It sucks to have a counselor who doesn’t understand disabling chronic illness or neurological illness. Am I the only chronic who struggles with therapy?
It sucks to have a counselor who doesn’t understand multicultural issues. Or narcissistic personality disorder. Or chronic depersonalization and derealization disorder.
I know it’s hard to find a counselor who specializes in one of these issues, let alone all of them. So I try to be patient. I figure I don’t have to try to explain all of these things to them because it would take forever and even then they wouldn’t understand, most likely. (Do I have to explain my bizarre family? How my parents just don’t function like parents or anything close to a normal person? That there isn’t much to my dad other than that he’s an a—— with a missing personality? How profanity still makes me flinch and look over my shoulder even as an adult? How none of it will ever add up or make sense no matter how much you look at it? Do I have to explain who much my illness has affected my life and ability to function? What poverty is like with chronic illness? What isolation is like? Why I struggle with employment? How my illness directly affects my mood and emotions? How I’ve always struggled with connecting with people? How I’m wary about talking to people much due to past negative experiences? How amnesia and neurological problems makes it hard to put the pieces together of who I was and what actually happened in my life?)
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t explain it all in a counseling session.
So I end up leaving things out. They can’t understand. For some reason, they think they can. Is it not arrogant of counselors to think they can understand all of another person’s life, or is it just me? I feel like they should just be there to guide you in working through things yourself while accepting that they’re not ever going to know your full story.
I think I end up frustrating my therapists because I think this way and function this way.
“Okay, okay, you want to help me make a Hollywood movies out of my strange, f—- up life?” I want to say that. I feel like people understand things much better if they see it acted out in a movie than if they’re just told it in a counseling session.
Counseling is awkward.
I really do want to make a movie or two about my life. I need some way to tell my story. That would help me. I really want to flesh out my story. Is that weird?
Life makes no sense, at least not the way we’re expected to live it. All these things happen, then we’re supposed to pretend they never happened. Live for the moment. Live in the moment. Everything else is dead. Everything else has died. We only exist in the moment.
But I can’t live in this moment, somehow. There’s the explosion of activity and chaos in the first few decades of my life versus the quiet of this room. And, nothing to draw my attention in the present moment.
Nothing. Nothing seems to draw my attention in the present moment. I just don’t care. I’m flying through life and never landing. Floating through it like it’s not happening. Like it never happened. Because I don’t care. Because I can’t seem to get myself to care. (I’m not sure how much of this is due to derealization disorder.)
No weddings. No funerals. Just busywork.
I just want to feel warm and fed. That’s the only real goal in my life. If my body temperature gets off, everything gets thrown off, thanks to dysautonomia (body has trouble regulating temperature on its own).
That’s my goal. That’s my life goal. That’s all life is about. Or at least it feels that way.
I wish there was more people in my life, partly to add some more color or life to my life. All I have is my plants and some wall decor to try to bring some life here.
Big projects feel like the only thing I can do to do more with my life. I have a difficult time keeping up with big projects like I did before my illness. I’ve learned that if I start something, I won’t finish it, so I just don’t start things anymore. It’s partly because I have way too many other things on my mind due to illness. Illness is a constant battle and a full-time job.
I have a horrible urge to paint the walls of my room. To make it less bland and more joyful. Less quiet. More compelling.
The point of all this is that I don’t know how to approach therapy.
Where do I start?
I really just want to unearth something in therapy, not have to explain my whole life.
And how do I explain the nothing that devours me? The nothing of the present moment, that only turns into more nothing if I forget everything I am and everything that happened in my past? In my past, there was a whole world. Now that world is gone and replaced by a small empty room.
Now I’m just a ghost that wanders the world, lost, with unfinished business.
Maybe I am really dead. I can’t help but at least think of this as some sort of pseudo-death.
Oh yeah, I was numb during the most tragic and traumatic events of my life. So I don’t even feel much emotion when I think of them. How am I supposed to explain that in therapy? I can’t even explain it to myself.
Therapy is lame. I feel like I’m going to a counselor who only expects me to have had a few years of life experience under my belt and lots of immaturity. Instead I have lots of years of tragedy and lots of coldness. The coldness that comes with having seen too much. The ultimate form of maturity.
I hate being talked to like I’m 2 years old. When a counselor assumes all your problems are relationship problems. Or that being unemployed is a choice. Or that you’re too young to have much to talk about.
When I think about it, I feel like my therapist must’ve drank through a good chunk of his life, just from the way he talks about life and the assumptions he makes about other people’s lives. Life is simple when you’re drunk because you can’t remember much of it so it’s not like much happened.
I’m just rambling.
He doesn’t seem like the drinking type.
But he does seem simple. Normal. Basic.
Just a regular white American guy who’ll have a normal career and retire one day. Maybe a wife. Some sort of hobbies. Watches TV in his free time, maybe reads on occasion. Lots of pride in his career. In fact uses his career as his only source of identity and self-worth. Life is simple.
He doesn’t know what it’s like to float above this life and look down at it from a distance, wondering what it’s all about.
He does think he knows me. Just from the first meeting, he already thinks he’s got it all down.
I’ll be honest, it irritates me a little.
To be fair, I already noticed that he had a weird tendency to draw possibly erroneous or unfounded conclusions about people from the first meeting.
Hmm, just a normal girl, no tattoos. Appears Caucasian.
I can imagine that’s all he thought about me. He knew it all. My narc radar gets set off when I’m around people like that. Narcissists I’ve known could know you for several years and still not know you. It gets weird. How can you possibly know someone for several years and still not know them? I had a friend like that, and our relationship felt completely pointless. He didn’t feel like a friend at all.
When I mentioned to my therapist that not much of my life is normal, he said that we had to work on making it more normal.
When I said “not normal”, he interpreted as meaning something is wrong, like some sort of problem in my life that needed to be worked on. Huh? Maybe there’s a language barrier here?
I can’t really “work on” my race, my culture. I can’t change my family or make them normal. I can’t make my illness go away or change who I’ve become because of it.
Language barriers seem to abound in therapy. I say one thing, he hears another. Lots of barriers, period. Too many barriers. Do we have to do this talk thing? I don’t have the stamina for this incredible mountain.
He complained that I don’t explain enough about the details of my life to him. Like details about my father. Wtf, is that important now? Is there something I’m missing or not understanding here?
When I told him there’s too much to explain and too much to talk about, he started going into a rant about prioritizing.
He told me to pick one thing and just focus on that.
Wtf, did he just contradict himself? Does he want the details about my father or does he just want me to focus on the most important thing?
I do sometimes notice circular logic and contradictions in his speech. But I just figured he just didn’t realize what he was saying or something
Why does he care about my father anyway? What does he want to know?
We had already established that my dad was pretty absent and kept to himself. You’d think that would be the end of any curiosity.
Maybe we just have different opinions on what’s important.
Reminds me a little too much of conversations with narcissists that leave you a little too confused as to wtf they’re thinking and why they say the things or draw the conclusions they do (usually it’s to egg you on, pigeonhole you, or make you feel like you’ve done something wrong). The reason this is different is because he’s not the first therapist to say this. I guess they expect me to walk in there, all loquacious and caffeinated, but instead my brain works super-slow and I can barely get words out. Hooray for neurological illness. (But of course, in therapy, it’s considered low self-esteem if you say you have an illness, and they have to change that.)
At least my brain works fast enough to recognize his contradictory statements.
His sometimes counter-productive logic.
His seemingly superficial understanding of psychological concepts such as trauma.
His difficulty with complex thought and disorganized speech.
His oversimplification of seemingly everything.
Funny, because when I used the words “complex” and “complicated” to describe my life, he for some reason thought I meant that I had some tough problems to deal with or something.
It’s as if he completely lost the context of what I was saying. I had literally said life is too complex to explain it all.