[I’m ranting later about that therapist who accused me of being suicidal when I wasn’t. Nothing to worry about.]
I’m on chapter 3 of my false memories book, and I really don’t want to read this chapter. Here’s why, it’s opening: So you want to read a book on memory but don’t want to hear too much about brain biology? You are not alone. Head on past this chapter then, please.
At least she warns us. I get what she’s saying, but what if I miss something important?
I hereby give you a pass if you don’t want to find yourself knee-deep in animal studies, biochemistry, and the history of memory theory.
Oh, geez. Anyone want to read it for me?
In general, the book is accessible and not too scientific. She references a gazillion studies and explains their findings in easy-to-grasp analogies. I really want to read chapter 9 about why we can falsely remember traumatic events, but with something as life-changing as this memory that’s plaguing me, I really feel the need to get through chapters 1-8 first.
I went to therapy last Thursday and I’m going back this Thursday. It’s slightly bad timing, but not horrendous, because I get contest results Wednesday night by midnight. I’ll be a manic mess, and I probably won’t fall asleep on time. Oh well. I don’t have a good feeling about my chances in this particular contest, so it is what it is.
My therapist asked how my past therapists have soured me on the therapeutic experience, and I told her about the therapist who accused me of being suicidal when I was actually a bit manic (happy). I could see the wheels turning in her head and hear her thinking, she must’ve seemed suicidal, and her therapist must’ve handled it wrong, but he probably had good reason to suspect it.
So. Not. True. It was the biggest epic fail I’ve ever experienced in therapy, and there’s a long list. And I know that’s what she was thinking, because she said, “If I fear you’re suicidal, can I ask, or will you bite my head off?” And, “So, he should’ve been less accusatory and more questioning about it?”
Well, how can I say no to that? But no. He should’ve been smart enough to have not drawn the world’s stupidest conclusion.
And then at the end of our hour, she asked me if I was suicidal.
I’m trying really hard to give her the benefit of the doubt here. She must think that I brought up the incident because I’m subconsciously trying to express suicidality. (Not the case.) I brought up the incident to display how grossly that therapist misconstrued my good mood. And it’s not even sensible. It would be like going to the doctor for a wrist injury, and you’re sitting there clutching your broken wrist to your chest, when the doctor comes in and says, “Oh my God, what happened to your foot?” Uh, nothing. My foot’s fine, thank you.
So now, I’ve got a presumably well-intentioned therapist who thinks I’m hinting at being suicidal (I’m not remotely suicidal) without feeling that I can just come out and cop to being suicidal (which I’m not). (I feel I should be clear on that point.)
I mean, things went fine otherwise, but–and I know this makes me superstitious–I think I’m about as likely to find a competent therapist (defined as one who doesn’t manage to deeply hurt me) as I am to find a boyfriend. I’d put 2% odds on either.
I have a deep and abiding mistrust of therapists. She said, “You’re the expert on you. You know yourself better than I do.” If she hadn’t followed that up with the suicidal question, I would’ve been on board.
And I was cheery when I saw her. I told her about my friends and my creative interests and my wacky life, which is all good. We didn’t delve into my issues yet just due to time constraints, but I’m sure we will soon. But the point is that I didn’t give off any suicidal vibes.
How do I go back to therapy without wondering if she’s stealthily searching me for signs that I’m suicidal? I do a great imitation of a happy person, except that it’s not an imitation. I really am happy. As scandalous and incredible and wrong as that sounds, it’s true. I’m a happy, happy person. Killing myself is the farthest thing from my mind.
To recap the incident in 2007, I was manic because I’d gone off my meds. Now, in retrospect, I understand from cursory internet research that mania can be linked to being suicidal. It never has been for me. I’ve never once in my life been both manic (or happy, to a lesser manic extent) and suidical. Never. And I can’t even imagine it, not that I want to. Mania feels euphoric. Who wants to interrupt euphoria with suicidal thoughts? Not me.
Anyway, I was all happy stories that day in 2007, and I told the therapist, “I know the solution to all my problems, but we’re almost out of time. I’ll tell you next time. It’s no huge thing.”
He should’ve said, “We still have five minutes left. Go ahead and tell me.”
And I would’ve told him that I’d decided that meditation would solve all my problems.
Instead, he said, “I know why you’re happy. You’re planning to kill yourself, and you’re glad you’ll be dead soon.”
My look of abject horror must’ve been worth a thousand words. I was stunned. Not just at his guess, but that he’d said all that aloud. He may as well have stabbed me.
He could tell that he’d just screwed up beyond belief. It was all over my face. But instead of owning it, he just dug himself in deeper. “Well… well… you’ve been suicidal in the past. So there. Admit it.”
“Well, yeah,” I said, “but I was never happy at the same time. Is that even possible?” My jaw had dropped and I was just gaping at him. Honestly, at that moment, being reminded that I’d been suicidal in the past was a buzzkill. My mania started to deflate rapidly.
It was all about his ego. First, he showed off his brilliant yet incorrect assessment of me. Then, instead of backpedaling, he hurt me farther by reminding me that I’ve been suicidal in the past. Thirdly, he’d spent the whole hour trying to coax me into discussing unhappy memories, and I kept dodging it and not allowing it. I think he wanted revenge.
To say I don’t trust therapists would be an understatement. And now my new therapist thinks I’m dealing with suicidal tendencies when I’m not. What should I do?
Therapist: Are you suicidal?
Me: Why do you ask?
No… too snarky.
Therapist: Are you suicidal?
Me: No. Are you?
No… too defensive.
I dunno. I mean, she seemed nice, but she really got fixated on that incident. I tried to assure her that I’m a very happy person, but she didn’t seem to believe it. And she didn’t realize that it was all the therapist’s fault. Maybe one therapist doesn’t want to acknowledge fault in a colleage (even though I didn’t name him to her). Ooooh, I should look him up all these years later and see if he has any less-than-stellar internet reviews. Anyone game? Please hold…
Well, that yielded nothing. He’s only got a few reviews, all 5-star. Oh well.
Afterward, I wrote him a letter about how hurt I’d been. It wasn’t an angry letter, just a letter expressing my desire to end therapy. He wrote back, “I’m sorry therapy was a bad experience for you.” Not even a sincere apology!!
So now I fear that therapists as a whole are ego-driven. God bless me. Actually, God bless my current therapist who has to prove me wrong on that count.