Let's call her Allison

So, we have a new therapist… Let’s call her Allison.  We’ve had two therapeutic sessions with her, and one introductory session to see if there was a possibility that we could work together.  I’ve been studiously avoiding talking about her here, I think because I’m scared of jinxing the relationship.  Here’s a quick run-down of what’s happened so far…

Introductory session
We were switching like crazy, a revolving door of different ones checking her out and asking different things that we knew had been issues in the past.

M asked about what happens to her clients when she goes away – this I know is because we tend to (for want of a better term) “fall apart” over Christmas.  One previous therapist asked us to contact her if this should happen, and another had no provisions in place for a crisis over this time.  I don’t think either approach is helpful for us, as we feel like an imposition contacting a therapist out of hours – especially during their Christmas holidays; and the lack of support led to a downward spiral that ended up with us going into respite care.  Allison assured us that, if we wanted, she has another therapist who will see her clients while she is on holiday.

W asked about religion.  This is a huge issue for her, as she sees herself as inherently evil and gets very triggered by the concept of religion.  Allison was open about believing in living a spiritual life.  While this did raise flags for W, it wasn’t a show stopper.  What was interesting, is that Allison mentioned that those who are brought up within a strict religious environment, often exhibit significant signs of abuse.  This was mentioned in the context of my father, who was raised within a strict religious doctrine.  So, it was about putting life experiences into context, not meant as a comparison or justification.

The other big question was, “are you going to cope with us?”  There are huge trust issues with therapists.  I can honestly say that each of the therapists I’ve seen in the past have tried to help us, and wanted to see us live a full life, free of many of the debilitating symptoms we currently experience.  But for various reasons – their approach to DID, a lack of skills, or being out of their depth, it hasn’t worked out.  After the rupture from Liz, all the feelings of being too difficult, too much and being a trouble maker came up again.  Allison mentioned that she was one of the top therapists in our small city.  This rankled M a little, as she saw it as boasting.  But, I understand that Allison was trying to reassure us.

So, after much internal discussion, it was decided that we’d keep seeing Allison.

First session
This was mainly taken up with housekeeping type of information – brief talk about what symptoms we wanted to address first, what other support systems we have, and how we are coping.  It was a difficult session, where at one point, W was nearly sucked into a flashback.  What was interesting, was Allison’s reaction to the near flashback… she asked us to look at her in the face.  Now, we don’t look therapists in the face – yes, this may be considered rude by some people, but we can’t bring ourselves to raise our eyes above their boots.  During work, we can do eye contact no problem, so it’s just within the therapeutic relationship.  Allison kept on about us looking her in the face – to prove that our reaction to the near flashback didn’t upset her, or cause her any distress.  We had to switch to M in order for this to happen, but we managed it!  And yes, it did help.  She sat there very calmly and greeted M as if everything was fine.  Hmmm… so maybe she can cope with minor crazy… let’s see about major crazy…

At this session, we discussed having fortnightly sessions, due to monetary constraints.  Since then, we’ve realised that the crazy making between sessions is too much for us to cope with, so have gone back to weekly sessions.  Who needs money for food anyway 🙂

Second session
This was a really difficult session.  It came off the back of Mother’s Day (those of you with the password to the protected posts will see the two word feeling that some of us have towards the day), and our up-coming birthday.  It was predominantly Sophie and B throughout the session, until Mother’s Day came up.  Then woohoo… lets step on the crazy freight train.  The desire to self injure went through the roof… Allison was particularly interested in the ways the self-injury was manifesting and who was potentially holding the needs and desires to hurt.  She talked about the anger we hold as pertaining to the mother… and then “flick”, Aimee came forward.

Suddenly it was all bright and breezy, talking about the calender on the wall that hadn’t been flipped over for the new month, the old heater that was in the corner of the room and other diversionary tactics.  Allison welcomed Aimee, which was a huge relief (her type of diversion had been discouraged with some therapists).  They were chatting along nicely, until Allison, as part of the normal conversation, said the word “shadows”.  This meant an immediate hiding by Aimee… she is absolutely terrified by shadows.  Shadows within our internal house represent evil, danger and the angry ones.  So Allison’s innocent comment caused a trigger switch to a stuttering teen.  We hate it when we stutter.  It’s usually only in therapy, and it’s just awful.  Of course, the more we try not to, the worse it gets.  The stutterer explained what had happened, and assured Allison that in no way was she to blame – she had no idea that such an innocent word could have such devastating effects.

Overall, we’re not sure about Allison.  She is good with the silences… both allowing the silence, and bringing our attention to what is happening during the silence.  She’s good at slowing us down, and getting us to try and notice things.  But, we still think we’ll be too much for her.  This is not because we’re the “worst” case of DID or anything, it’s just a mix of the old messages from the childhood, being re-enforced by actions of therapists who were out of their depth.

So, we’re still fence sitting.  She has shown the most promise of the therapists we’ve seen so far…  But, it’s hard to judge things accurately because we are so dissociated from life.

If anyone has had the “joy” of a comment from us over the last week or so, it’s probably been bordering on rude, pompous or left field.  We really shouldn’t comment when we’re so dissociated.  We again had a comment not published on a therapists site, this time because of our side-ways hostility.  That’s a classic sign that we’re not communicating internally, and M is running parts of the show without input from the calming influences of B and Sophie.  I’m not sure what will get us back on track…


13 thoughts on “Let's call her Allison

  1. This is a great post, CG. I’m glad that things are going ok with Allison. Don’t forget it’s early days and always takes some time to get used to a new therapist.

    I wonder if Aimee coming forward shows a level of trust in this T? It’s nice that Allison welcomed Aimee to the session.

    I hope your first sessions with her are a sign of good things to come.


    • Hi Kerro,

      I know it’s very early days with Allison, but it’s been promising so far. Yes, there was the trigger, but she didn’t know that such an innocent word would throw me.

      It was interesting, at the end of the last session Allison said that what had happened during the session was “appropriate” and to be “expected”. She was referring to the switching I think – when it started to get too scary, there was the switch to the carefree Aimee; and then when she was triggered, there was the switch to a protective stutterer. So I suppose, it does make sense.

      Take care,

  2. Hi Castorgirl, just a quick note to say thanks for your supportive comments on my blog – subsequently wrote a long piece about my experience of DID from age eight to present-day and feel better for it.

    Thanks for putting your own blog together in such detail; discussing the specificity of what you encounter in your journey is very interesting for me, as I’m sure it is many other people working with DID. One thought – could you make a sort of FAQ of the posts that establish the basics of your journey and your story for new readers? Is it possible to do this on a blog?

    yours in dharma


    • Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      I’ve read your entry about your experiences from age eight to the present day, and was amazed. Your ability to write and express yourself helps to make, what is such an odd experience, tangible. The song you put up on YouTube was incredible… You can hear the anguish and your voice changing tones.

      You’re right, I don’t have anywhere that explains my story. I will look at doing a new page over the weekend.

      Take care,

  3. Silly girl. Your comments have been honest, bitchy, and sarcastic. That’s my favorite combo!

    Allison sounds pretty good so far. Are you (and/or the others) afraid she may actually help and you will a different person in the end? I’m always afraid when something works or helps. That means there is another way to be/do things/relate in life, and that scares the crap out of me.

    I hope for the best possible outcome with Allison, and that a big bag of money falls next to you so you have some extra money to eat.


    • Hi Lisa,

      You’d get on well with M… she’s bitchy and sarcastic to the max!

      We’re more afraid that this won’t work either, and we will be a “hopeless case”. Yes, there is a fear that the therapy will change us, but we also know that we must change in order to survive. Our constant suicidal ideation is not something that we can live with for much longer.

      I’m hoping to win Lotto… would help if I could afford a ticket 🙂

      Take care,

  4. wow, castorgirl. i think this is a really wonderful post. it is so insightful and i’m really impressed with your self-awareness. i hope i’m not being overly flattering. i know i can compliment people in all sincerity, but not everyone likes it. i’m not just saying these things to try to “make you feel good”. i’m serious. this is really good stuff. i’m so glad for you how well you recognize what is going on with your system internally and your triggers and reactions to the things that the therapist said. your questions to her seemed really good. and i chuckled to myself when you said one thought she was boasting. i’m offput by arrogance and so might have felt the same way had someone said it to me. but i hope that it only means about her that she is indeed qualified and will not be a disappointment to you like the rest.

    thank you for sharing about your experience. i’m glad things are off to such a good start! 🙂

    • Thanks Katie,

      I find it difficult to accept compliments, but am trying harder to accept them graciously, so thank you 🙂

      At times, I can be incredibly reflective and work through what has happened, and sometimes it’s all a jumbled mess of lost time and confusion.

      M doesn’t handle the arrogance of others well, but I really think that Allison was trying to reassure us. She’s been good so far, and the next test will be preparing for my birthday, which is in a few weeks.

      Thanks, and take care 🙂

  5. I think you give yourself too little credit. Finding a new therapist and becoming comfortable with one takes time and in a way, you have to put your most pressing needs on hold during the process. It can’t be easy. I think your determination is wonderful. [pat, pat, on the back]

    • Thanks Ivory… I really liked your latest through provoking blog post 🙂 It was another reminder that I need to actively look for ways to communicate the issues with Allison, and trust that she will be able to cope.

      Take care,

  6. I think it’s remarkable that you were able to document all of what happened in this way. I think it’s probably the first time in a long time that you’ve had such access to so much of your experience. Often you will say you don’t know. This time you seemed to know what various parts of you were doing.

    This is an indication of your willingness to bring ALL OF YOU to this healing space. It’s a dedication that comes with doing something new.

    All new healing relationships like this must be carefully tended to, because what happens in the beginning will set the tone for forever. That means you have a huge responsibility here, which I know you know.

    Give yourself credit. These are the first steps on your new healing path.

    • It helped being able to reflect on is all Paul. Sometimes I need that distance, as otherwise I can get an emotional reaction to it all, and not be able to move to a point of distance and reflection.

      There is a definite drive to be up front with Allison regarding the different ones within the system. Aimee was very open about being present, but the stutterer didn’t want to give a name. I think this is more because they have a role within the system, rather than a name.

      Just the act of slowing down within therapy, and taking time to notice what is happening during the silences is new. This is where Allison’s experience is showing, she allows the silence for a little while, and then draws attention to what is happening within the silence. This stops the spiraling thought processes that are often kicked off in the silences.

      I’m going to take some advice, and going to lay out probably what is the worst and most shameful things that are affecting my daily functioning, and go from there…

      Take care and (it goes without saying) keep up the hard work. I know it’s hard, but also rewarding and necessary.
      Sending positive thoughts…

  7. Pingback: Boundaries | Scattered pieces

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