Ugh

Ugh

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Ok all.  I need help with therapy. Please.

I’ve shared more here than I have in two months of sessions, maybe because it’s anonymous, I’m not sure.  My therapist doesn’t assume anything. So in what I’ve told her, she doesn’t know a lot.  She asked if I was molested. My answer was “I guess”.

I try to plan what I will say to her, but when I get there I am silent. In my head I tell myself ‘just say it! Say anything! Don’t just sit there!’  And yet, there I sit, feeling stupid, like a waste of time, my mind goes blank.  I told my lady that I NEED to talk about things but nothing comes out.   She asked when it happened.  I said I was less than 5 years old when it started. She said it’s understandable that I can’t speak of it. That I’ve been holding it in for over 30 years. It’s ok that it doesn’t spill out. 

So I’ve been thinking and reading everything I can find on therapy for this situation. I can’t find anything that will help me understand what I’m suppose to do. I really struggle with this. No one seems to get it. My lady says there’s no right or wrong way to do therapy.  I can’t accept that.  It’s like I need an outline or steps to follow or I’ll just be stuck here where I am. I also don’t understand how it works.  How does talking about horrible stuff make it better?  I’m sorry if this is stupid and I should know this but I don’t get it. 

If anyone has suggestions or can tell me how they started their process I would be eternally grateful.

Thank you. 


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21 comments

  1. mkyuellig

    Hi DiiO,

    You’re right- there is no one way to do therapy the “right” way. But everyone has different communication styles, and different learning styles, and different ways that they deal with conflict – and all of those things are pretty applicable in a therapy setting. It’s completely understandable that you are having difficult discussing something that you’ve had pent up for 30 years. In my experience a lot of people feel that if they keep it inside them then it’s not real, but if they voice what happened, then that makes it real. I know from your other posts that you do know that this was a real traumatic things that happened to you, but that you have difficulty talking about it in detail, which is very common. My advice to you is to set small achievable goals. If it seems like too much to go into a lot of detail then just say “okay, this session i’m going to share 3 details of my story with my therapist” or something along those lines. Your therapist can help you set those goals and encourage you to meet them in a positive way. I also want to recommend writing things down. If you are having trouble finding words to express once you sit down for your session, maybe it would be easier to share if you were reading your feelings. Writing in itself can be very therapeutic and cathartic, and I think just the act of journaling may provide a small sense of release to you. I hope some of these things work for you. Please keep us posted. We are here to listen to and support you.

    stay strong and be gentle with yourself,
    Keight

  2. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there,

    I am so sorry to hear that you are having trouble with therapy. It is okay to struggle with talking about what happened. It is totally normal! Please don’t ever apologize for how you are feeling! I agree with your therapist that there is no way right or wrong way to do therapy. However, there is probably a right way for you. You might just have to try out different approaches until you find the right way for you. Regardless, you are doing the right thing and working towards bettering yourself so never feel like you are being stupid or wasting time. It can be very slow. You are really strong for recognizing what is and isn’t working and for working toward your healing process. That is amazing! Stay strong! We will be here for you through the whole process, so please come back and update us anytime you’d like.

    Sending hope and support your way,
    -Natalie

  3. Lizzi Volunteer

    Hey DiiO,
    I’m sorry that therapy has seemed like a waste of time so far. Therapy can be a slow process, especially when it’s hard to open up and talk about the things that you really do want to talk about. I feel like therapy is one of those hard things to understand how it works because you aren’t going to simply tell your therapist everything that happened and instantly life is okay and you’re feeling better about it all. I think it’s one of those things that over time, you’ll notice changes about how you feel. Your therapist is right that there’s many ways to do therapy, and you can only do what you’re comfortable with. If it’s too hard to talk about it right now, that’s okay. I’ve definitely had therapy sessions where I just sat there with my mind going blank because some things are just so painful your brain wants to protect you and not go there. For me, I’ve found that if I say it out loud to myself I’m able to say it to my therapist. I can think it all I want but actually speaking the words is the hardest part. Depending on whether or not you’re able to contact your therapist outside of sessions, some find it helpful to tell their therapist in advance what they’d like to talk about at the next session so maybe the therapist can bring it up instead of the person having to find a way to bring it up. You’re not stupid, and this is new to you. Keep trying and I believe it’ll get easier for you in time.

    Much hope,
    Lizzi

  4. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Thank you For Updating us about your story. I know its difficult sharing with your cousenlor ( from personal experience). It takes time to open up and there is no right or wrong way to do therapy. It is different for everyone and know its okay. Therapy is incredibly difficult processs and do what is best for you. Just know we are here for you. Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you. Stay strong and keep fighting!

  5. Jess Volunteer

    Thank you for updating us and sharing your story. It’s okay that it’s difficult sharing with your therapist. They’re 100% correct in that there is no right or wrong way to do therapy. It varies for every single person, and that’s okay. There isn’t a set of rules really for therapy, but it’s helpful to simply try your best. If you find writing here easier than talking, maybe you could pull up your posts and show your therapist? Or like others have said, you could bring a list of topics to talk about or write down everything and read it to her. Find something that works for you, because that’s what really matters. Therapy is an incredibly difficult process, so you have to do what works for you.

    In the meantime, as you know, we are always here. Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you. Stay strong and keep fighting. <3
    -Jess

  6. Megan Volunteer

    Hey DiiO,

    I totally get what you are going through. When I first tried to talk about my history with my therapist, it took me around a month to finally say it. I told him that I needed to talk about something but every time I tried the words wouldn’t come out. One thing that I do remember helping me was that I wrote down my experiences first and then brought my journal in with me to therapy. It might me something to try? It takes time to be able to talk about difficult things, especially after you have been holding it in for so long. You will get there eventually though. Take the time that you need to safely disclose. I know it may seem that talking about it isn’t going to help, but there is a really good chance that it will help. Keeping something like this trapped inside doesn’t help the healing process, but working with someone who is trained to help you process through things like this and move forward does help.

    Your therapist is right that there isn’t a right or wrong way to do therapy because everyone’s situations are different. No two people person are the same so everyone can’t be treated the same in therapy. Whether you talk about it now or in a week or in a month, it’s okay. Whatever you need is okay. It’s YOUR journey.

    You are strong and you can do this. I believe in you. Much love,
    Megan

  7. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi DiiO,
    You’re not stupid for having these questions, and you’re not alone. It really isn’t easy to talk about traumatic experiences, especially if you’ve been having flashbacks recently and/or if you’ve been holding them in for a long time. Sometimes talking about the experiences can make the emotions associated with them stronger. Yet talking about it with someone can help because they, as a third party, can spot things that we might not be able to spot. Therapists may be able to spot when we’re blaming ourselves and/or the negative thought patterns we have, and they can help us stop ourselves when we do these things.
    I definitely understand that need for structure. Yet your therapist is right – since each person heals differently, the way they work on therapy is also different. I agree with Marissa’s suggestion; I did the same thing before my counseling appointments. The list helped me remember what I wanted to focus on. I also think sharing these experiences takes time, and it’s okay to share at a pace you’re comfortable with.
    Thank you for updating us. We’re always here for you, and you can share with us whenever you would like to. You’ve got this!

  8. Marissa Day Captain

    Hey DiiO,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this with us. First off, this post isn’t stupid and neither are you. Your therapist is right – there is no right or wrong way to do therapy. Everyone handles things differently, so while some people may be able to talk about things, there’s nothing wrong with not being able to.

    Maybe you could start by writing out topics of conversation that you would like to bring up so that when your mind goes blank, you’ll have something to get you back on track. If that doesn’t work, you could write everything out and read from it? I’m not sure if that would be helpful, but it’s worth a shot, if that’s something you’re comfortable with! If not, that’s okay, too. You shouldn’t push yourself. Things will come out with time… Maybe that’s all you need – more time to let your thoughts come out naturally. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you. We’re here for you!!

    Marissa

  9. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi DiiO,
    I’m sorry that you’re struggling with therapy right now. In my experience, something that helped me was to talk to myself about it. Talking out loud by yourself, can make it easier to talk to someone else. However, don’t feel rushed. Your therapist is there to help you at your pace. If you still feel stuck, don’t feel like you have to force it out. It may take some time, but you’ll get there eventually. While it can be hard, talking about what happened can really help. Your therapist can help you process your emotions and help you deal with them once you lay them all out there. But in the meantime, we’re always here for you. Let us know if you ever need anything.

  10. Zoe

    Hi, DiiO.

    I’m really sorry to hear that you’re struggling with this right now. But just know that you’re not alone. Therapy can be really uncomfortable for people at first, especially for those who have experienced trauma because it can cause memories and feelings to resurface. This really is normal.

    I like what I see some other people suggesting, that maybe if you were to start keeping a journal or writing things down and then bringing it to your sessions, that might help you start talking more. It’s also really important that you feel comfortable with your therapist, and that they make you feel like you’re in a safe space. But just know that, unfortunately, it will be hard for awhile. It will bring up bad feelings and reminders that we often like to avoid, but it’s really important to be able to work through those things in a safe environment. I know we all wish it was easier, but it really does help in the long-run. So you don’t need to feel bad, because what you’re feeling is normal. This can be scary. But I know you’re strong enough to work through this, and I know you’ll be thankful that you faced this and really tried working through your trauma in the end.

    Just know that we’re always here for you, and you can always reach out to us whenever you need. But you can do this. <3 You're stronger than you know!

    Zoe.

  11. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi DiiO,
    I’m sorry that therapy is hard for you. It is okay that you find it easier to talk to us online because like you said it is anonymous. We also won’t judge you because we have all been though something similar to you. I think what you should do is if you are nervous to tell your therapist is practice in your room saying it out loud. Your therapist is here to help you. I think once you say what you want to say to your therapist out loud, it will be helpful.
    Don’t be scared to talk to your therapist. They are there to help and they are willing to wait for you to talk as long as you need to. Don’t worry or be scared. It is going to be okay. Thank you for updating us. If you need anything else let us know.
    -Alyssa

  12. DiiO

    Thank you all for your suggestions. I have a diary app that is password protected on my phone. I use it whenever something comes to me as I am very rarely without my phone. My therapist suggested I write on paper as it can be more therapeutic. I have issues with that because growing up my mom would go through my room and read my diary. It seems being violated was the norm for me. I live with my partner and my almost 13 year old child. I honestly can’t say whether they would read it if they found it. Has anyone else had this issue? What did u do?

    Be that as it may I have written (on paper) about one thing. One time. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it since I wrote it. I feel like letting her read it won’t be the same as saying the words. For me, I think I may still be in denial. I mean, I KNOW things happened. There are certain things I’ve always remembered. Some of the things that come up I don’t remember ever knowing. Does that make sense? I worry that I’ve made things up. To make things like this up would make me a terrible person. Thinking them is one one thing, saying it out loud is quite another.
    Thoughts?

    1. Solongago

      Yes, it is true that saying things out loud DOES make it more real. Thinking about things is almost like dreaming for me. I mean dreams are vivid and real while I am dreaming, but then after I wake up, recalling them becomes almost impossible. When I am in the therapist’s office, that jumble of thoughts slips away like a dream and I am in there trying not to waste my money, or letting myself go down paths I am not all that worried about. When I write the stuff down, on paper, or on here, the writing helps me organize the thoughts and they become more real. Then I can read them, and we can go from there.

      Having a kid that might read what you are writing, can be problematic. Your partner, ought to respect your privacy. Kids are another story altogether. A thin notebook that fits in your purse might be a thought. When my mom was taking macro economics, she could have written ANYTHING and I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere that stuff. But yeah as kids, we came across stuff. Never anything my mother wrote. Or my dad. But my uncle’s letters from prison. There is no reason why you can’t have a desk drawer or filing cabinet or even a lock box that locks where you can put stuff that you wouldn’t want your daughter to see. And I would just be honest with your partner, say that some of the stuff you are working on, will be inappropriate for your daughter, and while you trust her not to go into your stuff, kids are kids, and you don’t want to leave it to chance.

      I guess there are pros to living alone. I just hope that if I die, someone blows the house up rather than read my many notebooks.

  13. Deanna Volunteer

    Hi. I had a really rough time starting therapy and had held everything in similarly to you. Do you journal? What I did was journal my thoughts and things that I felt I needed help with. Then before a session I would go back over what I had written and then I would write down bullet points about things I could talk about if my mind went blank. I hope that helps. Sharing things in any forum is great! I’m glad you feel comfortable here. Also, I’ve always found it helpful to find the right mindset by looking at an appointment as a process. You go, check in and go to the same room every time. There’s a process to it, think if you have anything else like that in your life. Kind of like work, you go every day, perform a certain task and then go home. Therapy is a lot like that. Anything that helps you is your “right way” of doing therapy.
    Best,
    Deanna

  14. grothkat8 Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing what you’ve been dealing with. It’s okay to be struggling with opening up to your therapist. You’ve been through a lot, and sharing that never comes easy. It’s great that you are taking the time to see a therapist, and I think just being there is a great step forward. When it comes to trauma, there isn’t a step by step process unfortunately. In my experience, I’ve struggled with opening up too. It’s harder than people think to tell share what you’re feeling and thinking. Do what makes you comfortable and take as much time as you need until you’re ready. If it doesn’t help by talking to a therapist, you can always try with someone else. You can always write your thoughts here too, and we will be here for you. What matters the most is what you are comfortable with.

    Katie

  15. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    You’re not stupid. You have been through a significant amount of trauma, and you have not openly talked about it for such a long time. Unfortunately, this process is long, it’s not linear, and it really is different for everyone. There really is not “right way” as your therapist mentioned, but I can understand that might be frustrating to hear. For me, talking to someone who didn’t know anyone in my life, who could be kind of an outside party, had been really helpful. I’ve been in and out of therapy for years, seeing different therapists each time. That’s worked for me. Some people need something else, and that’s okay. Have you thought about maybe talking about these posts in therapy, and that will maybe help you get started talking more? You could start reading them in therapy, if you feel comfortable and think that would help. Keep coming back here to post whenever you need-we are here for you.

    Erin

  16. Amysue43 Volunteer

    My first suggestion would be to set aside some time in the day to journal your thoughts. Just write anything that comes to mind: feelings, memories, interpretations, etc. Then, you could start a new page and restructure your thoughts to give some order to them. The next page should then consist of a “final draft.” If you feel so comfortable in doing so, you could read such aloud to your therapist. This will then prevent the frustration you may be experiencing when you are attending therapy and you can’t seem to get anything out. You can simply read your feelings rather than trying to search for them or remember them from before. Reading your final draft rather than recalling your feelings/thoughts will also help with the feeling of maintaining that anonymous-ness. I hope you try out this suggestion and share your experience with such if you’d like.

    I also hope these comments to your post reassure you in your feelings in your therapy sessions as it is normal to be unsure and/or frustrated with the process.

    Stay strong!

  17. Julia Mandel Day Captain

    Thank you for reaching out to us. Have you thought maybe of just writing down your feelings and just reading them to her so you don’t have to think of things to say in the moment? Maybe this would help because you won’t feel as pressured when you are writing things out to yourself. It can be difficult to get started in therapy, but I would give it some more time. You could also try a different therapist if that is an option, but that is completely up to you. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to support you; be proud of yourself though because getting help is a big step towards recovery that is not easy. Stay strong <3

  18. Ashley Day Captain

    Hello DiiO,

    Your post isn’t stupid and there’s nothing wrong with wanting answers.
    When it comes to planning what to say beforehand and having your mind go blank while sitting across from a therapist, I can relate and I’m thinking that others have been in our shoes too. Please know that you’re not alone. I commend you for trying to figure out ways to navigate this situation, despite how much frustration it has seemed to cause.
    Talking about challenging things with a therapist can be beneficial because instead of facing difficulties on our own, therapy provides us with the opportunity to confide in someone on a consistent basis and take some weight off our shoulders. Since you mentioned that you’ve shared more on here, I’m wondering, how would it feel to write about what you want to discuss and then reading that journal entry at the beginning of your session? I noticed that Solongago also mentioned this idea and I’m curious about what you think.

  19. Solongago

    Can you write about an incident, and take it with you. I have actually read my journal to my therapist. It gives her something to work on when my mouth doesn’t want to just spill my guts. If you write every day in your journal or three times a week, then when you get in there, you can decide whether this is a Hairy Thursday or a Mild Tuesday or a Boring Sunday Entry Type Day.

    Sometimes we aren’t ready to jump into the really traumatic stuff. You’ve known this lady for a few months. It may not be enough time for you to have built a working relationship with her. I mean, when you do talk about the hard stuff, the hour is over, and you are going home, does she know if you are ok or not? Does she know you well enough? Do you have other things to fall back on. Sometimes, maybe most times it is better to work on something that can help you build your support network, and DBT skills before doing the tough stuff with your therapist. Because when that hour is over, and you are feeling vulnerable, or sad, or distressed, or however you are feeling, if you don’t have ways to distract yourself, someone to call if you are feeling unsteady or down, or whatever, then she is kind of leaving you in a kind of spot. One of the things Cathy would say in the IOP was that we sometimes try to go too fast. I think maybe your brain/mind is not ready, doesn’t feel safe enough to work with her. It’s a process.

    Talking about the horrible stuff DOES make it better. First we experience trauma. That’s bad. But as children our brains protect us from the brunt of it through a number of ways. Some of these things, like for me, it was essential that I felt some control, so my brain told me it was my fault what happened, and if I never swim again, it won’t happen again. At the time, that helped me walk home with my brother who raped and nearly killed me, and live with him for years until he moved out. As time goes on, our brains use guilt and shame and denial to keep the secret. And these things tear away at our self esteem/self worth. What may have helped us survive as a child, as an adult is no longer helpful. In fact, the years compound it, until it is seeping out in other ways, fueling behaviors that are not helpful or destructive, or the shame puts us into contempt, self hatred that brings us into chronic depression and sometimes suicidal ideation. We maybe don’t think it consciously, but unconsciously we stop believing that we deserve anything good, or that we deserve a lot of bad stuff to happen to us. And when good stuff happens, we dismiss it and wait for the other shoe to fall, and when bad stuff happens, we confirm that that is what should happen to us.

    Talking about it, helps us put it into perspective — think about your niece, she is 11 that is how old you were, would you blame her if this happened to her? We talk about how the brain works, how developed it was, how it distorted some things, and we have to now identify cognitive distortions. If you believe something just because, someone else can just state it a different way, and you might be able to see how distorted that thinking is. Especially when this stuff happened to you when you were a little kid. Sometimes we do not mature in that tiny area normally because of what happened, and it takes getting these thoughts out in order to see them a little more clearly.

    Talking about it also helps because it can dispel shame. Shame is horrible because it paralyzes us, and it assassinates our self. Guilt is similar, but guilt comes, maybe sparks a necessary change in behavior, and then goes away. Shame is more insidious. Guilt is like, “Gee, I shouldn’t have done that.” Shame is like, “Look what a horrible person I am because I did that. ” And the longer we hold in something that we feel shame over, the more it builds against us. We continuously add to it.

    When you tell your story to a safe person, in a safe place, and you take a quick look at their eyes, and they are looking at you with acceptance instead of judgement, it can make a huge difference. Even if you have a good handle on it not being your fault, there are things that we do or have done that we are still a little sketchy on. It is so helpful to work within a group, because then we have several “normal” people who process what we are saying, and do not see us as we see ourselves. They see a scared little girl that managed to survive something awful. They do not apply adult thinking, they do not shame us for not protecting ourself, for not telling someone, for not getting out of there, for going back, and so forth. We can see in their eyes that they do not blame us. And we can start not blaming ourselves.

    I am sure I am missing a lot of stuff, like working through the feelings, which may or may not accompany the memories at this time.

  20. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi DiiO,

    I’m sorry you’re struggling with talking about your trauma. The therapeutic relationship is extremely personal. It’s different for everyone. There really is no template or check list one can follow. You’ve done an incredibly brave thing by starting therapy. It took a lot of courage, and that’s something to be proud of. You’re doing great. There is no time limit on healing. We’re here for you.

    All the best,
    Becca