I learned some things about myself over the past couple of days that I guess I didn’t really know. I maybe knew some of them partly, but I didn’t know how to articulate them fully, or what they meant I guess.
First, I knew that intense emotion was terrifying for me. I knew that in the past, I had even sought out psych admission as a way to cope with intense emotions because it never felt “safe” to deal with them on my own.
I found out that intense emotion can trigger an escape reflex as well, something I’ve used before, as a way to avoid the emotion. I wanted to go up north or anywhere for a couple of days to distract myself, but that really wouldn’t have been dealing with the emotions, and it’s something I’ve done repeatedly in the past.
I have a tendency to panic about feeling intense things. It has caused me a lot of trouble in the past.
I found out that I can survive a period of intense emotion without shriveling up and dying or exploding into a poof of nothingness. I didn’t lose myself. Nothing bad happened. I survived. I set boundaries at home and advocated for my needs and I made it through.
Second, I found out that I still have triggers that I need to work on. Old ones, but ones that came up and made this situation so much worse than it needed to be for me.
When I left university, I had to give up my entire identity as “student” which I had been for 16 years. I also had to give up my providers there. I didn’t handle it well at all at the time. My doctor here retiring triggered those, “omg things are changing” feelings and I experienced a microburst of that same awfulness from leaving university all over again. It didn’t help that my current psychiatrist is connected to the university one, so it’s kind of the final chapter in that whole process. I am far enough removed now that it just took a day to gain perspective on that instead of the year it took before, but it definitely threw me.
I have some ambandonment issues that are not really fully sorted and while I intellectually understand that my psychiatrist is not “abandoning” me, I think I felt a little of that at first too just because of the way I found out she was leaving.
My doctor is amazing and brilliant and I have a lot of fear based on trust issues that the next person won’t be half the doctor she was, won’t listen, won’t collaborate, won’t respect me as an individual, won’t review my chart, etc. These trust issues are deeply rooted and while I knew about them, I was taken aback at how much they impacted me with this.
Third, I realized I really need to talk to some people about support. I hate being a burden on people, but I needed people on Thursday and there was no one really around/available to have an actual phone conversation with. That resulted in the ten blog posts (give or take) and some emailing that didn’t need to happen. I need to step the game up and fix this hole. There are people, I just need to be more assertive about this.
Fourth, I learned it is okay to be sad. This kind of goes along with the first one, but I didn’t really know this. I thought I had to fight through and find the good things about a situation. I didn’t know it was okay to just “be” in a moment and be sad. That was actually something my therapist gave me that morning without knowing what would happen later that day. It changed the entire way I viewed the situation. I knew I was probably irrational, but I didn’t judge, I just noticed the feelings and let them pass. It was so much easier to come back to a normal mindset when I wasn’t obsessing over all of the thoughts I had. There is a lot of freedom in that.
So really, while I would have preferred to learn these things under dramatically different circumstances, this cloud does actually have a silver lining. This isn’t meant to invalidate my sadness. I’m still sad. It’s just that I have learned so very much from it about myself.