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A couple comments that Hippie Dude (my therapist) made during recent therapy sessions keep rolling around in my brain. Like those Chinese balls with chimes inside them, softly making noises every time I turn my head. They just won’t get out, and I’m not entirely sure what, if anything, to make of them. Not everything that therapists say is loaded with meaning.

Sometimes therapy makes me feel like my chair suddenly iced over.

Sometimes therapy makes me feel like my chair is suddenly icing over.

Setting proper context for this would take more patience than you or I have, but the gist of it is that we were discussing what triggers my mood episodes. Everything is good at home; I have a good job; I have an amazing husband and we have none of the usual risk factors for relationship problems; and so on, and so on.

My thinking immediately jumped to shame: I have a good life and no real reason to feel bad, so I’m bad for feeling bad. It’s completely automatic, even though I know it’s dysfunctional thinking, and then I feel bad for dysfunctional thinking, and so on, and so on in the usual ruminant spiral. But Hippie Dude caught my attention with what he said next:

It’s all internal with you, isn’t it?

Yes, I guess it is. There aren’t very many external triggers in my day-to-day life and the only person being cruel to me is myself. The biochemical stuff is internal too; I don’t control it, although I can influence it with lifestyle choices.

A couple weeks later, we were discussing my issues with perfectionism and somehow that segued into a recap of therapy-so-far. It’s been just over a year, and I’ve finally gotten (mostly) comfortable with Hippie Dude and actually being in therapy. I asked the unfair question of how well I was doing, and his answer – to paraphrase – was this:

Not to trivialize the problems of anyone else I see, but you’re complicated.

He made the motion of a sine curve with his hand. I’m not affectively flat; I’m not always depressed; I’m not always manic. Yep, that’s about right. It’s complicated, and it’s all internal.

This all ties together, and with other things. I can’t begin to draw a picture of it yet. It’s like mental vertigo – I just can’t get a grip on what’s going on because so many things have bubbled up at once. What I do realize and am now starting to admit is that there’s a whole crate of creepy crawlies in my cranium, and they’re figuring out how to escape, so I can’t ignore them anymore.

The cozy blankets of denial are all being brutally ripped off at once, and I’m afraid of what will happen when everyone sees me naked and vulnerable. If I’m going to find any peace of mind, however, it seems to be unavoidable.

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