I thought I'd write a little more about trauma stuff and La Cheim. I haven't been writing about this here, but for a week or so now I've been having some pretty serious issues I was identifying as out-of-control anxiety, but it didn't feel like the bad anxiety problems I've had in the past. For example, jangly music didn't affect me, but crowds did. I couldn't pinpoint the difference until I had a really fruitful conversation with my therapist today.
I think what's actually been going on is that (possibly because of the "I am not prey" conversation at La Cheim and my subsequent obsessive repeating of the phrase) my trauma stuff has been really "up" for the past week or so, resulting in me having a sort of constant visceral feeling of shapeless, formless, nameless fear/dread/terror which is inspired specifically by people. When my therapist asked me to try to explain the "dread" a bit, I told her that I feel like I'm living in Lord of the Flies, like I'm surrounded by a bunch of psychopaths disguised as normal people, and any one of them could strike out at me at any moment for no apparent reason. To clarify, none of this is going on in my brain, but it's the best way I can describe what it feels like in my gut.
So I've been walking around in a state of constant hypervigilance ... while feeling sedated by Depakote side effects. I feel like I'm in a neverending dangerous situation in which I'm physically incapable of watching out for myself properly, which in turn leads to anxiety. So I have been anxious .... it's just not the primary problem.
My therapist asks excellent questions, and led me to the realization that I feel dramatically safer at La Cheim than at CWC, which may be resulting in me opening up more to the trauma stuff than I have previously. I feel like a real part of the community at CWC, and the people there are an important part of my life, but emotions are not very well contained there, and there's a lot of chaos that comes from people who are low-functioining, off their meds, reacting to psychotic symptoms, etc. At La Cheim, everyone is very high-functioning and everything is very quiet, controlled, and SAFE. I feel cared for there, and I feel that the groups do a good job of containing the issues we work on.
Also, my therapist and I had been meeting twice a week for a while, finding that the more frequent meetings helped us go deeper into this stuff, but that can't compare to the intensive program at La Cheim, where we do 5 hours in a day, every day. I'm only doing 3 days a week right now, but that's still a LOT.
My therapist, after the conversation we had today and my clear distress (there was a lot of crying), actually thinks that it would be best for me to return to the full, 5-day PHP program temporarily, because she doesn't think CWC is sufficient to support me right now. She's going to talk to my psychiatrist (who has been the one liaising with La Cheim), and she's going to try to contact my La Cheim counselor (named Imme), as well. There's no telling whether my insurance will approve moving me back to PHP, but we'll see.
As it is right now, I've been having trouble with constant, directionless fear, which gets magnified in difficult social situations. For a very silly example, I cut off a lot of my hair yesterday, and today at CWC I probably had a dozen different people approach me to compliment me on my new haircut (which I hate, actually), and all I kept thinking was, "Make me invisible. Make me disappear. I don't want all these people to notice me. I want to blend in with the wall."
In fact, I haven't been doing a great job of going to CWC this past week or so, since the Nameless Dread crept up on me. I show up late and leave early. Today I was barely there 2 hours before I fled, instead of staying the additional 2 hours I'd been planning in order to attend Writing Group. I just couldn't stay there anymore; I had to get away. This is the sort of thing that is making my therapist want me back in 5-day PHP. But we'll see what happens.
I'm going to talk to my La Cheim counselor, Imme, tomorrow, and I'm also going to suggest that we bring Shannon in for a session with us. Normally, they do this in order to educate the patient's partner and facilitate the relationship, but in my case I think it would be more useful as a way to give a less "EVERYTHING IS FINE!" perspective on what's going on with me, since that's what I tend to project. Heck, when I talked to Imme on Thursday, I told her I thought I didn't even need to be in the program because I'm doing so well. I wasn't lying; I believed it when I was saying it. It's just so incredibly easy (and instinctive) for me to ignore the ways that things are not going well for me, and I think it would be very useful to have Shannon there for a second opinion.
Anyway, I'm tired, and perhaps I can find a way to persuade Lucy to depart my lap of her own accord. Wiggling my legs often accomplishes this, as she becomes increasingly offended by the movement and eventually storms off in a huff. In any case, I need to get sleep, because I'm still having serious sedation problems (to be discussed with my psychiatrist on Thursday) and should get as much sleep as possible before facing La Cheim tomorrow.