Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Losing therapists

I probably will be discussing this periodically for the next several months so I am going to explain a little bit.  I don't think anyone loves changing therapists.  I hate it and dread it. 

I don't do well with most therapists.  I have had a lot of them.  Very few of them were very helpful.  The first one "let" me "choose" between staying in an abusive home or going to foster care when that's not even what would have happened.  That made me reluctant to ever try again.  The next was Dr. Mind the first.  He was great.  We got along well and seemed to have similar approaches to life.  I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar yet and didn't even take antidepressants until the last several months I saw him because I fought against them, but he helped me get over my fear of repeating that horrible situation from the past.  He also waited out my fears of confiding in anyone and by waiting I mean he would sit and wait for me to talk for half a session. I saw him through 3/4 of my freshman year and then after a year off saw him through the rest of college.  He did some truly kind things for me that helped me trust again.  One thing I remember was that my final Christmas break from college was one of the worst 3 weeks of my life.  I was ragingly manic from a pre-break antidepressant change that we didn't realize was making me manic and I slept 4 hours in 2 weeks.  I was a mess.  Not only did he email me and talked to me on the phone, including telling me exactly why overdosing on the amount of Zoloft I had at that time was going to do nothing more than put me on a psych unit and cause me to vomit (nobody has ever been so direct about suicidal thoughts and why they'd fail), he also took time to send me little funny things.  Months later I picked up a magazine and found that he'd taken the time to copy these things from there.  When I returned to school we met 4 days per week, for an hour and a half at a time.  It was too keep me out of the hospital and it was intense, hard work for both of us (especially since it turned out he was giving me his lunchtime).  It worked and 4 months later I was improving.

After I left college I had a few months off with Dr. Mind the 1st providing some support via email.  He also became a friend via email.  That's not traditional but it worked for us and over the years he played various roles:  friend, person I learned to get angry with, pusher when I didn't want to do things like see doctors, cheerleader, and most importantly filter.  When my brain was too sick to see my way through situations he walked me through them. 

Grad school was a parade of failed therapies.  One therapist completely ignored my clearly stating that I operate under certain Christian beliefs and sent my PTSD soaring by insisting I read a book on sexuality that I was far from ready to even look at and which didn't agree with my beliefs on some major points.  She lasted 6 weeks before traumatizing me.  Another was an intern and not experienced enough to handle the particular abuse I was discussing.  She tried but it was not the best match (and of course the undiagnosed bipolar thing was a big problem).  Then there was the woman who insisted that every problem I could ever had was from my childhood even though I kept telling her that the thing we were discussing was about ME, not abuse, and that I was handling the abuse well at that time.  She lasted 2 weeks.  There were 2 others I think and I don't even remember them.

I refused therapy for a long time after that.  When it became clear that I was really not doing well in 2002 I started seeing someone at the same place I go now.  I liked that therapist a great deal and saw her for 3 1/2 years until she moved to Europe.  However she was not very experienced with bipolar and she was not good at making me talk about things that hurt.  I could always change the subject to cats and we'd talk about that instead.  It became much more an expensive friendship than treatment but I didn't see that until I'd seen Dr. Mind a few months. Then I was angry.  Now I think she was in a tough situation; she wasn't that experienced, she took classes to try to learn more, and I don't think she knew that I didn't stay on track because my brain needed help.  I think she thought it was kinder to let me go on tangents and let the mania dictate what we discussed than it was to push. 

Dr. Mind has been what the grown-up, fully bipolar Jen that Dr. Mind the 1st treated needed.  He is not afraid to be tough with me, even when it makes me mad or I don't like it.  He is kind but he keeps me working with breaks as needed.  Time is not wasted with him.  Sometimes a session is pretty non-traditional but that's usually because I need a break from hard stuff and because I need to just talk to someone else sometimes.  Basically I'm learning social skills.  He is good at adjusting what we are doing to my moods.  Last year we did intense PTSD treatment.  Generally it is never more than a set number of sessions (I think 12).  I had more like 30 because we had to adjust to my moods and take some breaks when I was cycling too much or was too overwhelmed to keep going.  He has learned how to tell me things I do not like without my running away which I would have done from probably anyone who ever treated me in the past.  He's the only person I really feel safe with and that has taken years and much hard work on both of our parts.  For me to be able to tell him "I'm angry that you said ______" or "why did you say ________? It made me feel _____" is HUGE.  Relearning trust with someone else would be an enormous job that I honestly just don't care to do.

I know change can be good with therapists.  I know that not wanting to change is pretty normal in my situation.  But right now I have the best situation that I could have.  Change would mean seeking another "right someone" and then trying to adjust and honestly too much has changed lately anyway.  And I know from experience that finding someone that I like to work with can take months which is difficult.  There's also the simple fact that Dr. Mind knows Dr. Brain and is comfortable emailing her or calling if he thinks I'm in trouble.  They work together when I'm in bad places, so much that a few months ago I couldn't articulate why I wanted to die so badly to Dr. Mind but after he contacted Dr. Brain with his concerns she talked me through crying for hours and all the secrets came out finally.  I will miss that collaboration.

Anyway, I know there are other therapists.  I also know I've seen at least a dozen and that only 2 have been successful.  Risking losing that scares me.  There's of course a lot more, but those are the basics of why I am dreading this if it happens.


Michal Ann said...

Did you say recently that it was now more unlikely that you would lose Dr. Mind?

Just Me said...


I think so. He turned down an offer that would have started this fall after trying to get them to let him start in January, which would have meant a semester away from his family. It sounds like there is one more opening coming he is aware of at his target schools and otherwise I don't have the impression he's applying a lot of places. He doesn't seem as positive about wanting to do this now but he still does. I think some depends where his son decides to go for college as well but I don't know if his son's college plans would change if he got a professor job.

I think it's a bit less likely than it was but it is still something that very well may happen.