Posted by: Marie | July 9, 2009

(102) I know what, but how?

Post #102
[Journal entry written to my therapist on Thursday, February 26, 2009]

Hi, Dr. Barb –

I woke up last night in a very emotional state, so I got up and wrote down what was in my head. I thought about subsequently re-writing it to make it “prettier”, but decided against it. I think it would be better for you to see my thoughts in their “raw” form – especially since I haven’t gotten it all sorted out in my head.

Flower by Martin Chen

Flower by Martin Chen

However, here is the caveat: I was angry/frustrated and I “took it out on you” to some degree – in the daylight, I understand that it is not you with whom I am angry/frustrated – so please take my words with a grain of salt . . . thanks!


I find myself feeling angry and frustrated already with our process (but I hope that is a good sign, LOL.) In our initial session, I found myself really struggling to keep an open mind and really listen to what you were saying to me. What you were saying is the same stuff I have heard and read a hundred times before.

I have studied (really studied, not just perused) at least 50 different books (maybe more?) on health, nutrition, weight loss, physical activity, etc. I have been coached by several different exercise, nutrition and life coaches – all of whom have repeated the same mantras to me. I have created a dozen (maybe more?) custom-designed health programs for myself, complete with automated tracking mechanisms – they are sitting on my computer, waiting for me to utilize them.

I literally could write “the book” on these subjects.

I fully understand the benefits of taking care of myself. I understand what happens when I don’t care for myself. I understand that I’m not supposed to allow my feelings to determine my level of self-care.

When I am emotionally and energetically stabilized, I am highly motivated to take good care of myself – and I lose weight, feel great, look great, etc. During those times, I don’t need to be reminded to do those things because I do them religiously.

However, when I get triggered and “crash”, my focus becomes figuring out how I’m going to get out of bed and get to work – how I’m going to talk myself into getting out of my pj’s and taking a shower – how much work I could miss without losing my job. Things like eating well and brushing my teeth are so far off the radar. My main focus is hanging on by my toenails so I don’t go off the deep end and lose my will to live. I feel like I’m underwater and simply fighting to breath.

I’ve never been suicidal, but I’ve had many times when I would have preferred to die in my sleep – that’s how dark it gets in those low moments. I can’t just “snap out of it” by listening to some music and chanting some positive words (as I’ve been told I should be able to, if I really want it bad enough). I simply mark time until the darkness lifts.

During those times, I don’t need to be reminded to do the healthy things because it is all I think about – I am constantly aware of the fact that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing – I beat myself up about it many times every hour – every time I smell my body odor and feel the slime on my teeth.

Then, once I start feeling better, I’m faced with catching up on all the things I let slide (like washing dishes, doing laundry, paying bills) and then I’m faced with talking myself back into taking care of myself – I take a deep breath and convince myself that I’m going to stick with it this time – despite knowing I have crashed and burned the last 2,168 times I have picked myself up off the ground and gotten back on my horse.

Here is my point: If our work together is going to be mainly about you reminding me of all the things I’m “supposed to do” and getting on my case when I don’t do them – well, I don’t need that kind of help – I can do that for myself.

I really need help learning how to stop (slow? manage?) the “crash and burns” so I don’t go to that dark place so often.

I really need help learning how to stay energetically and emotionally stabilized so that I can stick with my self-care “program” for longer than 5-10 days at a time – for more than 20-30% of the time. I have the “program” down solidly, for the most part – I just need help with staying in the sunlight.

If getting that kind of help requires that we talk about my daily self-care habits, then I’m okay with it and I’ll cooperate. I just need to know that talking about my daily self-care habits is a means to an end rather than the end in and of itself.

So, I hope that makes sense . . .

– Marie

Quotes 013


  1. I hear this one loud and clear. What did she do/say? I wonder if Ts can’t do more because they just don’t know what to do. I’ve asked my T why I feel I don’t have better coping skills! He thinks I’m doing fine, but I want instant results – he says I use black and white thinking, I say… he says.

    • Hey, Ivory –

      Hmmmm . . must be a common source of frustration . . .

      Her response was along the lines of, “You shouldn’t feel judged by me in our sessions . . . I’m not judging you, I’m just trying to point out the things you could be doing to improve your life.”

      That response was not very helpful to me — it felt like she missed the whole point of what I was trying to say — and gave me another “should/shouldn’t” with which to comply in the process. Grrrrr!

      I didn’t even attempt to explain it to her again — she is a smart lady, smart enough to get it the first time I explained it — she wasn’t going to understand any better the second time around. So, I just dropped it.

      – Marie

  2. I think the trickiest thing about therapy is finding the right therapist. You can’t tell from looking at their resume, their website or even from the first meeting (unless its really obvious). Which sucks.

    Finding someone who doesn’t just treat you like a number is just so tough. And then, being in a dark place, it can be hard to be objective too, and/or make the decision to change if that’s what you need.

    But what I’m reading here tells me you do know, and that perhaps you need to consider looking for a new therapist?

    • Hi, Svasti –

      It is true that this new therapist and I were not off to a good start . . . but, we had only been working together for a couple of weeks. So, I decided to give us a bit longer to get the kinks worked out . . .

      – Marie

  3. Dear Marie,
    I agree with Svasti. The key is finding the right person–whether it’s this person or not. But, personally I wouldn’t find it helpful either for someone to tell me what I need to do when I’m feeling depressed.

    You’re right. The best we can do then is survive. Because I live with my husband and son, I always take care to deal with the physical issues. And I try hard to do as much as I possibly can.

    But, I also take one medication that enables me to get out of bed, and function. Still, my husband is a saint and he does a lot of the chores that you’re evidently responsible for.

    What I like best about my current therapist–whom I’ve been seeing since January (after a 20-year hiatus)–is how positive he is about everything I’ve done. I think that the last thing we need is someone to lecture us on what we need to do.

    I always thought that if just one of my doctors or former therapists had ever been depressed, they wouldn’t bother me with all that B.S. But that’s just me.


    • Hey, Susan!

      It is good to hear from you!

      Thanks for letting me know that you wouldn’t find this approach helpful, either . . . I found following her recommendations as do-able as trying to implement recommendations such as “just stop breathing” or “just stop eating” or “just stop blinking” . . . . just stop, why don’t you???!!!?!?!?!? Why can’t you just stop? LOL

      I agree with you about how much more effective mental/physical health professionals would be if they had walked a mile in our shoes before trying to counsel us!

      I’m glad your husband is so willing to step in and help . . . how awesome!

      – Marie

  4. Hi Marie,

    This reminds me so much of the Bob Newhart skit on MadTV where you yells at the client, Stop it. He only gave five minute sessions and said that clients never came back, yeah. He reminds me of this t.

    Well really how many people feel that they can do substantial and sustaining change, healing, growth with that kind of judgmental stuff?

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  5. Sorry typing mistake, “He yells at the client, stop it.”


    • Hi, Kate –

      I think there are situations where, in childhood, people were not made aware of better ways of “doing” — they didn’t have adults modeling wise behavior to them. In those cases, with simple education, they can often shift their behavior.

      However, when you are dealing with trauma, the behavioral patterns are governed by parts of the person other than the congnitive. That is when the awareness of “another way”, by itself, isn’t enough.

      I came from a family where “wise behavior” was abundant (in most ways). So, when my behavior didn’t align with the behavior modeled by my parents and extended family despite my best efforts to make it align, shame attached itself to what I believed about myself.

      That is why I feel I need more than to be told to “just stop it”.

      – Marie

  6. Hi Marie,

    I agree with you.

    No one and I mean no one is helped by being shamed and being told to stop it, even when they want to. Some people might stop but the underlying cause is stil there and they still lack the skills to increase their self-esteem and self care skills.

    I mentioned the skit because it was the wrong thing to say to a client. Sorry if I was unclear. No one needs to be yelled at and judged.


  7. I would be very frustrated with this process as well. Most of us know what we should be doing. I would think a better process would be to help you discover the underlying reasons for why you crash and burn. What you are saying makes total sense to me.

    • Hi, lostinamaze –

      Thank you for the “amen” . . .

      I so agree with you!

      – Marie

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