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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hi Kate. I had my therapy appointment this evening. We spent

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Hi Kate. I had my therapy appointment this evening. We spent most of the time in silence. I could tell she kept wanting to say stuff, but would stop herself. I asked her if I was supposed to say something, and she said I didn't have to unless I wanted. Then she said that she was trying not to say anything. I told her she could if she wanted. She asked me a few times what I was seeing or what I was thinking or what I felt, and I just didn't know. She had put a big box of tissues beside me, but I didn't cry. She told me that I didn't cry very much, and I told her I felt like I cried a lot there, and she said she didn't think so. I told her it was a lot for me. I told her I just couldn't release it. Like I know it might make me feel better, but I can't do it. I also told her it was awkward to cry in there when she's staring at me or staring down at her file. She said she could turn her back to me if that would help. I said it wouldn't and that it's not like she was doing anything wrong -- it's just awkward. She said she understands, that crying is a personal thing. She said that if I totally break down, that honestly she would probably sit there and cry along with me, that it was just really sad to her.

But then we talked about how alone I feel when I start getting really emotional, and she told me I could call her if I get that way again, and I told her there was no way I was going to call her in the middleof the night. So I told her that if I felt like I was going to lose it, I would hold it off until my next appointment. Of course, I'm thinking that I won't be able to let go then, either. I just can't get over the hump. I'll get to the point where I feel like I will explode, but I stop.

Oh well. Maybe it means I just don't need to cry.

She also told me that sometimes there just aren't words. I did appreciate that, because I just can't explain how I feel.

She gave me a pencil and paper and told me I could draw if I wanted. She also told me she was going to bring crayons or a sand tray on Wednesday. I told her there was no possibility I'd play with sand, and little chance I would draw anything. That's just not something I do. I didn't draw anything tonight, either. Just played with the pencil until I broke it. How can coloring with crayons possibly help?? Maybe if I broke all the crayons it would help, but .... Speaking of which, I did tell her I kind of felt like I would like to stab at least the one guy. She said "just once?"

She also said I could beat on the couch if I wanted, but I can't do that with her sitting there in the room.

I understand she's trying to push me off the emotional edge, and I also understand that this might bring me some kind of relief or help me move on ... but I don't know that I can get there. I can't force myself to break down. And when I'm in there thinking about my feelings, I just get confused mostly - I don't know what I'm feeling or why. So I spend most of the time thinking about my feelings, not feeling my feelings, if that makes sense.

She also wants me to go to a massage therapist who specializes in trauma - something about she knows how to get your body to release deep held feelings or something. She had asked if I ever got massages and I told her I did, and she asked if I had ever experienced deep feelings when getting a massage. I told her never. She said she really thought I should go to this massage therapist. Have you ever heard of this? Do you know what it is exactly?

Also, she and I agreed that as far as the strange internet forum messages , we will leave that be for now and deal with it later. I said that was fine -- I have no explanation and just thought it was creepy, so I have no desire to try to figure it out now anyway.

But things went better today, des[ite the bad night last night, I was so busy at work today that I didn't have a whole lot of time to think about things, and so I felt a lot better today. I am just praying and assuming I won't have another nightmare like last night, If I wake up with another black eye or other injury, I'm going to have to move all my furniture or at least pad it. :)
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



It sounds to me like your therapist feels you need to express your deeper feelings and is trying to get you in touch with them. But I get the feeling that you are not ready yet. And that is ok. Sometimes the feelings are just not there yet. They can be under the surface, or deeper inside. You can't really force them to come out. It's like thinking really hard about sleep when you go to bed. Thinking really hard about it isn't going to make sleep come. It's just going to prevent it. It's the same with your feelings. Focusing so hard on expressing your deeper feelings in therapy is going to make it even harder to bring them out, especially if you feel self conscious about it in therapy.They will come up when they are ready, very naturally. As long as you are not having feelings and ignoring them, there is no harm in not expressing them yet.


It also may be that you are not so much sad and in need of a good cry right now, as needing to express your anger. You mentioned playing with a pencil until it broke and wanting to break all the crayons. You also mentioned having the desire to stab one of the perpetrators. From the sound of it, anger is the main feeling you have. How much have you been able to explore your anger?


It might also help you to find other ways to express your feelings. Writing your feelings out sometimes helps, especially writing a letter to the perpetrators that attacked you. It provides an opportunity for you to say what you want to say and at the same time helping you to get in touch with your deeper feelings.


I have not heard of using massage therapy as a way of getting out your feelings. I'm not sure how that would work. But it's worth a try if you feel you might be helped.


I'm glad to hear that you had a better day yesterday. It may be that you were able to get out some of your feelings through the nightmare (though in quite a painful way!). Getting through this is going to take good days and bad. But that is how working through trauma is. It helps to remember days like yesterday when you feel down and have trouble feeling there is any hope.



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well, I have felt like crying a lot lately - just not at appropriate times. I feel like if I totally let go something I don't like will happen, or I won't be able to control myself. From what she says, she thinks it is just lingering under the surface and I am not lettin it out. She just keeps saying that I look so sad. I don't know. I think you were right in something you said the other day, though, that she doesn't want me to be alone when I fall apart, probably because u told her how scary it is for me.

But yesterday, you are right, I fel more angry than sad, although I felt less of everything. I am starting to be angry at them, but I am still mostly angry at myself. I don't think stabbing myself or thinking that way would be productive.

I am not certain how to express the anger, especially at myself. Her offer to beat on the couch was tempting. Maybe that's something I could do when I am alone. Mostly I just feel like clenching my teeth and making fists.

I'm not sure about the massage thing. I'm all for a relaxing massage, but I am wondering what this entails. I'll need to ask her about it. I am thinking that being half dressed in that vulnerable position with someone I do not know is not the time I want to explore or release my feelings. Know what I mean?

You also might be right about the fact that I got some of my feelings out in the nightmare helping me to have. Better day yesterday. It also helped tht I was distracted for most of the day. I feel already pretty wound up this morning.

Oh, and I do write. I had been writing quite a bit, actually, but on the past week or so, I can't figure anything out enough to write it down. I tried making a sort of outline the other night to try to kind of categorize my feelings, but I didn't get anywhere at all with it. My therapist told me not to try to organize it - just to write down any feeling I could identify. So I did that last night. I ended up with a whole page. A lot of them are against myself, which I know she will take issue with. But what can I say? It's honest and real.

Btw - better night last night. I didn't bump my head or anything. :)

Thanks, Kate.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



It sounds like it is your fear holding you back from crying. Crying is a powerful reaction to an equally powerful event and how that event impacted you. So it's going to feel overwhelming when you consider doing it. But you may find that although it initially feels hard to cope with, as you let your emotions out, it gets easier. You have been taught by your parents to hold your feelings in (through seeing them do it) and that there is something wrong with letting them out. You may have unconsciously picked up from them that there is something to fear about expressing your feelings.


There is no reason at this point to pressure yourself. Your therapist is there to support you no matter what you feel, but it may be easier on you if you back off the subject for a while. Talking about your more surface feelings may be enough to trigger your deeper feelings and help you cry.


You may also want to talk to her more about your fear of crying. That may help you feel more free to let your feelings out.


Being angry at yourself could also be a way to avoid your deeper feelings. What do you feel you did to deserve to being angry at yourself for?


Beating on your couch may help you get more in touch with your anger. Yelling into a pillow is a good way to express yourself too. Sometimes anger covers up sadness so if you let your anger out, you may find yourself tearful, which is normal.


I explored the massage therapy idea but besides helping you deal with stress, I cannot find any studies on it that say it is helpful with expressing emotions. I may need to do more digging, but if you find out more from your therapist, let me know. I do agree, someone touching you in that way might trigger some PTSD symptoms for you. I'd mention that as well to your therapist.


You have a very logical mind and I understand that. Trying to write out your feelings in an organized manner tells a lot about how you view your feelings and how you process them. And that is not bad, it's actually good. You want to know more about how you deal with your feelings so you can work better in therapy. It is ok that most of your page was about your feelings toward yourself. That needs to be worked through, I think, before you can deal with your deeper feelings of anger about what happened to you.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Maybe I just need to beat the crap out of my drums. I think that's what I'll do tonight. I'll put some really loud music on my ipod and play along on my drums until I wear myself out. That sounds like a good plan, I think.


Your question about what I feel I deserve to be angry at myself for (wow - there are a lot of prepositions in that sentence!) - surprised me. I thought it was obvious, and I thought I told you. I literally asked them to do things. I offered it. I said I liked it. I did things. When I see these things or think about them, I want to kick my own a**.


I will find out more about the massage thing. She is going to bring me the lady's card tomorrow. She said one of the therapists in the office was assaulted by a client, and she went to this lady and found it extremely helpful. I will ask her to ask the other therapist more about it. Apparently, this woman believes that trauma is held in our bodies as well. Not sure what I think about the whole thing. I will let you know what else I learn.


Meanwhile, I think I will take your advice and not think about expressing my feelings. I will just "be," as my therapist likes to say.







Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



Drumming sounds like a wonderful outlet, though I hope you live in a house and not an apartment!


You did tell me about how you felt you deserved the anger, but taking a closer look at how you are feeling might help. While blaming yourself might a natural response in your case, finding out why it is natural for you is helpful. Finding out if your anger is about something you are seeing in yourself, or is it because it is too hard for you to face being angry at your attackers? Or is it about something outside of the attack like self esteem? These are all questions that may help you explore your anger further. Although we did talk at length about this before, it may not have been enough to help you find what is behind it. It might be beneficial to find out what it is. Talking to your therapist about it is good too. Or you can put it on the back burner now. It's up to you. I just wanted to throw that out there for you to think about.


I am going to continue to look into the massage therapy. I may also ask a colleague or two if they have heard anything about it. It might be something newer that I haven't heard of yet.




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Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Yes - - I have a house - and pretty tolerant neighbors. And although it wouldn't be the same as banging on my acoustic set, I do have an electronic set with which I can use earphones, so I can play in the middle of the night if I want. Cool

As for self esteem, I actually have pretty good self esteem. I am normally very confident, and I have been accused of being cocky at times. Other than this issue, I think I am fine. In fact, some people have told me, especially at church, that everything comes easy for me and I'm always the favorite and I think I am better than everyone else. Now, I appreciated their honesty, although it seemed odd they would tell me this, and it seemed like something a 7th grader would say, but I guess that's how they feel. So apparently I exude a lot of confidence. But I don't think I'm better than anybody else, and things don't come easy to me -- I work hard. I think I am pretty good at recognizing my skills and talents, but I am also (I hope) cognizant of my shortcomings. I don't think it's an overall self-esteem thing. I think I just have issues with my behavior that night. I think it's because I didn't act like I would have expected myself to act, and I really disappointed myself. Like I have certain expectations, and I fell way short. I never in a million years would have thought I would do what I did. You know how people think in their minds things like "if the house across the street was on fire, I would run into the flames and save the kids" or "if someone tried to mug me I would kick his butt?" We all think things like this, and we can believe them, but they have never been tested. I lost the ability to think that, because I was tested and did the exact opposite of what I would have expected. It was nicer not knowing.

I feel like I helped them -- that after a point, I was a total consenting participant. The thing is -- I didn't know these guys. They didn't owe me anything. This is probably just "them" being "them." But I owed myself something, and I blew it. I feel like at the beginning, it wasn't about me at all. I really think that they were going to do something to somebody that night, and I happened to be the one who fell into the trap. They didn't care who I was. But I feel like later on, it became about me, and what I would do. And this night represents about 80% of my sexual experiences, so it's all tied up in that, too. I had never done most of the things I did that night. I didn't even understand some of it. So now, that can't be changed. I feel like I am tethered to these 2 guys, like they own part of me. Does that make sense?


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



It's good that you don't feel it's your self esteem that is an issue. You sound like you are aware of your issues and feel secure in who you are.


No one knows how they would react in a traumatic situation. People think about these things because they feel they can prepare themselves if they can plan out how they would react. But there is no way to plan because there is no way to know all of the details of a trauma. And so many things come into play- the circumstances, the person's background, other people involved, and the mindset of everyone involved. Plus, people do not account for the self preservation factor. There is a very strong instinct to protect your own life. People would love to think that as long as they desire something, they can do it no matter what. Or they feel they have themselves all figured out and know what they will do. But until they are confronted with a situation, they don't really know how they will react.


Psychologically, people go into shock when they are confronted with a traumatic situation. It takes a lot of time for the mind to accept what is going on. Because of this, your mind takes over and automatically reacts by preserving your life by whatever means possible. Logic and pre conceived notions about how you would react go out the window. You were in survival mode during your attack and you decided to cooperate in order to survive. If you had not, you may not be here today.


I must respectfully XXXXX XXXXX guys did owe you something. They owed you your own personal space, dignity and respect. They owed you the peace of mind you deserve. They took your peace of mind and selfishly used your body for their own purposes. If that is them being them, that is downright frightening.


It makes a lot of sense that you feel tethered to the perpetrators. They did things to you that you never thought you would have to do, unless you wanted to on your own terms. And they attacked you, hurt you and made you bleed, not something most people enjoy when they want to have sex. This was not about sex for them though. This was about power and control. Sex was only the tool. They acted out violently and hurt you. No matter how they did it, they intended on causing a lot of pain to another human being. That says they are seriously mentally ill.



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I understand that the mind sometimes goes on automatic pilot in these kinds of situations. But for my mind's "automatic pilot" to respond by causing me to act like a whore, is disturbing to me. I understand that this kind of thing is not about sex, that it is about power. But it involved sex, and I think that because I did not have much experience before that, it is all the same to me. I feel ruined in that way.


My therapist called to day to confirm our appointment tomorrow and to check up. She suggested maybe we do some EMDR tomorrow to try to make me feel better. I think I told you that we were going to start EMDR before this stuff came to a head. We had only done a "dry run," so to speak. What do you think? Will it help at this point or do you think I need to work on this other stuff first? I said "sure," but now I'm thinking that it may not be good to go in yet another direction right now. I am confused as it is. I felt, several months ago, that my therapost was all over the place. I told her I was overwhelmed and I would like to go with only one or two things at a time. She understood. But sometimes I feel like she goes in one direction, and because it does not immediately have results, she starts something else, too, trying to find the "magic formula." But this stresses me out and makes me feel like we aren't sticking with something. ?? Maybe I need to say something again. I need a plan. I need (would like) to know exactly what is going on and what is going to happen. I feel uncomfortable jumping around. However, I really really like my therapist. I feel totally comfortable with her and I now believe her, for the most part, when she's telling me things. I definitely DO NOT want to start over with someone else. But I feel like we need to stick with something. You know?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ugg. Just want to add that I went to bed after 1:00 am because I had to do work, and I was up by 3:00 am and couldn't get back to sleep, for all the thoughts about this crap racing around in my head (added to which, I'm sure, is a bit of anxiety about falling to sleep and having a nightmare). And I am on some pretty strong sleep meds. What is this?? Ack! However, I am in a surprisingly good mood! I think I am seriously going nuts. :)
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



It is perfectly ok for you to have constant thoughts about how you feel and even to lose some sleep over it. Your mood is ok too. The only thing I would say is check with the doctor about why the meds are not working for you. Sleep medications sometimes have very strong side effects and everyone is different in how they respond. So you just want to rule out any physical reason for your wakefulness and mood.


But if it's not the medications, then you are probably experiencing the normal ups and downs of working through a trauma. Being preoccupied about how you feel, memories of the event, nightmares, feeling ok one minute and down the next are all normal reactions. Your mind is adjusting to all the new feelings and facing what you went through. It's much like any other event that happens in your life. You go through the stages of grief and of adjusting to what you have been through. Eventually you will absorb and adjust to the trauma and be able to accept what happened.


You can trust that you are not going nuts. It may feel like it because you are adjusting to all these new feelings and trying to find a way to deal with them. It's normal to feel unsettled and lose your equilibrium. Eventually though, you will adjust and the attack will become just a part of your life rather than your focus.



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Good morning, Kate. I wondered if you had any thoughts on the emdr thing (I don't know if you saw my prior reply) :)
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Sorry about that! I get your responses on my email and the only one that showed up this morning was the bottom response. JA is changing some of the systems and I think there are some glitches.


Just because you did what you had to do to survive does not make you a whore. You gave in because you could do nothing else. What would have happened if you had refused? They were already talking about killing you or cutting you again. You were bleeding and didn't even know how badly you were hurt. What do you feel your other choices were?


I have heard of EMDR but I've never used it. So far there are no studies that show it works or doesn't work that I am aware of. I'm not sure how it would work given the nature of the exercise. But it is one of the newest types of treatment so many therapists are trying it maybe just to see if it does help.


If you feel pressured by your therapist to jump around and find quicker answers to your issues, then you may want to tell her that you need to stick to one plan of treatment. She may feel it's important to help you the best way she can so she is searching for therapies that she feel may make you feel better sooner. But she does seem to have your best interest at heart so she probably is fine with you wanting to stick with one plan too. This is your treatment so you should do what is most comfortable for you.



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