Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

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Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:01 am

It's been three sessions so far ("THIS SHIT TAKES MONTHS TO WORK STOP BEING IMPATIENT" screams the forum), and we haven't really gotten anywhere.

To the therapist's credit, she hasn't tried to pander or anything dumb like that, she's had legitimate advice.

I tried being as open as I could force myself, and spent the entire time fighting the urge to cry, because I was being reminded of a lot of shit in the past that hurt me a lot.

It's not registering at all, honestly. She was trying to get me to admit that I had achieved some things in my life and I said, "So what? It means nothing if I don't accomplish anything else. All that makes me is 'that guy who did that one thing once.'"

To which she responded, "so you can't be proud of anything you've done if you don't accomplish anything else."

"Yes."

She just shook her head silently at this. There's been a lot of those moments so far, when I end up out-logicing her. I'm at least happy she's not like my mother, I was scared that all shrinks would be as horrible at it as she is. So credit where it's due: this therapist is not an idiot by any means. Still doesn't mean she can fix me.

So we went over why I wanted to kill myself: me hating myself. Why do I hate myself? Years of abuse and bullying have convinced me that my life is absolutely worthless, and there's no evidence to the contrary.

Does anyone love me? Apart from my family, no one. Would they be sad if I died? Of course they would. Would I want to make them sad? Of course not, but I'm hurting too much, I'm desperate. Why are you desperate? I don't want to spend any more time like this. Would you think they'd call you selfish? You're goddamn right they would, they'd blame me and everything. Why is that? I'm just a statistic to them, someone to brag about at parties, someone they pretend is accomplishing things.

And so on. On and on and on. It just feels like I'm going in circles, she even said that. "You have black-and-white thinking, you jump to the worst possible conclusion and you need to learn how to catch yourself. We'll find ways to do that."

Honestly I think she's pretty uncertain she can help me, and granted there's probably not a single person on this planet who could help me.

Part of confidence, according to Confirmed Happy Motivational Speaker Mark Manson, is to accept your limitations. Maybe if I accepted that I have a shit job and a shit love life and my Eastern European gorilla face and no friends and blah blah blah, I'd be happy. But I doubt that.

So she asked me about that: why do you think you're worse than anyone else? "I'm bad at everything. There's nothing that I'm good at."

"Not even film?"

"Film is what I'm best at, but I'm worse than everyone else at it."

"I don't understand."

"I played hockey for seven years. I barely improved in seven years. I was worse at hockey than people who'd only just started playing. I don't have the capacity to gain skill in anything." This is entirely true. I only played hockey to make my dad proud of me, and that...didn't even happen.

So like I said, circles and circles and circles, and I can't logic myself out of the way I think, because I can find nothing attractive and desirable at myself. I know that I obsess over sex so I'm constantly looking forward to something, convincing myself that a woman's love could fix all my problems (a la "500 Days of Summer") so that I don't have to take responsibility for my own life. But that wasn't figured out in therapy.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Izmuth on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:28 am

We as humans love to disagree, and our own arguments always hold more value. If you want your therapist to convince you you're wrong (A.K.A. you want her to "out-logic" you), you're in for a rough ride.

But does it help you in any way to be right?

I suggest therefore to change your choice of words. Don't say "I'm bad at everything", say "I feel bad at everything". Don't say "I outlogicked her", say "I couldn't see it her way". It's a small thing, but if you keep phrasing it as objective fact, it will be that much harder to change.

And did you already try meds? In my case they didn't work, but with other people they really worked miracles.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Enail on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:32 am

As well as the predicted response, which I guess you've said for me  Wink , I'm not sure that you should expect that she will out-logic you. I don't think that's necessarily the point of therapy, and I'm not sure it's even possible to outlogic someone about their own thinking, because their own thinking controls all the interpretation of situations and determines what fundamental premises are accepted as the laws of the universe.  

Rather, what I would guess you can get out of this are: a safe place to talk out your feelings, which could be useful both as an outlet and as practice with vulnerability and self-expression. And techniques to deal with your feelings and thoughts, finding turn-offs out of negative spirals, ways to identify jerkbrain thinking and to detach from it or turn it off, that kind of thing. Maybe some other things I'm not thinking of or don't know about, but overall, I suspect the point is not going to be to fix you so much as to find ways that you can live with yourself more comfortably.

If you want to get the most out of it, make sure to practice anything she suggests as much as you can. You can also talk with her about what you can expect to get out of it and let her know any particular things you'd like to work on or find techniques to help with. Since I think you said this was a limited number of sessions, talk with her pretty early about what your next steps can be, if she can refer you to something longer-term, if she has recommendations on how you can maintain any skills you've developed or what you could be working on on your own.

Glides, you're doing good! Remember that you don't have to have achieved everything you want to by session three to be doing good work and getting something out of it.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by kath on Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:07 pm

I don't think "logic" is what you need, Glides, and I don't think she's trying to logic you out of anything.

I would say even if it's frustrating and feels illogical, keep doing it. You don't have to start loving it, stop wishing it was more logical, or even stop venting about it here, but if you can stand it, I'd keep doing it - and give it some serious time before stopping.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:24 pm

Izmuth wrote:We as humans love to disagree, and our own arguments always hold more value. If you want your therapist to convince you you're wrong (A.K.A. you want her to "out-logic" you), you're in for a rough ride.

But does it help you in any way to be right?

I suggest therefore to change your choice of words. Don't say "I'm bad at everything", say "I feel bad at everything". Don't say "I outlogicked her", say "I couldn't see it her way". It's a small thing, but if you keep phrasing it as objective fact, it will be that much harder to change.

And did you already try meds? In my case they didn't work, but with other people they really worked miracles.

Not really, I just don't see any other way to fix myself. I'm still in denial that I will suffer from clinical depression for the rest of my life, that I'll never truly be happy. My improvement will only go so far, and then it will plateau. And that makes it hard to care about what we talk about during the sessions.

So far it's more or less "yeah you've been traumatized enough at a young age for your brain to break."

Problem is that everything I'm saying is objective fact, to say otherwise would be to lie and I was told explicitly in my first session never to lie to her.

Funniest thing is despite all the talk about how depressed I am and my anxiety and my traumatic past and my inability to connect with others, we haven't talked about sex once. The absence of it in my life more or less defines me as a man and we haven't talked about it. I think I like it that way.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Enail on Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:35 pm

Glides wrote:
I'm still in denial that I will suffer from clinical depression for the rest of my life, that I'll never truly be happy.

The two parts of this sentence don't automatically go together. Depression doesn't mean a person can never be happy, more that there will always be periods of non-happy that don't have external causes, and that it may take some kind of ongoing strategy to keep them in check enough that you can be happy overall.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:02 pm

Glides, the problem with logic in therapy is that your therapist doesn't have a separate view of the universe from you. She asks you questions, you describe reality as you see it, and she has that to work from. She can't combat your view with "facts", because she doesn't have them.

The real value of a therapist is that she questions your assertions and your experience, and tries to encourage you to approach your life with a different viewpoint. I will say that my first 5-10 sessions with my therapist were totally me arguing with her, and she couldn't "win", either. Gradually, as I came to trust her and my experiences with her more, I got better at really thinking about her questions, instead of replying with the kneejerk answer.

It takes time to exhaust the reflexive answers, and it takes time to identify the places where you might be able to break through the shell. It takes incredible courage and strength to really be seen by another person, when you've been knotted up inside your own head, and she'll be gradually trying to get at some of the roots of your pain, but she has to find her way through the brambles that have grown up first.

Don't give up. Keep being honest. Keep an open mind, and try to think about her questions, understanding that the process of answering can be a process of self-discovery.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by eselle28 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:16 pm

Congratulations on going to see a therapist. It was a big step for me to take the first time I did, and I know it takes some courage.

Because I can't resist: THIS SHIT TAKES MONTHS TO WORK STOP BEING IMPATIENT. I mean, it is true. And contrary to the popular image of therapy, sometimes it makes you feel worse before it starts helping you feel better. I had a period when I cried during therapy visits all the fucking time. Whether you're comfortable doing that or not, there's nothing wrong with feeling that way.

I find that I tend to be able to evaluate how therapy is going more accurately and to be more comfortable with the process when I think of it as picking up a couple of new tools rather than going in to be repaired - the emotional equivalent of getting a couple of wrenches at the store so I can do home repairs rather than calling a repair service. If this is in fact a limited service, I think Enail's recommendations to have a conversation about a longer term referral and maintaining progress on your own are wise ones. It takes time and practice to pick up some of these tools.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by jcorozza on Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:59 pm

Bah, I had this really long response with quotes, and when I went to send it, my access was blocked because I was on the restricted work network, and it disappeared into the internets. Sigh. When I have more time, though, I'll try to go back and rewrite it!
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by The Wisp on Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:04 pm

jcorozza wrote:Bah, I had this really long response with quotes, and when I went to send it, my access was blocked because I was on the restricted work network, and it disappeared into the internets.  Sigh.  When I have more time, though, I'll try to go back and rewrite it!

What I do to combat that is if I'm writing a long post is to periodically do a quick CTRL + A and then CTRL + C to copy the whole post in case something like that happens.
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by kleenestar on Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:54 pm

Your jerkbrain does not want you to feel better. It is scared to change, and it thinks it is defending you by preventing things from getting worse - even though it is actually preventing you from making things better for yourself. It's well-intentioned! Just, well, a jerk!

What this means is that your jerkbrain is going to tell you anything it thinks will get you out of that room, like "This person cannot help me" or "She can't ever out-logic me" or "I'm too broken for this." Your reaction is actually a good sign. If your jerkbrain is scared, it means something important is happening in that room. It may be difficult or unpleasant or take a long time, but I would advise you to turn toward the challenge instead of away from it. You and she can actually use your jerkbrain's reactivity as a signal for what to pursue together - your own wounds will show you, in negative space, how to heal.

She sounds to me like she's a good fit for you, and like she's doing smart things - challenging you head on is not going to help right now, while listening and accepting is going to build rapport. And not reminding you of your mother is amazing. I believe that you can stick this out, and I'm rooting for you.

Good luck!
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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Guest on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:32 am

kleenestar wrote:Your jerkbrain does not want you to feel better. It is scared to change, and it thinks it is defending you by preventing things from getting worse - even though it is actually preventing you from making things better for yourself. It's well-intentioned! Just, well, a jerk!

What this means is that your jerkbrain is going to tell you anything it thinks will get you out of that room, like "This person cannot help me" or "She can't ever out-logic me" or "I'm too broken for this." Your reaction is actually a good sign. If your jerkbrain is scared, it means something important is happening in that room. It may be difficult or unpleasant or take a long time, but I would advise you to turn toward the challenge instead of away from it. You and she can actually use your jerkbrain's reactivity as a signal for what to pursue together - your own wounds will show you, in negative space, how to heal.

She sounds to me like she's a good fit for you, and like she's doing smart things - challenging you head on is not going to help right now, while listening and accepting is going to build rapport. And not reminding you of your mother is amazing. I believe that you can stick this out, and I'm rooting for you.

Good luck!

She's caught me a couple times going "what if this happened, and then I'd fuck up, and then fail at everything, and--" and go "Glides, you're doing it again."

I'm happy she's nothing like my mom. I don't know her well enough to trust her. But I'm still really impatient.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Conreezy on Thu Apr 02, 2015 5:25 am

She's caught me a couple times going "what if this happened, and then I'd fuck up, and then fail at everything, and--" and go "Glides, you're doing it again."

I do this too. After a few months of therapy, I'm not sure it's improved too much either. Certainly not enough to satisfy me. I feel your frustration.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by ChrissyOrig on Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:19 pm

Good on you for trying therapy. Yes, stick with it. That being said, this is what jumped out at me:

Glides wrote:I tried being as open as I could force myself, and spent the entire time fighting the urge to cry, because I was being reminded of a lot of shit in the past that hurt me a lot.

Cry. It will help. Fighting it is making you go into logic mode. That doesn't work. The way to heal feelings is with feelings, not thoughts. Good luck.

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Re: Therapy Isn't Working (As Expected)

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:20 pm

ChrissyOrig wrote:Good on you for trying therapy. Yes, stick with it. That being said, this is what jumped out at me:

Glides wrote:I tried being as open as I could force myself, and spent the entire time fighting the urge to cry, because I was being reminded of a lot of shit in the past that hurt me a lot.

Cry. It will help. Fighting it is making you go into logic mode. That doesn't work. The way to heal feelings is with feelings, not thoughts. Good luck.

I don't cry unless I'm alone. It's not even a conscious choice. I simply can't do it unless I know for a fact that no one will hear me.

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