Some of our needs for therapy session needs are starting to get met.
When shelter-in-place began, we had four therapists whom we were seeing 4-5 days per week total. We terminated our relationship with T-4 after one teletherapy session (we saw T-4 at least twice in person after other therapists stopped meeting in-person, so the end was not totally abrupt). T-4 was our newest therapist, was a self-proclaimed expert in Somatic Experiencing, and we did nothing in a few months of sessions that remotely seemed like Somatic Experiencing. Therefore, we terminated that relationship (via a polite email thanking T for the services) when it felt uncomfortable and ineffective via the Internet.
T-1 met us in cars one time. T-1 did not like it and told us about the dislike during and after the session (via text or email). T-1 agreed to a future car therapy session with the disclaimer that T-1 may never get used to it or like it. We did not want T-1 to meet our need for therapy in person at a high personal cost to T-1, and the therapy was ineffective–since much of the session was occupied with T-1 narrating what T-1 did not appreciate about car therapy: privacy, temperature (future temperature, mostly), boundaries, control. We paused (for now) the relationship with T-1 after five and a half years. We miss T-1 terribly. Teletherapy was not calming us before, during, or after the session. We felt during teletherapy the way T-1 felt during car therapy. So, since neither T-1’s nor our needs could be met with either format of therapy, we are pausing therapy with T-1.
T-2 has agreed to meet us in our cars next to each other every week on the same day at the same time. This checks both the boxes we have been seeking since Shelter-in-place began in March: meeting in a way that replicates face-to-face and having appointments scheduled in advance and regularly so that we can count on them. We recently met for the second time in cars, and now we count on that every week.
We talk on the phone during the session. T-2 has the window rolled up. Our window is partly down. There is a lag so that looking directly at T-2 while T-2 is speaking is strange to the senses. So we look at T-2 mostly while we are the one speaking or while there is a pause or while T-2 is taking notes (writing on paper pad). We were able to cry a lot in session. This relieved some stress. The physical location is not very busy when we meet early in the morning, and we do not care if anyone sees us anyway. We are trying to stay alive.
We are grateful to T-2 for taking this extraordinary step of meeting both our needs. T-2’s clinic recently began seeing patients in person in the office, but therapist and client have to wear a mask. We wore a mask one time (pharmacy), and our glasses fogged up, it is scary to see people in masks, and we have difficulty reading expressions in masks. So that is why we prefer the car. Plus, being close to nature (especially with our window open) is lovely.
T-3 has been seeing us weekly in cars for about four weeks; just not at a regularly scheduled time. The therapy is getting increasingly less private (as businesses reopen), which we do not mind and which T-3 minds very much. T-3 does not narrate discontent often and still did say, “I have to laugh because people are biking past us, walking past us, and parking near us.” We don’t care, we said. T-3 said, “It is my job to keep your confidentiality.”
So this coming week, T-3 will meet with us in cars at a relatively remote park. It will be a 40-minute drive for us according to the mapping app. We are willing to drive a long distance even though we are not the greatest driver.
To find out if any therapists are seeing people in person, we called our health insurance company and messaged our primary care physician (GP). Talking on the phone drains our energy, and we talked to two different people at the health insurance company over the course of a few days without getting to even the person who will listen to our questions about care. Some third person left us a voicemail. We do not have the courage or energy to cal back.
Our GP’s office has an outreach person who did reply with a written list of clinics that might offer in-person therapy. We called the first one alphabetically. Supposedly, they take our insurance, they are seeing patients in-person, they are located in our same town, and they will see a patient with PTSD, DID, and OCD! This is exciting, and can you imagine that we are sick with fear? Our head is spinning with stories from sad Littles of how we should not have stopped seeing T-1. We try to tell them the reasons, and they forget. They are scared of a new therapist. They are scared of spreading illness to our family if we catch it from the new therapist.
Our head spins from so many people having so many different, big emotions and thoughts. We have been taking more medication than usual. This is challenging because Spouse dispenses our meds. We had been stockpiling unused half pills and then taking them every day for about the past week to survive.
Maybe you remember that we are not strong at keeping secrets (see post about Older Child’s birthday parade of cars…), so we told Spouse that we having been taking extra medication to survive. Spouse was initially scared and concerned. We explained that the dose is relatively meaningless; it is taken as needed. We need more by a small fraction. Spouse wants us to get our doctor’s okay to keep taking the increase. We told Spouse we know doctor will be okay with it. We have a med check-up appointment in June. At that time we will formally intend to get the dosage increased. We see no potential objections by the doctor. The potential barrier is the dosing. We want to take small doses many times per day and during the night.
We had been taking three half-doses as follows: afternoon, evening, before bed. And then we take a full dose when we wake up during the night. We have never slept a full night through in our conscious, sentient life. Not even once. Not even on medication. Many traumas collide overnight to keep us from feeling safe enough to stay asleep. We were neglected as a child at night and very afraid. That comes alive. We also get nervous and have to pee every night. No exception ever in our life. Sometimes we pee many times. Not peeing is a major trigger from other trauma. Really severe trauma. Some of the worst traumas. So we can’t hold it. Even if we don’t think we have to go pee, we have to go pee, and we do go pee.
Maybe this is too much information. We are trying to figure out how to survive this. We are possibly on a path to therapeutic predictability. Maybe we can get traction. If we increase our meds, maybe we can be less stressed. We are having trouble being present and accepting our situation.
This is one of life’s greatest conundrums to us: when we feel trapped, stuck, and ready to go fucking crazy, the only way to tamp down the fear is to accept how we feel. Embracing the about the lose it is sometimes the way to avoid losing it.
Our me’s are talking out loud to each other in the evening and at night. This makes some of our family members appear concerned. This is part of the toll of not getting alone time. Maybe children will leave the home more once schools let out.
This is where we stand in our journey to survive the world where therapists got scared and changed the boundaries, the world where we do not have private time to meditate and try to be calm. These are the steps we are taking to get therapy, to get the medication, to not turn to violence.
Nonviolence is about meeting needs. We were angry with Spouse yesterday. We wanted to stop. Being angry was not meeting our need. So we tapped into that need and stopped. It took a while. Taking our time is a key with nonviolent communication. T-2 said our homework this week is to take our time. Don’t respond so quickly. Think things through. When everyone in our house is talking to us at once–it happens–and our me’s are talking to one another, it gets so overwhelming that our brain short circuits and we get bewildered and/or angry. It happened today, so we said, “We can’t follow what is happening. Give us a second.” We did not take the time we needed, though, and stayed overwhelmed.
So let’s try to take our time. Let’s take our time. We can do only one thing at a time!
Today, we saw pretty birds. It was a nice break from our circular thinking about therapy. This writing let’s us and you know where we stand right now.