Tag Archives: professionals

Being Invalidated

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

“To invalidate means to cancel something or make it void, as if it never happened. In invalidate you see the word valid which means true or correct. When you invalidate something you are making it less true, less official, or less correct.” (vocabulary.com, March 2021).

The meaning above can be applied to things you experience. It can be caused by other people and events. It can make you question your thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences and reactions. It can make you feel awful. And people sometimes don’t even realise they are doing this to you.

When you tell someone that what they feel isn’t justified or to just stop feeling that way, then you are invalidating the way they feel. You are telling them what they are feeling is not true and not correct. Yes, you may not have felt that way in that situation but everyone is different and that doesn’t mean that what that person is feeling is invalid.

It’s important we think before we speak. It’s what might feel like silly things that can have an effect on other people and cause them to feel invalidated and it can start when we are children. What we are saying may to us sound reassuring but it ccam invalidate the child. Saying to a child who is nervous about an exam that they shouldn’t be is invalidating. Instead saying you understand why they feel that way but you feel like they are well prepared so it should go well is acknowledging their feelings as valid while reassuring at the same time.

Some mental health professionals could also do with understanding the power of invalidation. Telling someone that what they are experiencing is minimal or not that bad can have lasting effects on everyone and especially those with a mental illness. It can cause them to deteriorate further. On my write ups from the psychiatrist appointments it would often say my self harm was superficial and it would make me try to cause myself more harm as I felt they weren’t taking me seriously. I’ve also heard of people with eating disorders who are told they are not thin enough being made sicker.

I know that although having a diagnosis can be a burden I felt it a validation for what I was/am experiencing. It made me feel that someone could see that something was wrong and I needed help. However this means professionals need to be careful about removing diagnoses from patients as it can add to invalidation. You are taking away the validation you gave them. There needs to be a conversation and careful explanation.

It is possible also to invalidate yourself as well. This is harder to stop doing, I know I do it a lot. It’s important for us to try and allow ourselves to experience our feelings and acknowledge them. This is easier said than done though.

So when speaking to anyone try to consider their feelings and not cancelling them out. We all need to think of how our words and actions impact on others.

Therapy 2021: Session 5

Date of session: 02/02/2021

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

Today was my last session of individual therapy. This will be more of a thoughts on things post as there was not much content to the session to be shared. The main part of the therapy today was to do a screening for joining a trauma information group in March.

With the end suddenly happening (it was only mentioned last session, last week) I feel abandoned. I feel I have no support. I feel alone. They say phone the duty worker or crisis team. These are options I can’t do due to my home situation and the anxiety that means I don’t feel able to talk easily to staff I don’t know. Also I know that someone who mans the duty phone is someone I put in a complaint about and so I was removed from her care. She has since blatantly ignored me when I offered a hello when I saw her in the building of my community mental health team and turned her head away from me. She has also said some things for which the complaint was made. I’m terrified it would be her that answers. I have lost so much support in the last year.

I know I’m lucky to move onto this group but it’s a stop gap. I’m apparently not safe to do online trauma therapy so this is a trauma information group. This will just give us eight weeks of generic information about skills. For this I have to be low risk and stable. So that is what has been said while I’m not safe to do the one to one. I find this confusing.

I’ve not self harmed for seven weeks. I hate myself for this. The anxiety is high. But I’m expected to just be OK. That’s how it feels at least. I just want to harm again. I feel it wouldn’t matter anymore. No one would check on it. And so what if I go to far. It wouldn’t matter.

I know I sound pathetic and I probably am. But I’m angry and upset. Maybe I should of left this post for another day but I needed these thoughts out before I explode at someone. Especially as I’ve been told by someone else something that has annoyed me and left me feeling even more left out and alone. It’s left me with suicidal thoughts (I’m safe and won’t act on them). I’m tired of being made to fight so hard.

I apologise for being self pitying. We shall see how the trauma information group goes when it starts in March. I’m unsure if I will record this or not. For now this is the end of therapy.

Therapy 2021: Session 4

Date of session: 26/01/2021

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

Before this session I had homework to do. I left it until the last minute due to feeling ill and tired most of the time. I also knew it would be hard as it involved identifying emotions at some level. This is an area I find hard and frustrating. I also had to build a new safe place to use to do this. This I resented. I did it the night before.

At the start of the session, as always, I was asked how I’d been over the last week. I said about the pain and tiredness. She asked how I’d been doing with the self harm and I replied I still hadn’t self harmed since before Christmas. She was pleased with this. I am less so at this time. She also asked how my dissociation had been which I always find hard to answer as I’m not always aware when I’m dissociating. I explained a couple of things and she said it sounded more like acting mindlessly rather than dissociating. I’ll agree to disagree here but hey ho.

We then moved on to look at the new safe place I had created and went through all its sections and the different senses that related to it. I won’t discuss my safe place at this time as I’m not sure it is a wise thing right now. She was happy with the place I’d created and the use of senses. She then asked about emotions and feelings in the body. This is where I had difficulty and this made me feel uncomfortable and annoyed (anger and annoyance I can identify, though not always accurately in others). She now wants me to keep going through the safe place when I’m not stressed to see how it reduces feelings and calms me. Then move on to practicing it when I think of a mildly irritating scenario. At the moment I’m in a constant state of anxiety so we will see how we go.

After this she wanted to discuss next steps. She had, had her supervision meeting and discussed about doing further trauma work with me now I wasn’t self harming (a prerequisite I had been given). It was now decided it was still to unsafe to do the trauma work online due to my high score on the DES (Dissociative Experience Scale) as she wasn’t in the same room as me. I understand this to an extent but it feels like I have to somehow get better so I’m the right level of ill. I can’t be too ill, but I can’t be too well.

The above led me to having to make a decision. We could do another couple of sessions winding down and then leave it until face to face was an option or I can join a trauma information group in March for eight weeks and next weeks session would be my last individual session. I explained I would have to consider the timing of the session and how it would impact on my family as its a two hour course. I had some less than pleasant comments in response that left me incredibly upset, including “the group will go ahead with or without you” and “you’re lucky to be offered this so soon”. I don’t dispute how lucky I am, I just needed to consult others as I’m not the only person it will effect. She knows of the difficulties at home. I was told to just be assertive.

After the session I was in tears. I felt some of the comments were unfair. I had not turned it down flat, just explained that I wasn’t sure I could do it due to the issues in my family. But then I was an awful person. I feel now something that may be paranoia but also may not be, which is that this has all been to leave me without support and the world knowing how awful I am. I’m still not feeling great in regard to this. I have considered emailing the psychologist but I’m also scared too. It has triggered a lot of feelings of fear of abandonment.

I have managed to arrange that I will be able to attend the group of the offer is still open. We will see what happens next week.

What I’ve Learnt In 2020

2020 has been a hellish year for pretty much everyone. A global pandemic seems to make life difficult, who knew? But I’ve learnt a few things in 2020 and I thought I’d reflect on them.

1. I have amazing friends

OK, I’ve known this a while but it’s become even clearer this year how amazing they are. We’ve supported each other so much and I’ve known they are always there for me. I love them dearly.

2. Random acts of kindness are special

I’ve tried to do some random acts of kindness this year to cheer people up. I’ve also received some too. They have made me feel so special. They’ve brightened some of the darkest days.

3. Lockdown birthdays suit me

I loved having my birthday during lockdown. The lack of pressure to do anything was awesome. It’s the most relaxed and perfect birthday I’ve had. I want that every year please.

4. Validation is so important

Having someone agree about something I am experiencing has happened a couple of times this year, especially linked to my mental health. I had a psychiatrist who agreed with me about my depression getting worse and a psychologist who could see OCD behaviours and thoughts. The validation made me feel like I wasn’t just looking for the bad but that what I was feeling was real.

5. A smile can make your day

Here I’m not talking about just receiving a smile from someone but actually starting off the smiling. On my walks with my dog I have taken to smiling at the strangers I pass and have mostly been rewarded with smiles back. It brightens my day just a little and creates a little human contact that I can cope with.

6. You can’t make eye contact on zoom

This was something pointed out to me by my DBT peer support group’s facilitator. It is impossible to make eye contact as you are always looking at the wrong bit of the screen. Even if you both stare straight ahead it won’t work as you then can’t see the other person’s eyes. This is information I have imparted to many people since. They’ve all had their minds blown. So thanks Sally for that info.

7. I do actually need physical contact

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needs physical contact before but hugs from friends are something I’ve really missed. Being in their presence, even, is something I miss greatly. Just to be with those people is so important to me. I also missed hugging my nan for all the months I couldn’t. Having that back is so special. I appreciate those hugs.

8. Pets are amazing

Again I knew this already but this year they’ve really stepped up. My dog has kept me going out and in some kind of routine. My cats are just loving and have entertained a few people on zoom (especially when they scare the life out of me, try to eat the laptop cable or knock a pile of stuff to the floor). Also having cat cuddles during and straight after therapy has been awesome. I now do not want to do therapy without a cat. When it becomes face to face again the cat is coming with me. That would make them look I’m sure.

9. I can draw

I’ve always tried to draw and never felt any good at it. Then just before lockdown I did some art things with a group I’m part of and it started to make me wonder if maybe I could draw. During lockdown I decided I’d try it out and began drawing every day. To begin with I’d draw animals and cartoon characters for friends, family and their children. Most was simple. I then developed it further and I feel like I’m getting a lot better. I’ve even shared some of it on Instagram and Facebook.

10. People are mental health aware but…

This is probably going to be the most negative one. With lockdown there has been a lot of talking about helping people’s mental health during these times. People are showing they are aware of needing to look after their’s and others’ mental health. But it has become clearer that we need to make people mental ILLNESS aware now. People may understand mental health, they don’t all understand mental illnesses and what it’s like to live with one day to day. There is a long way to go with. This means that instead of a mental health awareness week/day we really need a mental illness awareness week/day. We need people to see the difference between mental health and mental illness. I plan to write more on this in 2021.

So 2020 has definitely been a year of learning about others and myself. I’ve deliberately tried to keep the negative out of this list (believe me there are many things I’ve seen this year from people that have shocked me in a bad way). I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I’m aiming to be busier on all these platforms.

Lastly I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read, shared, commented or supported me in any way. I really do appreciate it and wish you the best for the years to come. You’re awesome. Be kind 💚

Therapy 2020: Session 13

Date of session: 25/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

I’m not sure how this post will go or if it will make sense due to my current mental state. Please bear with me.

I felt very unwell going into the session today. I’ve had a bad week and struggled a lot. I’ve not felt “with it” and have withdrawn from most people.

We started the session with a recap of where I am with self harm. This has not improved but has not worsened. She then suggested looking at some things linked to trauma. This took me by surprise as we haven’t touched on it for several weeks. I could of done with some warning. It was very hard to discuss. She seems to have a habit of making guesses that are spot on in her examples. This does make me feel like something is connected.

A lot was spent looking at trauma and it’s link to my core beliefs. There was a lot of memory recall required and my brain felt ready to explode and became a mess. I felt I couldn’t get things out right. I felt I was making little sense. I felt overwhelmed. The voice started.

I felt myself becoming more and more separate. I talked about dissociation. We looked at things I can do to bring myself back. They are things I’m aware of. Making use of senses and mindfulness. This is what I need to practice over the next week.

I feel utterly drained after the session. I’m not completely with it. This is all I can manage. I’m sorry.

Therapy 2020: Session 12

Date of session: 18/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

The usual dread of therapy still was present before the session. I had left my homework until the last minute in what I think was a rebellious “I’m not going to do it” followed by “I can’t not do homework”. I always have done my homework. So I did it and we didn’t look at it.

We started with the usual “How’s your week been?” To which I answer not too bad. Which we decided was me dismissing what had in fact been a god awful week. So we needed to explore this and I was asked again how my week had been.

We discussed some issues and talked about my feeling of separation from others. We looked into how it might be a mixture of depression and dissociation. And based on the events that had happened she thought dissociation was likely the biggest issue.

We carried on with the formulation that we have been doing. This is about exploring core beliefs and changing them. Today we looked at how recent events affected them. We spent most of the session on this.

Finally she had some words she wanted to share about my current situation and the effect of my mental health. I understood them and I’ve heard them before. If only things were simple.

My homework this week is to practice identifying emotions regularly. I’m dreading it as its something that I find so hard even using the pro forma from DBT. We shall see how it goes.

This week’s review is a little shorter as the things discussed were very personal and not something I can currently share. I hope you understand. Thank you.

Therapy 2020: Session 7

Date of session: 14/10/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

Today was tough. Even tougher than last week. I feel broken. There’s a lot of other feelings floating around that I’m unsure of and feel massive. I should try to work them out but at the moment I don’t want to know what they are.

We started as we usually do with a check in on how I feel. I had an immense headache so she thanked me for even turning up and gave me the option of not doing the session at all or if my head hurt too much I could stop at any point. I felt this was nice as an option though I knew I wouldn’t use it as I don’t let myself escape.

We discussed last week and how I’d used distress tolerance techniques and that my self harm had not increased or become worse after the session. I mean it’s pretty bad anyway. She also checked I hadn’t resorted to any other destructive behaviours which I hadn’t.

When talking about the distress tolerance techniques she talked about how she uses them and why she’d used them recently. I know why she did this and it sounds a good thing but since I’ve been thinking on what she said and how I reacted and how I didn’t comment more. This has made me feel guilty which is silly but it’s the way I am.

We carried on with looking at core beliefs and doing a formulation. Today we moved into rules I live by linked to my core beliefs. She said these made me a good person as opposed to the evil I (feel) am. This is hard to believe.

We looked at critical events that clashed with the rules I live by that have reinforced my core beliefs. One of these was extremely hard. It’s a major one that’s led to my belief I’m evil. She decided we needed to challenge it. We wrote statements. We used different analogies. I understand the challenges. But can I believe them? We shall see.

That is where we left it. I’m not sure how to deal with all this going forward. I want to talk to some people I know about it but I don’t know how or what to say. My head is a mess. I keep trying to push it out of my head but it pops back up.

Dear GP 2

There is an amazing account on Twitter called Dear GP where people write letters to their GP about their encounters with mental health professionals in the same way mental health professionals write letters about their patients to their GP. You can visit the website here. I thought I would have a second go at this below after an encounter during lockdown. My first attempt is here.

Dear GP

Today I had a telephone consultation with care coordinator M due to the current lockdown conditions. This was an unscheduled appointment and was preceded by a text message which stated that she wanted to talk to me straight away and was demanding of immediate contact without considering my prior commitments.

When we spoke to each other on the phone, M was in a jovial and friendly mood. She seemed to need reassurance about our working relationship due to comments from other staff members based on what she had said. She denied she had said anything to other staff members about our working relationship and stated “we work well don’t we?”. Her need for reassurance shows, I believe, an insecurity and possible fear of abandonment.

We then discussed my mental wellbeing. Here M was keen to show that everyone is struggling and dismissed suicidal ideation. Her concentration during this part of the conversation seemed to dip and she appeared to want this to end quickly.

Her next actions I believe confirm her fear of abandonment. She decided to put an end to our working together stating a too high workload. She did however say that I could always let her know good news. She seemed not to wish to cut ties completely showing difficulty with endings.

Overall I think M may need to work on her social skills but I do not wish to see her again and feel she will be fine under your care. Please do not rerefer.

Yours

Jo

Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Therapy 2020: Session 4

Date of session: 23/09/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care. 💚

Another session, another after feeling of frustration. There is definite anger in there too. I’m trying to rationalise and go back to DBT skills and wise mind it all. Currently that’s not working. Currently my emotions are taking over. I’ve worked to identify them and as anger is one I recognise easily I got there quickly. There is still more to work out too.

We are still not going to tackle trauma therapy properly yet or in this cycle of therapy (the word cycle isn’t right but I can’t think of the right one). She wants us to tackle my self harm full on. This has been the most annoying thing. I made it clear I did not want stopping self harm to ever be my goal for therapy, now I’ve been pushed into it. I told her I felt I didn’t have any choice in this and that it was not my main aim. She is concerned I could make a fatal error with my self harm. I said that really didn’t bother me and could be for the best.

So we’re going to tackle my self harm. She wants to tackle it as an addiction. This is something I agree on with her, that it is an addiction. My self harm is not impulsive. It is well thought out. She can see my reluctance to let it go. We discussed a few of my reasons for self harming and what I get from it. She said this may mean we touch on some areas of trauma but not in depth.

We also discussed the voice I hear. Again I got annoyed and frustrated. Explaining myself out loud in words is something I struggle with. Talking face to face with a person is something I struggle with when it involves emotions, mainly because I don’t have the ability to identify them. Therefore I feel wire’s were crossed andd I wasn’t understood (something that makes me stop talking). There was doubt from her it is a voice which made me angry. I know the difference between the voice and a thought I have. I’ve been through it so many times with numerous mental health professionals. Her doubt in me upset me and I felt like I wasn’t being believed.

At the end of the session I was glad it was over. I didn’t want to speak to her anymore. I became very monosyllabic towards the end. I think she underestimates what I understand about mental illness and in particular the ones I deal with. I feel that I’m not being seen as an experienced person in regard to my own life. It feels like supposed solutions are simple to her when it’s actually a complicated situation. I think I have a lot to think over before next week.

Update (23/09/2020 9.58pm) my anger over a comment she made has been simmering all evening. I’m not sure I can believe it was said)

Therapy 2020: Session 3

Date of session: 16/09/2020

Please be aware some content may be triggering. This post will be discussing self harm. Though I will try to avoid discussing methods it may become apparent with other things mentioned. Please take care. 💚

Today’s therapy session has left me feeling annoyed and frustrated. If I’m honest there is also a bit of resentment in there too I think. I feel like I’m repeating everything from my assessment and it has become obvious that this is because the psychologist has not read the background mentioned in the assessment. I understand I have to explain a little but when she said she had no awareness of my living situation or my issues at home this annoyed me. Why did I bother with the assessment? Surely it’s there to help them know something about me before it is discussed. Like I said I understand going through some things but the basics at least should be noted.

I also feel I’m getting no new methods to help me. Everything is a repeat of things I already know and understand. For example today when asked at the beginning I mentioned my issue with sleep. She then asked if I knew about and used sleep hygiene to which I responded that yes I did know about and use it. We then spent nearly fifteen minutes going through each item of sleep hygiene to find out I’m doing it all, which I’d already said, and that it was not something we should focus on. When a session is limited to 50ish minutes and there are a finite number of sessions this feels wasteful.

We also discussed my self harm. This was also documented in my assessment but seemed to be a revelation to her. We discussed the seriousness of the current level of self harm. We looked at how things could go wrong with the self harm I am doing and how even a slight mistake could end my life. In all honesty I think she was expecting this to bother me. It didn’t. With my current mood that would be a blessing. She asked me how important stopping was to me and the honest answer is that at this time it doesn’t bother me that I’m self harming. Then I think she wanted to make me bothered by telling me we would definitely not be doing trauma therapy with this level of self harm. I’m angry about this as the assessment knew all this and still recommended trauma therapy. Plus my psychiatrist believes without trauma therapy the things they want to be better for me to do it won’t get better without it.

With regard to the self harm we also discussed about the use of DBT skills to help, in particular distress tolerance skills. I was able to explain that I find this unhelpful as my self harm is not impulsive which is what these skills seem to be aimed at. I was grateful that the psychologist agreed with me on this matter. I’ve not had much support with this idea elsewhere.

Currently I’m feeling trapped in a cycle which I don’t know how I can get out of. I feel like noone is taking into account what needs to happen to move things on or it is not being discussed between professionals. It’s making me lose hope. It’s making me wonder if there is any point to anything. We shall see how it goes I guess.

Technology was an issue again today with us being cut off but I did receive a phone call after this.

I was lucky that straight after I was able to have cat cuddles to help me calm myself.