No group this week and there won't be one for the next couple of weeks as they re-stock their supply of patients. A strange way of putting it,but apt.
I went to my private session and immediately explained that I didn't do very well the previous week. It was easier to say than I thought. If this was a few years ago, I would have lied and lied and said "Oh noes, it was perfectly fine, you must have been mistaken." I would have smiled and giggled and fawned it off as nothing and I would have believed my own lie. But I was honest that it was really not good for me. I couldn't keep a straight face, I smiled a bit, but less than my usual. That I knew it was bad because I spent the next two days wishing I had died on the operating table and going over the utter pointlessness of life. That I got through it, by working on a project that means a lot to me and that helped me cope with those feelings.
New Therapist told me she suspected I was triggered, but admitted that I am a little too good at pretending to be fine. That I need to be upfront about being triggered and tell her that the topic is upsetting me.
"But sometimes I don't realize that it is upsetting me. I actually buy into my performance so much, that at that moment I will honestly believe everything is fine. It might not hit me until hours or even days later." (Seta from Kenshin also smiles to hide everything. I don't know if I stole the idea from him.)
Most of the session was devoted to grounding and learning how to notice my own feelings. I'm good with noticing everyone else's and copying their's, but I generally ignore mine and I don't really stay in the present.
We did a bit of progressive relaxation, basically you try to relax muscles that tension up in emotional moments by focusing on them and letting go. I managed to get 2/3, I couldn't seem to get my throat to stop being tight. Apparently, it's normal for PTSD patients to feel tightness in their throat. She led me through it and every time she said something like "tell your self, you're safe" I found myself feeling weird like a cold crawling sensation. I mentioned it and part of my homework is to notice places where I feel safe.
We talked more about being in touch with the body and how I'm not. I often ignore physical symptoms. I avoid them and pretend they aren't there. It can really catch up to me when I exercise, because I won't notice that my heart rate has changed. I'll think I'm fine, but I'm not. I don't really exercise in serious manner, I did pre-surgery but I stopped afterward. I only recently started again. If I'm on a machine, it's not so bad, because I can see my heart rate and slow down, but in a class I can't and I don't know how or when to slow down because I don't feel it.
I am disconnected from my body.
We talked about this, and I suddenly started crying and said "because I'm afraid of the pain."
"You have body flash backs?"
"Yes. I don't think it's real and I don't think people will believe me."
"I've done research on body flashbacks. I've had patients who were burned, and when they'd remember the experience the burn would show up on their skin. A burn from years ago. I had another patient who was whipped and when they'd flash back the marks would return as though it had just been done. It is real. The brain is amazing. It's kinda like that thing in the Bible. Oh what's that word. Injuries of Christ..."
"Stigmata?" (I haven't seen the Gabriel Byrne film, so here's one of Byrne a dog.)
"Yes. What we need to do is train your brain to be in the present. To keep you grounded. If we do that, these memories from the past won't keep coming up from the present. What do you do when you feel that pain?"
"I ignore it. When it was a real thing, I use to take Advil and Naproxen for it, but both are blood thinners and that's bad for my Von Willebrands (a bleeding disorder) and anemia. So my choice was pain or more blood loss."
"What about like a hot water bottle?"
"Yes, back then... But I avoid all of it, because it reminds me too much of incident. But the pain gets worse when I ignore it, it's better when I deal with it but it also upsets me."
"It's good you know that. But you need to take care of yourself."
That's my homework. Trying to notice and feel my body again. Also, trying to figure out where I feel safe.
We talked a bit about injustice. What do you do when the facts back up the negative. In my case, there will never be any justice for what happened to me. She asked me if I really believed that. I said the evidence shows that it's the truth, that people like that never have anything bad happen to them. I can work to try to fix the system, or educate people, but I won't get individual justice or compensation for what happened.
She told me that I might need to believe that I will get justice. I told her that can't believe that, because the facts don't line up. Doctors in Canada rarely get more than a slap on the wrist, so how can I believe this one would get more than that? I know doctor type people will jump in and say not all doctors/nurses/medical people, I'm sorry good doctors/nurses/medical people but you damn well know that some of your colleagues are fuck ups and butchers. It isn't that they had a bad day, or made a single mistake, it's a pattern for them. I'd understand if it was an honest mistake, and if it was acknowledged and I was actually treated for it. But when you bury it under lies and change my medical records and keep lying, that isn't a fucking honest mistake that's an abuse of power.
She oddly compared me to Spock, which I was flattered and thought, ya AU angry Spock. Leonard Nimoy passed away a few days after this session. :(
She gave me this story, which I'm not sure what to make of yet. I'd link it, but it's not online. It's about a person that was raised to believe 2+2=5 and then has to live in a world where 2+2=4.
I'm working on getting to know my body again. It's gonna be hard because pain is scary.