Talking Is Overrated

Three trigger dates fell within the same week this year in April. Easter is a kind of “floating” trigger date as it isn’t one of those holidays that’s nailed down to one particular day. I managed. I got through them. As always, I avoided as much as I could, distracted when I couldn’t, and coped when reminders triggered flashbacks or panic or whatever else. I’m told that’s all I can do. I feel numb, emotionless, and detached — not surprising for this time of year, especially not surprising for the month of April.

I’m convinced this is as good as it gets.

The final trigger date at the end of April passed much the same. I was supposed to meet with my case manager that day, but she called the day before to cancel again. I had an appointment with my counselor this past Friday — the day after that trigger date; but I didn’t even mention my son’s birthday. My biggest problem is that I avoid discussing these events in my life even when I know I need to. Rather, I opt to talk about trivial matters or anything else. This causes me to feel even more frustrated with myself as well as mental health treatment (obviously, considering my last post).

“Is there anything else major you think we need to talk about?” That open-ended question is daunting. It fills me with dread and panic, signaling the end of a session. Immediately an inner conflict arises as some parts express a desperation to be heard, demanding with urgency the chance to speak up, while others caution against saying too much. The fatalist cynic reminds me of the pointlessness of therapy as the paranoid social phobic sounds the sirens of compulsive distrust. All within seconds of each other, the final word comes down to the inner critic who demands silence, effectively shutting me up.

What actually comes out of my mouth in response is resigned exasperation of yet another wasted chance to talk with another human being about something more meaningful than the weather. What actually comes out of my mouth in response is the minimization of how I feel. Detracting from the complexity of my inner world protects it, protects each part of who I am from further humiliation.

What I don’t say keeps it locked safely inside, guarded against criticism of being overly sensitive or crazy or weird or any other judgement I’ve heard time and time again throughout my life because I know it sounds absurd. I know it sounds completely insane. Worse yet would be no one believing me should I disclose such an intimate detail of how I experience my life. The conversations within my mind have more value to me than conversations with other people. I’m convinced other people don’t listen anyway, whether it’s family, friends, or those within the profession of “paid-listener.”

I get that it “takes a while” to work through particularly difficult issues like what I’ve faced in my life. I know there is no simple, easy solution to working through past trauma or present difficulties. I need no one to remind me of that. It doesn’t help matters any to be shuffled from counselor to counselor to counselor or having no consistency in a treatment schedule whatsoever. The hopelessness of this situation was triggered at the end of my last counseling session when my counselor suggested that I switch to yet another counselor — someone I don’t want to see, someone I already know I don’t “click” with because she and I have met before.

After our session, my counselor asked me to wait in the lobby to meet with one of the care coordinators. As I was sitting there waiting, the conversation in my head debated wildly about the prospect of having to find a trauma therapist elsewhere. Starting over completely at a different facility entails a bigger change than simply giving up on treatment altogether. I waited until my counselor called her next client back and they disappeared behind the door. Feeling the familiarity of that trance-like disconnect, I impulsively gave in to the argument within my mind.

I impulsively gave in to the urge to flee and simply walked out — left the building, got into my car, and drove away.

Change Is Inevitable

Today was my last visit with my case manager, whom I liked very much, enjoyed talking with. During the last few minutes of our visit today, she told me she has accepted a job offer elsewhere; so she will no longer be my case manager. I was a bit floored, shocked by the news. It’s so sudden. I hate sudden changes. Who am I kidding? I hate “change” period. I think most people do; but for me, I desperately need consistency and predictability. Change sends everything into chaos — inner and outer worlds.

A change in case management means having to get to know yet another case manager, the third in as many years — not even 3 years. What if I can’t make myself talk to the new one? What if we don’t “click?” Trust doesn’t come easy for me. How am I supposed to trust another case manager? Just keep the conversation light and trivial, polite yet impersonal.

 

“Don’t express doubt in treatment or you’ll find yourself without treatment or emotional support at all.”

I’m beginning to believe that the idea of “emotional support” is nothing but a myth. Maybe it doesn’t really exist at all. I’ve searched for it my whole life, yet nothing fills that void of neglect or heals emotional pain. My parents chose to ignore emotion. Maybe that is the only way to cope with it.

 

Speaking Out

It’s been a weird day. First, I was awakened by a phone call from my Mom’s neighbor after only 6 hours of sleep. In my groggy state of mind, my concern quickly turned to panic after I realized who it was. She told me that she had heard about a wreck today involving one of the transport vehicles that takes my mom to dialysis. She couldn’t get my mom on the phone to check on her, so she called me to see if I had heard anything. After our short conversation, I immediately called my mom who was sitting at dialysis watching game shows (the fact that she was watching game shows cracked me up). She sounded in good spirits.

Thankfully, the wreck didn’t involve the van she rode today; but it still makes me sad to hear that one had an accident. I told Mom everything her neighbor told me and how sincerely concerned she was. After I spoke with Mom, I called her neighbor back to let her know that Mom was safe and sound at dialysis. She expressed her thanks and shared that she almost had a panic attack with worry. I thought to myself, “That shows a deep level of consideration,” but told her, “Believe me, I know what those feel like!” Also, I hope I successfully conveyed how much I appreciate her concern and consideration for my mother because I am so thankful that Mom has such great neighbors.


The second thing is more of an update to my last post. I finally called the Clinical Services Coordinator yesterday and left her a message to call me back. I’m wondering if I’m the only person who has to write out a “script” before leaving such messages on answering services, but at least I got through it and left the message. She called back today just after KR left for work. There was good reason for my case manager not keeping her appointment with me on Friday. She is “no longer employed” by the center where I receive care. Hearing this really took me by surprise. I was told another case manager has been assigned to me and should be calling within the next couple of days. I think this is something I will privately journal about to work out in my head as change is a huge issue for me.

I also attempted to tell the CSC my concerns and confusion about my last appointment with my therapist and how therapy ended — with great difficulty, I might add. I hadn’t prepared a script in order to express myself clearly, so I probably sounded like a stuttering fool. WHY is it so hard for me to communicate?! I struggled to get the words out. I don’t remember what she said in response, other than the suggestion to write everything out and how I am feeling about it. Since I’ve already pretty much done that here on my blog, that should be pretty easy. I’ve considered writing a letter to my therapist about this for the past 3 months; but my stubbornness has gotten the better of me (I’m wondering if stubbornness is my default reaction to feeling hurt), not to mention fear of confrontation (read that: fear of my own RAGE or possibly my therapist’s anger or frustration with me) lead me to avoiding the situation altogether.

When the CSC asked if I wanted to continue therapy, I told her I don’t know what I want to do. It’s more than ambivalence. It’s like paralyzing — completely immobilizing — indecisiveness, the best description I can think of. I’ve thought about it for 3 months. I need to figure it out!


The lighter side of the weirdness today was that our neighbors found a puppy living underneath their house. No idea how long he had been there. The puppy bears a striking resemblance in coloring to their 1-year-old dog, a German Shepherd mix, and a striking resemblance in body shape and coat texture to another neighbor’s Great Pyrenees (beautiful dog!). I’ve often caught those two nose-to-nose at the fence; so who knows? We often joked that the two were having a secret romance. If she was carrying only one puppy, could it be possible that all of us just missed the pregnancy as she matured? Then again, it’s also possible that the puppy wandered over from one of the other farms. It’s really quite a mystery that has all of us baffled.


 

I’m also feeling a little sad today as it’s the anniversary of my father’s death. It’s hard for me to believe he’s been gone for 11 years, now. I didn’t realize just how much the loss affected me until years later, but his death (diabetes complications) left a gaping hole in my heart. In the years since, I regretted not knowing more about his early years, his hopes and dreams, and his views on life and death. My dad taught me the value and benefit of living a simple life. “Things” are not nearly as important as finding what you love and what brings you peace of mind. I shared his love of nature and find comfort in the outdoors. He warned never buy on credit what you cannot purchase with cash because debt only leads to suffering — advice I wish I had taken more seriously early on in my married, adult life so that I wouldn’t have had to learn that lesson the hard way. My dad was a man of few words, but I knew he loved me even if he couldn’t say those words.

Feeling Confused

Tonight, I find myself wondering how many people enter mental health services only to find that the care they receive is inadequate or unhelpful at best, damaging at worst. Do mental health centers purposefully attempt to break their clients further in order to prove a point, like some sort of screwed up reverse psychology? Are all clients regarded by mental health professionals to be so broken and damaged that none can be trusted enough to actually want the help they sought out in the first place? I’m really trying to understand the motives behind what these “professionals” do.

It’s unfortunate that I’ve had so many awful experiences with psychiatric care in the past because those experiences are clouding my judgment with regard to my current mental healthcare situation. I don’t know if what I’m experiencing and feeling is rational or irrational. At the moment, I’m feeling confused, completely befuddled and unable to trust my instinct that the system is harming me further, rather than helping. Yet, my only alternative seems to be to cope and deal with my mental illness on my own. I feel like a skipping record, asking myself the same questions over and over again, expecting a different answer — the very definition of insanity.

I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I expect to happen.

I was supposed to have an appointment with my case manager yesterday; but again, she was a no-show. No phone call, no text to reschedule — nothing. This feels like a repeat of last year when she missed several appointments. I should say something to the Clinical Services Coordinator again (I ended up speaking with the CSC last year about my case manager missing appointments after my therapist encouraged me to do so). I called the CSC yesterday after my case manager didn’t show up; but I couldn’t make myself leave a message. I should call my case manager to demand an explanation, just like I should have sent an email to my therapist to express my confusion over our last appointment.

Maybe, ALL of this is simply a test of my avoidance issues.