It’s funny how quickly things can head south. I often have clients sitting across from me, trying to explain their experiences of both logically understanding that moments don’t last forever and also feeling like there is no end in sight. That’s one thing that makes perfect sense to me, as it’s an experience I have as well. That’s been how I felt this week.
For me, I think the key is self-compassion. It’s acknowledging my own suffering, recognizing that I’m doing everything in my power to cope, and accepting that I don’t know when it will be over. I think not focusing on the big picture actually helps me in those moments. I have to really slow things down and focus on each moment with lots of patience. I can look around and see all of the things building up around me, and I can choose to not worry about them. I can choose to prioritize my focus. If I get ten minutes to breathe, then that’s what I do. I sit, and I breathe. And even if I don’t know how long the suffering will go on, I trust that if I just take one moment at a time, somehow I’ll get through it.
Yesterday, after I wrote my last entry, I took about fifteen minutes to review my study materials on approaches to family therapy. I chose one approach that most resonates with me, and thought about how I could apply it to the family I’m working with. I also considered my supervisor’s suggestions. When the family arrived on Zoom, I could hear myself speaking in a choppy way, but I powered through it. I felt a little self-conscious, and caught myself examining the facial expressions and responses of the family members. Nobody did or said anything that appeared judgmental toward me, which was reassuring. I’m not sure if “productive” is the right word for how the session went, but I did have some idea of what we were doing, and I don’t think I did anything to harm them. So I give myself ten points for that.
One thing worth mentioning is that about 5 to 10 minutes into the session, I started to disassociate. I’m not sure if any of you remember, but it was about a year ago when I had a series of these dissociative episodes where without warning, I would suddenly enter a dream-like state while still awake. It would last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. While in the dream-like state, I would have “memories” that weren’t mine. It would feel like I knew people and remembered events that were in no way a part of my real life. While it was happening, I would be varying degrees of aware of my actual surroundings and life. Anyway, THAT started to happen to me during the session with the family, and I had to really manage my reaction to it. I could hear my inner thoughts being like, “Don’t panic. It will only last a few seconds. They will just think you’re contemplating your words. Don’t speak until you’re fully aware again,” and the episode passed. But shit, you guys. I don’t want that to be a regular thing.
So I got through that session and then four more back to back sessions afterwards. My husband picked up my daughter and some Taco Bell for dinner. They got home a few minutes after I finished, around 7:10pm. I fed my daughter dinner and ate my Taco Bell, got her ready for bed, and then relaxed on the couch.
My husband really stepped up at bed time. Initially, she got into bed without a fight, which is usually how it goes. But then she got up over and over again. My husband was tucking her back in each time. He tried to use timeout as a consequence, which really ramped up her mood. It wasn’t long before she was all dysregulated, screaming and crying for me. I was so deflated, I didn’t even feel my usual level of anxiety over it. Eventually my husband tried a softer approach, held her and shooshed her for a few minutes, lay her back in bed, and then stroked her cheeks and forehead for about fifteen minutes until she calmed down. I was so grateful.
This morning they were out the door by 9am, and my first client isn’t until 11:30am. Ironically, this is the first week in my memory that my clients have had perfect attendance, haha. I say “ironically,” because this is the one week that I really could have used some down time, emotionally. I have 17 case notes to catch up on. So that’s how I’m going to have to spend my morning. I’m just grateful that I don’t have a 10:30am client this week and that my husband and daughter got out the door early.
I’m hopeful that after today, I’ll be able to get the rest I need to feel better. I believe I’ve pretty much dealt with all of the things that were contributing to my feelings of being overwhelmed, and now it’s just a matter of recovering.
The last thing I’ll say is thank you to those of you who have left comments of support over the past couple days. It really means a lot to me <3
Last updated March 28, 2021