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In Shock

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I really, really hate it when something bad happens on a Friday. It's always something that just has to sit with you until Monday. There's not a damn thing you can do about it. So here I am trying to get my thoughts down, partly just to organize them, but partly to see if there might be any comments that would provide a solution or some relief.

Some time last week I was just commenting in somebody's thread about how damaging labels can be. I even went so far as to say I'm so grateful to my therapist for NOT labeling me. He knows I have self-diagnosed as BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and he's never ever indicated that he agrees with me. Well, on Friday, he basically brought up the BPD label and said this type of therapy (Psychoanalysis) may not work for me, at least not in the time frame that I want. Now he expects therapy to take 10 - 20 years, not the 2 - 6 he originally talked about. I'm currently at the end of year 1. When I asked how long he'd been thinking that, he said, "Over the past few weeks, increasingly so". So that just put me into a state of total shock. I was speechless. I felt like I could barely breathe. First reaction is that he's given up on me. He's lost faith that he can help.

Maybe he honestly feels some other therapy would be more beneficial - but we didn't get into that. Maybe he had faith while he didn't apply BPD to me and now that he has, the conviction is gone. Then I had the thought that I've pushed him to pick a really long timeline to get me off the "it's not working" discussion, or the "I think we can be closer to 2 than 6 years" wishful thinking that I sometimes throw at him. I mean, there's absolutely no sense whatsoever in talking time frames if it's going to get into the 10 - 20 years he's talking about, which I consider in the realm of the absurd. In 20 years, he'll be over 80 for God's sake, and I'll be pushing 70 - just in time for real serious aches and pains of old age to set in. I find chronic pain and happiness to be mutually exclusive. So a pretty scary scenario.

Or maybe he just thinks I'm wasting his time. Why treat a virtually untreatable patient? But I'd thought the opinion had changed on BPD over the past 20 years. I'd thought the condition WAS treatable. DBT, CBT, Psychoanalysis are the therapies most often mentioned. I read something about 'Schema Therapy' today, which seemed to put recovery in about the 4 year time frame.

Or maybe my ongoing divorce is simply frustrating every effort to help. Over the top paranoia about just how badly my ex wants to wipe me out/ruin my life/be dependant on me. It feels like a form of blackmail. I've been advised that I have to be nice to 'that type of person' or he'll get even meaner. At least until the paper's signed - so I have no way to vent to the person I really need to vent to until the paper's signed giving me my freedom. For six months, I've felt like final resolution has been just around the corner. But something always trips it up and I must deal with another roadblock that is out of my control. I hope to God it is this issue that is 'causing' my lack of progress in therapy. Because then at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Some people around me think that's what is causing it. I've worried about it before. I gave up on CBT because of it. The feeling that a few days after the paper's signed, I will have a 'miraculous' recovery. What would the recovery be due to? Freedom or the therapist? My bet was on freedom at the time. One would feel a whole lot better once a person's ability to blackmail you into poverty is taken away right? But I ended up in therapy again because things got so much worse again. SI started to show up. Emotions that were off the charts painful. Wiping me out to the point of literally not being able to function unless forced to and then only the most basic of things.

I think that the over-the-top paranoia, rage and sheer utter hopelessness will at least subside once I have my freedom. Perhaps I've put too much emphasis on a little piece of paper being signed. But symbols are alive and well in the psyche and if a document that says 'you will never be beholden to or have to support or have to give up any more to this man ever again under any circumstances' represents freedom to me, then it stands to reason that I will feel like I am a subservient slave until then. Kind of like an ongoing trauma, caught in a beartrap. The thought has crossed my mind more than once that cutting may be symbolic of 'chewing one's foot off' to get away.

Then my other thought is that I've annoyed my therapist and he's reacting by issuing me an ultimatum. I have never doubted my ability to rub others the wrong way such that they end up wanting to get away from me. He says I keep expecting him to "Do something". Not really. Just show me how to get with the program. If there's something I'm doing or not doing that I need to do, then tell me. What should be happening at this stage, end of year one, end of "getting to know you" stage? If it's "nothing, don't expect anything at this stage, it's still too early", then tell me. If something should have been happening by now, what is the roadblock. If you don't know or can't guess, then what are the typical causes of stalling? Throw me a bone. Don't just throw something out that is so gut wrenching that it cannot possibly be perceived as anything but an ultimatum: Suffer for 10 - 20 years or leave and go do something else. How else would one perceive this? Shock therapy?

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I only know the most minimal ins and outs of your story Athena, but what I feel I can say is that your therapist took a year to conclude that HE was wrong about HIS judgement for your treatment, and HE is now telling you so a year later? So YOU can assume that if HE can be so wildly innacurate once, then the potential for HIM to be wildly innacurate again must increase exponentially, due to HIS own erroneous conclusions.

So take heart... I know his words must have felt crippling, but don't waste your energy in despair! Use it wisely to get a second opinion.

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I'm sorry, Athena... I understand how shocking, frustrating and annoying it has to be... :(

I also have the feeling that you first of all need the end of the divorce and then you can see how it will affect you. I presume that it will be as you (and others) say, but I also know (only from literature) that after such a big relief, a depression can sometimes come - but I don't want to make you afraid, I just don't want to hide the possible negative aspects that I see. However, it seems to me that deciding about this therapy (or beginning another one) would be quite absurd before the end of the divorce process.

I know the feeling when you want your therapist "to tell you..." and he doesn't!

I'll try to "answer" some of your questions based on my experiences:

If there's something I'm doing or not doing that I need to do, then tell me. What should be happening at this stage, end of year one, end of "getting to know you" stage? If it's "nothing, don't expect anything at this stage, it's still too early", then tell me. If something should have been happening by now, what is the roadblock.

- In therapy (of this kind), there isn't almost anything you "should" or "shouldn't" do. And in your life? That's different, of course, but in this case, a therapist cannot tell you what you "need/should" to do - he cannot "give directions to your life, decisions". In the end of my therapy, when we talked a bit about something, he told me something like: "I couldn't tell you "Don't do that!", because I may not take responsibility for your life, your decisions. Moreover, you needed to find out yourself that you shouldn't do it, you needed to go through all the long process of recognizing that it's not good and why it's not good and take your own decision." ... Athena, I don't think this would take 10-20 years in your case :D...

- There is nothing that "should be happening at the end of year one". Each therapy is different! And I wouldn't call it "end of "getting to know you" stage" - he always keeps getting to know you, there is no "end" ;).

I wish you to work it out soon with him. And... mainly with your damned husband... :(

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Guest SomethingOrOther

Hi Athena,

I think you made a good list of things to discuss with your therapist next time and this will hopefully clear up what he meant to say. It seems a bit vage to me to talk about a 20 year therapy, and the explanation is missing, while the BPD label came in suddenly and would probably have warranted it's own discussion. I'm sure he can give you more of an explanation for this change of outlook.

If you have BPD, you know it's worth being careful with feelings of abandonment, since they can come up easily.

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Jai, Katey, Lala, Pseud, SOO,

Thank you all so much for your comments. I didn't get notification until this morning that anybody responded and last night I just felt the need to hear something, anything. It's just as well I saw nothing until this morning though as I had a couple of nightmares that clarified something I had suspected. I'm not ready to give up on HIM. I did have a strong bond with him at one point, stronger than I've ever felt with anybody ever. For those few weeks all my relationships improved dramatically. So I believe he can help me, if we can just get on the right track. I have read other people's posts here who talk of a "rage" inside them. They all seem to have a particularly hard time in therapy. I've got it in spades, mostly due to my inability to obtain my freedom, as well as triggers that in any way, shape or form remind me of that. I think it is a very counterproductive emotion. Who wants to be in the presence of a bomb going off?

Lala: thanks for the 'wait til after the divorce' advice. I think I have come to that conclusion as well. Perhaps I need to view my therapist in a supportive role until then, just to get me through. Not expect so much, just a kind, accepting, patient individual. Funny thing that I am thinking just now - 2 weeks ago I told my Naturopath a little more about my emotional state and also that the supplements he's giving me don't seem to be working AT ALL. He agreed that they probably CAN'T work right now as I still feel I'm in some kind of on-going PTSD from the never-ending proceedings. Although the threats have stopped, I am hypervigilant and take every delay as a precursor to a doomsday scenario. So he completely changed the regimen. And...They actually started working. So at least physically I feel better these days.

Pseud: I have considered that perhaps I have given him a skewed picture. Lately I have only really told him what is NOT working, not what is. Maybe I'll take some time and write a list of things that HAVE improved. I can imagine that it would be pretty hard to remain interested in a patient where your every effort appears to be in vain. And thanks for the vote of confidence re: you have seen some change in me.

SOO: You have hit at the reason why I am 'In Shock". A feeling of complete, utter abandonment and loss. And this has led to my feeling betrayed, wondering if he really is only "just like the rest", would drop me like a dirty shirt, is tired of me, has some ulterior motive, etc, etc. That damn black and white 'splitting' again. You're good until you turn evil. You're evil until you turn good. One or the other. Never a mix at the same time. Never a complete human being. I haven't completely gone that way yet. I just feel the distrust welling up in me. Only a few days ago he told me part of the benefit of therapy is that he 'stays with me'. Then this hits and feels like the opposite. I don't think he'd play head games with me to stir things up, but I've been so closed in lately, maybe he got desperate. I wouldn't doubt that he may have done it on a subconscious level even.

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I see your progress, too!!! ;) (In moments you don't, you can read some of your old posts ;)...)

Maybe he wanted you to experience this kind of situation with him - now you can discuss the feelings of abandonment etc. - maybe it's a good opportunity.

Perhaps I need to view my therapist in a supportive role until then, just to get me through. Not expect so much, just a kind, accepting, patient individual.

I like this attitude! :)

They actually started working. So at least physically I feel better these days.


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Thanks for the vote of confidence too, Lala.

Strangely I feel like so much has changed since Friday. I found myself reading up on various disorders again, almost trying to pretend I'm OK, that I've "just got a lot on my plate" as my GP and a few others have suggested. It almost seems as if I am trying to seem 'not so bad' so that my therapist will have more faith in my ability to recover. After all, how is even a normal person supposed to react when they suffer from years of emotional abuse and manipulation, lose their house, half their savings, their job, their physical health, frequently receive threats to 'take the kids away' and threats to take half my income for the next 12 years be it disability or employment income. Plus a nightmare situation that comes up every year which threatens to wipe out whatever I have left after all this anyway.

I found out many of the symptoms of BPD are similar to C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) and the causes of both are very similar. And although I have always suffered from feelings of isolation, emptiness, rejection, abandonment, low self esteem etc, etc - they weren't debilitating until the past few years when several crises hit me all at the same time. Anyway, somehow C-PTSD doesn't seem to have the same stigma associated with it. At least people diagnosed with it are not tarred with the labels 'uncooperative', 'manipulative', 'difficult', 'virtually untreatable'. I really don't believe I fit any of these descriptions, although I do fear the last one may be true.

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Well, I saw my therapist yesterday with great foreboding. I had even wondered if my kids' therapist had put him up to forcing DBT on me. (they had not). Three nights on 50 mg Seroquel helped. It's not something I like long-term because it wipes me out but it's helpful for major anxiety.

So we basically just discussed everything on this thread with him. He was NOT trying to get rid of me, just trying to 'tell me to be realistic'. It had come up because of things I was projecting into him and he was starting to believe that I was right about what I consider my very bleak future. So he was basically 'feeling' himself the intensity of my emotions (when this happens, a therapist is supposed to stand back and figure out what is really going on, not get convinced by the patient). Then, since timing had been part of the topic of discussion on Friday, he chose that time to bring it up. He didn't mean to label me BPD, only brought up the fact that I already recognized I had many of the causes and symptoms and that I already knew it was not easy to treat. I just read here C-PTSD can be years to 'lifetime' to treat because of the ingrained nature of the memories. So I guess he's not way off (he agreed with me that BPD and C-PTSD are very similar).

Anyway, as neither of us find 'length of treatment' very helpful as at the end of the day it mostly just a guess, we agreed to throw all discussion of timing out the window. He admits that I could be right on the shorter timeframe, but felt compelled to warn me that it may take quite a bit longer. But that doesn't mean decades of misery. My guess is I will get 50% better a few months after the divorce papers are signed (but am careful not to get my hopes up too much). Then the real work can continue (begin?) without the overhang of divorce periodically wiping out several weeks of progress, as happens now.

I knew the session could go one of several ways - prelude to it ending, tortuous indecision or re-commitment to the process. It ended up as the latter, which was apparently what I was hoping for. I was so relieved after the session, and so much pent-up energy was dissipated, I just lay down and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Knowing that he is still with me makes a world of difference. I now appreciate that a lot more than I did before. I feel like I can talk and think clearly again about the real issues with him. That had been becoming next to impossible lately. So, I suppose maybe a rather large net gain after the unintended 'freak me out' session.

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