Childhood adversity and therapy
I'm new here but have been dealing with anxiety and depression for many years.
I guess to sum up my childhood, I was raised by a mother who was emotionally neglectful and my father was an addict who died when I was 6. My mother created her own little family with her new partner when I was 6 and I was pushed aside. I was never really shown love or support from either of them and this escalated into conflict as I got older.
Having this start in life has really impacted the way I engage with the world and I have found myself in a bad place. Things have been getting worse over the years and it's becoming harder and harder to cope with new stressors. Because I've been dealing with this for so long and pushed so many people away, my support system is pretty much non existent but I am trying to fix this.
Recently, I decided to give counselling another try. In the past, I've never been able to get past session two because I just don't like the psychologist. I think I've finally found a psychologist who seems to get it and communicates in a way that clicks with me. We've only had four sessions so far and we're getting into a lot of tricky stuff. I'm generally pretty good during the appointments, maybe a few tears here or there but I don't mind it much. What I'm finding hard is that my anxiety between appointments is getting really intense. I tend to over analayse everything, this is a common thing for me... I am usually able to cope with my day to day anxiety or at least distract myself from it if it gets a bit much. Right now, I just can't switch my brain off. I can't stop thinking... all the time... and it's not just one train of thought either, it's almost like there's a crowd of people in my head all talking at once. I find writing these things down helps me to focus a bit more but as soon as I'm done it starts again.
Objectively I knew that this would be difficult to work through, but I didn't realise it would be this overwhelming. I am comfortable communicating these concerns with my psychologist and I trust that he will do what he can to help. I am curious to hear from people who have worked through foundational issues from their past. I know everyones experiences are different but I would be interested to know how other people handled counselling for childhood trauma/adversity. How long does it take to work through these kinds of issues? Was it really difficult for you? Are there ways you supported yourself while working through the hard stuff?
Welcome welcome. Thank you for joining us and sharing your story. I'm glad you've found a good psychologist and feel like you can open up to them; therapy is not an easy journey to take.
I can completely relate to the anxiety. I have anxiety, and therapy for sure makes it worse- I find myself having 'therapy hangovers' with really tough sessions, and often joke that I need a therapist to cope with the therapy.
One of the ways I've coped with it all is to try to take lots of breaks with sessions- so right now the work I'm doing with my therapist is super heavy with trauma and it's super tiring, but one month ago we were just chatting and reflecting- I imagine that as you work with your psychologist, you'll find certain things to be more triggering than others.
Do you have pre-therapy or post-therapy routines? That can be really helpful. It sounds like you like writing- maybe that's something you could schedule in everyday, or do a bit of art with it?
I'm not sure if any of this helps or not! I could certainly blab on a bit because I have a lot of trauma so you're not alone 🙂
Emotional neglect is, in my opinion, hugely underrecognized, & the effects similarly so. The way we are treated by the people who we most depend on is so fundamentally important to how we learn about what we can expect from other people who come into our lives.
I’ve been working on my own history for a long time. I can’t rush it; I’d d become defensive & not talk. I’ve had to learn that I can trust, & I also hope I can judge to what extent I can trust others. Learning boundaries, & setting my own, deciding myself where the boundaries will be right for me.
Years now, & I am still learning to ask for what I want, to be proactive about my own needs, I am my priority; I’m not last in line. I do deserve consideration, care & assistance. I have an intrinsic value, equal to anyone & everyone else. & (I really need to learn) to negotiate for what I need.
I’ve been seeing my Psychiatrist, (PDr) for many years. Others before him, one of whom treated me poorly with regards to boundaries. I can only say his poor treatment made it clearer to me that weak boundaries are something I don’t want.
Having had several appalling relationships, I don’t even feel the yearning anymore. I’ve had some close friends, & I question the quality of those friendships now.
Because I needed help, I have found two I’ve come to trust. I like them both, sort of like friends, but we have an understanding that their relationship with me is one of ‘business’.
I could become good friends with one, who has spent more time with me, getting done those things I need to do, & for outings, for pleasure, away from my flat. I feel comfortable, most of the time. Occasionally she’ll do something which triggers old memories.
Her memory is almost as bad as mine, so I have to keep telling her I don’t like some things she does, like reaching & grabbing my hand, brushing my hair from my neck. I can’t see much, so am not anticipating the touch.
I must explain that to her.
I just thought that: I can’t anticipate her touch, & that is part of why I feel triggered. I don’t want to have to explain, like I had to explain about how I use my white cane, & how to guide me. I’d love it if I didn’t think my needs were so invisible. But, no, people can’t read our minds either.
I need to leave it here. That last bit was so important for me - & I have you to thank, for asking questions! Amazing what happens when someone asks questions.