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Group Therapy 4 : Facts and Feelings

Things have evened out and I think it's going over all very well.

Is it normal for so many people to drop out? I understand that therapy is difficult and you need to be ready to change. I'm just a little surprised that so many people just stop showing. Maybe I'm lucky that I can keep going, even when I'm upset. That I'm in a different place right now. I've also been going to therapy for over two years now and for some reason, no matter what happens I always keep an appointment. The anxiety of not going to an official appointment is way worse than going. I am admittedly terrible when it comes to going to places I've never been or going to the gym. That seems less official to me.

Leaving therapy is on my mind because I got a call from one of the group leaders partially because she thought I was gonna leave. I assured her I wasn't, I had waited a year and a half to be here, so I wasn't going anywhere.


Context on the phone call.

This week we worked on an exercise where you have to compare your feelings to the actual facts. I'm pretty good at this in some aspects. Of course I get a little sad when I see that friends of mine have gone out without me, but I don't jump to the conclusion they don't like me. I'm more like "awwwww that would have been fun, I'm lonely and feel left out." I jump to conclusions in professional things. I'm not very good at my job (I have some gaps in my knowledge), I'm a terrible writer that's why I don't get published (I don't submit anything that's why I don't get published, I do need to polish my skills), my co-workers dislike me (they are actually tired and cranky), I broke this thing because I suck (No, I broke it because I wasn't paying attention), etc.

Things like that I can project my feelings on and they don't match the facts. I don't do that so much with friends (well ones I know well) because I don't feel insecure about myself around my good friends. New friends or people I don't know very well I do make assumptions like that they don't like me very much. I always tell myself, they are busy and just leave it at that.

So I think this exercise will be hard, but good. I'm aware that I do it, and that I am a little hard on myself. That some of my feelings don't line up with the facts. The point is that seeing the facts with reduce the emotional reaction and put things into perspective.


But what about when the facts line up with your feelings?

The example I gave was going to the doctor. My feeling is that it's gonna be uncomfortable, and the fact is that it will be uncomfortable in order to help me. What do you do to reduce the emotional reaction?


The advice was that it was short discomfort, so you can prepare yourself by knowing it will be over.

But what if the discomfort isn't 8 minutes long, but like a year?

The advice was to take it moment by moment and that often your feelings won't be line with the facts. That pain can be manageable.


This didn't really sit well with me, because I need to reduce my emotional reaction to medicine because right now I come off as crazy. But the problem is my facts are right. Doctors are too busy, and they will at times not listen. Because I am woman, my pain has about 60% chance of being perceived as a mental problem rather than a physical one. If I have a strong emotional reaction, I'll be given a sedative rather than a pain killer. Because pain is a bodily experience I remember it too well. I know I am projecting 'I am crazy', but when you cry and they roll their eyes at you, it's hard not to feel that way.

It's difficult not to see the past as facts because it's evidence for a pattern. It's difficult for me to not look at the past, because the past informs the present. The past is the context. To come to every situation as though it's new and the first time is difficult, because I can't forget pain. I can't forget not being believed. I can't forget I almost died from a manageable and pedestrian illness.


I tried to discuss this and I became upset. I started to panic and I got into my pattern when I hit my higher trauma modes of "But no one will believe me anyway, because I'm crazy."


I can't remember what they said. I remember shaking. I remember quoting stats. I remember saying institutional misogyny. I remember people looking down at their sheet of paper. I remember saying "Don't go to this hospital. Just don't." I remember worrying that I had made people uncomfortable and deciding that I was okay with that.


They advised that for my homework I work on something less traumatic. This makes sense. Baby steps. But I of course want to slay the emotional dragon. And the co leader asked me to stay behind to talk about pain management. Another group member reacted strongly to the material and got up and left. She left to care of them. (This is the group member that apparently upsets people. I don't find them upsetting. I understand they are frustrated and that it's difficult for them.)

I waited for 15 minutes and then left. I wasn't upset. I assumed she had her hands full with the other member.


So she called me to see if was okay. I was okay. I'm better at the reliving. But it's hard. It's so hard. And I can't live like that. She tells me that the therapy will help and that she hopes that I continued to attend. I was surprised that she thought I might leave. It didn't cross my mind. I'm not sold on the 6 months of DBT, but I'll probably do it in the hopes that will change the way I think.

She asked about my pain, and advised for care. I told her I didn't know if I was in pain any more, sometimes I just remember it so well I feel it. I can't even deal with the idea of someone attending to me, of someone actually taking me seriously. Treating me with respect. The conversation went very well. She listened, I didn't tell her much because it makes me too upset and I was already exhausted from being panicked earlier. I needed to cool down and get on with my day.

I watched a lot of The Walking Dead. Carol always comforts me.


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