Therapist absence: emotional upheaval and general freakout-ed-ness

So, along with ridiculously annoying doctor/medical issues, my therapist has had a serious family emergency. Her grandson was diagnosed with a rare cancer and she will be out-of-town for at least 6 weeks, perhaps longer, during his treatments.

Obviously, my concern is for her and her family and I my biggest desire is to leave her to her family so they can support each other. She asked me to come in today so we could discuss the plan for the upcoming month and weeks. She’s doing this with clients that she sees at least once a week because she intends on keeping in touch with us. She gave me her email address, which I didn’t know she had, and her cell phone number (boy is she brave). I immediately told her that I don’t feel comfortable calling her during this serious family time. She told me to knock it off and told me that she wants me to check in at least once a week. She asked me which method of contact I liked better and I said email because it’s less intrusive. She is insisting that I check in weekly and tell her how I’m really doing. I agreed but I can say here that I will only be saying “I’m fine”. I just can’t handle the idea of trying to tell her my problems while she’s dealing with this.

So, that leaves a problem: the fact that I will still have real problems. I was freaking out more and more every second I spent in her presence today. I tried to hide it so that she wouldn’t even think of me after I left her office. I think I did ok.

Then I decided to go the library to be around books and I had a moderate panic attack. Please keep in mind that I worked in a library for 8 years, including the location I went to today. I know the people who work there, it shouldn’t been so bad. That shouldn’t have happened but I was practically frozen in fear and paralyzed when I thought someone might be staring at me. I tried to hide among different shelves but I felt exposed and in danger the whole time. I finally had to get up enough courage to get out there because it was the only way to get home.

This is not a good start. My therapist has a couple of associates who have agreed to do sessions if some of us need them, but I can’t just jump in with someone who doesn’t even know me. She mentioned going to my psychiatrist, but he is only a psychiatrist, he doesn’t do talking, that’s why he sent me to her. I will call him though if I start getting overwhelmed, even if it’s to get medication to carry me through a rough patch.

She said that she may be gone through the first weeks of July. This is frightening, but I’m also sincerely worried for her grandson and her family. I want everything to go well for them all. The two desires are weird. I don’t feel abandoned by her at all, I just feel…scared, exposed and very, very, alone. I wasn’t out of her office for less than half an hour before I started panicking. That doesn’t bode well.

On the other side, my medical issues are jacking with my head big time. I’ve mentioned the two-plus years of recurring lymph node swelling and pain and fatigue, blah, blah, blah. I went to my ENT doctor for a follow-up after my parotid gland was sticking out of my face and for the swelling of my carotid artery. He said, “Your body is just weird.” ;“People get colds 12 times a year. I’ve heard taking zinc might help, also try washing your hands and not getting sick.” That was all he said. He left, and I paid my co-pay. It made me feel like I was less than a person, like he just dismissed me, like I don’t matter.

I wouldn’t care about swollen glands and fatigue and other stuff but, it’s been happening for two years, every month, and it affects my life. My hands turn to ice for hours, my neck hurts wherever the node is swollen, and I end up in bed, but not really sick like when you have a cold or the flu. Being brushed off like that really got to me, and the symptoms have gotten to me. It’s felt like too much lately and I just haven’t been handling it well. Today is just…not good. I’m tired in body and spirit, and I feel like making that doctor’s perception real and just disappearing.


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
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6 Responses to Therapist absence: emotional upheaval and general freakout-ed-ness

  1. fellow survivor says:

    I’m sorry about the timing of your therapist’s family emergency (and sorry that she has a grandson with cancer). But she’s your therapist. You might want to only say that you’re fine, but she’s your therapist and is likely to know that that’s not exactly how it is. So how will telling her you’re fine help her? She will likely just know that you’re telling her that for the sake of it, and be left wondering how you actually are. Maybe she is committed to you, and to the therapy relationship and would really like you to check in once a week so she has a sense of how you are and what’s going on for you. I hope that between the email, the possibility of seeing one of t’s colleagues and your psychiatrist you get the support you need.

  2. Freasha1964 says:

    Hey Tai,
    I can relate. I see you have many mixed feelings right now, some that you might not be aware of. Confusion reigns?

    I am pretty sure that even with family emergencies, one is not dealing with them 24/7. It may actually help your therapist to have something more familiar (you and your troubles 🙂 ) to focus on once a week. Something that she is more used to. Something she feels more powerful to be able to deal with than a sick child with a life threatening illness. (Not that depression is not a life threatening illness, mind you.) And as fellow survivor pointed out, writing and saying you are fine would seem awfully suspicious since you are rarely fine when you walk into her office once a week. (I mean, “fine” is relative, isn’t it? And to me, you are a fine person, but I know you want more out of life and that is why you truck yourself over there to see her week after week.)

    Like you, I would feel better about e-mail than telephone because she can look at her e-mail when she is in the mood. But Tai, if you have an emergency, do call her. She seems like a wise and caring woman who wants to be there for you, too, as well as her own child and grandchild. We all have different facets of our daily lives, and that can be essential in feeling fulfilled.

    I am sorry this has happened. I know you are too generous to make this about yourself, but the waves are washing over you as well. I am concerned for you. This is a tough obstacle to have to crash down on you right now. Keep writing here on your blog so at least we can keep tabs on you.

    Oh, and try the zinc. I am sorry your GP is a typical factory doctor. Mine gave me zinc (she keeps it at her office as she does many supplements she has researched and found to be the best quality). I think I just recycled the bottle. It was called TriZinc because it had zinc in 3 different forms, one of which was sure to be absorbed by me -and anyone else. Apparently not everyone absorbs the same forms of zinc the same amount.
    Doctors can be SO callous. As soon as it is not something they can figure out, they make some excuse, like it is your fault. Well, some of them. The good ones keep looking. Two years is too long. Can you find another doctor? Integrated medicine, or internal medicine or???. There is some connection that the ENT has missed. Does your psychiatrist know? It could be some weird side effect of something he prescribed. Oh, the body is so complex! And don’t get me started about the psyche!

    I am thinking about you and sending loving heart waves your way.

  3. castorgirl says:

    Hi tai,

    I’m not sure how you’ll take this, so I’ll put it bluntly… Don’t try to take care of your therapist. She has offered to have continual contact with you, and given you options of how to do that. As fellow survivor and Freasha have pointed out, she will worry if you don’t contact her… she is a professional, and a caring human being. This may come as a shock, but therapists genuinely care about their clients. You’ve been seeing her for a long time (on and off), so she knows you well. She knows that you have been struggling, and if you suddenly stopped having any contact, or went down the “I’m fine” road, red flags would be waving.

    Yes, she’s going through a difficult time right now, there is no doubting that. But let her decide how to handle this… she knows about professional and ethical boundaries, let her use that knowledge to best help you both.

    I’m glad she offered alternatives, but can understand you not wanting to take them up. Still keep them in the back of your mind though, I know of other people who have seen “back-up therapists” with great success. Keep your options open, and please don’t close yourself off… I say that because that’s what I often try to do when something like this happens.

    I’m not a therapist (by any means), but am here if you need me for anything.

    I’d so want to throw my toys out of the cot regarding that doctor… I’m so sorry you felt that way, and that they are stumped. Have they referred you onto any specialists? With something that is effecting your quality of life like this, it should be taken seriously.

    Take care,

    • tai0316 says:

      Blunt’s good CG. It’s hard not to think of her as needing me to look out ofr her in any way that I can. I think about her being a preson when I have to tell her horrible things too. But you make a good point about her knowing professional boundaries.
      Thank you for being available but I know you’ve got your own issues going on and my thoughts are very much with you.

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