Sometimes, I’ll be researching something online, only to be amazed when I run across something else entirely that is exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, or in this case, read. That happened tonight. I began my train of thought by searching Google with the words, “feeling stuck.” This led me to searching for “feeling stuck in therapy.” The first article that popped up was an article titled, “Therapists Spill: What I Do When a Client Is ‘Stuck’” by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., on Psych Central. That article wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I searched, but I thought it gave an interesting insight from the perspective of therapists rather than clients. 

From there, I clicked on a link within the article to the Internal Family Systems Model, which led me to an article on that site titled, The Larger Self by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. That was the article that inspired me to share my train of thought in this post to share a link to it for anyone interested. Again, the article is written from the perspective of the therapist, not the client; but it is a fascinating read. What I found so encouraging was that the author explained the different parts of the self with such candor and optimism, not an experience of a “crazy person” (my own psyche berates me constantly should I find myself talking to myself), but something that each of us experiences to a lesser or greater degree. From the article:

“To experience the Self, there’s no shortcut around our inner barbarians – those unwelcome parts of ourselves, such as hatred, rage, suicidal despair, fear, addictive need (for drugs, food, sex), racism and other prejudice, greed, as well as the somewhat less heinous feelings of ennui, guilt, depression, anxiety, self-righteousness, and self-loathing. The lesson I’ve repeatedly learned over the years of practice is that we must learn to listen to and ultimately embrace these unwelcome parts. If we can do that, rather than trying to exile them, they transform. And, though it seems counterintuitive, there’s great relief for therapists in the process of helping clients befriend rather than berate their inner tormentors. I’ve discovered, after painful trial and much error at my clients’ expense, that treating their symptoms and difficulties like varieties of emotional garbage to be eliminated from their systems simply doesn’t work well. Often, the more I’ve joined clients in trying to get rid of their destructive rage and suicidal impulses, the more powerful and resistant these feelings have grown – though they’ve sometimes gone underground to surface at another time, in another way.” ~Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

So Much Better

Twice this week I’ve heard, “You’re doing so much better,” first, from my therapist, then today, from my case manager. I should have asked them exactly how they reached this conclusion considering I feel the same as I did last year — even 5 or 10 years ago, or longer. The fears and anxiety are all still there. The inability to consistently leave my home or interact with other people are still a problem. The constant “thought wars,” voices, or whatever you want to call them, rage on. I would venture to guess that the lack of motivation as well as the lack of concentration and focus have only worsened. The external distractions are as bad as the internal ones, even with the move. And the worst part is I still have suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm on a daily basis. Granted, neither my therapist nor my case manager knows the frequency or extent of these thoughts or how these thoughts affect my life since I’ve vehemently REFUSED to discuss them from day one. No good ever came from my disclosing these thoughts in the past; so I have no reason to believe now would be any different.

I can’t help but wonder if I’m wrong. I worry that talking about certain things will only make them worse.

The part of me that wants to continue hiding behind the mask of “everything is fine,” won’t allow me to be honest with anyone about the intensity of the emotional turmoil I experience, not even with KR. The part that is screaming at me to say something, anything, remains silent under the threat of violence from an internal source that has proven to me time and time again that threat is warranted. I keep thinking, “Maybe this is as good as get.” Maybe feeling like a basket case on the inside while projecting perfect calm and compliance on the outside is just how “normalcy” works. If I’m better because everyone else thinks I’m fine, does that make it so? Sometimes, I get so tired of pretending that I just want to do something desperate and impulsive. Because I can usually control these impulses and urges, does that make me better? And if I couldn’t control them, would anyone even notice? I’m beginning to think it really doesn’t matter anyway. Maybe that’s the way everyone feels.