So, it’s a little tricky explaining therapy to someone who’s never been, or doesn’t understand it already. There’s like this magical curtain between those of us who’ve benefited from it and the rest of the universe. I’ll try to give the rest of y’all a peek behind it. Some of this might be triggering.
First, an illustration.
Two days ago, and for most of the last three years, a woman at work, V, has gotten on my nerves at various times. She is, to put it bluntly, a difficult person. I’m not the only one who thinks so, but I’m especially sensitive to it, and ill-equipped to deal with it well for a variety of reasons - some are my own general personality (I’m nice and competent and I expect everyone else to be the same way) and some are more like parts of my personality disorders (it drives me freaking nuts when people don’t follow the rules or do things the right way; I am terrified of conflict, confrontation and rejection) and some are due to organic brain disorders that frankly make me a difficult person sometimes too (just try to keep from upsetting a bipolar person, eight hours a day, five days a week, for three years, I dare you.)
The bottom line is, V is a problem for me. A big problem, sometimes, that leads me to panic attacks and crying in the office and swearing (and I never swear) and wanting to die or hurt myself or see her fall flat on her face and bust her nose up. Or whatever, you get the point.
I first met and worked with V almost exactly three years ago. I didn’t get into full-time, biweekly, Demeter-actually-is-sticking-with-it-this-time therapy until eleven months later. By then I’d already had the massive crying at the office moment, the first handful of panic attacks, and several strong urges to hurt myself or someone else - this is a part of what led to me seeking out therapy and meds, in fact! I was in a major depressive episode, and unless I got help I was never going to go back to work - or something drastic like that, there were some serious impulses to throw myself off a bridge or something too.
Therapy and meds were, at that point, like a tourniquet or something - a desperately needed, immediate medical intervention. Later on, once I stabilized, they became more like the wraps people put on their wrists to keep from straining themselves while typing - a necessary tool for continued health and well-being.
And meanwhile V - and all the stressors in my life - stuck around. It’s been 3 years and she’s still an incredible frustration and difficulty for me. But now I can take those things that piss me off into therapy and talk them over with J, and get it out of my system, and listen to her comments, and respond, and get an outside opinion, and generic support. And I can come back to work not so incredibly stressed out - in fact, I can mention the thing to my supervisor, and tell her about how I’m trying to work through it, and that I know it’s nothing personal, and so forth. Therapy is in this case like the bumpers you put in when you’re learning to bowl, to keep the balls from just always going into the gutter. Some pins can get freaking knocked down now! Woot!
(For those who are wondering why I had this blog in July but didn’t mention V till December: she had another person to boss around in July/August who was gone when I got back from disability, and she was I think told to leave me alone till I started back up full-time… this past Monday.)