Archive for March, 2013

A ridiculous dialogue

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on March 31, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I lack all drive and motivation. In a way I even crave complete apathy. Real apathy, that is. The way it is, I know exactly I need to make important decisions, but I don´t have the energy for it. I cannot imagine I´ll ever like anything I could do. I´m apathetic enough to not to anything, but I´m not apathetic enough in order not to worry about it. Oh, and I very much dislike myself.

Once again I feel like I´m stuck in a place of eternal condemnation. I need to feel ashamed for everything. And at the same time I accuse myself of exaggerating. I want to think “can someone please kill me” and I want to start crying, but right the next moment I know crying is a waste of tears. I don´t even come close to crying. There´s just a constant pool of aggression seething in my stomach. I feel how I´m poisoning myself and I hope it kills me. I hope I suffocate on my aggression and fall down dead. There´s just a catch: I can´t watch it. I´m suffocating as well, right now.

What I hear in my head is a constant choir of you´re the villain, you are everything you accuse others of being, you´re completely clueless, you made a fool of yourself. Followed by: Writing this is pointless, you´ve said this a million times, same old, same old, just die. Followed by: You´ll get people worried even though you don´t really want sympathy and help, good people, actual humans, they don´t deserve this, and you´re making it worse with every line you write.

So, for those accusations: The part that´s definitely true is the one about accepting help or even just sympathy. I feel like others must be more human (in the good sense) than me, less cold and solipsistic. Not only can they have such feelings for others, they also express them freely, while I always feel massive embarrassment in those situations.

It is pointless, it is pointless, writing this is so damn pointless, you´re only going to end up accusing people of making you this way and making you think you´re evil and you´re not going to feel one iota better, but hey, maybe you can see this insight as the beginning of a positive new start, of a change for the better!

No I can´t, fuck off. I´ll never be one of your puppy lullaby “I have changed” psychotherapy calender girls. I´ll never change. I´ll just remain that way and kill myself with anger.

See, you´re starting to recognize how absurd your own behavior is! That is GOOD!

*sigh* What´s so annoying about this voice in my head is that it constantly takes everything I think and twists it around so it fits its own agenda. I´m constantly trying to fight against a voice that sees every single one of my statements as a confirmation of its own view.

But that is illogical. There is no foreign voice in your head, YOU are making that voice! It is your own voice, though you don´t like what it says! Maybe you should listen to it, though! It could prove really insightful for you!

And of course, that voice is always pretending to “just want to help” me and, by the way, loves absurdity. I have nothing but gallow´s humor in my weapon arsenal. The absurdity of this makes me laugh, but, of course, that only marks the next target:

See, you yourself can laugh about this. Maybe it is the beginning of something better! Of you not taking this so seriously anymore, of you starting to loosen up a bit! You are fighting so hard all the time, that must be terrible exhausting!

Oh god, fake sympathy over a huge layer of schadenfreude! The hallmark of deniable sadism! Yeah, it´s exhausting as fuck, so how about YOU piss off! If you really pity me so much! I can´t believe such a bastardly mature entity would stay here and torture me just to win a power struggle! And no, you don´t need to tell me you only want to help, I´m a grown person and even if you think everything I do is wrong you need to accept I do it! That´s what good, mature entities pretending to be well-meaning therapists do!

You think the readers will all be on your side, don´t you?

Yeah, what actually makes me think so? I hardly come across as a very pleasant person, right? Maybe they will all take sides with that voice and because I´m so unstable and insecure and dependent on outside validation it will matter terribly much to me and I´ll start fights with all kinds of people and alienate everyone. That´s what happens to people like me, it´s what we deserve.

Oh god, that self-pity will make me even more unattractive. And I don´t even give a shit.

You think anyone will be impressed by that false bravado?

You get the drift. Just pick up on anything the other person says and make a derisive meta-comment. Categorize what they do in a discrediting way. While doing so, keep your voice concerned, sceptical, but concerned. Remember, you care for the person you´re trying to drive crazy. It just makes you so sad that she is completely off her rocker! Everything she says and does is an expression of her pathology. Everything is somewhat fake, somehow not right, and definitely nothing she could possible mean!

I actually know the debate style of that voice is inacceptable. This voice deliberately misunderstands me, misinterprets my statements in a way that runs contrary to my wishes. If I don´t want to reach a certain goal and this voice congratulates me on my first positive steps towards reaching that goal, this is just a slightly more complicated way of taking a no for a yes. It´s a complete invalidation of my perspective and I cannot even claim it´s an insult because it comes in the form of a congratulation. And if my anger becomes so obvious it can no longer be ignored or misinterpreted, there is a mixture of sudden shock tactics (“do you think anyone will share your view”) and condescending judgment (“you´re doing yourself no favours with your immature behavior”).

So if this is all inside of you, how do you treat others? Maybe you once were a victim but it must have left traces. It is impossible it hasn´t affected the way you treat others. Remember, people have perceived you as condescending more than once!

Translate: You do to others what you yourself complain about. You know how they must feel about it, just look at how YOU are feeling. You are just as bad as the people you complain about. Better stick with them, they are the only ones who are going to protect you.

Oh, but no, that´s a misunderstanding: There is a second chance for everybody! You can always change sides, but that requires a lot of self-critical reflection and a thorough change in attitude! You are more than welcome to see us any time and we can talk! It won´t be easy, though, and it will involve many sacrifices! You might prefer to stick to your old ways and defenses! Yes, that arrogant headspace you enter in bed is part of the sacrifices! Oh but no, that doesn´t mean you´ll never be happy again! I think until now you were never even able to experience true intimacy! You might be in for a lot of surprises! There is love and happiness on the other side! 

How do I even manage to write this down without throwing up? Is my emetophobia good for something for once?

You abuse humor to evade the crucial questions!

Oh my. Poor humor. It will need extensive therapy when it´s older.

Of course you can always make yourself look like the winner. You don´t have to let me say anything.

Look for a body of your own then and leave me the hell alone?

You´re boring your readers with your evasions. No one thinks they´re funny apart from you.

Another option would have been: “Well, see, now you´re doing what I want! You´re not as infallible to manipulation as you believe!” I wonder if I can DDOS this voice by giving it too many targets at once. It might get confused about which tactic to use. If there are too many ways to make me miserable, it might not know which one is most effective. And if I can make it contradict itself…

…then it will remark on how I sure as hell feel triumphant now. In a tone that annihilates me even though I´m right. Actually, this voice is a mere troll. I shouldn´t feed it. I should ask the mods to lock the thread.

It´s quite simple, really. I need to reduce the level of conflict in my head. Therefore, it is useless or even counterproductive to antropomorphize this voice. It is a malfunction of my brain, but it is part of me. I can do the same thing to it as it does to me: I can play down its importance, I can refuse to take it seriously, I can nobly refuse to fight, I can suffocate it by viewing it as an affirmation. It is part of me. A sad, ill part, but part of me. I need to cure it. Care. Help. Yes, that is a vicious chuckle in the back of my throat. Seems I´ve found a way to torture exactly the part of me that I hate. Maybe humor has won for the moment. The sick, nasty sense of humor that perverts everything it is helpless against.

I feel like I´m sitting on a powder keg, and I´m not sure how much sense it makes to post this, but whatever. I guess it might be sort of interesting to get a fairly uncensored look into my head, whoever´s side you take. I guess I´m even serious about the malfunction part. There is no one else living in my head, but I still stand by the view that the thoughts uttered by “this voice” do not reflect my own opinion.

 

 

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Rip and cut and mutilate

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , , on March 27, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Warning: This post is incoherent, disturbing and contains references to self-harm, violent urges and murder.

I sometimes wonder if I´m dangerous. Working with knives and preparing meat really cheers me up. This in itself probably isn´t dangerous, but sometimes when I feel this weird inner tension, frustration, however you call it I actually feel an urge to take a knife to something. It´s not that I want to kill or torture anyone, it´s just that I look for this meditative, fascinating, calming experience. I´m fully focused, I have no problem severing fibres and removing little blood vessels even though I´m normally rather clumsy.

This isn´t anything I can really talk about. I feel stupid even writing it down. I neither want to dramatize it, nor do I want to play it down. In fact, I don´t know what to think about it and that´s the problem. Of course it´s sort of ridiculous to feel like a potential serial killer because I enjoy preparing meat. On the other hand, though, this urge simply bugs me. And I´ve read enough about serial killers to know that a combination of sadism and depression/frustration/anger issues is kind of explosive. I have both. Sometimes I think it´s just a matter of gender that I turned out the way I did. With scars on my arms, instead of a police record.

What if I talk to someone about this? Some will think I´m trying to look badass. Others will want all kinds of guarantees and promises and commitments to lawfulness from me. I want neither kind of reaction. I neither want to be treated like an immature show-off, nor like a ticking time bomb who needs to be monitored closely. I don´t want to be treated like a villain or an idiot. I didn´t harm anyone. I don´t intend to.

If someone told me I´m okay and not dangerous and that I just worry too much I´d be angry of sorts. I´d probably insist it´s not that simple/harmless, but if they took me seriously some kind of self-protective instinct would kick in and I´d assure them I´m actually not dangerous at all. I think what would be behind my insisting and provoking is this very same tension. I don´t want to be left alone with it. It´s not fair to leave everything to my ethics and self-control. It´s not fair to overlook the intensity of this urge just because I´m a girl. What am I supposed to do? Sit around and chew on my wrists?

I get this tension sometimes. It usually passes on its own, even though I can´t believe it while it lasts. This tension has nothing to do with my BDSM leanings. They aren´t born out of frustration. I top best when I come from a place of mental equilibrium. When I´m asked to and feel okay with it. If I want a reaction from my partner too much I will not be able to produce it. I need to have a certain distance towards the scene in order to control and manage it. If I go in there needy I don´t get nearly as much out of it. And then the tension rises, turns to aggressive impulses which I need to control, much to my frustration. In such situations I simply want to punch myself because why the fuck do I have to be this way? Why can´t everything just be easy? Why do I have to be so I don´t even know what? Primitive? Greedy? Brutal?

I have no idea how I come across writing this. I  mean – do you think I´m some kind of animal who should be locked up? Do you think all my more humane sides are just some kind of fake? That I´m incapable of love, that I´m some cold, dead monster? It is what I think of myself when I´m in these moods, how I perceive myself, but it simply has to be a misconception!  Otherwise – otherwise I mustn´t even think anymore because I cannot think without making “excuses”. As a human monster I´m not allowed a perspective of my own. Do we grant serial killers a perspective of their own? Or do we dismiss everything they say as excuses, as some kind of con? I think there is a certain style of condemnation that does not just condemn the deed, or even the person, but also all of this person´s feelings. We can call a person a bad person, but even bad persons might have some ordinary feelings. If we dismiss those feelings as fake and illusions and bullshit – what happens to said bad person? She cannot feel anymore without berating herself. Cannot think anymore. Her moods only add to her guilt, as they distract her from the reality of what she is. A monster who cannot feel. Moods and feelings are a scam, mere resistance against acknowledging reality.

I´ve always carried this sense of guilt with me, for as long as I can remember. This idea that I´m some kind of very bad person. And maybe that´s no surprise if I carry all those aggressive impulses in me. This tension, my strong reaction to things. Maybe I have a damn good reason to feel guilty. Why was I always so easy to set up, so immature, so easy to provoke? In my better moments I say that people have no right to provoke me, I can pin down when and where they crossed boundaries, but I never know if I´m being reasonable or not. What if I´m just hypersensitive? What if I´m the exact kind of person I always despised and feared – the little gangster who feels provoked at the drop of a hat and immediately draws his knife or beats you up? Do I have a right to despise those people? Do I deserve everything I get? Do others have the right to despise me? Hate me? Judge me? Make decisions about me?

The idea that they even do so is just a vision of mine, isn´t it? Another craziness, why do I have to be so crazy, why is there nothing sane about me? Only as long as I steer clear of feelings, it seems. All my feelings are somehow exaggerated, neurotic, pathological, worthless. I´m delusional of sorts because I hear judgment in everything. Sometimes when I read discussions online that upset me I need to remind myself that the people arguing don´t even know me, so their judgment and aggression cannot be directed against me. I guess I´m just that delusional, I believe everything relates to me somehow. The only thing that separates me from psychotics is that I only feel like it is, I don´t think it really is. The “feel like” is the fine line between severe neuroticism and official insanity.

I should probably have listened to Dr. Stoneface. All those theories by Kernberg are probably true. I simply am inherently destructive. I never believed in genuine goodness, did I? Maybe I was just born with an embarrassing surplus of aggression, greed and selfishness. Tough luck, and now everybody else has to put up with this. I cannot burden others with my style of being. My emotions are unreasonable, unacceptable, they need to be neglected and I need to learn living while my emotions are neglected by others and while I need to neglect them myself. I cannot get myself what I want. I cannot even feel without committing a crime. I need to accept that I commit fallacies when I feel. That I will be unfairly angry. That my feelings are crazy, invalid, that they correspond to nothing out there in the real world.

This last thing would somehow be bearable if only there wasn´t this stern, merciless voice in my head telling me that this is my fault. That my emotions are the way they are because I´m too lazy to be sane. Or too selfish, I don´t know. That I´m responsible for them. Responsibility is a word that cuts me down to the core and all I hear in my head is the echo of someone shaking theirs, shaking their head at how flawed and weak-willed I must be if this word or anything reminding me of my responsibility alone evokes such a reaction. It is something I ought to accept, it is mere reality, do I have a problem with reality?

Ugh. Way to get the tension out. Stop fighting, just take it out on yourself. Say everything the mean thoughts in your head tell you. I feel like what I said in the last two paragraphs is a farce, I felt it even while I said it. It was satisfying on some level. Just what is wrong with me? Am I so cruel that my cruelty has to go into something, and be it destroying myself? Do I need to interpret everything the wrong way just because I need war, enemies, drama? Does it satisfy me to feel like the victim because I cannot be the perpetrator?

That tension has to come from somewhere. It probably comes from a whole lot of everyday life stress, and who knows what else. Maybe a predisposition. Maybe a whole lot of experiences that would have made anyone like this. Why anyone, anyway? On the one hand we accept that everybody reacts to stuff differently, on the other hand we only take events seriously if “anyone” would have reacted strongly to it? How does this even make sense? Is that the line between sanity and madness: If anyone would react as strongly, you´re sane, it was just a real bad thing to happen. If you´re on the wrong end of statistics, though, then your suffering is neurotic?

Whatever. I got carried away. I wanted to talk about these urges for once, since I normally don´t. Just – explore this issue mentally. Then my hang-ups got in the way of that. Berating myself has kind of reduced the tension, and the urge is not nearly as intense anymore. I´m sort of okay. There is still some allure to the thought of – well, sort of dissecting something, but it´s okay. I kind of secretly enjoy that I´m like this. Other people get grossed out. I sense a potential source of confidence. Just having a knife in my hands makes me feel better. Which is why for a long time I refused to use razor blades for cutting. I guess if I hadn´t been a vegetarian at the time I started I might never have started. Then again, my temporary vegetarianism might have been an act if not of hypocrisy, then of definitely not wanting to be who I am. I tried to convince myself that displays of meat made me feel sick, but in fact I´d always been fascinated by animal intestines at the butcher´s, especially as a kid.

At any rate, when I started cutting I was utterly angry. I had the impulse to stab something, stab my hand, but at the same time I couldn´t bring myself to do it. I hated myself for it but in fact I simply had some sense left. I might have seriously harmed myself, rendered myself unable to use my hand. I knew that, and also I was scared of the pain, so I sat there with the knife raised and didn´t know what to do. Instead I tried to cut and I couldn´t even do that properly. I ended up with scratches more than anything else. I was accused of merely wanting attention, but my rage was very real. I just couldn´t act on it. There were other occasions when I wanted to throw something but simply froze because something inside of me seemed to ridicule me, the entire situation, I don´t know. I was both extremely emotional and completely distant.

I think the only way to get my feelings out, safely or otherwise,  is by learning practical skills which help me express them. I can release my frustration in a controlled manner by dissecting my meat before cooking it. I could release all kinds of feelings once I learned how to sing. I´m eager to learn all singing styles so I can express everything. I find it more of a relief to express feelings through borrowed notes and lyrics. Feeling in analogies once more. Or, in BDSM, I express feelings through others. I make them feel what I would like to feel but can´t, and by empathizing with them I get to feel it, too. A little. A lot. I can´t be sure, but it´s enough for me to be happy and exhausted afterwards.

When I could still write I used writing for similar purposes. I spat it all out there, tried to make it perfect, enjoyed the thought of how people reading it would feel. Enjoyed how it made me feel. In a way, I´ve spent my life perfecting ways to distance myself from my feelings and then enjoy the controlled, beatified version. Artsy, isn´t it. Maybe it´s a struggle for survival. A struggle for neither feeling everything too much or nothing at all, I don´t know. I don´t know how other people express feelings. Or even how they experience feelings. Maybe that´s why I ask so many questions. Or suggest things. “When I do xyz, you feel [….], don´t you?” And when they say yes I feel confirmed, validated, like I have a connection to humanity. Like I can´t be that far off. If I can guess so well what they feel.

But do I make everyone feel the way I feel, or want to feel? Do I always express feelings through others? Do I force them on others? I don´t know. I mean – I don´t think so. Most definitely not on purpose. What I do in BDSM is very controlled. I know what I´m doing, I´m using certain styles of communication, though it all comes to me instinctively. I´m in sync with my partner, I know what to say and what effect it will have.

Dr. Stoneface seemed to think I was making him feel the way I felt. But if that was true I definitely didn´t do it on purpose. In BDSM I´m the therapist, not the patient. And I never felt sure what effect my behavior would have on Dr. Stoneface. Until this day I can´t tell for sure what he felt. I can only guess. This is vastly different from situations in which I feel in control. I don´t know if he thought I felt in control in therapy. I felt extremely insecure, so I withdrew into myself and defended that fortress.

Am I toxic? Do I poison everyone who gets into contact with me? I don´t know. I feel like I do not just make others feel things, first and foremost others make me feel things. I feel like I´m overrun with peoples´ feelings. Sometimes I don´t even know if what I feel are my feelings or if what I spit out here are the feelings of others I sympathized with. I feel like I can imagine feelings so well that it doesn´t make difference if I really feel them or not. Is that empathy or fantasy?

Can I even justify posting here? If I´m so toxic, am I doing anything other than make excuses? Am I anything but a walking offense to the victims of people like me? I´m not asking this in despair, those questions are nothing new, they´re always somewhere in my head and it feels good to get them out there for once. I´m allowing myself a perspective of my own, I´m struggling for room and I´m finally finding some. I´m putting this out here because that way the worst can´t happen to me anymore. I cannot be annihilated anymore. Hopefully.

I´m writing just to reduce the tension, because otherwise I´d be punching myself over one feeling or the other. Regret,over some silly mistake I made. Or self-loathing. There´s always something. I´m still not any saner than when I started. It feels good to get all the guilt and self-loathing out there, all those obsessive paranoid thoughts. If only I knew if they´re really paranoid. Maybe I´m not misinterpreting peoples´ behavior towards me? I´ll need to write a structured post on that soon. And I need to stop now because no one is going to read all this gibberish anyway.

 

 

 

 

You´re it!

Posted in personal with tags on March 23, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

So I have been tagged recently, and if I get the modified rules right I shall nominate for people who I ask eleven questions. My nominees are:

1) http://mymendingwall.com/

2) http://justafterwords.com/

3) http://parentingandstuff.wordpress.com/

4) http://delusionalmonsters.wordpress.com/

So here are my questions:

1) What was the best decision you´ve ever made?

2) Where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?

3) Free association question: Write a paragraph about the first thing that comes to your mind!

4) Describe the day of your dreams!

5) Do you find it easy to “just be yourself”?

6) Where do you want to live when you´re old?

7) If you could be the protagonist of any story, what story would that be?

8) Would you describe yourself as a fighter?

9) Do you follow sports? Do you have favourite team/club?

10) Do you feel you have a good idea of who you are?

11) How important is your blog to you?

Have fun, I´m looking forward to your answers!

The session with Mrs D in detail

Posted in college, health, mental health, personal with tags , , on March 23, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

This stupid appointment with Mrs D still bugs me. I don´t know if picking it apart will or won´t help me, but since I´m going to do it anyway, what´s the point of asking myself that? So…

Every place has its specific smell, atmosphere, air. It´s similar with groups of places. If you go to the dentist, there´s certain kinds of noises and smells, even certain kinds of colors and materials. I think the same thing goes for therapists´offices. And even the waiting rooms.

The predominant sound here is silence. The chairs are very comfortable and it´s nearly impossible to sit upright in them. I was starting to feel ill the moment I sat down in the waiting room. I´d gone into the counseling area without showing hesitation, without looking away from the male student passing me by in the hall, because I´d wanted to be confident. Show confidence, prove to myself I was confident. In a difficult situation, yes, but confident. I´d gone into the secretary´s office, smiled, said I had an appointment. Again, I wanted to be confident. Act like I would if I was at work. Friendly, confident, without showing too much of myself. Not so much for their benefit, but for mine. Not everybody needs to know me by heart.

It´s funny (sorry, I digress), but this is a fairly new development. For most of my life I never tried to protect myself that way. I typically assumed I had to be 100% open about everything – or I went into complete shutdown. I think one reason for this new behavior is that right now I´m in a situation in which you need to be careful not to be disenfranchised. Failing college could make people doubt my ability to make decisions or to achieve something in life, and I´m trying to counter that by acting as if I was decisive and accomplished. I didn´t know anymore I had any useful instincts.

Anyway, the moment I sat down in the waiting room I started to shrink. Maybe it begins with the chairs, you cannot sit upright, so you kinda slump down. I grabbed a magazine in order to look busy, competent, like someone who isn´t waiting desparately because this counselor is the last straw to which he clutches. Because she wasn´t, really. As Natalie put it: “Go see them, and if it´s any use to you, great, if it isn´t, well, just put it behind you and don´t think about it anymore!” I really didn´t intend to develop particularly strong feelings about this.

I think I had to wait for about ten minutes. I had been very anxious to be there on time, and I think that´s no coincidence. It was the memory of Dr. Stoneface and that first cold, stern stare he´d had for me when I arrived at his door fifteen minutes late because I´d gotten lost. This, of course, was very much at odds with the confidence I was trying to radiate. Cognitive dissonance, once again, but I tried to be confident and not beat myself up over it. This happens, yeah. I´m scared of authority figures, yeah. I´m scared to be scolded like a little girl, alright. It doesn´t mean that my confidence is a mere facade and that I should drop it and signal that I expect to be victimized. It means that I should display even more friendly confidence. As I was sitting there in this grey, windowless waiting room, though, breathing in that weird, characteristic smell and listening to that silence, my deliberate confidence was starting to slip a bit. I sat there with time to think. I don´t believe in “time to think”. I think while I write. I´m active while I think. I either write, or I walk, or I pace my room listening to music, and that´s when the thoughts and the words come. When I´m sat down in a silent room void of stimuli I don´t think, I sink. I had some dark thoughts about how this was probably the purpose of making me wait, that I should have time to sink. What was supposed to sink in, in this dark vision, was the graveness of my situation. You aren´t supposed to be confident when you´re about to drop out of college. It easily looks like you´re being cocky. A person who´s just fucked up like that is really not entitled to contradict, right? Apparently she doesn´t know how to live her life!

Then Mrs D emerged from her office. She was sort of smiling, but something about her smile failed to draw me in. I remained cautious. She gave me a questionnaire, I filled it in and then I had to wait again until she finally asked me to her office. Her office was very small, just a desk, and then a small table with two chairs. I´d nearly sat down in hers. I should have realized it was hers because there was a notebook lying on her side of the table, but somehow my mind took that notebook as an invitation. Anyway, she told me where to sit before I could actually sit down in her place. I´m really glad about that, because that would probably have frightened me a lot more than being late. On the table, there was the traditional box of hankies. I had no intention of needing them.

The atmosphere in the room was depressing, if not oppressive. It was small, no pictures, very plain furniture. I was sitting with my back to the window, so there was really nothing redemptive in my line of sight. Another thing that might have escaped me in those first moments but which I became aware of later was that this woman didn´t have a computer. She still used a typewriter. I felt like I was back in the 70es. Everything about this room screamed 70es.

“Yes…” She said. “Well, so you already wrote us a thing or two!” She said that as if I had been more talkative than others. It surprised me a little. I had thought a while about how much I wanted to reveal in an e-mail to the secretary, and eventually I had given them the basic information. What do I study, what situation am I in, I´m looking for re-orientation but I´m having trouble making a definite decision. It had been four lines, but the way she talked she sounded as if she already knew everything there was to know. If so, though, what did she want from me? I mean – what did she expect me to tell her now? Did she have any questions, did she see to the bottom of my problem already, was she going to say anything about it?

Nothing.

I tried to talk about the career I´d considered and found myself sounding unenthusiastic if not pathetic. When I´d told Natalie the same she´d told me she sensed a certain energy taking hold of me when I mentioned this option. After two minutes in this dreary 1970es room with Mrs D, that energy had evaporated. I thought that I´d never convince her I really wanted to pursue that career, and at the same time I thought that I was acting like a child by seeking for random peoples´ approval. If I really wanted to do this I didn´t need anybody´s approval, and if I needed anybody´s approval, I didn´t want to do it – or at least I wasn´t nearly sure enough yet.

I´d expected our conversation to continue similar to the way my talk with Natalie had gone. I expected an in-depth discussion of my feelings about the various options I had. Or maybe the mere question how I was feeling now. I could have told her some things. Like the frequent anxiety attacks, my lack of sleeping rhythm, the nausea, the physical pain and exhaustion. She didn´t, though. She asked me what made me doubt the career option I´d just laid out in front of her. I told her I feared it would leave me no time for my partner and also that I wasn´t sure I was going to be able to do such a stressful job.

“Yeah, you´d have to learn a lot when you study for that career!” she said. “I don´t really have a problem with learning…” I stuttered. “At least I used to be quite good at that when I was at school! It´s more…” But I wasn´t able to explain it. That I was scared of what would happen to me if I had such long work hours. Hours in which I´d have to be a professional all the time. Wouldn´t that alienate me from myself? Would I still know who I was when I came home after this?

I also told her that a career counselor had advised me to go after this career and that the alternative had been writing. I said that I liked writing but that I couldn´t control my creativity and that I´d need a day job anyway and that I was no longer sure this model suited me. She then asked me if I was sure I didn´t want to write my thesis. She smiled, saying “because you say you enjoy writing!” At that point she sounded to me like a grandma who tries to be nice but is totally out of touch with the topic at hand. Writing novels is not quite the same as writing a thesis, even in philosophy.

I explained to her that I didn´t really identify with the topic and that I didn´t have enough time left anyway. “Well, you´ll have to ask for more time!” she said in a somewhat harsh tone, as if I was merely being lazy. “You can get three more months!” As I learned the same day, you only get three more months if you have a medical certificate detailing why you couldn´t deliver your paper on time.

I explained to her that another problem was that I never really read much throughout my college years. “Well, of course that shows now!” she said. I was wondering if I should interpret this as some kind of “serves you right” response and decided I didn´t have enough evidence to be righteously pissed off at her. Confident people are careful to feel attacked. Feeling attacked makes you vulnerable.

“So you never managed to identify with your subject, you could never own it?” she said. “No, not really.” I replied. Later, when I was out there, I struggled with the way she´d said this. Managed.  Would it have been an achievement to identify with something that isn´t really me? Should I have made it my own just because at some point I decided to study it – and for the most irrelevant reasons? Had I failed at something that would have been my task in life – identifying with the choice I´d made? That would have implied, though, the choice was a given, something irreversible, something that couldn´t be corrected. On the inside, I angrily refused to see it this way, and when I came home from the store later that day I was on the verge of tears thinking back to this conversation.

We started talking about my family, she asked about my relationship towards my parents, my sister – and felt like I was supposed to press the information and insights gathered in years all within one hour. I felt like I needed to say something definite, something conclusive that made it clear to her I had dealt with these subjects or at least kept them in mind when making my decisions. I felt nagging worry as to what she might be thinking, what she was writing down in her notebook. I stopped myself from asking, though. I knew that being defensive would make everything worse. It would lead to one of those truly torturous conflicts with psychotherapists I´m so bloody good at. If I wanted to radiate at least a little bit of confidence, despite my stuttering and looking away and not knowing how to respond, I sure shouldn´t act paranoid. I had to act as if I didn´t fear her judgment.

Then, she asked me since when I knew I was a lesbian. I said that when I´d been 19 I´d fallen in love with a girl and I´d decided to just go for it and see where we ended up. Actually I´m still waiting for that moment when I wake up and know by divine revelation what my sexual orientation is. I can fancy guys but I probably wouldn´t have sex with them – what does that make me? Bicurious? 😉

At any rate, this topic seemed to be of some importance to her as she asked me if I´d had any male friends at uni. I said, well yeah, I had some…uh…pals. It felt weird to even use the word “pals” around her, it was such a stiff atmosphere. I´ll never know what she did with that piece of information. She might have asked if I´d ever had boyfriends and I said, yeah, when I was a teen, but my longest relationship then was six months, it just never was right for me. I don´t even know why I answered. A truly confident person might actually have asked her how this was relevant to my career issues. I mean – here´s the point: Even if she´d have wanted to find out if I had an underlying psychic illness that caused my inability to make a decision asking questions about my sexual orientation shouldn´t have been part of a diagnostic assessment because – lo and behold! – even the DSM has caught up with the fact that homosexuality is not a disease! So what was that about? Personal curiosity? Or old-fashioned psychoanalytical bigotry?

At some point, anyways, she reached the conclusion that I was unable to make a decision on the spot. I needed time  to get to know my needs, myself. And I even thought that´s what I´d spent the last six years on. If I need much more time I can move on straight to retirement. Her idea, of course, was that psychotherapy might help me get to know myself. I told her I´d undergone more or less extensive therapy already. She wanted to know more. I told her about my first therapy attempt, when I was 16. She asked me why I´d been in therapy. I told her that the diagnosis had been depressive episode, then I went on to tell her that my depression had been caused by an external event. I actually managed to put the whole Lola drama into four or five sentences, talk about integration of burdening events that somehow tear your identity apart! It annoys me now, though, that it was so important to me to assure this woman that actually I was sane, I had just been faced with some burdening events which had caused my low. What was behind this was my fear that I´d be seen as inherently pathological, as someone whose perception can´t be trusted. I think the reason I´m angry at myself is that I failed at that. Eventually she did doubt my perception, however subtly.

Then I talked about my third therapy attempt, Dr. Stoneface. I skipped the second because that would have made things too complicated. Besides, I didn´t want to look even more ill. I wanted to look sane, especially for the sake of that career option I was toying with. I explained that this therapy attempt had turned into a power struggle and that at some point I´d have liked to switch to normal and ask him, amongst adults, if this really made sense anymore, but that he didn´t let that happen. She asked me if I´d taken nothing positive from my therapy. I sensed a trap in that question. If I answered it with no, I´d compromise myself because I´d basically say I hadn´t made any progress in all those years. I´d sound like a sulky kid or a disgruntled, paranoid griper. So I told her that I´d learned some important things when reflecting on my time with Dr. Stoneface a couple of years later. It was both true and false. I did dare say, though, that the therapy itself had been a rather negative experience. Understatement of the century.

She next asked me why I´d been in therapy then. And I tried to tell her about Athena.

I can explain what happened between me and Lola in four or five sentences. Same with Dr. Stoneface, mostly thanks to this blog. With Athena, though? No. Not by a long shot. If I tried I´d sound delusional. You cannot really capture the subtelties of tone, mimic and meanings and her words alone might not be understandable in their impact on me. I stammered something about how it was hard to explain what had happened in that relationship, and that there had been a lot of accusations which I felt couldn´t defend myself against. I guess that´s fairly okay for a spontaneous, preliminary explanation.

Next she asked me if the career option I was toying with might appeal to me because I hoped to understand myself better with the help of it. I thought it was pointless to deny it completely, so I said that I wanted to compare the insights I´d gain there to my own insights. She said: “So you want to confirm your view?” Well, ideally yes, but I do trust myself to work scientifically even if I don´t like the results! Besides, everyone is biased to some extent!

I said: “I think the idea of man predominant in this subject could prove to be very humane. It´s like…you see, I´ve experienced a lot of judgment in life, and accusations, some of it very cruel. There were times when I felt like I was inherently toxic and now I´m looking for an alternate view. Both on me and on human beings in general.”

It might have been right away or some time later, but then, in attempt to sum up my situation, she said: “….and, you were invalidated – felt invalidated a lot in your life…” If she´d said “felt” right away I might have let it slip. But the fact that she corrected herself was too much somehow. Like she had to specifically remind herself that she couldn´t take my word for what it was. Or remind me. There´s always this implicit question hanging in the air: “Are you sure it was quite like that?”  I get this on some level – she cannot know what exactly happened, and human relationships are so difficult to judge as an outsider (for some reason you aren´t deemed competent to judge them from the inside as well, though) yada yada. But considering that I spent a remarkable part of my late teens feeling like I should kill myself because of those perceived invalidations and given that sentences like “you must be the most deranged person there is” don´t leave much room for interpretation it might also be understandable that I´m growing sick and tired of this kind of wariness.

Again, I didn´t say anything while I was sitting in that room, but later that day I felt shaken and sick with anger. While I was sitting there, protesting just didn´t seem worth the effort. Why argue with her, why go through the pain of looking like an emotional wreck while still not reaching her, why even try to convince someone who has already decided I´m not a reliable witness anyway? Why, given that I won´t see her again after I leave this room? I can keep my thoughts to myself. I won´t let her matter that much. I´ll keep her out of my head. Let her think whatever she wants, it doesn´t matter. Behavior-wise, this is some kind of progress, but the motivation behind it is not that I´m more mature, it´s just that I´m more cautious. I know when I´ll get hurt and I shy away from it. I find it hard to judge when I´m being politic in order to protect myself and when I´m starting to act like a coward. What if it hadn´t been my own perception that had been invalidated? What if it had happened to someone else? Would I have protested then, or would I still have tried to protect myself? Where´s the line between self-protection and self-betrayal?

Next came the same old fun. She told me she´d recommend I seek psychotherapy (maybe analytic group therapy) or go to a mental hospital. To her great credit, she said that she didn´t want to exclude I could do it on my own, she merely told me what she´d recommend if I wanted to do psychotherapy. I thought about it quickly, the thought of being at one of these hospitals (they actually aren´t that bad, in some ways they´re more like hotels), talking to different therapists, being in different kinds of therapies, meeting all kinds of people with similar and different problems. Having to take care of nothing and no one but myself. It sounded good on some level. And on yet another level I knew it wouldn´t stabilize me. Au contraire. It would be another hole in my narrative. Quick and sudden fixes don´t work on me. They make me panic. A sudden change of environment, a sudden change of daytime activities and sleep rhythm, never being alone? That kind of stuff makes me go into overload. It puts me under stress, I´m not myself in such situations. There´s been so much drama and radical steps and false dawns in my last ten years, I´d seriously be content to try something that works slowly. Going to a hospital would only bring back the illusion that I need a sudden and radical change. How would I still fit into my everyday life after such a stay? I don´t know. The worst thing is that I´m scared of authoritarianism and you find that a lot in those kinds of hospitals. I´d probably just anxiously submit and later be very angry about it. Maybe angry enough to become stronger and less of a pushover, but if things go awry it might take me another eight years to recover and I´d rather not take that risk.

Again, I merely nodded and let her give me the address for that hospital, thanked her and left. As I went out of the building I tried to mobilize my confidence, my slightly amused anger, whatever I had. I tried to go out there laughing incredulously. I didn´t want it to get into my head, those things she´d said. At first I thought I´d succeeded, but the breakdown came later that day.

I´m dead tired and I guess this post is really long enough, so goodnight for now!

It was supposed to be a post on safewords and empathy and then I suddenly started to talk about bullying

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

What are safewords?

I think safewords are merely an explicit version of implicit clues which we all learn (or should learn) as kids. Safewords are a safety net which catches you in the case of empathy failures.

Most people only know safewords from a BDSM context. Think about this situation, though: Two kids are playing house, the “mother” tells the “kid” to go to bed, the “kid” doesn´t want to. “Mother” becomes all strict. “Yes, you go to bed now or you won´t get lunch tomorrow!” The other kid starts to cry and yells: “You´re stupid! I´m not playing anymore!”

That is a very explicit way of stating that you´re leaving one level of interaction and move on to another. Later, it gets more difficult. Two teens teasing a mutual friend should know where to draw the line between friendly banter and real hurt. If they do, that is: The friend perceives their teasing as good-natured and isn´t hurt, then they´re doing it right. Banter is some sort of play, as it is a playful fight. If it goes wrong, though…

The victim might feel hurt and at the same time deem it unwise to let it show. That´s very much me. One minute I´m on the same page with everyone, the next moment I don´t trust them anymore. I don´t trust that if I let them know they hurt me they won´t use this against me. Which might be understandable because it happened to me. I guess most people have experienced situations in which even crying didn´t make their opponent stop. Or maybe they haven´t? No idea. Maybe they were able to fight back, tell their opponent to fuck off or something.

The victim might also get angry, and this might make her friends angry because it seems unfair – they didn´t want to do harm, they didn´t mean what they said and one minute ago they had ALL been okay with this and now they look like complete villains. I´ve been in such a situation as well: You don´t want to invalidate the other person´s emotional response, but on the other hand you think it´s inappropriate to portray you like a villain. If you contradict, though, you risk becoming a villain. If someone is hurt, he´s hurt and there´s no point telling him he´s overreacting. It´s actually mean to do so. Still, if you didn´t mean to hurt him and didn´t expect something you did to hurt him, is it fair that you have to share his perspective on the whole thing? Should you have to think of yourself as a villain?

At best, you realize a change in the “victim´s” behavior before your banter becomes hurtful. You realize that apparently it´s getting too much and then you stop and show the other person that you don´t want to hurt her or mean anything you say before she explodes, cries or withdraws. I guess that´s how empathy works in real life. It´s impossible to have safewords in such situations. Safewords require a certain kind of meta-communication, where you talk about what level you´re interacting on. You don´t have that meta-communication with everyone. You need to read implicit clues, and that requires empathy. Empathy is what you need if you don´t want to become guiltlessly guilty.

***

If you give implicit clues of distress and people override them, what follows is inner conflict. You´re hurt, but you don´t know if you´re righteously angry because maybe they didn´t intend to hurt you? Still it hurts, so isn´t it normal to be angry? Do they have to be so insensitive? Still, haven´t you hurt people in your life? Who knows what you overlooked, who knows how miserable you´ve made people! But you can´t always walk on eggshells, can you? In that case, though, I can´t demand that other people do this. I shouldn´t react so strongly, why do I have to be so bloody sensitive?

This is what happens to me nowadays if someone hurts me. 1) I hurt. 2) I am angry. 3) I think I have no right to be angry. 4) I think that I´m being a doormat. 5) I crumble under a mountain of potential guilt. 6) I wonder if I´ll need to be hypervigilant in conversations for the rest of my life and always restrain myself. 7) I realize I can´t do this. 8) I think in that case I´ll need to accept that others hurt me.

If I look at it through the lense of different layers of interaction, this is a clear non-sequitur. I don´t need to accept that others hurt me. I can tell them they hurt me, though it might make sense to do so in a fashion that allows them to save face. I shouldn´t make them feel like villains because I don´t know yet if that´s what they are. If they signal that they didn´t mean to hurt me and that it dismays them they did, they´re okay. If they don´t care, I most definitely have a right to be angry. I guess that´s how I would ideally see it. It´s just that emotion-wise, it doesn´t work that way for me. When someone overrides my explicit clues of distress, I falter.

There is a good example in one of the diary excerpts I posted a while ago. Something Athena says makes me cry, she tells me my tears are an attempt at escaping, at deceiving myself, at pretending I´m a poor, suffering victim. My reaction was something akin to shock, and then heavy self-accusations. At first I couldn´t believe how she reacted, and then I grimly thought that I had to be one particularly soft, spoiled and childish piece of shit if I truly thought that crying could get me out of anything. Was I still stuck in the narcissistic phase? A little kid who won´t take responsibility? Was that Athena´s problem? No, she was perfectly right. My tears were just another proof of my weak character. My level of shock itself was ridiculous, it showed just HOW self-centered and naively demanding I was. But that was no surprise, I´d never suffered in my life because my parents had spoiled me to death, so of course now that I encountered real life I couldn´t cope with it. How embarrassing! How pathetic!

At the same time I knew contrary facts. I knew that my father had been the kind of person who, if faced with the smallest stressor, started to yell at people left and right. That´s not exactly what you call spoiling, or idyllic childhood. Neither were other experiences I´d had, though they had more to do with witnessing bad things happen to others. But somehow that didn´t seem to matter. I had a vague feeling that this was unfair, but maybe that feeling was just a sign of resistance? An expression of my fervent desire to somehow see myself as a victim?

When people override your explicit clues of distress, it´s scary to say the least. As a kid I once spend the night at a friend´s place, and when we were lying in bed in the dark bedroom, she suddenly started to parrot me. When I said something, she repeated it in a parody of my tone. At some point I said: “This isn´t funny anymore!” – “This isn´t funny anymore!” she replied. I tried various things. I tried to provoke her, I tried not to say anything for a while and then see if she´d reply normally if I said something, I tried to sound my most earnest. Nothing helped, and in the end I more or less begged her to stop. At that point I was already feeling first signs of genuine panic, otherwise I wouldn´t have been begging. It´s not like begging doesn´t hurt my pride, after all. I felt there was no way to remove myself from the situation without risking repercussions which seemed severe to a child. How would her parents react if I went to them late at night? How would my parents react if they had to pick me up? Would I be allowed to spend the night at hers again? Would she get into trouble and in turn be mad at me?

What was so bad about this was not that she parroted me. What was bad about it was my complete helplessness. There was nothing I could do about this. I think it´s experiences of helplessness that damage, not the circumstances in which they occur. When people override even explicitly stated distress and there is no way you can remove yourself from the situation, you´ll experience terror. I remember another situation with a different friend who was actually pinching me. When I told her to stop she pretended to stop for a while, then did it again. Again, I didn´t dare go to my or her parents about it. They were friends, after all. I´d be the cause of embarrassment. Someone would be bound to wish I didn´t exist, right? Could I really not take a little pinching? It might be a funny coincidence or a real connection, but I still can´t stand pinching. Well, sometimes I´ll take it for someone, but it freaks me out.

I guess someone who will ignore explicit clues of distress would also ignore a safeword – unless we´re talking about a BDSM scene where you have agreed that it´s okay to cause you genuine distress. I think psychotherapy kind of compares to staged non-con scenes: You kind of agree that it´s okay to deal with touchy subjects that might make you cry, or to use interventions which might make you want to run away or actively fight with your therapist. In order for this to be okay three requirements need to be fulfilled: You know what you´re getting into, you want to get into this, AND you know how to get back out there safely if you need to. And by getting back out there I don´t mean just quitting therapy. Getting back out there safely includes that within the therapeutic relationship there´s a level of communication where your therapist is straightforward, empathic and aiming to stabilize you. Where he aims for you to go out there feeling good about yourself. And okay with what transpired between you. And safewording should force your therapist to immediately switch to that level. After safewording, your therapist shouldn´t be allowed to keep on nailing you about your feelings on a touchy subject, or provoke you, or asking “why this is so important to you”. He simply has to accept it is important for the moment. And most importantly, he is not allowed to question your use of the safeword. No “could it be that by safewording you´re trying to run away from a difficult feeling?”! Some people might argue that this way patients can “abuse” their safewords to resist therapy, but the way I see it, you shouldn´t treat someone against his will unless his life is in imminent danger, end of. If they keep on safewording, then apparently the therapy approach in question doesn´t work for them. It´s better for them to leave and look somewhere else than to spend time and money (we´re talking years rather than months here!) on something that tortures or at least overwhelms them.

There´s probably a whole lot more to be said about nearly everything I wrote today, but I think that´s enough for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same old

Posted in health, mental health, personal with tags , , on March 21, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

Okay FUCK. ME. SIDEWAYS.

No, not really. I just return from an appointment with a college counselor. Not the one I saw last time, that woman was really sweet, but an older lady who is also a psychotherapist. Well, may the troubles begin. I´ll call the first counselor Natalie and the second one Mrs. D, just for clarification.

Natalie was a young woman (maybe ten years older than me). I liked her from the moment I saw her. She reacted to what I said, helped me formulate my thoughts, and if she ever seemed surprised it sounded like pleasant surprise. “Oh, so you do some kind of field research?” When I clarified to her that I was in a lesbian relationship she simply accepted that, no question. She seemed to be under the impression that there was nothing extraordinary about it. I was okay with that, my family was okay with that – what was there to talk about? She told me how I came across to her and that this was basically okay (I demand a lot from myself and want to achieve much in life – but that´s okay, I just need to be aware that not everybody is like that. I studied philosophy because I didn´t want to make a decision yet – you can do that, there´s no point bashing yourself over it. I write about sadism – so if something interests you you work a lot on it, that sounds good!). I went out there feeling like I was an acceptable person who didn´t have to hide who she is. I felt like my interests were okay, worthy to be pursued. She truly came across as someone who´d heard it all – at what? Age 35?

Mrs D – well. The moment I saw her I was a bit worried because she was an older woman. She was of a similar age as Dr. Stoneface. I sat down with her and tried to talk, and she – sat there like a stone. Well, a comparatively talkative stone. Still, she didn´t really help me to get the conversation going. At some point she simply started to ask me questions. First she asked me what worried me about pursuing the career I´m thinking about. I answered that I was worried I wouldn´t have time for my relationship, then she started to talk about that. When I clarified I had a girlfriend, not a boyfriend, she asked since when I knew I was a lesbian. Well, since when does that matter? I´m here with career and college issues, decision-making issues!

Ugh, this entire atmosphere! Her not helping me talk in the slightest, barely responding to what I said, asking tons of questions about my family and my relation to my different family members – this felt like a typical assessment in TFP or psychoanalysis. And in the end, the conclusion she reached was that I wasn´t ready to make a decision. I should consider psychotherapy as a way to get to know myself. I said I´d already been in therapy, told her some basic things about Dr. Stoneface. Again, very moderately, in a very self-critical fashion. Then she said that she´d think it might be a good idea if I went into a psychosomatic hospital for a while.

I´ve been told plenty of times I should go to some mental hospital, so it doesn´t really come as a shock anymore. I said I´d think about it, let her give me the address, and I was extremely glad when I could leave. But seriously – I enter this room as a person who´s struggling with ordinary life problems and I go out there with an address for a mental hospital???  I didn´t even tell her about how I´m feeling at the moment. Like: The stress, the anxiety, the disordered sleeping rhythm. So what exactly does she base her assessment on? My family circumstances? The fact that I studied the wrong subject for too long? Again: Fuck me sideways!

Sorry, I had to vent. I definitely won´t go see that woman again. She was okay compared to Dr. Stoneface, but I simply don´t want to be treated like that. I go out there feeling worse than I did before. I´m not. that. ill. I don´t know what world she grew up in, but nowadays EVERYONE has trouble finding a place in life. That´s why I prefer to talk to younger people. They are just more in touch with my generation and our life styles.

Actually, this doesn´t get better from thinking about it. Her words are just sneaking into my head. I want this to leave me alone. I just want someone I can tell everything and he assures me I´m not insane. I think the technical term is validation.

I think that woman wasn´t completely incompetent, but I just didn´t feel good talking to her. I felt my hard-fought self-confidence dripping away and it was only by distancing myself that I could get back some sense of control. I felt like I was walking on eggshells once again and I had to remind myself that it was okay to state my opinion. Or to have an opinion, more like. I managed to remind myself, and I surprised myself with how relatively honest I was. It´s not like there were repercussions for it. Still, I felt like I was in a threatening situation. I didn´t trust Mrs D. I did trust Natalie.

I don´t know. I´m too exhausted to reflect on this. I just wanted to get this out there.

Me as a lay psychologist, roles I enjoy and the reason why psychotherapy needs safewords

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal with tags , , , on March 21, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m spending some time at a psychotherapy forum, mostly giving advice to people who aren´t sure if what´s happening in their therapies is okay or not. I´m far more moderate than I am on this blog. I have some natural inhibitions when it comes to advising strangers about stuff I have an emotional involvement in. Still, way too often I do realize that there´s something important nobody else has said yet, so I bring it up. The amazing thing about this is that I constantly have to reflect. What are my personal feelings on this, can I generalize on them, what other possibilities are there, what seems to be accurate. It´s weird, but I feel I learn stuff about myself by giving others advice. I cannot make up my mind if this is a win-win-situation or if I´m living through others.

Sometimes in play people have told me they feel like a human guinea pig because I keep on asking them questions about how certain things make them feel. If you play with me you´d better kink on psychiatrists. Quite often I´m more curious than excited. Well, it might be an obscenely morbid curiousity that drives me in those situations. Still,  emotional reactions interest me everywhere. I often feel like I myself am a terribly unpersonal person, ideally in some kind of mental equilibrium, and I only ever feel or have opinions in relation to others or if I´m faced with some question. I read self-help forums for – fun? Fun is the wrong word, it sounds more respectless than I am. I read them out of scientific curiousity. When I told my college counselor, she said: “Oh, so you do some kind of field research?” Spot on.

I treat my own emotions as experiments, too. Sometimes I think I only resist therapy because I´m more interesting to myself when I´m ill. Not because it´s fancy to have some psychiatric disorder, but because that way I can learn something about those illnesses. I´m quite literally a mad scientist. On this blog, don´t I poke my own wounds most of the time just to ask: “What does this do with me?” and “How do those wounds work?”

I am ill. I have anxiety issues and possibly more. And yet I´m somehow convinced that if necessary I could be healthy right away. I sometimes think that my illness (not mental illnesses in general, but truly just my very own misery) is a form of decadence. Or a result of decadence. I don´t have anything to do, so I use myself as a human guinea pig. I need my issues because they give me some sort of justification to talk more or less authoritatively about those issues.

Even when I´m truly miserable (that is: I panic that I might throw up) it usually helps me to take a look at the emetophobia forum I frequent. Not because I get advice from others. I very, very rarely post for my own sake. No, most of the time it helps me switch roles. From the helpless to the helper. I reply or mentally reply to others. Sometimes I just remind myself that I don´t want to be one of them. I don´t want to need. I don´t want to be emotional. I have to feel really miserable in order to write an emotional stream of consciousness even on my own blog. But why would I post one in a forum? By the time I´d get replies I´d have calmed down anyway. I´d feel guilty for getting people worried. That sounds lovable, but it isn´t, really. I like to keep my feelings and moments of weakness to myself. I do it almost automatically. That doesn´t make you lovable. It alienates people.

What is it with me? Why do other peoples´ emotional outbreaks make me feel better, why does it help me to see their confusion ooze from every line they write? I guess I might as well ask why I´m me. I guess I can say for sure it´s not mere malice or schadenfreude. It don´t wank off over it. It´s more like reading emotional posts help me gain distance. Even when it´s emotions I myself share. Seeing someone scared distances me from my own fear. The moment everybody else breaks down is the moment when I suddenly come to life and take charge. I don´t abuse the situation in order to reach any goals other than the immediate goal of getting the problem under control. I don´t really have any ulterior motives like getting fame or gratitude. I just enjoy feeling alive and competent for a moment. When I give advice to frightened, confused and emotional people I´m being very, very selfish.

On some level this makes me uneasy. It sure has to come back and bite me in the ass some time? Shouldn´t I focus on my own feelings and talk about them? Won´t I be punished if I constantly try to avoid my own vulnerability?

Well. I do seem to have a need to be the helpless one sometimes. Otherwise I wouldn´t fantasize of submitting to someone so often, especially since those fantasies usually involve some kind of confession on my part. I sometimes think it´s a real pity I´m not a Catholic. Still, in those fantasies I do have some kind of control. Self-control. I subject myself to someone else, I try to meet his demands with stoical obedience. I don´t like to feel forced to do something, I´d rather make a conscious decision to obey. How vulnerable I make myself is up to me.

Then, there´s the other side. Moments when I feel completely incompetent. Who am I to give people twice my age advice when I can´t even manage to wash the dishes or even get out of bed? Still, if I correctly analyze a problem, is my analysis invalid because I was writing it at 4 p.m. wearing pajamas? It seems to make a difference to people. I think that´s both understandable and a pity. I think emotional detachment, problem analysis and non-judgmental listening are skills or talents like any other. They don´t guarantee that you will stay depression-free or have a reasonable sleep rhythm. Also, can you really demand that people should be able to analyze their own problems that way? It´s not like I´m not trying to do that, but if you were only allowed to use those skills on others when you yourself are free of problems, no one will ever be able to help anyone. Having problems of your own might be a helpful reminder, though, that you aren´t any better than the people you help. You aren´t superior as a person, you simply take up a specific role because you have some amount of talent for playing that part.

I think psychotherapy is a bit similar to submission. For the patient, naturally. You go there, putting yourself into the hands of someone else, knowing you will be vulnerable,  faced with uncomfortable things, but ultimately you expect to benefit from it. The way some people on those forums talk about their therapy experiences is so masochistic it almost makes me cringe. It makes me cringe because they don´t seem to be aware of it, of how obscene some of it sounds to me. And some of it just sounds like they´re in pain, groveling at the feet of someone who hurts them without benefit. It´s hard to look at, some of it.

I´ve often wondered about this connection between psychotherapy and sadomasochism and D/s I perceive. Is it just on my mind because I read something perverted into everything? Yet I´m by far not the first and only person to make this connection. Even Jaeggi says that the core of the therapeutic process is power exchange. I think it´s funny – she like most other people seems to have problems describing the therapeutic relationship, but when I view psychotherapy as a very risky form of D/s everything falls into place.

The problem with therapy is that patients don´t have safewords. They can´t switch back to a symmetrical relationship, they can´t leave their roles. When I asked Dr. Stoneface a question about organisational stuff or diagnoses or how therapy was supposed to work, the reply I got was: “Why is that so important to you?” If you´re lucky, this is just annoying. Most patients aren´t. Instead, they go to forums and ask what the hell is going on. Is this some kind of intervention or is their therapist just being an asshole? Should they leave therapy? Imagine what it would be like if patients could say: “Okay, RED! This is an organisational question and I´ll have no interventions right now! Just bloody answer me, as a patient I have a right to know about this!” And if their therapists still refused to answer, the patients officially knew they´re just being pricks! No more confusion!

The way it is now, it´s essentially up to the therapist how if they will allow two levels of interaction, one symmetrical and one asymmetrical. Dr. Stoneface could have decided to give me a straightforward answer, but he didn´t and there was nothing I could do about it other than leaving. And leaving isn´t easy when you can´t negotiate whether or not the relationship still makes sense. Because, once again, you can only be sure the therapist can´t help the patient if the patient leaves. How often would I have wanted to say: “Okay, Dr. Stoneface, I know we´re having a little power struggle here! But let´s get real for a moment: Does it really make sense for me to waste years of my life on this? Hasn´t this whole therapy attempt gone to the dogs months ago? Shouldn´t we just cut this?” If he had said: “Yeah, I guess I see your point, at the moment I don´t see how we´re going to get anywhere!” we could have parted in peace. I wouldn´t hold nearly as much of a grudge against him, if at all. There´d have been some kind of understanding. An understanding that right now his interventions aren´t helpful to me. I could never reach him, though. He always kept me at arm´s length. It is this that makes me so miserable whenever memories come up. The helpless position he put me into, the way he sabotaged communication. It took me years to figure out what exactly had happened there. I think one day I actually will have to write a book about this. Use myself as an experiment once more, and as a source for advice. Maybe. I´m not sure I feel like exposing my story to the judgment of the world, at least not with my name attached to it. And yet I profited so much from a person who took such a step. Well, we´ll see.

The way it ended, eventually, was so absurd. I used, yes, consciously used an argument to terminate therapy. I needed some kind of reason, not so much for him but for me. Some transgression, something that could help me say “okay, now he´s gone too far”. It felt ridiculous to me. I was shaking with adrenaline, and at the same time it felt ridiculous. I knew this was some kind of play-act, make-believe, from both of us, and yet it was impossible to talk about that. He never mirrored my resignation. Never acknowledged that I was basically aware there was some kind of subtext and instead tried to confuse me with regards to that, tried to make me believe there wasn´t. I wonder if he actually saw me as a person. A human being with the same abilities he has. There are basically two options: Either he didn´t see me as an equal human being, in which case he thought it was justified to simply “keep me under control” somehow. Or he saw me as an equal human being who had freely decided to undergo this madness. I find it hard to believe, but right now I actually tend towards the latter. If he knew I was somehow aware of the subtext, he might have concluded that I wanted this. He might even have believed he had something like informed consent.

If the latter is true, then he never wanted to drive me mad. He saw it as a mere game we were playing. Some of his statements, such as that at least part of me wanted to see him, make sense in the light of this view. If he thought I understood therapy so well that his confusion tactics wouldn´t destabilize me then the problem was an empathy failure on his part, not evil intentions. Sorry Dr, you won´t get more forgiveness than that. Actually, that´s still more forgiveness than I have to offer. Knowing what his perspective (and its limitations) might have been helps me feel less defeated, but ultimately it confirms my view that you simply mustn´t put people in such a powerful position. You can´t just assume patients know what they´re getting into, and you can´t just assume that therapists will know when to play-act or deliver an intervention and when to take a step back and straightforwardly answer the patient´s questions. It must be possible for the patient to stop therapeutic interventions without leaving altogether. It must be possible to part ways in a civil manner even if things haven´t worked. Scenes in BDSM go wrong. You safeword and talk about it as equals. In therapy gone wrong, the patient tries to talk about his discontent and he is told this is normal, a result of projection, resistance or a sign of his illness. He can either believe that or decide to leave. Even when he leaves, though, the doubts remain. Was the therapist right? Am I just taking the easy way out?

You leave, but does it leave you?