Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers

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I am pleased and excited to have guest blogger Susan Kingsley-Smith sharing about dysfunctional relationships within the mental health system while I am away on vacation.  Susan is my friend and fellow truth seeker, as well as the author of  “A Journey” and I’m also blessed to have her as a frequent commenter here on Emerging from Broken. As always, please contribute by adding your own comments and feedback ~ Darlene Ouimet

Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers by Susan Kingsley-Smith

I’d have never imagined that in my healing journey I would find myself healing from not only the original trauma’s of my childhood but that I would also be faced with mourning the life I lost to a second trauma; that of becoming victim to those I’d turned to for help.

I’d been conditioned from an early age to not question authority. To do as I was told; and especially to view my doctors and other health care professionals as the authority over my health. In hindsight though, what I discovered, is that my early life experiences of abuse had set me up to become a victim to any relationship or system that was based on my sacrificing myself in order to appease those in authority. Continued..

At first I didn’t think anything of it when the psychiatrists would tell me, and the therapists would reinforce this message, that there was something “wrong” with me. That I had a chemical imbalance in my brain, that there was no cure. In hindsight though, this was just the beginning of a fifteen-year journey into, through and finally out of the mental health system.  This was a journey that would change me forever.

The mental health “professionals” had successfully stripped me of any hope when they informed me that my brain was broken. They had laid the groundwork for my lifetime dependence on them; telling me that they, and only they, knew the answers and in order for me to “get better” I needed to submit myself to their care.

My power was taken from me in the numerous drugs I was prescribed as the doses were adjusted and more drugs were added. Slowly, like a toad in pot of water coming to a boil, the drugs overtook my mind and destroyed my health. I found that I could no longer think or communicate coherently. I gained enormous amounts of weight on one drug; then lost it rapidly on the next. I had no energy, I was constantly fatigued yet I suffered from insomnia and couldn’t sleep. I developed irrational fears and began to isolate myself.

I felt even more ashamed of myself. The professionals were validating what I’d been convinced of all along. That I was defective, something was “wrong” with me and I felt powerless to understand or change it.

The side effects I was experiencing were legitimate side effects of the drugs yet it was made clear to me that any negative effects were caused by a defect in my character and motivation.  I was told to eat better and exercise more.

Fear was used to coerce my compliance. The threat was always there that if I stopped taking the drugs that I would “get worse”. What I forgot was that before the drugs, I’d never been “sick”.

I had been conditioned to believe from the beginning of my entry into the world of mental health that when the “therapy” was failing that it was my fault; that something was wrong with ME not that the therapy or “treatments” were not effective or in fact abusive and oppressive – but that I had done something wrong to have cause this failure.

There was a fear that was always present that I would be rejected or that I might be “fired” by my providers if I was not compliant and cooperative. This often unspoken threat was often the thing that kept me in line. I saw these relationships as my only hope. This I’ve since learned is another way abusers control their victims in many different relationships; threatening the loss of the relationship if there is a lack of compliance.

Shame was never far away. In my time in the mental heath system I at first resisted. I insisted that something was wrong, I reported that the drugs I was being given were not working, that I felt worse. But instead of listening to me, my complaints were dismissed. I was told that I was being resistant to the therapeutic process, I was non compliant and difficult. In other words, these therapeutic relationships were telling me the same thing I’d learned in the original trauma and abuse: that whatever the problem was in this relationship, it was stemmed from me.

And when the biological approach did not prove to be effective is when I was told that I had “personality disorders”. Now, besides this chemical imbalance in my brain my personality was also defective, that I was broken through and through to the core of my being. There was no hope offered and because of my “defects” it was justified to treat me as “less than”. 

One of the most crippling things I was told was that one of the “symptoms” of this “disease” is an inability to see it for oneself. In other words – if I could see and admit my “problem” then I was a compliant patient. If I did not agree with the way others were defining me I was non-compliant, difficult and resistant and this was further evidence of this mysterious “illness” that even my own psychiatrist admitted there were no tests or true scientific evidence of. I was broken simply because she said so. In her own words; psychiatry is more an art than a science.

In hindsight after I’d escaped the drugs and left psychiatry behind me, I realized that what I had experienced was exactly like the other abusive relationships in my life; and that I was a perfect victim for being defined in this system because I had not yet learned how to define myself.

Thankfully, like Darlene, I had the good fortune to connect with a therapist trained in trauma who supported my hidden belief that it was possible to live beyond diagnosis. This was someone who was willing to show me a different way and offer true hope. Over the next 2.5 years I was shown a healthier therapeutic relationship defined by clear boundaries vs. control and compliance. Here is where I came to understand that by learning to recognize the original lies that said I was not good enough and changing the core beliefs that told me I was powerless over my own life this – is where I began to learn that I could learn to live far beyond that place of broken.

Susan Kingsley-Smith

**Note and disclaimer from Susan: It is very dangerous to discontinue these or any other drugs without a clear understanding of the process and what happens when we go into the withdrawal process. I discontinued them because I was forced into it and I had an understanding that I was dealing with a physical withdrawal. But anyone who doesn’t understand that process could be at risk for suicide. 

Doctors do not know how to go off these drugs safely and will use the withdrawal symptoms to say “see. You’re mentally ill”. 

There’s plenty of research and evidence on this issue but there will always be those who can’t get past this part of their belief system. 

Susan’s Bio: I am a trauma survivor…but I no longer live only to survive. In 1992 after a lifetime of trauma’s ranging from physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect as a child to two violent marriages, I entered the mental health system seeking help where my lifelong history of trauma was dismissed. For over 15 years I was given a variety of “diagnosis”, numerous mind altering psychotropic drugs and a routine of weekly “talk” therapy. In the fall of 2007 I was abruptly taken off of the drugs I’d been prescribed all those years and began to reclaim both my mind and my life.

Today, I no longer accept any labels for myself and live the life of my choosing, following my dream and passion to share a message of healing and hope as I write and speak about this journey that has been my life.

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

258 response to "Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers"

  1. By: Pinky Posted: 22nd April

    @artcahtartic, sorry there are no easy answers. I realize I am fortunate to live in NYC where not only it is the safest largest city in the US it also has everything. If I didn’t live here I cant imagine where I would be with the best health care, best doctors, best of everythign really except weather that ward goes to Hawaii. It is far too hot here in the summer Hawaii never gets that hot and it snows here and we just had the snowiest winter n NYC history but I digress. However for those afraid of crows this would be hell. So there are no easy answers.

  2. By: artcathartic Posted: 22nd April

    > Pinky:

    Thanks for that suggestion. We’re in such an isolated part of NM, that therapists are few and far between… not to mention trying to find one who treats D.I.D…. so you just kinda have to take what you can get. I did have a therapist who was supposed to be both a faith based and secular therapist, but she found it difficult to keep from pulling out the Bible and quoting scripture which was a HUGE trigger to us. I’ll give this T another go, but if my intuition is correct, it’s not looking promising. With my severe social anxiety, a group is out of the question for us… can’t even go to a movie with people sitting that close… A trip to Walmart with husband is an exercise in complete terror…

    Susa/all

  3. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 22nd April

    @Pinky – I had also experienced inappropriate counseling at a church; religious abuse like this is one of the most damaging.

    Social media has made a huge difference in many lives, I agree!

    I also attended support groups in my community and they do sometimes have referrals to share although I discovered its a good idea to be aware of the power imbalances instead of trying to “work it out” like I did many times in order to protect from getting enmeshed in yet another dysfunctional relationship. I escaped a few situations that could have taken months to otherwise figure this out. An example was the therapist that would not allow me to ask my questions at the initial interview and instead was processing me and scheduling the next appointment based on her “accepting” me as a client. It was clear that she viewed herself as above me and that my questions or comfort were unimportant to her.

  4. By: Pinky Posted: 22nd April

    PS_ I forgot to add that the therapist who was a Christian counseling center with a stellar reputation!
    @Susan yes I agree these blogs are very helpful and validating! !@artcathartic, you might get a referral for a good therapist at a support group. And for me the support group itself was the most helpful! I do have a therapist and I am going tomorrow but it took years and years to find him after so many tragedies trying to find one!

  5. By: artcathartic Posted: 22nd April

    > Susan:

    Thanks, Susan. Don’t feel safe right now, but maybe that will change. Will most likely go solo, solo, solo, etc… Bad time of year for us anyway without other “stuff”.

    Susa

  6. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 22nd April

    Susa…thank you for your note…I’m hoping you can get with someone who you feel safe with:)

  7. By: artcathartic Posted: 22nd April

    Susa > Susan:

    Thank you so much for your message, Susan. I will give this therapist at least one more chance, although I am doubtful that things will work out. I am such a “gray thinker” having opinions from different parts of me from one end of the spectrum to the other end… We are more likely to give a person the benefit of the doubt, but I imagine that much of this will be “tweaked” as we develop better boundaries. I believe that it was unethical for her to force me to tell her what therapists I’ve seen previously. The only “release” that I have signed with her, was to communicate with my family doctor… and not with anyone else. It was apparent that she talked to the previous cult therapist by statements that she made. (Oh yeah, forgot to mention that the “art for therapy” therapist was also in a cult… geez)

    Be New Mexico social work code of ethics rules, a therapist cannot take on a client (knowing what their DX is) without having a working knowledge of the therapy involved in treating that DX. This one knew my DX from the outset. It is, according to NM statutes, okay for a therapist to accept a client not being that familiar with the specific treatment, only if they agree to immediately educate themselves through seminars, CEUs, etc. regarding current therapeutic modalities in treating the specific DX. This therapist has shown that she refuses to do any extra training outside of our therapy session. This is unethical.

    I have been a multiple my entire life, and I know of no other way to exist. I don’t consider myselves to be “disordered”, but right now, I am unstable and unbalanced. I just need some help to deal with specific issues. I do not feel broken, rather I have deep gratitude to my insiders and to the one of us who was creative enough to make different ones of us to “take” the abuses. I believe that multiplicity is a normal, functional way of survival. I do not believe that it should even be in the DSM. I do have a severe problem in “losing time”, but I still believe that I would not be alive if it weren’t for our ability to split, and to “spread out” the trauma. There is no other DX I know of that has served to save lives except for D.I.D.

    I am grateful for the support and ideas that I get from reading Emerging From Broken. I value yours and Darlene’s opinions, and also the other guest writers.

    Thank you all for being there.

    Susa/all
    .

  8. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 22nd April

    @Pinky – I’m really sorry that you’re experience was such as you describe. It infuriates me knowing that this is and has been seen as “normal” – to have so many negative experiences in seeking therapy. Sadly – this continues because of the ease with which therapists validate to one another that therapy failure was because of the clients faults. And I agree on support from others who have been down similar paths; this is what I value so much about being a part of the EFB community where we can learn from others stories and discover our own inner wisdom. Thank you for sharing that nugget of wisdom!

  9. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 22nd April

    Susa…I’m really glad to see you…and am so sorry that you are still struggling with finding helpful therapy. What you describe in your therapy relationships is so common and a shameful example of what goes on behind closed doors. Just as with other perpetrators, to the rest of the world, therapists/doctors/psychologists because of their credentials appear to be faultless. The therapist that offered to trade their services for your artwork was being extremely unethical. Then to abruptly end the relationship like that – I can only imagine the feelings you might have experienced. I’ve also experienced health care where I did not release info on past relationships but the new providers seemed to have information that could have only come from previous providers so it wasn’t a huge jump to put it together that they simply talk about me without that consent. While privacy acts appear to protect the client, they really provide the most benefit to those who see themselves as justifiably violating our personal rights, space and boundaries.

    I am glad you are here and can share your story and find support Susa; and like Darlene – I had also been in a state of fragmentation at one point and was given the diagnosis DID, although my experiences were induced by the trauma of being re-victimized by the mh providers over a period of years compounded by the early life sexual abuse I experienced that left me overwhelmed. And like Darlene, I found complete freedom from this state of being. I am glad you are here at EFB; this is the core message of this place – that it is possible to learn to live beyond that place of broken.

  10. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 22nd April

    @Lynda, Stef, Saljay; I’m thrilled to see the supports and discussions going on around these issues. Talking about our experincnes, validating one anothers feelings around them is so vital to the healing of the pain caused by these dysfuntional relationships. In the past, much of my energy and focus was on how unhelpful and hurtful these experiences were yet it was when I was able to shift my focus from being wronged to understanding the core issues that led me back to these kinds of relationships that I began to find the healing that empowered me to live beyond broken once and for all.

    While its really great if we can be so fortunate to find a helpful and healthy therapeutic relationship, and I was fortunate to have access to this if even for a short time in my journey, its not the relationship that healed me but the understanding that it was the core lies telling me I was “less than” and discovering that I held the power to heal myself that finally set me free. This is what makes EFB such a unique and wonderful place; its like a world wide support group where we can each share the insights that set me free from he belief that I had to have a therapist to tell me how to heal.

    Thank you for your contributions, each of you; this discussion is so valid and so valuable to the healing journey and the community here at EFB!

  11. By: artcathartic Posted: 22nd April

    Thank you Lynda and Pinky… sorry about that. We’re switching like a rolodex right now, and Christmas and Easter are bad times for our insider, Nasus. Also, the new T is causing more and more stress which causes some rapid switching. She seems to be “in it” only for the money, and does everything possible to waste our precious 50 minutes of therapy time. Husband sat in on much of the first session, and he didn’t like her at all – thought she was very egocentric. Yesterday, she hammered us with questions re: what other therapists we’ve seen in this area, until we told her. I think that would be none of her business, but she insisted. I believe that she has talked to the first T we had in this area – the one who insisted that we “trade” her the cost of sessions for a papercasting painting that I did, and unbeknownst to us, the session that concluded the payments for the painting turned out to be our last session with her! At the end of that session and after seeing her a few months, she said that she doesn’t really treat D.I.D., and that this would be our last session! She handed us a few names of psychologists that she had chosen at random from a city 4 hours away, and sent us packing! We were too naive at the time (back in 2006) to know that trading merchandise for therapy is unethical, and to send a client away without a reasonable referral is grounds for having your license revoked (client abandonment). Having the horrible boundaries that we did, we did nothing about reporting her.

    Now, the current new T apparently is friends with this woman, and has most likely discussed me. Husband says that he believes that I am getting worse with this woman, and becoming more damaged. I have only seen her 4 times, I think. She is totally non-empathetic, and very arrogant. Her feigned words of caring, which are very scant, seem very hollow and mechanical. She has forgotten everything about me and my past each time we have a session like she never listened, so we have to use time telling her again. She seems totally focused on her “fee”, even asking for her check at the beginning of one session. She flatly refused to fill out paperwork for my insurance, which was a lot, but I haggled with the insurance company so that she wouldn’t have to do that… then, they sent her a short version of the paperwork just to get her basic information, and she griped about that. She spent a lot of time griping about paperwork, and things that she had to do on her own time… however, it was okay for her to take time during my session to do a “few things” on her computer, and have the loud printer going printing during our session. If she won’t take time to even fill out insurance papers, nor read about our trauma history which I have briefly outlined on a couple of pages, why do I think that she would take the time to educate herself about D.I.D. therapy? I guess it’s because my boundaries are still weak, and she knows that when a younger one appears in therapy that she can do what she wants because they have absolutely NO boundaries. I still go to her because I keep hoping… Husband says that she is further damaging me…

    Easter is a bad time for us… and for our little self-persecutor insider, Nasus.

    Sorry to ramble – just having a tough time. Thinking about going therapist-less… with a little help from my inside friends as well as my outside ones….

    Susa/all
    .

  12. By: Pinky Posted: 21st April

    @artcahtartic, I have been in several night mare therapists situations one that put my abuser in touch with me and he found me thanks to them and tried to kill me. I did sue but did not win they it was years ago but just letting you know there are many bad therapists out there. I did find finally after many years one trustworthy one. But what helped me the most was a support group. IT was by far much more powerful than therapy for me and also free. I have therapy to be responsible but really the support groups have been the best!

  13. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 21st April

    Art Cathartic….. are you OK? Is there anything I can do to help?

    I DO care… I know so many of us Survivors, DO CARE. It’s true tho that it is hard to find a good caring therapist. Better no therapist than a bad therapist, I believe.

    HUGS
    Lynda

  14. By: artcathartic Posted: 21st April

    i think i’m giving up on finding a therapist. seems like nobody understands or cares.

  15. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 19th April

    Saljay, I’m so sorry that I got your name wrong! I wrote that last night when I was getting sleepy, and didn’t even realize I had written your name wrong. I know that is rude when people don’t bother to make sure they have your name written correctly …. I am especially aware of this, because, although my name is a very common name, it has an uncommon spelling, “LYNDA” instead of “LINDA,” the way most people spell it. My whole life long I have been telling people my name is spelled with a “Y” and not an “I,” and still people often get it wrong. No big deal I guess, but it sort of bothers me when that happens. But here is the really weird thing… a few months ago when I was very sleepy, I was writing something, and I signed my name, “Linda.” I was SHOCKED! I had misspelled my own name, after a lifetime of telling people how my name is spelled!!! DUH! (head slap). That’s how goofy I can get when I am sleepy.

    But even worse than that, I have accidentally called our dog, Lady, by my own name! I have done it TWICE, now…. both times, when I said to her, “LYNDA!” in an exasperated tone, because she was doing something annoying, Lady looked at me like I had Lost My Mind!! Idiot Savant, that is me…. with a DOG who is sometimes smarter than I am~

    ((HUG)) to Saljay.

    Lynda/Linda/Super-Silly Person

  16. By: Saljay Posted: 19th April

    Thanks Lynda, Yes I may be tempted to email my therapist LOL…I am pleased you understand how I feel, It really was a big shock to realise how authorities operate, people whom I once trusted so much. Thank you for you kind words.

    P.S/ My name is Saljay not Sally !

  17. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 18th April

    Susan, Stef, and Sally, this discussion really resonates with me~

    It seems to me that a large number of people who rise to positions of authority do so by being ruthlessly narcissistic…. they promote themselves above all others, they put others down so they can step up higher on the backs of those they see as beneath them. They charm, they play the role of a genuinely caring person, but they do so only to further their own cause… when the mask comes off, and their true character is seen, you are so right, Sally, it is quite a shock!

    Sally, I particularly like what you said about your therapist: “I now understand why she is permanently looking for the right way to say things, as rudeness seems to come way too easy to her.” LOVE IT! I would be tempted to send her a postcard saying exactly that!

    ((HUGS))
    Lynda

  18. By: saljay Posted: 18th April

    Thanks Susan and Lynda,It is so nice to be able to share how I feel with such understanding people,I can identify with a lot of what you say but one thing that’s for sure is I have never been shy at standing up for myself,I have never been afraid to say that I don’t like something, I always thought that if I reported abuse or wrong doings of any kind to the authorities they would immediately take note and the bad people would be dealt with appropriately , Through my naive thinking I was mentally ripped to bits by more than one person in authority and to top it all now my therapist..

    This kind of treatment from different authority figures has left me not trusting anyone again who has any kind of authority, I now think its better to just make an excuse and walk away from authority, as I am not going to wait around to have my head messed up and ridiculed again and again, Years ago if not months ago I was still standing up to people in authority , I never believe anyone was superior to me , I truly believed I was equal to all authority but now I believe they are not equal to me that they are below me and there is no point trying to discuss anything with these kinds of people as they don’t want to listen and I will come off worse..

    And I did come off worse, I got so down and depressed not because I have been conditioned not to stand up to people but I have been conditioned to believe people in authority are all good people and this is partly why I became ill because this was a lie, and realising that really messed me up, I have gone to meetings with authority figures and been very cleverly ridiculed and even given a pep talk on peoples skills when in fact the reason I had contacted the authorities in the first place was because I had evidence that a relative was been abused but it resulted in me been told how to behave, funny thing was when I told my therapist this she then went on to do the exact same thing to me.

    I am also dealing with a lot of issues from my childhood so this most recent blow from authority doesn’t help, You may get the odd person who is genuinely good in authority but even they will be manipulated into been part of the mentality and if they try to stand up to colleagues they will also be bullied and made to be the problem.

    Having been through one ordeal after another all my life, my last hope was authorities, I had been let down by everyone else in my life so the authorities were all I had , To my horror they all let me down as well, I am not just talking about my therapist, I am talking about a whole range of authority figures I have placed trust in, who have all individually betrayed my trust and made out its me, I never believed for one minute it was me, thank god, but the way these kind of people behave is very clever,

    I had to attend a meeting with some authority figures this month over the welfare of a relaitive that I beleved was been abused. I didn’t even realise immediately what had taken place at the meeting, I just left feeling confused and almost like a itch I couldn’t scratch,I politely shook all their hands and said good bye but I felt niggled something wasn’t right, I went home and reflected, for days, the conversation at the meeting spun round in my head, back and forth I replayed their words, The conclusion was that I had been very cleverly manipulated into thinking that once again everything was my fault and there was no abuse, it was ME once again who was the problem, The realisation hit me hard , I managed to keep upbeat as i has a therapy session in two days time, and like I said my therapist ended up been the same and she also spoke to me badly and let me down.

    What is hard is to tell others as people do start to think oh it must be her, not every one can be wrong and you know what, if it was me it would be easier to handle because I can change me but I cant change others, there is nothing I can do to change others, That’s whats hit me hard , other peoples behaviour, why would people behave so badly that I have turned to for help, people who are in authority and trusted, and the way they do this is almost an art in its self, so cleverly done and obviously this kind of manipulating, twisting, calculating mentality comes from years of experience and confidence which can only be gained through years of practice on others.

    YES it has left me feeling like I shouldn’t speak out anymore ,like I once did, I cant fight authority, I will only come off worse and I am living proof of that, Authority figures almost remind me of a unscrupulous religious sect or the KKK, I know they are not but this kind of thinKING. I have so much to get over and yes I am so afraid to venture out into the world again, every time I do I seem to be let down or hurt by people but I cant hide away from let downs and hurt for ever, and if I do I know this means everyone who ever has wronged me in the past has won. Its going to be really hard to start over , its is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done but I don’t see what choice I have, I cant give my life away to all my abusers, like Steph said its my life and I got to take it back, Just hope I can dig down deep and find the strength to take my life back whilst dealing with a crippling depression with no therapist or meds.(I refused to take meds) Thank you to everyone for listening.

  19. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 18th April

    Saljay; I so understand all the issues you are describing; it is so wrong that this current person you are seeking help from is treating you in the ways you describe and I feel badly that you are facing this. You are very much entitled to say “I don’t like this” and not be questioned or ridiculed. No one has the right to talk down to another human being in the manner you describe-this is hurtful and abusive behavior. Each of has has every right to feel safe in our therapy relationships. The thing is, like you mentioned, is that if we complain we are seen – and often told – that the problem is not with the therapy model, the therapist but that the problem is “you”; and believing that is what kept me going back for more. I carried the responsibility for the abusers in my life for many many years. When I gave it back to them is when I began to find the strength to learn to live beyond all the issues that caused me to struggle. Theres a REASON I felt bad, depressed and overwhelmed and that reason is because I’d been trained early on that I had no value, had no right to say “no” or “I don’t like this”. What I realized is that carrying this burden of proof that I was defective was weighing me down; I felt helpless to change my life and powerless to escape these overwhelming feelings of failure.

    This is a favorite tactic of all abusers; to keep us coming back for more because we believe from being told this in the original abuse that this is true. I was trained to never question the “doctors” and of course therapists were an extension of “doctor” so I didn’t question them either. Well, actually I did in the beginning but their attacks on my character and the way they just insisted that I was whatever diagnosis they were giving me was evidence that I was faulty and to blame. This kind of abuse – this imbalance of power and control therapists and doctors had to define me and tell me I was defective or to blame for therapy “failures’ let them off the hook. And this is so prevalent in mental health treatment that in the beginning I DID leave and move to a different therapist or doctor. But then this was like divorcing one abuser only to marry another. It was in learning to recognize my own value that I stopped putting myself in these dysfunctional relationships.

    I also experienced severe depressions when I was in “therapy” and what I’ve found is that this is a very normal response to overwhelming life circumstances as were all the other “maladaptive coping skills” I”d used to survive the abuse and being told and shown I held no value of my own. Diagnosis never helped me find my way, the drugs only numbed me so I couldn’t feel the pain. Therapy taught me to avoid the pain and reinforced that I needed the drugs because of whatever the diagnosis was. Drugs and diagnosis did not help me heal but learning to stand up for myself, dig down into the deepest parts of me where my beliefs about how I was wrong, bad, not good enough, could never do anything good enough, wasn’t worthy….getting down to those lies and replacing them with the belief that NO ONE has a right to treat me badly is where I found my power.

    I also lived in isolation for a long time – and it was in learning to value myself and see others as equal rather than on some step above me that I realized I no longer had to hide in shame nor in fear because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Being alone was a safe place to be while I rested and recovered from the burden of being others scapegoat and finding my value was the first step to finding my voice.

    I’m glad you’re here…this is a wonderful place to do the kind of work that made such a difference in my own journey. I hope we’ll see you again – thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

  20. By: saljay Posted: 18th April

    Hi Steph, thank you for your reply, I appreciate all you said. I agree with you I am not going to go back to see my therapist, anyone who makes me feel like a underdog I shouldn’t associate with especially my therapist! The problem is I was given this therapist through my doctor, I cant pick and choose who I have, I have to take who I am given, I already complained about my first therapist who was in fact good, now I look back(compared to this one) but she rarely turned in for work so I asked for another therapist and I got one who comes to work but she is a Hitler, I don’t pay for my therapist so I cant pick and choose or interview them first, but I can ask for another, I doubt I can change from one therapist to another often, I am sure this will reflect on me like I am the one with the problem and to be honest I have lost faith in therapists now.I will have to give some kind of explanation as they will contact me and ask me why, I think I will say I don’t feel like I am jelling with her and see what they say to that.

    I am pleased you also understand what it is like been alone, most of the time it doesn’t bother me , I quite enjoy my own company and the peace and quite after all I have been through but to think I would be like this for the rest of my life sends shivers down my spine,I know I have to start work, this will open the doors to new people and focus all my energy on work rather than slumped at home, when I feel OK(meaning not depressed) I am always busy in the house or out and about and I look forward to sitting down in the evening. everything seems OK and I have hope.

    When the depression hits it takes over and it actually cripples me, It seem to be like waves,for a week or so I am really happy, loving life and really enjoying feeling that way, but I am constantly scared the good feeling will go away, I keep busy and pray I will stay in the happy frame of mind… Then BOOM! I am crippled again ,no energy, my body clock gets messed up, sleeping late , waking late, I don’t want to go out, get dressed, see anyone or do any house work due to feeling so exhausted and a deeply sad dark mood, I don’t even get washed..it seems I have lost control again..The weather make me worse, strangely enough I feel worse when the weather is good, I think its because I feel I should be out in the good weather,I feel every one else has such a great life, but me, I feel guilty as I know I should be working and trying to do more with my life but when I feel like that I cant seem to do anything,its like there is a brick wall stopping me from moving forward, this can go on for weeks and there is nothing I can do to change it. Then out of the blue I will feel either normal again or extremely happy, I don’t seem to have control of my moods anymore,

    When I am myself,(what I can remember , its been so long) I am a very sociable person , in fact quite loud and out going, not shy at all, I have worked in a outgoing lively work environment as this was my personality but I do dread working with bitchy people, I cant really see a way to avoid this as I do need the money and book keeping or quieter jobs would not pay me enough money to cover my overheads..So I feel I have no choice who I work for, I am not afraid to answer back but after I would get upset, I am not sure how I would handle work if I was having problems at work that maybe would result in these depressive episodes, hopefully I wouldn’t have them as bad if I was getting out more..All I want is to live a normal life but it seems so hard to get ;-(

  21. By: Stef Posted: 18th April

    {{saljay}}

    If it were me…I’d go looking for a different therapist and never EVER go back to that one. She doesn’t need an explanation. Just move on for your sake and be sure to interview counselors to be sure they practice the type of counseling you think you will be open to and most responsive to…as well as being sure their personality sets well with you.

    I am not a therapist of any kind (i’m a file clerk;) so I can’t diagnose you though I seriously doubt you have bipolar disorder. I think you have a bad therapist and you are spending too much time alone. It’s hard to battle depression/anxiety when you are constantly by yourself. You describe a current life situation that I can very much relate to. One of the reasons I am a file clerk (in a very small firm) is because I can’t take the backstabbing, gossipy, cruel, catty behavior that goes on in most workplaces. It drags me down emotionally and who needs that? So, I surmised working in a small office (10ppl here) in a back room all to myself would be perfect. And it is, for me. My point is give this some thought while looking for work.

    I’ve gone through very long time frames (a year here, two years there) where I had no one for the same reasons you describe. That and I simply could not stomach socializing, chancing making new friends and being betrayed or abused by them later on…too scary…so I stayed alone. It was extremely depressing at times. I think by nature I am a private person so being alone didn’t bother me too much except that it gave me all this time to think about the traumas, the hurts, the betrayals. It also got terribly lonesome sometimes. Too much time with yourself can be a bad thing for anyone. What worked for me was slowly but surely getting back to things I enjoy or always wanted to try…hiking, biking, painting, reading more…going to a coffee shop for coffee and read a few chapters of a book can be a great way to meet nice people. Or at least be out of the house and near people. That’s the most important thing. Go slow as feels comfy for you but it is good to get out sometimes, do something different or something you’ve not allowed yourself to enjoy in a long time. Before you know it you’ll be chatting with like minded people who are reasonable enough to allow you develop the friendship at YOUR own pace.

    First and foremost, you must believe you deserve this happiness and comfort in your life. You must believe you have the right to walk away from your therapist and find a better one for you. You must believe you deserve to enjoy a walk on a nice day and to chat with that nice woman at the coffee shop. You deserve smiles. You deserve to do things that make you feel good about yourself. You deserve to enjoy life. Because guess what? It is YOUR LIFE. You have complete power over how you spend it. Take back your power.

    love&hugs
    stef

  22. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 18th April

    Jojo – thank you for contributing your view from the perspective of someone who works in this field. Your contribution is so very validating for those of us who have been conditioned by silence to tolerate this kind of thing in our lives. You’d said:

    “Until patients start speaking out for themselves and demand that these practices stop, nothing will ever change. The best thing any consumer can do is get involved in your treatment, ask questions, ask what your choices are. If your medications are not working for you, tell your doctor. Keep telling your doctor until you find something that works. Do not accept being forced to take what is given to you and do not accept being told that you are being “noncompliant.” Be proactive in your health care and always demand copies of your records. It’s important to know what the TP is saying about you because that record will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

    And that is very much what this post is about; the fact that those who have been violated in the important developmental years are often the most susceptible to this kind of overpowering control tactics and the subtle abuses that keep us under the thumb of those who view us as “less than”. My first goal outside of giving voice to those who have been abused this way is to take this kind of abuse out of the closet that victims may be empowered with the knowledge that this is no longer “Ok”. Up to this point – any revealing of these abuses have been taken in stride and accepted as a “normal” part of the therapeutic process. Complaints of mistreatment, coercion etc have been viewed as so normal that the victims are blamed by the abuser, then the system we are supposed to turn to for protection to complain as being the justification for this kind of mistreatment.

    The first step to empowering the victims is to let them know they are not the “only one”, this is not “normal” and its not their fault. The second is to make it known to those who protect the abusers by shaming the victims that its not ok for society to continue to blame the victims and shame them into silence. The typical response I hear is that we “had a choice and could have left” but the truth of the matter is that many of us DO leave these abusive relationships only to walk into another that again reinforces what the first one said. Ultimately – the victims shut down further and as in the original abuse begin to take responsibility for the failure of these dysfunctional and abusive therapeutic relationships. I really see this discussion as another step in recognizing that victims are not responsible for being abused and that accepting this as a normal part of the therapeutic process simply allows the abusers to continue to abuse. May is “mental health awareness” month and I cannot think of a better issue to become aware of.

  23. By: saljay Posted: 18th April

    Thank you for your replies regarding my therapist,I was supposed to see her today but I have cancelled today’s session I called the reception and the reception staff wanted to put me through to my therapist so I could explain to her why I couldn’t come,(I said I was sick) I asked the receptionist if she could pass on the message, she said “don’t you want to speak to your therapist to explain,” I said “no,can you pass on the message please,” ..AWKWARD!! …My therapist is off work for the next two weeks( I was forewarned) so I don’t have to see her for three weeks, which is a great relief, plus it will give me time to see how I feel about going back to see her again.

    Its been a week today since I last saw my therapist, I am not sure if it down to her but I have hardly got dressed since then, I was OK the day after but I slowly slumped into feeling really depressed again, I will try to explain how my therapist made me feel..I think a lot of what bothers me about her is her stand offish way, I realize my therapist cant become my best friend but when I finish my session and leave to say goodbye, I say “have a nice week” and she replies in a really stern way “you too” nothing wrong with what she says but more how she says it, also another way that bothers me is the way she looks at me , she looks at me like I am a really complicated matter and she is constantly saying “now how can I word this” and “let me think of the right way to say this to you” I want to say “just speak to me normal,” I know she has to be careful how she says things but constantly hearing this from her makes me feel like I have some kind of challenging behaviour and she cant speak as she would to a so called “normal” person

    Then been told off by my therapist because I don’t stick to one subject at a time and the most upsetting comment from her was when she said “you might as well be sitting in a room talking to yourself,there is no need for me to be here,” I actually found that comment quite insulting and reflecting on this I now understand why she is permanently looking for the right way to say things, as rudeness seems to come way too easy to her . I felt really hurt as well as betrayed that my therapist who I had given all my trust to would turn around and say such a rude comment, and what got me even more in reflecting on my session was ME! how I actually agreed with her because she made me feel belittled and vulnerable! If I do go back I will try to explain to her how she has made me feel but from what I have experienced people like this don’t like it when you stand up to them and after what I have witnessed with my therapist attitude so far, I am worried she may mess with my head even more if I say anything to her, I have lost trust and respect for her,If I say anything to her managers , they will only look to all the people who are happy with her and I will be made out to be the problem, so I think it is probably better to say I have started full time work and just walk away..for my own sake.

    I am starting to wonder if I have bipolar as my mood swings are up and down, then I wonder if its down to the fact that I have zero support(apart from EFB which is excellent) I have been through hell most of my life and let down by everyone I have ever loved and trusted,I am finding it hard to go back to work, I spend all my days alone as I have had to disown everyone from my past, I came to realise everyone in my past life was dysfunctional and dragging me down, if I wanted to recover I had to have no more contact with these kind of people, I had latched on to these kind of people because it was all I ever knew due to coming from a dysfunctional family but fortunately I realised this and slowly I have taken myself away from these types of mentalities which has left me with no one, and I mean no one, totally alone, so I think anyone who is totally alone is going to have mood swings but I am not sure.

    I was doing well last week, I started to look for job but deep down I am afraid of working with nasty people as I have been through enough already(not sure if I could deal with more) but hopefully I will meet some good people at work, I was feeling really great last week, got a lot of housework done, had lots of energy,positive attitude, I actually saw a future for myself, then boom out of nowhere I started to feel really depressed again(just after my therapy session)and so far I haven’t got dressed for three days,cant be bothered doing anything, I have PMT at the moment but this has happened before a lot sometimes lasting weeks, I am starting to wonder what triggers these episodes, on reflection it seems to be when someone has upset me, (I think,) I know in life there is always going to be people who may upset me but (I think) these episodes are more to do with people who I trusted or even loved that have betrayed me in some way,its that kind of upset that triggers my depressions, Like how my therapist behaved towards me….Any comments , feedback , would be greatly appreciated ,Please don’t be afraid to be honest with me, (just not hurtful, LOL !)..

  24. By: Stef Posted: 17th April

    Lynda…no worries about the name spelling. I guess it should be “steph” since my name is Stephanie…I use the f out of laziness, I think! lol
    But I appreciate your concern and understand the annoyance…it seems that especially after going through such traumas in life, being dismissed and marginalized…we need to have our names right!
    My husband is Korean and having his last name (a very simple, very common Korean last name) has been so annoying…No one EVER gets it right. It’s three simple letters! I think it’s that no one understands an european american having such a name…I wish people (in general) could be more attentive and accepting, but I digress:)

    I live in Austin so no, Lynne is not year you:-< I wish she was! But definitely search for a counselor (that is a licensed counselor as opposed to a psychiatrist or psychologist) and search for someone who practices "transpersonal" counseling, regression therapy and EMDR. I bet there is someone in your area. Question them when you speak to them. Do your research and be armed with questions to be sure they are on your wavelength of what you feel you need. That's the best advice I could give anyone, no matter what type of therapy you seek.
    Best of luck to you sister!

    And I share everyone's sentiments about JoJo's post. It was so refreshing to see it that I teared up with hope! Thank you JoJo and I pray you find the career that suits you best. It sounds to me as though you might do great as a counselor working for yourself. If you want to help people please don't give up on that because we need you.

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