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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Three Interviews

It seems that after my lovely vacation in the Behavioral Health Unit, there are some hoops to jump through to get just the right therapist/psychiatrist. Smart Psychiatrist at the hospital told me that he wanted to see to it that I got help from a therapist specializing in PTSD. I'm not sure why, but under his instruction I met with three different therapists today, none of whom had any background information about me. Naturally, I didn't feel that I wanted to talk about anything with them, so the first two meetings were rather terrifying and miserable. Sample script:

Therapist: Hi, I'm ________________.
Me: Good to meet you.
T: Would you like to tell me what brought you here today.
Me: I had an appointment.
T: I meant, what events led you to seek counseling.
Me: It was suggested to me when I ended up in the hospital about a month ago.
T: Why were you there?
Me: I was very sad.
T: Are you on medication now?
Me: No. There's really nothing to medicate.
T: Well, there are lots of medical options to treat depression.
Me: What makes you think I'm depressed?
T: Well, you said you were sad, and you ended up at the hospital.
Me: Before we talk about how to medicate my sadness, wouldn't you like to know the reasons behind it?
T: Of course, but in the meantime we can help your depression lift a little so that you can work better.
Me: Why do you believe I'm depressed?
T: You said you were sad.
Me: Are you ever sad?
T: Of course.
Me: What do you take to medicate your sadness?
T: Actually, I don't take anything.
Me: Exactly.

The first two therapists were highly interested in giving me pretty pills to take. Honestly, if I thought they were making the suggestion based on the facts behind why I was struggling emotionally, I would take them. I'm not stupid. But they never bothered to ask the right questions. And I don't trust them at all.

I stepped into the third therapist's office and started to cry. I was tired, scared, and frustrated. She handed me a box of tissues. Then she said, "Will you tell me what's behind those tears?" So I told her--I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go home. I was tired of trying to get better, and Smart Psychiatrist guy said I probably never would. She said it was okay to feel tired, and even to take a rest. We could work on anything I'd like to. So I cried some more, and she asked all the right questions. I told her about my experiences with abuse. She cried a little bit with me. I said I didn't think therapists should do that. She told me that sometimes therapists have emotions, too, and in a perfect world they don't express them at a therapy session. But she pointed out that my story is a bit sad, and sometimes human emotions cause tears. I decided it was okay this time.

She talked a lot about PTSD symptoms and asked if I'd had any of them. Sometimes it sucks to say yes.

At one point I became very overwhelmed. She told me she knew I'd been there a long time and asked if I wanted to take a break. I said no, I wanted to go home. She asked if I would come back next week. I said yes. Before I left she said that most PTSD patients don't have complete recovery--but they do learn to cope. And some of the stronger ones actually live symptom free if they're given the proper treatment. She thinks I'm strong. I feel anything but that.

She said something that made me think, though. We discussed how people like me cycle through relationships. She told me I was very blessed to have been able to build and maintain a strong marriage--it's not a common thing for anyone, but people with PTSD struggle more than the average person when it comes to sustaining close personal relationships. I told her that I was really having difficulty right now, with everyone I contact, and that there were times when it just seemed easier to isolate, or just work on my marriage and let everyone else slide away. She said that it might be easier, but if I allowed the cycle to continue, I will eventually destroy myself. She said it undermines my self-esteem, my confidence, and my social/emotional maturity. I was a little offended--but after thinking about it tonight, and doing more research, I know she's right. I just don't know what to do next.

That seems to be the status quo right now.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Samantha: I don't know you, but I want to thank you for your blog. I have only read snippets, but from what I have read, I have come away with a deep sense of gratitude for your willingness to be honest and share. Sometimes we all need to hear someone say, "Hey, you're not alone." Your honesty allows me to face my own feelings and experiences.

    I, too, am a victim of abuse, though in slightly different ways than you have described have happened in your life. I relate to many of the feelings you describe so well. Know that you are not strange or abnormal, especially given what you have gone through. It seems to me victims of abuse learn certain emotional behaviors, skills if you will - behaviors such as detachment - which serve us quite well when we are in a dysfunctional environment. These behaviors were our lifeline! We should not be so down on ourselves that we developed these skills. Anonymous