Do you choose these therapists yourself?
This was a question posed by Missing in Sight to my last entry. Hmmm… Do I choose these therapists? Do I really? With each new therapist, I’ve appeared to go through the motions of choosing a new therapist… I’ve called around, asked whether they’re taking new clients and mentioned my dissociative disorder as a flag. But that’s really been the extent of my search. Because in all honesty, I become so grateful that someone is willing to work with such a dysfunctional impossible case as myself, that I go with the first person who will take me on.
This ties into Katie’s comment about rejection and also my fear of ending relationships… Some part of me sees an initial meeting with a therapist as a binding agreement… almost like, if we stop seeing them, we’ve failed again. I’m not sure if it’s tied to our need to stay invisible (look, we’re so normal we can fit in anywhere), or our need to not make trouble. I know this is all tied to the dysfunctional messages and patterns of behaviour that I learned growing up.
It seems as if I become so fearful of being rejected by a therapist, that I do almost everything possible to ensure that they won’t want to see me. A prime example of this, was an email I sent to a potential therapist…
Hi potential therapist no.1,
Possibly before you agree to see me, I should outline the diagnoses I’ve been given over the years, so you can decide if you want to go any further. I label myself a difficult client… yes, my dysfunction is showing already 🙂 I’ve been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Depression, Borderline traits (I’ve been tested, but fail to meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder), Anxiety Disorder, and have chronic sleep issues. I’ve seen four therapists in the last five years – two which were poor therapeutic fits for about 8 months each, a clinical psychologist on a short term contract through ACC and another therapist for about 3.5 years (who helped me through my abusive marriage, but didn’t have the skills to help with the dissociative and trauma issues).
So I come with baggage… I am motivated to change and will work hard at doing so, but I often don’t know how to change or what that change should look like. I’m often stumped for words in therapy, and will sometimes get lost in the dissociation to the point where I lose most of the session.
You may wonder why I’m writing this out for you… and I know it would make most people turn the other way. But, I’m hoping to give you an idea of the challenges I may present so you can decide whether you are able or willing to work with those.
If you are, please name a time and place and I will ensure that I am there.
How many people would want to work with someone who emailed that to them? Not many. It could be seen as me trying to weed out the people who wouldn’t be able to cope with the challenges that I know I present in a therapeutic environment… but I don’t think it’s that. It’s about setting myself up for failure and preventing the need to build up trust with yet another person.
But, potential therapist no.1 responded that she is experienced in dealing with what I present, and is willing to try and get my claim accepted under ACC. Two other therapists have also said that they’re willing to meet with me to see if it would work. Suddenly I have options! I’m still a little unsure of how to do this process of therapist selection, but I’m trying to be mindful… trying to check out internally what happens when I read their emails or listen to their voice on the phone.
Today we met with potential therapist no. 2. We talked for about 90 minutes and went over a great deal… It was scary, but also validating. We talked about the care I’ve received in the past – what worked and what didn’t; what help I was currently receiving from the Mental Health Team and also what her approach to therapy was. She doesn’t have any specialist DID experience, this showed with some of the wording that she used (a little clumsy). But when I talked to her about our Polyvore work and this blog, she was interested in how we could incorporate these aspects of my healing into the therapy work she would do with me… She talked about how I appeared to have been sort of shuffled around, and put in the “too hard” basket by many people…
It was all going really well, until she mentioned where she works as her full time job… She’s a lecturer at the same tertiary institution I work at… There was a huge internal reaction to this news. The whole system jolted… we’d just told this person we were DID and she worked at the same place we do. If we went and saw her, we’d at some point have to talk about the secrets and then potentially run the risk of seeing her at work. I’m not sure we can do that. I don’t know if I can tell someone about my history and then smile at them over the counter later in the week as if nothing had happened. When she found out where we work, she talked about how we could manage that, if we still wanted to see her. She was really open and up-front about the issue, and reassured me that if we couldn’t cope with it, that deciding not to see her was not our fault… We agreed that we’d think it over for awhile and see how it sat within the system…
We see potential therapist no.1. on Wednesday, and will call potential therapist no.3 on Monday morning to arrange a time to meet. Since we’ve started getting people willing to work with us, it’s been interesting noticing the changes in the system… there’s anxiety about having to meet new people, but there’s also hope. Yes, I think I’m actually feeling some hope for the first time in a long time…
Maybe I’m not such a hopeless case after all?