About a month ago, I did one of the most risky, drastic, scary things I’ve ever done.
I walked out of my therapy group.
I had been thinking about it for months before, as I had started to feel how I used to feel before going to work, i.e. dread, depression, feeling that I didn’t belong, that I couldn’t trust people, that I had to squish down who I was in order to fit in and get along with everyone.
But of course it wasn’t work, it was 3 x 90 minute sessions per week in a grotty room in south London, so every now and than my rage, frustration and resentment would eagerly burst out through the tiniest crack in my composure, to which the shrinks would leap up in glee, parry it, and press me back into the confined identikit one sixth of an egg box which replaced my desk in that office building in Soho as another, less salubrious, prison of my own making.
Back in the day I used to manage my fury by working out, and if that didn’t work, I would stay away from the rest of the human race in order to protect both them and myself from the aftermath of the explosion, but I was urged to attend therapy however I felt, the moodier the better.
At first I thought this was to make me feel accepted, but I soon realised that footage of me throwing a fit was great material for Shrink 1 & 2 to exploit by sallying forth to use their book sourced, emotionally inept techniques to try and bring me under control, which invariably only made things worse.
Not only that but on that final fateful day, I told them that I was not in a good place and they once again insisted I attend. And when my irritation started show Shrink 2, Ann, making sure the camera got her good side, took me to task with a faux puzzled expression, telling me that I sounded very angry, that she didn’t like my tone and was taking issue with it.
So they blatantly laid a trap and set me up, and I, the fool that I was, staggered smack bang into it.
That was the last straw. I reacted badly, but on realising what was going on, took a deep breath, gathered my belongings and left that room for good. And as I exited onto that sunny street that morning, I realised just how much it had all been chipping away at me.
- The blatant insincerity.
- The being spoken to in a babyish voice as if I was some mentally subnormal infant.
- The ignoring of me, that is to say everything about me that made me different to everyone else in the group, especially any advantage or skill that others didn’t have. It was more convenient to pitch the course at the youngest/least educated/most damaged instead of treating us all as individuals. For example, Shrink No. 1 Jolyon invited me to a ‘Cuckoos Nest’ style outing to an exhibition with the others soon after my defection. Sounds innocent and perfectly pleasant you might think. But he spoke to me, a 53 year old, a sophisticated, cultured, urbane, well travelled woman as if I’d never set foot in a gallery in my entire life. He actually used the words ‘I really think you’ll like the pictures’ and implied earnestly they weren’t always how they appeared but sometimes the most simple image meant something else and that he would explain them to me on the day and it would be fascinating. I swear to God had we been in the same room and that room contained a cushion, I would placed it over his earnest little vole like countenance, sat on it, squashed every last breath in his body, then legged it out of the window. I can laugh about it now but the humiliation, the shame, the realisation of how far I’d fallen was almost too much to bear.
- The refusal to acknowledge that my points of view in our one to one discussions were valid, well thought out, emotionally intelligent and rational. As soon as he was out of his depth, he would either switch subjects, simplify my point so that it sounded ludicrous, or lapse into ‘you’re crazy so I’ll just fuck with your head till you think I’m right’ mode. In this, he was as much a bully as my ex boss. Talk about frying pan to fire.
- The complete lack of real emotional connection with either of them. I suspect this was down to a lack of real empathy (as opposed to textbook sourced techniques), and maybe this wasn’t their fault, but to my mind, this is something that cannot be compromised on if one is to share of themselves. I still thank God everyday for Auntie C (my psychologist for over a decade) who was, is, and always will be, the real deal.
- The inauthentic, horribly strained relationship that I had with Ann. She didn’t like me, my humour, the way I expressed myself, and that would have been fine had she been honest about it. But she would coo flattering comments at me like a constipated pigeon that both of us knew weren’t true, and I cannot bear fakes. The truth would come out during her ham fisted attempts to address my behaviour and I truly marvel at the fact that she every got the qualifications she did, let alone her position at St Psychos Hospital.
- The putting their study before my needs, even the most fundamental. I’ll give you an example.
Me: ‘I won’t be able to stay on the course long term anyway’
Ann: ‘Oh no Sista, why not?’
Me: ‘You know why, I have to sell my home and move somewhere cheaper, otherwise it will get repossessed and I’ll lose the only financial security I have and end up homeless’
Ann: ‘Oh. Well, that sounds very stressful, but we hope that you can stay as we care for you very much and you need the support of the group at this time’
Cue pointed stare.
And of course, my writing stopped dead as I didn’t believe that I had any to say of value to anyone anymore.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Not that they believed that I meant it. And when the penny did finally dropped, they went all out guns blazing to get me back into my cage like a good little lab rat.
Like I say, this was not easy to keep them at bay, and Jolyon the medical professional to whom my wellbeing was entrusted to, used every trick in the book to make me stay.
Whether you believe in the Devil or not, his moniker, Father of Lies has never made so much sense to me.
I was psychologically bludgeoned every which way, time and time again, to make me stay put.
The ‘You don’t know what you’re doing because your damaged’ tactic.
The guilt card for letting everyone else down.
Raising his voice at me in order to make my lose my temper so he could regain control.
Promising to not try and make me stay if I came in for a exit meeting only to renege on this the second we sat down.
The implied backing down without admitting guilt (‘Suppose you were right about Ann behaving inappropriately…’) in the hope that this would be enough to appease me and make me return followed by an immediate retraction when it didn’t work.
The denial of my rights.
The refusal to hear my voice, my rational, honest, emotionally intelligent voice pleading for understanding and support, because my label of EPD meant that he though he was entitled to do so.
I thought my battle with my ex company was bad, but it was a walk in the park compared with this. But I hung in there in stuck by my decision, and instead of passing me onto someone else like I requested (as if I’m that fucked up, I’d need a replacement ASAP, right?) I’ve been flung back onto an NHS waiting list by way of punishment.
But I can tell you with all honesty that I have yet to regret that decision.
Sure, there have been many bad days and my faithful old companion Fear is never far from my side. I still have nightmares about my future, worry about losing my benefits and am still have to deal with the stress of trying to sell up and move.
But gradually things have gotten better.
And in the last week something extraordinary happened and for a week, I was made to feel how life could truly be if only I had a little faith. More on that later.
But to all you BPD’ers, EPD’ers etc, I beg of you, if you can possibly avoid it, try to avoid giving up on life and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the NHS. Because when you hand the keys and allow someone else to captain your ship, you only have yourself to blame when you eventually hit choppy waters in a land far away where there’s no shore in sight, and those fuckers don’t let you anywhere near the helm anymore.
I came very close to being Randled by those fuckers, but like the Chief, I’m only just beginning to know who I am again.
And this little egg, whilst still be cracked and streaked with guano, may still have a chance to release it’s potential again.