I started to write about my most recent therapy session, and this strange, protected, grey middle ground I have kept myself in for years to avoid doing or feeling anything challenging, but it didn’t feel quite right. I got confused, and couldn’t remember which part of the metaphor meant what. I understood everything perfectly during my session, and really felt that I was getting things across.
Now, though, it’s a bit jumbled. The understanding I am starting to gain is definitely helpful, but trying to make sense of it is very hard. I know that there are a shit ton of feelings that I have hidden from for what seems like forever, but I’m struggling to place how these fit into my life, into the way I shelter myself, into the things I have and haven’t done.
A fairly prominent example of what I’m trying to express is my therapist being concerned that if things aren’t working or making sense for me, I won’t tell him. I’ll just go along with it because it is what I am ‘supposed’ to do, and he must know what’s right. That I won’t let myself have an input, I’ll just do what’s expected, and will end up having exhausted my sessions but being none the wiser.
He is concerned about this as we spoke about how I’ve kept myself very much in the ‘middle ground’ throughout life, not daring to do or feel anything very negative, or even very positive. I have kept myself in my lane, we don’t need to do anything else, just get your head down and carry on. I wonder what would have happened to my life if I wasn’t like this? The risks I might have taken, the things I might have said or done, the opportunities I may have missed. My dogged resistance to anything that may stray from my intended path lead him to ask whether I would shy away from these feelings, or maybe a sense of confrontation, if I didn’t feel things were working.
It’s hugely frustrating to feel that there is a wealth of knowledge and learning out there, just within my grasp, that I can’t quite get hold of. It’s disappointing to me that, apparently, after just one discussion I am already eschewing any of this sense. Perhaps I’m struggling to remember it on purpose. Maybe I don’t want to hear it.
What to write about, though, when the deep depression has subsided? What to write about when my feelings and thoughts currently seem as though they’re in someone else’s hands, as though I left them in the therapist’s office? I don’t feel ‘better’, I don’t feel ‘okay’, but I don’t know what I do feel, and I don’t know where it’s gone.
I feel, today, disconnected from any of the things I wanted to write about. I have a long list of topics I could blog about, but I just stared at them. None of them felt right, and I couldn’t relate to them. I don’t care about any of them. I don’t seem to be able to access that little spark in my brain that allows me to write creatively about them, and instead I am stuck, not with writer’s block, but with a sense of unease and frustration. A sense that I can’t and will never be able to claw back my thoughts and feelings from the depths of therapy. Have they gone forever now I’ve allowed them the light of day? Have I done them, and myself, a disservice, an injustice, by sharing them with someone else? Will I be stuck this way, now, allowing someone else access to my tired, frightened brain? Have I given up myself?
This probably doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to the reader, and for that I apologise. I just don’t really know what to do with myself. I thought I would have creative juices flowing, that I’d be able to articulate this really interesting, useful discussion I had this morning, but I can’t. As a very anxious person, I naturally worry that I will never be able to, that it will float just out of my reach.
My therapist told me I appeared composed today, and it wasn’t until he said that that I realised I actually felt really fucking unpleasant inside. I was horribly anxious. I’m just so used to pulling that mask down, I didn’t even know I’d done it. That realisation led to some very important sharing, but now, it feels like everything I said was trapped in a Harry Potter-eqsue prophecy, a glass bubble; when we smashed it to discuss it, everything floated away.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling. I understand now how difficult recovery is going to be, and how much it is going to require me to change, even if I can’t currently articulate it. It’s equally uncomfortable to realise that I’ve dedicated myself to writing openly about my mental health, and now it feels as though I don’t know how.
I’m sure this won’t last, this uncomfortable agitation. I’m sure I’ll be able to process and make sense of things eventually. We did talk about quite a lot, and it might take a while to sink in, I suppose. It’s interesting, objectively, and I wonder how many others feel like this? A little lost, and as though I’ve broken some sort of sacred bond by daring to acknowledge how my thoughts and feelings have been working (or not), and now that is gone forever.
The message from my discomfort is, perhaps, that healing is not always easy. It’s not a light switched that’s being flicked on. We are required to acknowledge and process things that we aren’t qualified to do – I mean, that’s their job, right? These therapists? I know that my discussion today will help enormously – I could see understanding dawning on the psychologist’s face, and I was pleased with my articulation. It’s just strange to now have that turned down, and to worry that I won’t be able to recall it when I need to.
I worry about the potential emptiness that will be left behind; once these harmful thoughts and feelings are changed or removed, will there be any time to help me access the more helpful ones? What if I’m just left, like a shell, unable to access the positives that lie within my reach, but without my protective tunnel vision?
I’ll be free, human, exposed. Evidently, I don’t quite know how to deal with that.
Perhaps you don’t, either. Perhaps none of us do. All I can do is reassure myself – I am doing the right thing, and I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I have spent my life avoiding things that are hard, and I can no longer do that. Neither can I continue to cling to things that are not serving me. The space in between these, this middle ground, is daunting.
I’m not quite sure how to sign this off – I want to be encouraging, but equally, I needed to voice these strange new sensations. All I can say is, if you’re feeling the same, if things are changing and you don’t understand, keep going.
I will, if you will. Oh, and if I eventually do make sense of what I was saying today, I’ll definitely write it down. I have a feeling it might be useful; strange, yes, but useful.