Therapist suggestions for dealing intense emotional pain

I told my therapist about how this last week has been going. I told her that I spent everyday wishing that I was dead and I asked her what I could do to deal with such intense emotion, especially since I’ve been unable to cry.

She believes that I will be able to cry one day but I needed something for now. She reminded me of four steps which for some reason I had forgotten and I figured I’d share them here. I’m usually wary of techniques that don’t have a physical solution because I’m all about problem solving and needing data and then a resolution. She told me that apart of these steps provides a type of distance which in of itself can help ease the pain. We’ll see and maybe it won’t help anyone else, maybe it will. I’m sharing just in case.

Step 1: Label the feeling. This one needs to be made simple for someone like me because I have trouble identifying emotions. This keeps it in basic terms. The four emotions you’re supposed to use are: happy, sad, scared or mad and you can feel more than one at the same time. One the feeling has been labeled, say it to yourself.

Step 2: Ask what triggered this? Obviously it’s important to know what brought the feeling on even though my therapist said that you may not always be able to track down a specific trigger. Things can kind of come out of nowhere which I’m sure we’ve all experienced.

Step 3: Is the intensity of the feeling matching the trigger? Let me explain that one a bit if I can. This is supposed to be about understanding if you’re in a situation currently that makes the feeling logical. Like: are you in danger at the moment? If you were, then the feeling would match the trigger. But what if you’re alone at home? You’re not in any danger so, let’s say you’re feeling scared; why are you scared? The feeling doesn’t match what’s actually happening. The reason for figuring this out isn’t to minimize the seriousness of the feeling, it’s to get information because if the current situation doesn’t match, then the feeling is coming from somewhere else, like maybe feeling what you felt as a child when you were being abused. She said to ask myself some questions. 1) When have I felt this way before? 2) Is this a feeling memory? Again, the purpose is to be able understand where the feeling is coming from because that gives you information. Realizing that you’re experiencing a feeling memory may lessen the intensity. She used a phrase which is something that I would never say because I don’t talk like this but I’ll still write it. She said to ‘hold the feeling very gently’. *eye roll for therapist speech* And she said to say “thank you” so-to-speak, ‘for letting me feel this or letting me know how I felt’ etc. She also suggested doing some free association writing.

Step 4: What do I need to do to take care of this feeling? This is the hardest one for me because when she talked about this my mind literally went blank. She said that as a child I could do nothing about how I was feeling. There was nowhere to go and no way to escape. Now, I need to take care of the feeling, still holding it gently, which for her means with no judgment. She said that how I take care of the feeling would depend on the feeling itself. I assume that means that being scared would be taken care of differently than being mad for instance. Her caveat was that taking care of the feeling should not involve using any of my “addictions” (her words). I know what that means as I told her what I did last week when I was overwhelmed by all of that sadness. And I agree with her. Giving in to that impulse just made me feel worse about myself and I don’t need that. The question for me was: what other methods do I have to take care of feelings? She mentioned calling a friend and the only friend that I have who knows anything about this has enough stuff on her plate with her own life. So that was a big zero. She mentioned playing my instrument and I said that it still makes me sad because I haven’t figured out the teacher thing yet. She reminded me to take action on finding a new instructor.

At this point in the conversation my time was up and I was left with a loose end because I still didn’t have anything concrete for step 4. But, I’m hoping that if I can do steps 1-3 maybe it will lessen the relentless pain a bit so I can breathe.

Maybe this will help someone else, maybe it won’t, but here it is anyway.

I have to see my psychiatrist because I’ve determined that the Wellbutrin isn’t working at all and may go completely under if I don’t get some kind of medical intervention. We’ll see what he says. I’m not hopeful because I’ve tried so many drugs in the past and I refuse to go down the road of weight gain again. I’d rather be crazy and miserable. But, I had a day last week where I thought that it was a shame that  my life insurance doesn’t pay out on suicide until after two years because that meant that I’d have to wait until next year. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that isn’t healthy thinking. 😛


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in abuse, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, depression, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Incest, Multiple Personalities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Rape, self-harm, Sexual Abuse, suicidal ideation, Therapy, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Therapist suggestions for dealing intense emotional pain

  1. meredith says:

    I have great faith you’ll find healthy ways to take care of you. It takes time, but it seems like you’ll really want to take care of yourself when you find out your cool factor is totally worth preserving.

    Oh, yes you are… so don’t even try to say you’re not cool. Therapy days are hard.


  2. Freasha1964 says:

    Do keep playing the viola. You don’t HAVE to have a teacher, you can practice what you have learned so far and keep perfecting it. (Aren’t you pleased that I have implied that you aren’t perfect on it?) Find some more easy sheet music if you read music. Keep playing that thing. You will find a good teacher, in time. With the caveat that you have to be looking for a good teacher. They don’t usually find YOU. (But it could happen.)

    I am sorry that you are having such a hard time finding a decent working medication. That is a drag.

    Have fun holding the feeling very gently and rolling your eyes. 🙂 I would like to see that.

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hehe. Yes I should take a picture of me holding my feelings lol. You’re right though, I should keep playing what I do know on the viola until I figure things out. I did learn how to read the music we studied and I have a few easy viola solo books that I was keeping for when I got a little better. It certainly can’t hurt for me to try right?

      My doctor decided to try a medication we did a fe wmonths ago but at a different doasge, so we’ll see how that goes.

  3. castorgirl says:

    Thanks for sharing this…

    I hope you keep on practising the viola, and that the new/old medication works.

    Take care,

  4. p13c35 says:

    Thank you very much for sharing that information. i have been dealing with ongoing uncontrollable body memories for 5 months now and am looking for any form of grounding i can find. and if i catch it before the body starts, this method does help keep me in the present long enough to settle down. We really want to thank you for sharing the info, it did make at least one difference.

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Hello p13c35,

      Body memories are really disturbing especially when you don’t know why they’re happening. I have a lovely tendency to forget that I have DID or why I have it. Something will happen and I’ll freak out instead of realizing that this is part of the process.

      I’m glad this post helped a bit. 🙂

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