Therapy, talking and switching

On Monday we had our usual weekly appointment with Liz.  Because we’ve been having such a rough week, we were expecting it to be a chaotic session.  In many ways it was with first Aimee, Sophie and then M talking to Liz.  But it also brought a sense of calmness for the first time.  On Monday Liz said that she didn’t have all the answers and that she was very aware of the possibility that she could do further damage by saying the wrong thing to us.  Not in the sense of we had her walking on egg-shells, but more that she was aware of the possibility.  In some perverse way, this actually was comforting to hear.  She was admitting to not having all the answers – thereby denting her status as an authority.  I’d rather have someone helping me who is aware of their shortcomings and willing to work on them, than someone who is incompetent and unaware of that fact.

Then on Tuesday we went to the woman’s program to see Jo – they do one-on-one work at the program.  Again we were all over the place and finding it very hard to stay present.  It got to the point where Jo suggested we try drawing.  As always when it comes to drawing, we totally drew a blank as to what we want or need to draw.  M started off with a black swirling circle – something she regularly doodles.  Then we switched and  I’m not sure who came forward.  But what followed was about half an hour of drawing and talking with Jo.  M came back to find that the piece of paper now had a child’s drawing of a house and a rather interesting pattern of circles in different colours radiating out from a green base.  To put this into context, we’ve not disclosed our diagnoses with Jo.  M was stunned.  Always the questions – what have we done… what have we said… were we rude… did we speak at all… HOW MUCH TROUBLE ARE WE IN???

The confusion was so obvious that M admitted to having DID.  Jo was really good about it.  She tried to comfort us by saying that nothing bad had happened and that she’d been speaking to someone about keeping secrets.  Apparently whomever came forward had a rather impressive concept of the hierarchy of secrets – none of which could be trusted to the little girl that bears the name given at birth.  Her own name was also a secret, so Jo couldn’t tell us who she’d been talking to.  Jo wasn’t even sure if whomever was present, was aware of Jo being there at all – it sounded very much like they weren’t aware of the difference between the internal and external world.

So all in all, a great way to feel like a crazy arsed, fruit loop, spinner chick.

Now playing: Anika Moa – Dreams In My Head
via FoxyTunes


10 Responses to “Therapy, talking and switching”

  1. 1 carolynl2 July 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve just found your blog and am poking around old posts and wanted to let you know I’m reading and enjoying your writing. I’m dissociative as well (I don’t know if I fit DID dx or not–professional opinions differ), and also work in a library and also have a spoiled cat (well, two actually). My blog is at, if you want to check it out.

    Take care,

  2. 3 Ivory July 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, but this post gave me a bit of a chuckle. I’ve had those sessions, too. I’ve always wondered by Mr.S looked so amused afterwards! Now I know why. It’s cute. So I’m not laughing at you, I just realize that littles/others can be cute, tho I’m sorry because it had to be frustrating.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    • 4 castorgirl July 16, 2009 at 12:03 am

      I wish we could find it cute rather than scary :(
      Even our young ones are very reserved and serious. I can imagine Jo being confronted by a very serious little girl who would have been very intense about keeping secrets. Even the drawing was intense – if that’s possible for a basic children’s house sketch with red lines barricading the door closed :)

      Take care…

  3. 5 Ivory July 16, 2009 at 2:25 am

    I’m sorry. I was thinking of it more from Jo’s point of view – some people are interesting to watch when they are not aware of alters.

    I was insensitive, again, I’m sorry, I actually do know it from your side, it is scary.

    I came back here, tho, to ask if you are okay. I read about an earth quake in New Zealand – is that where you are from?

    • 6 M July 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm

      Hello Ivory,

      There was no offence taken by your comment. I know it must be rather amusing at times for the therapist to witness that switching. B was talking to Matthew (our Amercian friend) about it and we managed to laugh about the whole thing.

      We were unaware of the earthquake until we opened Twitter and wondered why New Zealand was a trending topic. Was amusing on one level to know that the rest of the world knew about it before we did. We live at the other end of the country to the quakes, but other members of the family felt them.

      Thank you for your concern.
      Kind regards

  4. 7 Paul July 16, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I am so glad you had that exchange with Liz. It’s so refreshing when someone you trust who is helping you can trust you enough to tell you they aren’t always sure. The way I talk about it with my current therapist is that this is a journey we are on together. We are equals. We don’t have any power struggles or idyllic notions about her. With my last therapist, I expected him to know all the answers and he was so smart that even when he said he didn’t know, I thought he must be joking.

    So, great! The true experts in any field will always tell you they don’t know it all. In science, it is rather funny. When we talk to lay people, we always say we don’t know everything. But if you go to a conference or a site visit where you are asking for money, suddenly you give the impression that you walk on water and you know the secrets nobody else knows. It’s quite funny.


    • 8 M July 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

      Hypocrisy that arises from needing funding :) It can be amusing to watch. We studied applied science before changing to librarianship so attended a few conference where we saw exactly the behaviour you describe. One of our lecturers was the world export on growing a particular vegetable. He hated the vegetable, but loved the world travel that came from that level of expertise.

  5. 9 David July 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I completely agree about how comforting it is to have a therapist admit to not knowing all the answers.

    It sounds like Jo’s response was very compassionate and accepting, though I certainly understand why you felt distressed about the switch happening. I’m always amazed and grateful, though, when people react to these types of things with grace. It gives me a little bit of hope that the human race isn’t irredeemable after all.

  6. 10 castorgirl July 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Jo is someone who we’re coming to trust, which is rather interesting as she is part of a program that gets it’s funding from the government and mental health services. In the past, everything that we’ve experienced from mental health services has been bad, but this program has been excellent. We don’t go there with the expectation of doing “therapy”, but rather just going there to check in and see how things are going.

    Jo handled the situation very well considering that the young one who talked to her had the belief that Jo knew everything she did – a child’s logic. So when Jo asked questions, the young one was confused – of course Angel lives on the 1st floor and I live on the 2nd floor. I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrifying.

    Every now and again you encounter little pockets of humanity in amongst the inhumanity.

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