It’s been a while since my last entry in Dancing with Psychologists. I haven’t stopped seeing my bartender ((Professional psychologist.)) or my candyman ((Professional psychiatrist.)); it’s just that since the Abilify I haven’t found much to say. But all the same, I keep forgetting to heed my candyman’s advice: medication will only go so far. It’s not just the bipolar, and it’s not just the PTSD—it’s their co-morbid nature for me.
So what can I say. I started breaking through the Abilify a couple weeks ago, and as a result of being lax with what are, I suppose, the more cognitive bits of my treatment, I didn’t have coping mechanisms. Good ones, I mean; denial is always right there, and I let it keep me from getting a re-evaluation from my candyman until it was just about too late.
So while the Abilify is getting adjusted, I’m going to be rather more diligent about listening to what the bartender has to say.
Our most recent session—an emergency one, it has to be said; and as I haven’t told y’all just how bad it got, it got that bad—we talked about “catastrophizing”. Otherwise known as making out everything to be a potential catastrophic failure.
It’s a natural reaction of mine to think the rest of the world is as insane as my father. My father: the man who meted out beatings and worse as punishments, who set up impossible tasks where failure meant punishment, who turned achievable goals into guaranteed failure by moving the goalposts just after achievement.
An example: when I was in grade school, math homework couldn’t only be right. It had to be neatly written up. This had to be done without a ruler or other straight-edged guide. The numbers had to be uniform, in a manner that pleased him (which he wouldn’t tell you, resulting in a lot of useless trial and error that always ended in pain). And in the end, he still wouldn’t be satisfied, and you’d have to figure out the reason and fix things constantly until he was satisfied. When I grew up much, much later, I realized that everything he demanded had been superfluous to the task and horribly arbitrary.
He did that for simple first grade (a six-year old’s) math homework. Imagine what he did for more complicated, vital stuff. When he was teaching me to drive, it got so bad that during one rather horrible session in the car, I drove down a hill towards a tree, accelerating, because I intended to Take Him With Me and end it all. I’m only here because he was strong enough to stop me.
(Interestingly, a few people have used that against me, up to and including saying that he saved my life and I should be grateful. “How bad could it get in the limited confines of a car anyways?” they asked. Honestly it was the thought of experiencing for the fiftieth time what he would do to me and my mother that night which drove my decision, rather than what he could do from the passenger side.)
Anyways. All of that means that I am very, very driven to try very hard to fulfill the nearly impossible, and always expecting failure and insane punishment. It gives me huge twitches at every task in my life, believe me, even laundry and especially cooking.
It’s not really a conscious thing; it’s a reflex. Maybe even Pavlovian in an awful and inhumane kind of way. I can’t turn it off… it will always feel bad. The idea is not to get swept away by it, and to remember the world isn’t run by my father.
Unfortunately it does mean there’s an automatic spoon tax on everything I do. It’s a wonder I don’t just end myself some days, but I guess I’m a survivor.