Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges.

Mind the gap

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Mind the gap FINAL

I’m dreading the August therapy break –Β  as you can tell from the above poem I wrote. Although I’m also trying to convince myself it will be okay – as you can also tell from the above.

Last year, the six week break included two to three weeks of incredibly low mood and suicidal ideation. It included poor decisions about how to spend my time, and I resolutely held out from contacting my therapist by email, despite the fact she had told me it was okay to do so.

Although I cannot completely control how I will feel, I am hoping that this time, I will be able to do things a little differently, and therefore I hope that I will end up feeling a little differently. The two-week Easter therapy gap was the first time I felt I’d really managed to stay connected to my therapist. It was incredibly hard work – striving constantly to challenge unhelpful thoughts and to remind myself that she still cared and hadn’t abandoned me. But I’m going to try and work hard at it again, despite the much longer gap.

I am also going to schedule regular nights out with friends; I will ensure that I do something ‘just for me’ at times when I would normally be in therapy, whether that is spending time writing, or watching a film. I will make sure I don’t stay in alone, on difficult anniversaries which remind me of loss or abandonment; and I will ‘allow’ myself to take the very genuine offer of help from my therapist, and email her now and again.

And I will make sure that I put in place as many other support mechanisms as I can. For example, though I felt very guilty at the thought of ‘using up resources’, I will be signing up for the Textcare scheme run by the mental health charity SANE. Textcare provides emotional support for anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers. It provides help either at regular times when you might feel isolated, or at specific times when some extra support might be needed. I know that receiving a text once a week for five weeks, at a time when I would normally be in therapy, will help me to feel supported, thought-about, and less alone. If you think that you may struggle during your own therapy break this summer and that this would be a useful additional support, please do find out more.

In the meantime, here are two excellent posts by therapists whose writing I greatly enjoy reading, on the subject of therapist vacations. They look at the break from the therapist’s perspective, and from the client’s perspective, and also give pointers for further reading.

Managing the dread of a therapist’s vacation’ – Dr Gerald Stein

Therapist on vacation? When therapy takes a holiday’ – Dr Ryan Howes

Finally, for a light-hearted approach to the issue, try googling ‘August therapy break New Yorker’. You will find a number of interesting and amusing (depending on your perspective!) articles. However, the following extract from the start of one of them, is, I think, an interesting question for anyone in therapy (and not just New Yorkers) to ponder, particularly as one of the most valuable aspects of a therapy break can be the experience and subsequent discussion, in therapy, of all the thoughts and feelings that came up during the break:

“To many New Yorkers, August poses a potent question: What would life be like without therapy? Analysts have no shortage of answers to this question – and it could take you a year’s worth of 50-minute hours to explore them all.” – Jennifer Senior

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5 thoughts on “Mind the gap

  1. I’m glad you thought to spend more time w. friends. We can think of difficult times as a crisis or an opportunity, as the cliche goes. Here’s to the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very similar to what my therapist said – great minds think alike, again πŸ˜‰ She did say it was a chance to review and realise how far I’d come. I’d really like to be able to approach it that way, but the battle in my head has already started, and I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough to ‘stay positive’ for that length of time. I managed to stay feeling connected over the two week Easter break, but it was mentally exhausting – challenging every negative thought about her and impulse to push her and my feelings for her away, so the break wouldn’t hurt as much. But as you say, hopefully spending a bit more time with friends, will help….Thank you….

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  2. Six weeks? Damn. My therapist is taking a vacation in August as well. It really is a thing. But I am also a New Yorker, so maybe it’s regional? Lol. Either way, I always dread the break in routine. Very good plan you have there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s a worldwide ‘thing’ πŸ˜‰ Apparently, one of those articles I read said that in New York it’s a bit of an ‘in joke’ to go around wearing T-shirts with ‘I think you are mistaking me for your therapist’. I don’t know if that’s an urban myth or fact, and I couldn’t decide whether I thought it was wryly amusing, or just very very cruel…….I think I would probably cry if I saw one! Like you, I dread the break in routine – a break in any kind of routine. My therapist said the break can be opportunity for realising how far we’ve come – maybe we can try and encourage each other to look at it that way, particularly when we’re struggling over the next month πŸ™‚ Take care….

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