- September 12th, 2014
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Yesterday was interesting. As part of the referral process for sending me to the clinic this weekend, my psychiatrist had to do a physical exam of me! Seriously, how awkward is that? I was so nervous about the whole thing that my pulse was way up.
He had a female nurse there as a chaperone. We had to cross the street to the hospital to do this and we did it in the ECT room. The first thing they did was my blood pressure, which was so bad that they did it four times! Apparently my GP is going to be getting a letter about that…
So it was awkward, but okay. He listened to me in various places with his stethoscope, felt around my liver and other areas, asked me about my biggest scar, tested my reflexes with a little hammer, and tested my strength and balance. I mostly just avoided eye contact throughout the whole thing. At the end of all this he wished me luck at the clinic and said that it will be hard, but if it’s easy then something’s wrong.
The day before yesterday I met with my psychologist and our discussion had two main themes: mine was my self-loathing, and his was about my battle for control. There was also kind of another theme: my fear of being ordinary.
Something that I learnt from my old psychologist is that when we grow up, we internalise the things that adults told us and taught us. If you are told often as a child that you are clever, you will grow up believing that you are clever and your own internal voice will tell you this.
I grew up in an environment where I was unwanted and unloved. I had nothing good to internalise because no one praised me or nurtured me. My own voice now tells me that I am a horrible human being that no one could ever love, and that everything I say and do is wrong. Coming from this environment, how on Earth could I ever believe any different?
Now my self-worth relies entirely upon the opinions of others. If I perceive that someone dislikes me, I’m shattered and feel validated in the belief that I am disgusting. I am actually surprised when my colleagues are friendly toward me because I honestly believe that they should have poor opinions of me.
My husband made the observation that maybe this is why I tend towards oversharing on the Internet. I want to portray the person that I’d like to be and shape the views of those around me.
My own observation in kind was that maybe this is why I struggle to lose weight: because I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for everyone else.
When I discussed this with my psychologist, I told him that I had forgotten how much I hated myself. He cheekily replied that this meant that for a while I didn’t hate myself. So I guess that’s a positive. In any case, now that I have uncovered this again, it gives me something solid to work on.
The Battle For Control
In response to the family tree stuff I shared with him, my psychologist realised that my dad (the second step father) and I fought for control over everything. My main examples of that had initially been the battles over food – him saying to eat my vegetables and me adamantly refusing. But this battle stretched into every part of our lives. And I really fought. I was as tough as I needed to be to survive and I relinquished nothing.
The point that my psychologist was really trying to get across was that if I did give up the sugar, if I was successful in my attempt at this clinic, then I would feel like I had lost. My dad would have finally won.
I don’t really know what to do about that. We’ve discussed this before to some extent, but I think now my psychologist is much more certain about it.
Fear of Being Ordinary
Something that I’ve always been honest about is the terrible things I did when I was growing up. I lied and stole and fought. What I did was symptomatic of my home environment. As an over simplification of this (which my psychologist disliked), I acted up for attention. That’s the simple part of it. The more complicated aspect was that if I didn’t act up and cause trouble, I would have been invisible.
I told him that one of my proudest moments in high school was the day of a parent-teacher conference at my high school in year 10. At the start of the evening, all of my teachers got together, pulled my mum and me aside, and told her that I was the only student failing everything. My psychologist asked me how I felt about it now, to which I said, “The same,” and he replied, “Good.”
“How did your mum react to being told this?” he asked.
I had no idea, no recollection at all. I said that if I had to imagine it, she would have done the whole song and dance of, “Oh no, that’s terrible, why are you doing this?” but really, she just wouldn’t have cared. My psychologist said, “No. There was no way for you to wake her up.”
So I suppose I did my best to not be ordinary in high school. I attempted sex for the first time at twelve, started smoking at thirteen, got knocked up at fourteen, skipped school, stole from people and shopping centres, smoked pot heavily, got piercings, attempted to do my own tattoos (which lead to self-harm)… I guess I did everything in my power to not be “good” and “normal.”
These days my attempts to not be normal are less obvious and destructive. Mostly, I just stay silent. I think I’m worried that if I open my mouth then everyone will realise that I’m just a normal person with normal opinions and thoughts. Or even that my opinions and thoughts might be stupid.
I wonder if this is also the reason that I dye my hair the colours that I do?
This is likely my last post before I go away for four weeks. I will be staying at the Blackwood River Clinic, which is a three hour drive from Perth. There will be group therapy, maybe some individual therapy if needed, activities like art and yoga, outings (one of which is to the chocolate factory… what a laugh!), and even farm work activities if you volunteer for it (I won’t be).
So my plan is to go sugar-free (or at least as sugar-free as I can be while doing the shakes diet) and essentially just get everything that I can out of this experience. One of the therapists talked me out of doing work while I’m there, so I will have plenty of time to read and reflect. Hmmm… I wonder if I should add more books to my Kindle.
This is going to be a huge challenge for me. I will be faced with all of my demons and I won’t be able to handle them by eating or immersing myself in work. I hope this really goes well for me.
While I am there, I will be making blog posts, but I won’t be posting them as I won’t really have an Internet connection. I’m thinking that maybe I will just store them in Word documents and post one per day when I get back.
So, enjoy my silence! Send me Facebook messages so I can have some form of social interactions while I’m away. And wish me luck!