Twenty years ago, I was inpatient for 6 weeks for bulimia. I never cried or really let my emotions be exposed. Today I did, first thing in the morning during a small group session. I so want to hear and feel nurturing love from my husband (and looking back to my childhood, my mother.) To know someone loves you is one thing, but my strong emotional need sought and craves more. I want to be held when I hurt or am distraught. I want validation and to hear, out loud, that I am loved. But these things were not in my mother’s nature, nor are they in my husband’s. I guess it’s the still young child in me that is so fearful of not being loved and of being left/abandoned. That doesn’t make me want it any less though. Today I expressed my lack of these things in front of virtual strangers, without aggravating the still healing burn on my arm. Yesterday, I could not talk in group, or with the psychiatrist without constantly rubbing and applying pressure to it. Today, I left it alone by clenching my fist under my arm. Is that progress? Hopefully.
After that group time we went to experiential therapy. There, we worked on mindfulness of our environment and then did some yoga. The mindfulness was new to me, but I can see how it helps as a grounding technique. During the yoga, which was used to relax our body and mind, I found myself pushing my body to physically go as far as I could. But that was a distraction from the purpose. The whole time, my muscles were quivering from anxiety. During a balancing pose, I couldn’t maintain my balance. The therapist tried an exercise with me whereby I held out my arm and stated positive qualities about myself while he applied downward pressure on my hand. I stood strong, which is the usual response. Then, he had me repeat it, but stating negative aspects. Typically, the person is not able to resist the downward pressure and their arm is easily pushed down. Not me. My arm was as rigid and strong as when I stated the positives. What does that say about me?
The staff was meeting for their weekly meeting about the patients today. I’m very curious about their observations about me so far. Will I ever find out? For some reason, I’m almost obsessive about what the “professionals” perception of me is. But they don’t come out and tell you, and I assume terrible things. There’s that word … assume. Make an ass of me.
After lunch, I met with the psychiatrist to discuss my medications. I have a long list. He wants to wean me off of Lorazapam (but not the Temazepam) and add Abilify to help increase the effects of my Effexor. All the other medications will stay the same. As he said, it gets worse (longer list) before it can get better.
The last session of the day was art therapy. We had a large sheet of paper divided into 4 sections. We were given an assortment of drawing media to use, but I asked to use just a pencil. In the first section, we were told a scene of walking down a path, rounding a corner and discovering a river in our path that needed to be crossed. We were to draw how we got across. My drawing depicted a strong river with a steep bank and one rock in the middle. Other rocks were on my side, but too large to move.
The second picture was of being at the top of a mountain with a cliff on one side of the path, a steep incline on the other, and a billy goat blocking the path. How did we get past the goat?
I drew myself having a rope around the goat and tied to a tree behind me. The third was of a cave with two guardians and how we were to get into the cave.
I drew myself up in a tree throwing rocks past the guardians to distract them so I could sneak into the cave.
The fourth was of being in the cave where there was a fire. What would we have with us?
I drew a cave with stalactites, a fire with a large kettle (engrave with dragons: hint – back to the old Kung Fu tv show) and myself with sleeves rolled up exposing bare arms. To burn myself as I picked up the kettle?
We then discussed the quadrants. #1, obstacles. Everyone showed herself making it across, except me. #2, conflict the women in the group befriended the goat, the men kicked it over the side of the cliff. #3, guardians. Everyone confronted the guardians in a positive way and was granted access to the cave. I distracted them, perceiving them has protecting the cave and being adversaries of mine, needing to gain entry secretively. #4: comfort : what things did you have that brought you comfort in the cave? Everyone else had some useful or needed thing: food, a tent, tools. I stood with outstretch arms, having nothing but myself and my only thought was of getting burned if I tried to remove the kettle from the fire. I could not help but think that I had perceived and done the whole task wrong. Everyone else took their drawing. I left mine on the table, left quickly and sped out of the parking lot in a panic.
What will day 4 bring?