Not Even My Social Anxiety is Clear-Cut

One label among my mix of diagnoses is ‘Social Anxiety Disorder’, which is also called ‘Social Phobia’. It’s probably hard to differentiate it from the PTSD at the same time, but it’s got all the markers of a social phobia. For those who are not familiar with it, the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Social Phobia are (for adults, shortened):

A. A marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.
B. Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety.
C. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
D. The feared social or performance situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress.
E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situations(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine or functioning.
F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.
G. The fear or avoidance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder.
H. If a general medical condition or another mental disorder is present, the fear in Criterion A is unrelated to it.

As far as I can remember back, I have always had a social phobia. My threshold for anxiety in unfamiliar situations in general is very low and if they are social situations, I often feel physically sick with all the anxiety. My heart rate accelerates, I get sweaty palms, I feel nauseous and like I’m frozen.

School was never fun for me. Interaction with others was the most awful thing. I was always a shy, lonely child. Some teachers were concerned about me and it was the most mortifying thing when they tried to talk to me about stuff. Tried, because I didn’t really talk. I’d nod or shake my head, but rarely talked, or at least no more than a soft ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Most teachers didn’t notice, though, because I was quiet and didn’t draw any attention in class and they probably were happy with that.

When I lived in group homes and attended therapy groups, it was pretty much a repeat of how it had been in school. Only there it started to cause problems, because I was expected to interact with the other girls, to talk in front of them and to share things about myself while other people were watching. That was horrific. I was nervous only being in the same room with them, forget talking. So I remained mute, avoided eye contact and they seemed to understand that as a sign of defiance more than anxiety. And I guess part of it was defiance, but it was protective defiance because I was afraid.

Today I’m still wary of situations where people who I don’t know might talk to me and I’m extremely nervous about going to unfamiliar or busy places. It’s somewhat easier today because I don’t need to go places alone, though. I feel comfortable and unafraid at home, especially with mom, so having her with me helps because I feel like I’m safe in her presence and can “hide” with her. Not physically, but by knowing she can tell how much I can take and will take over when I can’t take any more. That’s fairly liberating, because I feel much better about new situations when I’m not facing them by myself. I feel like it’s safer to be a bit more courageous, too, because in case it gets bad or overwhelming, I’m not alone.

Strangely, at the same time, I also have this whole other, opposite side to me. (Like, because things being easy and unambiguous for once would be boring or something.) Sometimes I go into what’s like an entirely different personality mode, almost, for which social anxiety isn’t a problem at all. I think it’s a semi-dissociated state or something, and it kicks in when I go into a “fuck all the world, I don’t care, bring on the destruction” state. That was the mode that took over when I ran from the group homes, for example, or the mode that ended with me having sex with perfect strangers. I’m not shy at all about talking or being in social situations then, but it’s like I’m not even really being “me” in those situations.

And once more I’m left feeling like a fraud when I suffer from social anxiety symptoms, because I know that I’m also capable of being perfectly anxiety-free at other times. How can two so opposite sides be really there? That’s what I ask myself then and feel like I can’t even trust my own behavior or thoughts or feelings.

Lately those anxiety-free episodes have become far and few in between, though, and I think that’s even kind of a good sign, because those socially uninhibited person that I can turn into is a very unhealthy person for me to be. Kind of a protective, tough persona that I picked up as a means of coping along the way, not my true self.

But I feel like I’m starting to ramble. This post doesn’t really even have a point other than “it’s complicated” maybe. Ah well, I’ll post it anyway. Because it IS complicated and weird, being both extremely afraid socially, and able to just ditch all anxiety in other situations. Complicated. And social anxiety sucks.

A very helpful therapeutic excercise

I saw F for therapy this morning. I was in a rotten mood when we arrived because while we were in the car my mom had told me we’d have to stop by the supermarket on the way home because my jerk brother had helped himself to our fruit basket when he had been over to pick stuff up this morning. I always have difficulty with spontaneous changes in plan and was angry at mom because I felt like she never considered me with anything she did.

Mad at her, I didn’t want her anywhere near me during my therapy, so I went into the room with F alone, while my mom waited. (Sometimes I want my mom along, and F lets me.) Anyway, so I was alone with F and in a bad mood and of course she could tell and asked what was up. So I explained to her how I felt like mom didn’t take my feelings seriously, yada yada yada.

Then F introduced me to a therapy technique that I found surprisingly helpful in the end – so much that I want to share, because who knows, maybe it helps someone else, too.

F asked me to conjure up before my mind’s eye what we call my “safe place”. My usual safe place includes my mom, but today I was mad at her and didn’t want her at my safe place, so I visualized my safe place without her. We do the “safe place” visualization often, so that by now I’m pretty good at going there in my mind and noticing when I need to return there if the stuff we work on during therapy gets overwhelming.

Anyway, so I was at my safe place. F then asked me to focus on the situation that upset me again, and to identify my thoughts and feelings as closely as possible. I ended up with:

  • feeling ignored
  • unloved
  • worthless
  • overpowered because the decision had already been made and I hadn’t even been asked
  • helpless
  • panicky
  • angry over feeling helpless and panicky
  • angry at mom for not doing her job as a mother right
  • abandoned

The next step was that F asked me to keep holding on to these feelings, but let the present day situation fade away at the same time, so that just the feelings remained. That was a bit challenging, but I managed.

Then F asked me to allow my mind to wander and see if it recalls a situation from when I was younger where the same feelings applied.

I did and it didn’t take very long before a situation from a group home came to my mind. It was the group home I had been in after my first hospital stay aged 15, and I had been at the group home for three weeks (or so) at the time when suddenly the woman who ran my group, a social worker or something, decided I was going to be moved to another group home outside of town. Just like this. I had only just settled in with this group, only just started to open up to some of the caretaker people there, and suddenly that woman just said “pack your things, you’re going to move later today”.

Apparently they had only taken me temporarily while they were waiting for a longer term placement to become available, but nobody had told me this. Anyway, so that was the situation that came to my mind when F asked me to see if I could find one that matched the feelings I had.

F made sure I still felt safe, and then asked me to remember the situation from the group home and my feelings in this situation as vividly as I could. And once I had that she asked, if there was anyone who I wanted to be there with me in that memory situation to help me or to give me what I didn’t get for real back then.

I nodded and really wanted my mom (like, my mom now, not my birth mother) to be there. So F asked me to imagine what would happen if she went there. So before my mind’s eye I saw myself all upset and confused and feeling helpless and afraid and angry because I was getting pushed around and shoved off to another home because not one single person in the world even cared for me. Then I had my mom come into the room with me. I made her come in, be very gentle and respectful, like she is in real life, too, and she looked at me in this way that says, without ever speaking a word, that she sees me and feels for me and wants to be there with me. Then I had her talk to me and explain to me how she is going to be my mom one day. Not yet now, because we don’t really know each other yet, and that she’s sorry we don’t, but that she’s gonna be there for me and loves me and that I’m going to be fine and that she looks forward to when we meet for real.

F asked me to monitor what my feelings did while I was imagining that, and go figure, they went away. I felt sad and unhappy for having been in such an unhappy place, but also better not like nobody loved me anymore. More sorry that I’d been so bitchy to mom.

I asked F if I could get mom for real and she was fine with it, so I went to where she was waiting and while mom was all surprised and a bit concerned that I was coming out before the time was up, I just put my arms around her neck and suddenly felt so overwhelmed that I couldn’t help crying. In the slightly-confused-yet-relieved way. It’s embarrassing, actually. I bet mom had no idea what the hell had happened.  LOL

I really liked this exercise. I felt a lot better afterwards. I can’t even explain why exactly. We stopped by the supermarket and it was okay. Once we were home again, I even felt good enough to continue with the sexual healing journey a bit. And even now I still feel kind of elated and like my family loves me and look forward to the rest of the day. Life is good. 🙂

BPD and Confusing Contradictions

Sometimes I wish there were not so many contradictions. Can two opposite things be true at the same time? Can I feel something and not feel it at the same time?

For example I was doing some serious thinking about why I get so aggressive with mom sometimes and try to lure her into a nasty fight. I do it because I feel like I need to force her to admit to the fact that if she’s honest, she’s hating me, I realized. But just the same I do it because I feel like she truly loves me and shouldn’t be loving me, so I show her how nasty I am.

Hello lunacy or what? Do I feel like she really hates me or do I feel like she doesn’t hate me at all, but really loves me now? Wouldn’t one exclude the other?

Truth is, both feel equally true at the same time, and I am left feeling like a fraud or a liar, because how COULD both be true? How could I genuinely feel like deep down my mom really hates me, when I’m also convinced that she must truly love me? It doesn’t add up. One statement must false.

So what happens? Splitting happens and I switch back and forth between the opposites. But splitting is unhealthy and surely can’t be the solution. Which leaves the problem of what else to do with the confusion and the contradictions.

My mom often says “people are complex and big systems. There is room for several things at once in them”. So I try to think that maybe I’m really not so much just this one coherent person inside, but that I consist of many different sub-selves who kind of go through a casting of votes before I react to something, and sometimes they are 50/50 about how I feel or what I should do. Not in the DID sense, where the sub-selves are properly developed people who have split off, but just in the sense that maybe what I think of as “me” is really not so much just one entity, but rather the sum of many aspects of me, who can all have different or opposing opinions about stuff.

Kind of like this, maybe?

Contradictions

Maybe I need to figure out which part says what and why in order to avoid feeling like a walking contradiction, rather than thinking of myself as a fraud for feeling and behaving like one thing, while the opposite is just as true.

Hmmm. Food for thought.

Attachment Styles Quiz

Since I wrote about attachment behavior earlier today, and then happened across attachment again while reading others’ blogs, I ended up searching the internet for information and happened across an attachment styles quiz. Being an online questionnaire it’s not a medically-regocnized test, obviously, but I thought it was fun and took it anyway and I found it relatively good, even, to get a rough general idea. The Website belongs to A Diane Poole Heller, who’s apparently an author and attachment and trauma specialist. The questions are designed to apply to couples, but I figure it works just as well with significant others who are not partners.

The catch is that in order to see your results you need to subscribe to her website, but hey, I get a lot of junk mail anyway, so one more hardly matters. :-/

Here’s what my results said. (If you want to take the quiz, too, click on the picture, I linked it to the quiz.)

LolasAttachmentStyle

No big surprises there, and my feeling says that my results are even pretty accurate. I’m happy that I scored at least 13,3% Secure Attachment. I’m quite sure that wasn’t always so, just as I’m sure my Disorganized piece was way larger once. Which means that I’m actually getting somewhere. So even when I got quite a colorful attachment pie, it could be worse.  Like, all green, or something. That’s probably how it looked when I was little. But colorful is definitely better. 🙂

‘Acting Out’ = Attachment Behavior in Disguise?

Last evening was one of ‘those’ evenings. I didn’t really know why, but I found myself picking fights with mom and dad, deliberately tried to drive especially mom up the walls, was clingy and hostile at the same time and basically did my best to cause chaos and be a nuisance.

Now you see, my mom has two ways of reacting to that. One is that she acknowledges the behavior and my feelings and keeps doing what she’s doing. The other is that she stops what she’s doing, calls me on the behavior and we end up sorting it out. Trouble is: I really hate both ways when I’m in this mood.

When I am in this mood, I aim for drama and escalation and people finally showing their “true colors” and mirroring my feelings of chaos and dissatisfaction. So what I aim for would look something like this:

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Me: You’re doing that wrong, don’t do that wrong!

Mom: I’m not doing that wrong.

Me: Yes, you are! Do it right!

Mom: Lola, only because it’s not the way you want it, it’s not wrong! Things don’t always go like you want them to!

Me: No, things NEVER go like I want them to! Nobody ever considers me! I hate you! You’re despicable and a shit mother!

Mom: That’s no way to speak to me, you’re hurting my feelings! Go to your room!

Me: Your fucking feelings don’t matter to me! You hate me, that’s what! I’m done being your daughter!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Only that’s never what happens. Which is really, really good, mind you, but I hate it while I’m in those terrible moods. Anyway, what really happens is either:

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Me: You’re doing that wrong, don’t do that wrong!

Mom: I’m sorry you’re feeling like it’s the wrong way.

Me: No, you’re not sorry! You just don’t care.

Mom: Now that’s hard, feeling like I don’t care.

Me: Go fuck yourself. (And I retreat, because I am annoyed that she’s so damn unwilling to fight with me. 😉 )

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Or it ends like this:

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Mom: Honey, you sound like you’re in a really unpleasant mood.

Me: I’m not in a bad mood, you just suck, that’s what!

Mom: I think we should go and find ourselves a nice calm spot to figure out what’s annoying you so.

Me: I don’t want to go anywhere!

Mom: That’s alright. Here’s as good a place as any. What’s bothering you?

Me: That you are doing it wrong!

Mom: How come that’s so difficult for you today, that I’m not doing it the way you think is right?

Me: ‘Cause it’s WRONG! Don’t you listen to me or are you really this stupid?

Mom: You sound like you are really this upset, Baby, that’s what I hear.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~

Can you see how it’s not exactly edifying to pick a fight with my mom? My attempts to insult her fall flat, all it gets me is mom being nice and concerned about how I feel. And she’s not just saying nice things with a sarcastic tone or something, she actually means it. I have no clue how she does it. But so much for spreading drama. Anyway, that’s how we ended up talking last night. I had been holding myself together pretty well after feeling like I had suddenly lost myself. I had been waiting it out, tried to brave it and stay optimistic. But it had taken a toll on me and suddenly I found myself crying, wanting for everything to just be okay again. And we ended up figuring out that that was probably why I had ended up picking fights and trying to drive everyone crazy: to show how I was feeling, to alert my family to my misery and to get someone to do something about it, because I was getting to the end of what I could cope with.

Mom pointed out to me that this is attachment behavior: Seeking comfort and help when I can’t cope, wanting to connect with someone to make it better. Misguided attachment behavior, because it seemingly aims at the opposite, at distancing me from everyone, ruining the relationship and upsetting who I love, but deep down attachment behavior nonetheless.

That got me thinking. At least once I had calmed down again. I think there really is a bit of truth in what she said. When I think of the times when I act out, it’s almost always a misguided way of communicating how my feelings to others, an attempt to cue them into doing something, to make something happen that I hope to be helpful, even when there is some really twisted thinking underneath it all. The message is still: “Look, I’m not well, do something, change it”. That IS attachment behavior, in a way.

So what the next step would probably be: applying that knowledge. I mean if it’s attachment behavior, then it’s probably a good idea to find a less misguided way to say “Look, I’m not well, can you help me?” than to try and pick a fight and cause chaos. At least in theory. In practice, how do I get from attachment behavior in disguise to open attachment behavior when I’m emotionally upset and feel like spreading chaos? I have no idea. But I hope a little awareness for what’s really going on is going to at least help a bit.

Confusing. But I’m a little better today.

When words fail you, make art

No words. Just art, illustrating how I feel. To stay sane.

BPDZentangle

Do you like it?

 

Lost Touch with Myself

Ever since trying so hard to understand the biological gene expression stuff and writing my blog post about it, I have lost touch with myself. I feel like the me that I was before is gone, with nothing there to take its place. As if someone pressed the delete button, I have turned into an empty shell.

The dissociation has let up again. My mom spent the entire Sunday cuddling me whenever she got the chance, and that was nice. I’m not feeling bad. I’m just not feeling anything else either. Like, not truly feeling.

When I look into the mirror, it’s like a stranger is staring back at me. I don’t know her anymore. I don’t know if there’s anything inside of her anymore. Is there anything behind her eyes? I can’t tell.

I’ve stopped talking most of the time, too. Usually my family says, with a loving wink, that I run off at the mouth. But there’s none of that right now. Because there’s nothing inside of me that could run anywhere. No words. No thoughts. No feelings. No me. I struggle even writing this post.

Where does my ‘Self’ go, I wonder, when I lose touch with it? Does it just dissipate? Does it take a break, a vacation from my physical body? Does it decide, for some reason, to hibernate because it doesn’t like biology and gene expression very much? Is it fed up with BPD and everything? Well, so am I, but I don’t just leave. Why didn’t it even leave a note?

Dear body,

I have better things to do than hanging with you. Will be back on Wednesday.

Your Self.

I’d at least know where I stand if it left a note like that. The way it is, I just wait, empty.

Tick-tock.

Healthy Selfcare

Selfcare

Healthy selfcare is an area that I continually struggle with, so I thought I’d write a little about it. Let’s start by looking at what it is.

I think healthy self-care is the ability to look after oneself properly, to make healthy choices and to take care of the own wellbeing, be it physical, emotional, psychological, etc. I think it’s an important key to be able to live a good life.

I also suck at it. Big time. Seemingly easy tasks are quite challenging to me. But lets look at everything in some order. I’ll name the things that I think should belong to my healthy self-care routines, and will then briefly discuss each.

Sleeping ~8 hours during the night. Ideally I should sleep from around 11pm to 7am. Should. In practice I have a hard time feeling ready to go to sleep. I have a hard time sleeping through the night. I wake up too early. And then, when it’s finally time to get up I’m often sleepy again and wish I could stay in bed.

Eating healthy meals. This one is okayish by now. I have gotten used to eating mostly non-processed foods, stuff made from scratch, fruits, raw vegetables, that kind of thing. I still like candy and fast food, but it’s okay if I don’t have too much of it. So yay, one area that actually is okay.

Preparing healthy meals. Uhm… I have difficulty with that part. If I were left to my own devices about what meals end up on the table, I’d end up in the convenience aisle of the supermarket. And that’s bad. I am trying to learn how to prepare proper food, but it’s a big fight against myself. Once I’m doing some cooking with mom, it’s actually not that bad, but even so… the next time around, I’m just as bad.

Showering, washing my hair, brushing my teeth, dressing in clean clothes etc. Another really hard one. I do it because mom doesn’t let me get away with not doing it, and I even kind of like the fact that I usually end up attending to all the hygiene stuff, but I know that if I nobody but myself was responsible for it, I’d still go back to neglecting my hygiene. I can’t really tell why. It’s just that it seems unimportant somehow, even when I know it is not.

Getting exercise, fresh air and sunlight. Another hard one. I quite like being outside once I am doing it, but getting to the point that I decide to do it is hard. I lack the self-control necessary to pick myself up and actually do it.

Keeping my surroundings clean and orderly. Okay, I seriously suck at this one. My room is almost always a mess, even when I don’t really do much in it. And where I go, the mess follows. It’s involuntary, it just happens. Maybe it’s the lack of order and organization within myself spilling everywhere. Maybe it’s me feeling reminded of my birth mother by all the order, because she was obsessed with keeping things clean. I have no clue. I don’t dislike it when things look clean and neat. I just don’t manage to maintain it.

Regulating my emotions. That I’m bad at this area of healthy self-care is probably what justifies my diagnosis of Borderline the most. I’m working on improving my emotional regulation skills, but it’s hard and I still need help. I have a hard time relaxing and soothing myself and getting off unhealthy trains of thought.

Doing something sensible and fulfilling. Ha, check it out, I only recently discovered this one in the first place. I have no education to speak of, I have no professional training and I am still quite far from being able to hold down a job. But I have discovered that I like doing something worthwhile with my time, something meaningful. I think that’s what keeps me interested in blogging. It feels like a sensible thing to do, and I feel like that is actually improving my mental health a little.

Abstaining from substance abuse. I’m doing surprisingly okay with that one. I used to abuse alcohol a lot, and I had become addicted to benzodiazepines. Which is kind of easy in places where they get doled out like crazy-people-candy. But I successfully went through withdrawal and have not used since. I’m also okay-ish with letting alcohol be alcohol. Sometimes it’s still tempting, the thought to just drink, but I manage to resist. Oh, and I don’t smoke! That’s a plus, too.

Having healthy decision-making skills. Soooo many challenging things factor into this one. Stopping and thinking properly before reacting, having self-discipline to do what’s sensible and not what’s easy or habitual, being able to tell what a healthy decision looks like… I struggle with those.

Socializing in a positive way with nice people. My social anxiety gets in the way with this one a lot. I feel uncomfortable with people who I don’t know. But at least I spend a lot of time (ALL the time, lol) with my family, and that’s a LOT more socializing than I was used to doing. And I like it, too. It’s definitely healthier than not speaking with most people and withdrawing from activities.

Accepting help when I need it. Mom said I should include this one. And I guess she’s kind of right, after all being able to accept help when I need it helps with getting myself taken care of. It’s also probably the one thing I am actually good at by now. I let mom help me. She helps me with all the self-care things, which probably means they are not strictly speaking SELF care things any longer. She says it’s okay, though, everyone has to be taught, or teach themselves, if they don’t know, so well, I’m learning. I guess that’s the good news. I guess I can learn to take care of myself eventually, by watching mom, by accepting that she helps me and by following her “Selfcare 101” schedule. She’s teaching me how to get better at doing those things myself. I guess I’ll get there. Sometime.

There probably are still several areas that also are part of a healthy self-care missing, but those were what I could think of.

 

The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 6 – Collage Day

SexualHJ_06

With today being something of a rotten day, I still decided to have a go at continuing with the sexual healing journey. I have entered the first chapter of the second part. The second part of the book is all about “making changes”. It introduces various ways and areas in which changes can be necessary to go from an unhealthy idea of what sex and sexuality is to a healthier one.

I didn’t feel up to much writing and reflecting today, but the book suggested to make a collage of the unhealthy view on sex that I have, as well as the healthier view I would like to develop. You know, to get a better idea of what my current understanding is, as well as to get an idea of what I’d want my future understanding to be like. So that was what I started the day with today.

*TRIGGER WARNING: the ‘now’ part of the collage is graphic and contains explicit imagery.*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, so here we go. Here are the two collages I ended up with next to each other:

CollageBoth

And if you want to see better, here is my current, unhealthy idea of sex:

Collage01

And here is what I would like my healthy version to be like, the goal I am working towards:

Collage02

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What’s interesting is that when I started out, I had absolutely no idea of what my ‘goal’ side was going to look like, but then it kind of came together easier than I thought it would be. So I guess the good the collage making did was that I realized that my current idea of sex is really nasty, but also that I actually do have something of an idea of what I want to work towards. That’s more than what I thought I had before I made the collage. So I guess that’s a good step into the right direction.

Okay, off to do something nice with my mom now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Missed the past episodes of the journey? Here they are:

A project for 2013
The Sexual Healing Journey Begins, Chapter 1
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 2
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 1
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 2
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 3
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 4
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 5

Book source:
MALTZ, Wendy (2012): The Sexual Healing Journey. A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse; Third Edition; Harper Collins. New York.

Signs of good therapists + warning signs of bad ones

After the statement about “good” therapy with which I did not agree, I want to write down my thoughts regarding what I actually consider signs of good therapy, or rather of good therapists. I’ll add things that I learned to recognize as warning signs, too.

GoodRorschachSigns of good therapists:

  • a good therapist explains how she works and why she works that way
  • a good therapist is interested in helping me figure out what my therapy goals are and in helping me achieve them
  • a good therapist is a genuine, authentic and decent human being
  • a good therapist’s office feels safe and comfortable
  • a good therapist contributes to a feeling of hopefulness
  • a good therapist accepts my feelings and helps me explore them
  • a good therapist is respectful and professional
  • a good therapist is interested in establishing a positive, safe and empathic relationship with me before going anywhere in therapy
  • a good therapist is able to maintain this positive, safe and empathic relationship with me, even when she says things that might challenge or upset me
  • a good therapist can help me feel safe during the sessions and makes sure I am in a good place before I leave her office
  • a good therapist is knowledgeable on the issues she wants to treat and will say so, if something exceeds her abilities
  • a good therapist is *there* with me, I can feel her be genuinely present
  • a good therapist stays calm and on top of things even when I become chaotic
  • a good therapist is a mature person whose behavior speaks of her having morals and ethics
  • a good therapist knows how to laugh, too
  • a good therapist is honest with me
  • a good therapist can read my nonverbal cues and reacts to them
  • a good therapist is willing to give me feedback and answer my questions, as long as they are relevant to therapy
  • a good therapist steps back from power games
  • a good therapist respects it if I disagree with her or refuse to do something
  • a good therapist will admit to a mistake if she made it and apologize

 

BadRorschachWarning signs that I have encountered in past bad therapists:

  • therapist is repeatedly late for appointments (or does not show up at all)
  • therapist does not explain what she wants to do or why
  • therapist crosses physical boundaries (like by hugging or touching, euuuuuwwww) without asking for permission
  • therapist talks a lot about herself and the hassles of her own life
  • therapist talks not at all
  • therapist follows her own agenda and does not consider my goals / wishes / requests etc.
  • therapist is judgmental of my behavior
  • therapost does not take me and / or my objections seriously
  • therapist tries to manipulate my feelings (like by inducing guilt or making me feel bad about my behavior)
  • therapist blames my family (or, I suppose, other people in my life)
  • therapist thinks my opinion is uneducated and not worth listening to
  • therapist understands everything I say as evidence of my lacking mental health
  • therapist openly admits to bordering-on-illegal stuff like fraud (for example by charging the insurance for different services than she actually provided me with)
  • therapist wants to become personally involved in my private life and/or answers to invitations along those lines
  • therapist agrees to having sex with me or even invites me
  • therapist tries to feel better about herself and tries to meet her own emotional needs by helping me
  • therapist tries to talk me into / out of things
  • therapist makes unprovable claims regarding what causes my issues
  • therapist empathizes so much that I feel like I need to protect HER, because she can’t cope with the bad stuff
  • therapist identifies with me and / or my situation too much
  • therapist pushes me into the direction she wants to see me go
  • therapist leaves me feeling unsafe and unstable
  • therapist insists to muck around in issues that I don’t feel ready to face
  • therapist conveys that she does not like me, that I am annoying or a pain in her neck

Wow, I noticed that I could go on and on and on, especially with the warning signs list. I really have met my share of crappy therapists! I’m glad that my therapist F, however, has given me some faith in therapists back. The signs of good therapy all apply to her. 🙂 Even so, it’s rather outrageous that so many crappy ones are out there and allowed to mess with people. It always makes me very sad when people speak about crap their therapist did.  😦

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