinging dead bugs at me. I turned and looked the father in the eye. Of course he looked away and went about his business. The guy had to be 40yo, and his son, a teenager. I could not believe at my age and the father's age, that this was happening. I have been depressed all my life, my self esteem is as low as it could possibly be and I have no confidence in myself whatsoever. I believe this is the result of all the bullying I experienced through my life. I was hospitalized for depression twice within the past 3 months and am currently attending the PHP Program through the hospital I was in most recently, not to mention the other times I've been hospitalized. I have been struggeling with major depression for so many years. I know all the things the therapists tell me I need to do, like stopping the negetive thoughts, and replacing them with positive ones. Well, I am in such a bad way that I can't tell myself positive things about me, because I simply don't believe them, and would be lying to myself. I don't feel like I am equal to other people and that there is definately something wrong with me. I can't deal with people putting me down or talking behind my back. Whenever there are people around me whispering to one another, I always assume they are talking about me. As a result, I get embarassed and ashamed and just want to run away. In my mind, because of the bullying, I truly believe I am worthless. Whoever said bullies should not be punished..............must have never dealt with it themselves. It is so hurtful and can be so damaging. I know this is kind of long and I apologise for that, but reading this thread really hit a nerve. I just wanted to tell my story and hopefully make people aware of how much damage bullying can do to a person.

Edited by ohsosad

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Hi!

My name is EvaLis and I´m new here. I´m 36 years old and I´m from Sweden.

Boy do I know what it´s like to be bullied! During my whole time in school I was bullied and it has affected me so much as an adult. I´ve looked down on myself and have been thinking that I´m stupid, sleazy, ugly and fat. Well, I am overweight but looking down on yourself because of it doesn´t make you thinner. In my early teens I had suicidethoughts and I showed in school pretty often how I felt. I cut class a lot of times and didn´t do homework and stuff like that. As an adult I´ve sometimes overcrawed hearing that I´m intelligent and not ugly and stuff like that. I have a diagnosis of personalitydisorder without further specification with strokes of schizotypal personalitydisorder. I also have generalized angstsyndrome. I don´t know if you know it but part of schizotypal personalitydisorder is a vivid imagination. I started having having that already as a child and was critizised for not paying attention in class and for leaving lessions when I wanted to. Or at least that was the way it was interpretted by my teacher.

Maybe I wasn´t everything the other kids were. I was differrent. I wasn´t into sweet sugarpop music, makeup and fashion. I liked heavy metal, didn´t wear makeup that often and didn´t wear fashionable clothes. I had a punk hairdo for a while. But that still doesn´t justify the way the other kids treated me It doesn´t jusitfy getting a stone thrown in my head, getting slapped, being called names and getting to hear how stupid I was! And if we cannot teach our kids to respect each other´s differrences in school we cannot expect them to do so outside of school!:mad::mad:

With love:

EvaLis.

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Hello Evalis, and everyone else. I'm sorry you also were treated badly as a child. It is a horrible way to grow up and yes, it does so much damage. They have so many support groups out there, I think there should be one for people who were bullied and were always affected by it. It always seem that when us survivers of bullying seek professional help for our problems, they want to just grow up and get past it. Unfortunately it is not that easy. When a person has been put down and pushed around all they're lives, how are we to just get over it and move on? I know I haven't been able to do it. I am 53 years old and have been told by nemerous therapists that I am an adult now, and I need to grow up about it. They didn't say it in those exact words, but that's what they meant. They allow us to tell what happened to us, and they they want it left in the past. They don't want o spend any amount of time discussing it. When we tell them that our partnt/parents verbally abused us, that all we hear from them is that our parents did the best the could do, knowing what they knew. I'm really pretty sick of it! We need to talk about it! We need to be heard! We need to be able to discuss it when we are troubled by what happened to us!

I don't mean to ramble on about it, but this has been, and still is, a huge problem for me. I don't think the professionals understand. I don't think they have any clue as to how badly bullying and verbal abuse can affect a person through all of they're lives. They don't seem to realize that telling them one time what happened to us, does not heal all wounds. It may help at the time and maybe for a while after, but it always comes back to haunt us. (at least in my case it does) I wonder, do others feel the same way I do? Does the bullying you experienced as a child still affect you the way it does me?

If it does, I would really like to hear from you. Thanks to all who take the time to read this post, and to those who reply to it. I wish you well and hope we can all find the help we need to work through the problems we are experiencing.

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I was bullied and humiliated by my peers since I can remember up to late teenage. Sometimes also teachers and adults humiliated or despised me. To say that it has influenced my life is like saying that the A-bomb did influence the architectonic morphology of Hiroshima on a certain day of August 1945. I hope I'll find the will to write again about it, but just writing this is awakening such a rage and bad feelings that I prefer to stop for now.

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When a person has been put down and pushed around all they're lives, how are we to just get over it and move on? I know I haven't been able to do it. I am 53 years old and have been told by nemerous therapists that I am an adult now, and I need to grow up about it. They didn't say it in those exact words, but that's what they meant. They allow us to tell what happened to us, and they they want it left in the past. They don't want o spend any amount of time discussing it.

OhSoSad,

I think a lot of people can relate to other people, including therapists, not understanding. I've been a therapist for people who have told me to my face that I don't understand, and I cannot disagree with them in many cases. But I think it is important to hear the message of a therapist who suggests in so many words to leave the past in the past not as the attack or invalidation that it feels like to you, but rather as advice for a way to move forward in a practical manner. Whether or not you can figure out a way to do that is another question, but it doesn't make it bad advice.

As I think about it for a moment, doesn't this dynamic you're describing sound like the typical dialog that is supposed to be characteristic of men and women talking? The stereotypical woman is talking in order to share an experience and is hoping in response for some empathy. The stereotypical man responds by trying to solve the problem - by offering suggestions for what to do to fix things - rather than by simply listening and reflecting back an understanding of the pain that is being expressed.

It isn't wrong to try to fix a problem by offering practical solution for helping to keep that problem from occurring again in the future, but people don't respond well to it when they don't first feel understood and validated. Ideally, a therapist will be attuned enough so that problem solving suggestions won't be made before this basic trust and validation has been achieved, but we live in the real world where even well intentioned people can let you down sometimes. If you have the strength and the wherewithall, it is perfectly appropriate to tell the therapist that you are feeling invalidated by the approach he or she is taking, and to ask for what you need. Not everyone can do this, of course, but it's okay to do it if you can and feel the need.

Mark

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Hello everyone,

Thanks for your replies. Almost, I know the pain you are feeling. It really is sad that other people can make us feel so horrible about ourselves. I hope one day we can both get past what has been done to us. I don't know if thats possible, but I do hope and pray that it is. I am in the process of looking for a new therapist. When I find one I feel comfortable with, I will discuss this problem with her. I have only seen two therapists in the past, but they both play down what other people have done to me.

Mark, I know and understand what you are saying, and I wish I could just put it in the past and move forward. The fact is, I haven't been able to do that. I have tried, but the memories and the horrible feelings keep coming back. I have a great need for someone to tell me that I didn't deserve the treatment I recieved from others, and that I have been done wrong by them. It isn't all in the past either, It still happens. (the abuse) My self esteem has been so damaged by these people that I feel that I don't have it in me to challenge them. Perhaps one problem is that it hasen't stopped. It is so hard to try to challenge the things people do and say, and when it is still happening, it makes it almost impossible.

When a therapist tells me that it is in the past and I'm an adult now, I feel like they are telling me, "You are acting like a child! Stop it and grow up!".

I guess I am angry because I totally believe that if I had been raised by loving and nuturing parents, and hadn't been put down by so many others throughout my life, I would be a totally different person today. These people have messed me up so badly. I can not help believing everything these people said to me are true. That is all I've heard. I was never praised for anything or told that I was capable and worthy. Instead, I was told that I'm a "good for nothing". Thats just one of the things I grew up hearing.

I might sound like I'm wining here, but that is not what I am doing. I guess I'm trying to get people to understand what the affects are to someone who has been bullied all they're lives. I know there is nothing I can do to change the past. I know that only I can change what I think and feel. I just need someone to help me do these things, without constantly telling me that I am responsable, because I didn't challenge these people and just blow off all the negetive things they have said to me. I have not been able to just blow it off. If I could, I wouldn't have the problems I have today. I need help from someone who understands. Someone who will admit that I was done wrong. Someone who won't tell me, "they did the best they could with what they knew". I need to be able to talk about what I'm feeling and why I'm feeling that way, when this problem comes back again. Cause there will be times throughout my life when all these feelings come up again.

I am not saying that a session with a therapist should be two people sitting there beating up on all the people who have harmed us. I'm just saying they need to at least appear to be understanding of what we are feeling and let us talk it out. If we can't talk it out as we need to, and feel like we are being understood, how can we ever get past it and move on? I know this post is pretty long so I thank anyone who takes the time to read it.

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I have a great need for someone to tell me that I didn't deserve the treatment I recieved from others, and that I have been done wrong by them.

This sort of self-knowledge is very useful! If you know you need this, you can ask for it explicitly. Instead of having what sounds like somewhat of a passive exchange with your therapist where s/he tries to offer you a suggestion about moving on, and you get sulky, could it be possible for you to be able to say to her/him, "You know, that's not what I need to hear right now. I need to hear that my pain and suffering is legitimate, and when you say what you've said, I hear it as you telling me that it isn't legitimate".

that's probably a lot to ask you to do, but could that sort of thing occur? If not, what would prevent you from being able to ask for what you need?

I hear you about the need to establish the *right* to your pain before you have the energy to address the pain itself. Do you have any ideas about why it might be difficult to believe fundamentally that your pain is justified? That you are not just a whiner?

IN my essay on shame, I think I wrote about the importance of people's awareness of themselves as a social object in relationship to their beliefs about themselves. There are two basic stances - you can look at yourself from the inside out, perceiving your needs, and viewing other people around you as social objects, or you can look at yourself from the outside in, perceiving yourself as a social object and perceiving the needs of those who are judging you. I think you may be stuck/wedged/jammed in the later stance, and unable to view yourself from your own perspective. Fundamentally, you maybe have never learned or forgotten how to be

"selfish" in a healthy way that allows you to get in touch with your own needs, giving them more precedence than the needs of those who judge you. Does this make any sense?

If it does, and this is the case that you look at yourself like someone outside yourself might, then the remedy is to start having yourself take on the other perspective. And we can talk about how to go about doing that.

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Mark,

Thank you for you replies. They are greatly appreciated! I am not really sure why it's hard for me to think and feel like I am justified in the way I feel. Maybe it's because I believe that all the negative things that have been said to me as a child and as an adult are true. I guess I feel like I must deserve the negetive treatment I have gotten. I don't feel like a equal to others. I've been diagonosed with Social Anxiety, chronic major depression, and as a child I did very poorly in school. I have always felt like I was stupid. My grades were terrible in school, but all my teachers passed me on the the next grade because I did my work and I tried. (this is what they told my parents) As I get older, my memory is getting worse, which isn't helping at all. To sum it all up, I feel stupid, I feel like I don't amount to anything, and think that because of these things, I don't feel worthy of respect. I know I am a good caring person, burt outside of that, I feel like I just don't measure up to others.

I have talked to two different Psychiatrists about the possibility that I may have ADD. They both totally blew off the idea. They say that depression causes a lot of the same symptoms. Becuase I am depressed, they blame the symptoms on that. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I've recently lost my job and I'm currently recieving short term disability. The reason I lost the job is because it required me to be on my feet all day, and due to severe osteoarthritis in my knees and feet, I can no longer do the job. I've only worked in retail throughout my life and now that I can't do that, I'm lost. For me to work now, I would need a job where I would be sitting at least most of the day. Unfortunately, I never went to college. I have no special training of any kind outside of entry level retail work. I have looked for jobs in the past that would not require having to be on my feet all day, and most jobs I wasn't qualified for, or if I was, I went on the interview and was never called back from any of them.

My problem is not just that I think negetively about myself and my capabilities. There actually is a problem. I don't know if it could be ADD, or if there could be some other problem. I just know that learning is very difficult for me and it takes me so much longer to learn things than it does other people.

My learning difficulties, along with all the bullying I have experienced, has left me struggling just to get through the days, weeks, months and years.

I don't believe I am just a "winer". You are right in some of the things you said in your reply. I did forget, or perhaps never learned to be "selfish". I guess that's beacuse, as I mentioned earlier, I don't feel worthy. I could try to care for myeslf instead of everyone else, but I honestly don't know what it is I need to do to take care of my needs. I don't know how or where to get the kind of help I need. This is a big part of my problem. I get frustrated when I do try, because it never seems to work out. If you have any suggestions or advice, I would really appreciate it! Thanks for your time and attention Mard!

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finding my way,

My depression has been keeping me from enjoying much of anything, but typically, when my depression isn't so bad, I usually enjoy being on the computer playing a game, doing a jigsaw puzzle, emailing, or surfing. I was recently hospitalized for depression. While I was there, I attended occupational therapy. A few days a week in that group, we did woodworking. I did terrible working with stain, but I really enjoyed painting the projects I chose to work on. I love to shop, but since loosing my job, I don't have money to shop with. I enjoy reading, when I can find a book that will keep me interested. The problem with that is, I don't retain what I read. That is pretty discouriging.

I really don't have any hobbies. I have not been able to find anything to do that I enjoy and doesn't cost much money. I have thought about volunteer work, but due too my arthritis, It would have to be something where I could be sitting most of the time. I will be looking into that though. That's about it, really.

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"...I enjoy reading, when I can find a book that will keep me interested. The problem with that is, I don't retain what I read. That is pretty discouriging.

I really don't have any hobbies. I have not been able to find anything to do that I enjoy and doesn't cost much money. I have thought about volunteer work, but due too my arthritis, It would have to be something where I could be sitting most of the time. I will be looking into that though."

Hi, ohsosad. Well, I know exactly how you feel. And the fact that friends/family don’t like to hear a “re-hash” of the past is definitely something I can identify with. I thought I was doing so well just to be able to talk about it, not lie about it or invent stories of a childhood I’d never had! Heh. It was funny, because once I stopped being ashamed and started talking about it, I REALLY started talking about it.

I, too, sometimes compare myself to others, or imagine they’re better off for having a better, richer upbringing. I’ve worked my way out of it now, but I used to be very angry. The truth is—much as I hate to admit, because in a way, what I went through is what makes me special—is that almost everyone has their share of muck to wade through. It’s their own personal brand…totally unique, but it’s muck alright. Even the “noodle salad” people described in “As Good As It Gets,” who didn’t do any muck-wading: that’s a disadvantage in itself, because when something horrid or traumatic does happen, their world ends.

The thing about not retaining what you read…. You’re assuming other people read or do things better than you do. The point (and believe me, I know how hard this is) is to just do it to find your own enjoyment, regardless of what you think your ability or lack thereof is. Then you might find yourself getting good at something you didn’t expect. But you can’t start off with an attitude of self-punishment, because you might have to apply yourself for a while, and that would be torture if you couldn’t find the enjoyment.

See, having fun is hard when you’ve been picked on, because you go through life feeling like you have to pay some great penance, like you actually deserved what happened to you. I realized one day that for me it was an attempt to make the universe more fair: by making myself deserving of what I’d gone through. As a child, it’s the only thing that makes sense, and it kind of carries over into adulthood.

To a certain extent, though, we become what we fear. That’s why a lot of us bullied adults don’t seem to have very involved lives, because a lot of our hesitance carried over from childhood. We’re afraid to try new things, so we don’t (that’s what my extremely-long excerpt from my journal was about).

A lot of it is just forcing yourself to do what you fear…what doesn’t come naturally to you. That’s where the rebellion comes into play for me: I think, jeez, why should I go through more torture and force myself to do something uncomfortable? I’m the one who got picked on, and I have to do MORE work? It’s just not fair.

Of course, if I ran the universe, everyone who was ever bullied by their parents or peers would immediately win the lottery. Twice.

But it’s really true: life isn’t fair, at least not in the sense that everything gets automatically handed to you. That’s why it’s so important to leave the past behind you, and if you figure out how to do that, please let me know. :(

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Something else: you should give yourself credit for making it through what you’ve been through and acknowledge just how CHALLENGING it’s been. I can sense that for you, your age and the fact that you’re still struggling with this, even now, is a source of shame.

I can identify with that. Few people understand just how much of a chore it is. But here’s the other side of that coin: you can’t let your age be an excuse, either. I’m running into that myself right now, thinking, “What’s the point? I’m only going back to school now, and I’m 30. Other people are finishing, and they’re in their twenties!”

It’s really easy to compare yourself to other people. But have you ever noticed how you don’t compare yourself to a double-amputee?

Edited by 2002to2009

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Hi 2002-2009,

I really wish I knew how to leave the past behind and move on. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that. I'm trying to find out by communication with people here at MantalHelp.net, reading self help books and talking to my therapist about it.

I think it's great that you are going back to school! Good for you! I have thought about that myself quite often over the past 10 years or so. I haven't done it because I don't believe I would succeed at it. I have a lot of trouble remembering and it's so hard for me to learn new things at this point in my life. (Learning was always difficult for me, but even more so now that I am older) Actually, I haven't thought about going back to school at all recently, because I need to concentrate on getting better right now. My depression and the problems that trigger it, have to be addressed before I can even think about something like that.

Writing here and reading the replies is definately helping! Reading the replies to my threads has been very thought provoking. It has gotten me thinking about a lot of things. I'm finding that communicating with people here on the site, has brought things to mind that I need to discuss in therapy. I realized that I seem to be more open here than I am in threapy. That's probablly because on here we are enonomous. (don't know if I spelled that right, lol)

It would be very hard for me to sit face to face with someone and tell them these things about me. I'm thinking that I should sit down and write them out, and take it with me On Tuesday when I see my therapist. The only thing I'm unsure of right now is that I am seriously thinking about finding a new therapist. So I'm not sure if I should do this with my the one I am seeing now, or wait until I know if I will be seeing someone else. If I do change therapists, it will happen very soon. I plan to talk to the one I see now on Tuesday, about the reasons I'm considering switching to someone else. After talking to her about it, I will be able to make a decision. If anyone has any thoughts about this, I'd appreciate hearing what they are.

Thanks to everyong who has read and replied to my threads! It is very much appreciated!

Edited by ohsosad

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Well, OSS, I think writing stuff down before your therapy sessions is a great idea. I remember that really helping me. Number one, it helped me think. Two, it allowed me to say things I was way too shy to speak out loud. How things have changed, though. Today, I would have absolutely no problem saying I "loathed" my Dad, but I can remember a therapy sessions years ago in which the only way I could communicate that was to write it down. One pointer, though, for what it's worth: if a positive thought comes along while you're writing, don't resist it...write it down too.

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