Disappointment & Rejection – An Entry About Coping With Negative Experiences

I didn’t have counselling last week as D. was away. It’s been ok, anyway, but it is nice to know that you have that set time that is there just for you to vent whatever you need to vent.

Not only was there no counselling last week, but Dev has been away, also, and is not returning until late on Friday.

So, I’ve been on my own. Which is always a bit of a worry. Not so much because I don’t like being on my own, I actually do, but, well, leaving me on my own with my thoughts for too long can sometimes lead to me getting stuck in a thought pattern which isn’t necessarily healthy for me. I’d say that I have been able to take quite a big step away from becoming directly destructive, but I still, on occasion, end up allowing my thoughts to roam a little too freely. While I was at the women’s crisis centre earlier this year I learned various different distraction techniques, and have become pretty good at using them as my coping strategy when I feel myself slipping. And yet, being on my own – I think it’s a good idea to be aware that I am still recovering from a very severe depression.

The week has actually gone quite well. I’m back to working, which is incredibly exciting, and at the same time very very tiring. It’s amazing how unfit you become, workwise, from being off work for six months. I get home from work and I’m absolutely knackered. Usually I’ll just make myself something nice and easy to eat and stumble into bed, somtimes being able to read for about an hour before falling asleep, but more often not. In fact, yesterday, when I started doing a load of laundry after work, I found myself struggling to stay awake until the cycle had finished. Luckily my friend Bobbi gave me a ring, so she kept me awake, and then I managed to squeeze in another quick call with a friend from back home before dozing off.

Now, I said that the week has gone well, and in general that’s pretty accurate. Having said that, I did have a pretty big downer on Monday. As I’ve told you I had my assessment for psychotherapy a couple of weeks ago. Well, on Monday I was asked to come down to my local community care centre, to meet with S., my care co-ordinator, and Dr J., who I did the assessment with.

Said and done. Come eleven o’clock I rushed from work to make it in time to the meeting at eleven thirty. S. greeted me in the waiting area and lead me to a tiny and very hot room. Dr J. was already there as was some psychiatrist or other from the community care centre. Unlike the last time we met, Dr. J was the one who first spoke. She made a bit of waltzing around before telling me that they had – after careful consideration – reached the conclusion that at this point in time psychotherapy would not be right for me. That, looking at my history, I’m simply too high risk to be put through it. Basically, they felt that therapy might stir up emotions in me that I haven’t got the means to handle.

So, I said exactly what I felt – that it was a huge disappointment and that it felt incredibly unfair that I was being denied the help that I genuinely feel is right for me, and that I can’t prove to them that I am able to handle it, since I won’t be given that opportunity. I also pointed out that I have completely stopped self-harming and that I’m only on a very low dose of anti-depressants, compared to earlier in the year when I was impulsively hurting myself and was taking a very high dose of an SSRI.

Naturally I knew that this would by no means sway the decision that had been made, but I felt it was important to make it clear that I disagreed with it, and that I feel that psychotherapy would be more helpful than harmful to me.

In the meeting it also emerged that Dr J. had not actually talked to D. before making her decision. This feels especially unfair since S. has only been my care co-ordinator for a very short time and we’ve only met three times, and D. actually knows me a lot better, and has also seen for herself how I manage both my counselling and the week between the sessions.

Needless to say I left the meeting feeling pretty downbeat.
I was meant to return to work, but decided in the end that I was too upset and needed time to take this all in.

I went home feeling very tearful and bundled myself into bed, where I reached for the phone and called up the Samaritans’ helpline. I got to talk to this really lovely woman who encouraged me to keep calling back throughout the day and evening to make sure I didn’t lapse too far into my thoughts.

Next I called S. They had said, as the meeting ended, that they’d want to keep in close contact with me to make sure I was able to cope with the disappointment. She told me to come on over to the community care centre again so we could talk face to face.

So, I did. And it was pretty good. I still felt rather low, but it helped to at least be able to talk about how I felt.

I should probably point out here that all of this in itself is pretty solid proof that I’m moving in the right direction. Had this happened earlier in my life, I would without a doubt have felt suicidal, and instead of calling the Samaritans I’d likely have got my razorblades out. And there is absolutely no way that I’d have picked up the phone to S.

Also, I would have shut down emotionally. I would not have allowed myself to stay in the moment for long enough to even identify all the things I was feeling, whereas now I was able to tell S. exactly how I was feeling and pinpoint that it was without doubt the feeling of being rejected that I struggled the most with.

I made it through the rest of the day and evening by calling a number of different helplines and talking to my sister. I never felt that I was in any real danger of becoming physically or mentally destructive, but I did make a conscious decision to not hold back on the way I was feeling, but explore it and express it as best I could and to be aware of any drastic changes in the intensity of my emotions.

And when morning came round I was ready to go to work.

This is not to say that I’m not still very disappointed – I most definitely am – but at the same time I want to make sure that I properly acknowledge the fact that I found a way to manage this let down that was positive and will hopefully eventually prove to the powers that be that I am capable of controlling my negative impulses.

I’m not sure what will happen next, and that does worry me. A lot. A few of my friends have suggested that I go to a private therapist, but in all fairness, I think that looking at my papers they would also make the decision that I’m too high-risk and would likely be unwilling to take me on.

Unless you actually know me you probably wouldn’t be able to see how far I’ve come and how radically my view on life has changed. Looking at the papers it will probably look like We’ve been here before – she says she’s better and then she crashes.I guess I can’t really blame them for thinking that, but it’s enormously frustrating to feel so ready to start working on my issues and at the same time be denied a safe place to do it.

I think that is the main problem for me at the moment; I feel ready to talk about my experiences – I can feel it wanting to bubble out of me – but I have nowhere to put it all..

Still, at least I have learned something from all of this:
I’ve come damn far from where I started out!


Too Depressed For Psychotherapy?

Another Friday, another counselling session with D.
But, what have I been doing with myself in between sessions?

Well, I’ve had a pretty big week for someone who doesn’t normally venture outside if it can be avoided, and there is one specific event I want to tell you about.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry I’m on the waiting list for psychotherapy through the NHS. And Monday was The Big Day – my initial assessment with Dr J. It took place at Hill House in North London, a very tall building semi-hidden behind the Archway tube station; frighteningly unfamiliar territory to me.

Nervous as I was I had given myself plenty of time to get there and as a consequence arrived ridiculously early. I had planned on bringing a book and my journal with me; they had both been neatly laid out on the coffee table at home the previous evening, but I had still managed to somehow leave them behind.

Not wanting to sit in the waiting room with just myself and my jittery nerves I found the nearest Woolworth and bought a hideous turquoise notebook in which I started scribbling frantically once back in the waiting area.

While waiting I was also asked to fill out one of those standard forms that is meant to give an indication of just how depressed you really are. If you’re not familiar with these questionnaires, basically you’re given about thirty statements which you should rate the validity of based on how you have been feeling in the last week. It includes statements like ” I have felt it would be better if I were dead” and “I have felt too overwhelmed to talk about my problems”, and you get to choose between “Never”, “Only occasionally”, “Sometimes”, “Often” and “Most of the time”.

Needless to say, it’s pretty obvious how to score high versus low on the depression scale – so it really is key to be honest. At least if your aim is – like mine – to get the right kind of help.

I’ve taken this test probably about fifteen or twenty times in the last six months, and I have to say that this time round I could really see a marked difference in how I am managing my depression. A significant positive improvement.

Dead on the hour Dr J., a long-haired woman in her early forties, who I had not met before arrived. She led me to her tiny-bordering-on-claustrophobic little office in complete silence and gestured for me to sit down on one of the chairs, still not talking. I’ve been in therapy a number of times before, so this – the absence of a proper greeting – didn’t come as a surprise to me, but I think had I not been familiar with this particular approach, I would have been somewhat taken aback by it.

Knowing that the good doctor would not be the first to break radio silence I said the first things that came to mind: “Let me just put these things away (meaning my iPod and the notebook). I always write when I’m nervous,” immediately wondering what she would make of that, slightly beating myself up over being so utterly un-original.

Thus began The Assessment.

I was asked to tell The Doctor about myself, (“Wow, that’s a big question – I wonder if I have a big answer to it.”) so I did, starting out by verbally bullet pointing the basics; That I have been living in the UK for about five years, but grew up in a small town in the north of Sweden. That I was adopted from India at the age of six months, but feel Swedish through and through since I don’t remember anything of my time at the orphanages where I stayed. I also stated, almost casually, that I was sexually abused from when I was about four and a half years old until I was seventeen and that the abuse came to light having overdosed on a random cocktail of my
mother’s sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I admitted that I have been and still am struggling a lot with the way my family have dealt with the knowledge of the abuse and mentioned that I was still expected to see my abuser, a member of my family (not my father), whenever I go home. I then went on to talk about growing up caring for my bipolar mother, with all of her ups and downs, but that neither she nor the rest of my family are likely to acknowledge this (the sense that my role was to be her carer) as being either valid or true. I ended my life-story recap by describing how I drank half a litre of anti-freeze liquid over a period of three days in March of this year, in an attempt to kill myself.

At this point Dr J. stepped in and commented that I seemed very emotionally detached from the things I was talking about, and I explained that this is one of the reasons why I feel I would benefit from psychotherapy; that I want to learn to connect to my feelings surrounding my childhood and my family, and find ways to deal with them that don’t include resorting to occasional self-harm or other drastic action. In short, I want to feel real. I want to learn how to respond to things without immediately putting up a three-foot thick wall to shield me from any potentially painful feelings.

The assessment lasted for a bit over an hour and at the end of it Dr J. said that she didn’t really question my intellectual suitability for this sort of treatment, as I am clearly very articulate and perfectly able to express myself verbally, but that she had some serious concerns regarding my safety, as therapy often brings out a lot of very difficult things and you are bound to experience an abundance of complicated feelings which may be very difficult to manage.

Since my history points towards an acutely self-destructive pattern she simply couldn’t overlook the fact that my risk-factor is high. I pointed out the things I have done to keep myself safe; not keeping razors at home, using distraction techniques to control my impulsiveness, calling help-lines for support if needed and the fact that I have been able to manage the week between my counselling sessions in a positive way. So, she responded that she would still need to talk to D. and to my care co-ordinator, and also to the women’s crisis centre where I had been staying when I made my last suicide attempt, before making any decision, and that once she’s talked to them she would ask me back for another session to discuss the outcome.

I feel quite happy about this, because if she hadn’t felt the need to talk to others who have been working with me I’d have thought her rather irresponsible, taking on someone who on paper is very high risk without any consideration. I mean, there is no two ways about it; in the eyes of any professional I amhigh risk, and taking my word for it that I’ve changed would be very reckless, indeed. Having said that, I hope that once she has talked to D. and my care-coordinator, she will feel that I am capable of coping with psychotherapy and give me the opportunity to prove it.

In my session with D. today we talked about the assessment and also the fact that I have come a long way since I first started counselling with her. And that I have worked very very hard at finding alternative ways to deal with destructive impulses. She also said that she definitely feels confident enough regarding my risk-factor to recommend me for psychotherapy, but that she fully appreciates Dr J.’s concerns.

Hopefully what D. says about me will weigh heavily enough to sway Dr J. ‘my’ way, because I think I could benefit hugely from therapy.

Anyway, I am going to end this entry here. Dev is forever teasing me that blog entries are meant to be short and concise, and that this is a writing style I have yet to master.

All I have to say to that is; I could write that way if I wanted to, I just don’t want to . So there! :þ