(Why the weird title? Because for some reason, for many years I hated the words "therapy" or "therapist" in the context of going to talk to a mental health professional. Possibly this stemmed from when I was still a kid and was being forced to see a counselor at the youth services center, which had started out as family counseling but ended up with the counselor and entire family pinpointing me as the real PROBLEM, and my brother making fun of me by saying, "You're in therapy." I had no problem hearing it used as in "occupational therapy" or "physical therapy" but I hated the sound of "You're in therapy!" Even though I was. But I digress...)
Anyways... yesterday was my second week of DBT (also has "therapy" right in the word) but when participating in DBT you also have to have 1:1 sessions with a mental health professional. I'm a little dubious about how much I will like the 1:1 part. In the past, "talk therapy" was not very successful for me, and equine therapy was the only version that really helped me. But since it is required for DBT, I have to give it a try.
The first session with any therapist or counselor always consists of them asking a bunch of routine questions about your background, like "What was your lousy childhood like?*"
One of the routine questions was, "Do you think about suicide?"
This is where my problem with sometimes being too honest came in, because I said, "Yes." Because I do think frequently of suicide... not in a way that I would be planning to actually do it, but in a way that it just pops into my head. Like, "I'm so tired... I don't want to go to work. I wish I could die." And then I say, "Shut up, self, you don't know what you're talking about." And sometimes when my mom was yelling at me I used to say, "I'm just going to kill myself," but it was really just because it was the strongest way I had of saying, "You're really hurting me right now and I am sad and angry." I should be allowed to carry a computer around with me at all times so I can type out my thoughts, since I type much better than I speak!
Then she asked me, "Have you ever thought about how you would do it?"
Well, sure, I have thought about it many times over the years, in a hypothetical sort of way. I'd always thought that taking pills would be the best way to do it, because you could just fall asleep. However, I knew someone who did attempt suicide that way, and what happened was she woke up puking her guts out in the most painful way ever, and then she had to get her stomach pumped which was also very painful, and her kidneys were screwed up after that. But still, pills would seem like the most organized and non-violent way of killing oneself. I explained this to her.
Her next question was, "Do you have access to pills?"
Me: "Well, I could just go buy them at the store if I wanted to."
Her: "But are there any pills in your house right now?"
Me: "Hmm, I have my meds I guess, and some vitamins... and I do have some Tylenol PM. And, oh yeah, my aunt has all sorts of heavy drugs! She has Oxy! But I would never steal from her. That would be wrong."
And then the therapist started to seem a little nervous and asked if we could discuss this every week when I come in.
On the way back, I started thinking about the whole conversation, and realizing that my answers, which seemed pretty straight forward to me, probably led her to think that I was seriously considering suicide.
If I had had my computer with me and could have typed out a more well-thought-out answer, it would have been something like this.
I do have really strong emotions. That's what made me want to start DBT in the first place. Sometimes I do feel like I wish I were dead. For instance, when I am crying my eyes out and feeling heartbroken because I miss my mom and dad, or when I realize that I am going to be in poverty forever because I hate subbing so much that I'd rather punch myself in the face than go, or when I actually am on my way to a subbing job and feel like I'm doomed, or when I'm feeling lonely or when someone is mad at me or when just about anything happens. I will think, "Death must be better than this."
But my past experiences tell me that, most likely, in a few hours or a day or a week or a month, I will be experiencing something wonderful again. Like visiting my parents, or playing in the river with my dog, or petting a goat, or gazing at the mountains as I drive home from my terrible subbing job, or laughing with my aunt and uncle. And at those times, I will be thinking, "I love life! I am so happy, I could burst!"
I know that if I can just survive through the bad times, the good times will come back. I know I cannot make a life-altering (or life-ending) decision at the spur of the moment, because later I might regret it, but it will be too late.
Too bad I didn't explain all of that to the therapist. She might not have looked so alarmed. Maybe I really should get a tiny little computer and carry it with me at all times, and then whenever someone asks me a serious question I could hold up one finger to ask them to wait, and then type out my answer. When I think of how much better I could communicate if I could do that, it makes my head spin!
In the meantime, DBT is still going really well. I love what I am learning. Remind me to tell you some more about it later. I have a wicked headache, and I need to lie down for a few moments! Ta-ta for now!
*Catcher In The Rye reference!!!