Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Therapy #2: A Somewhat Déjà Vu Experience

Today was my first therapy session since I opened the "sophomore-year-event" can of worms. Eeck, I was dreading it.

My last therapy session left me feeling vulnerable and exposed. Not really feelings I like to seek out.

The surge of emotions took me by surprise. The protective wall I had invested so much energy in building up over the past nine years was shockingly fragile. I know that I need to process what happened, but I miss the shelter of my wall.

I am lucky to have a wonderful therapist who is extremely supportive and whom I trust very much. Still, today's session was a somewhat déjà vu experience for me. For whatever reason, it reminded me all too well of the first time I told a professional about what happened. In a way, telling the professional resulted in my trust being violated a second time.

During the first few days following the event, I was a wound-up mess. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't preparing for exams, at least not productively. I was going through the motions of my life, but I wasn't connected to my life. I could have essentially described my life to someone objectively, but it wouldn't have felt like mine. Really, it's hard to put my state of mind at that time into words.

I remember trying to write an art history paper and only producing three disjointed paragraphs. The words were present on my computer, but they were completely void of meaning. I soon realized I was in no state to go through exams.

I walked into the student counseling center on campus and told an available counselor that I felt completely out of sorts and was unable to take my exams. She asked me what I meant by this, and I confided in her that I didn't feel anything but anxious energy, that I suspected something bad had happened when I had been drinking heavily a few nights prior, that I knew I should be upset, but instead I felt completely removed from everything. And a little hyperactive.

The clinician listened as I was telling the story, and then simply asked if I would like to "go to the hospital and sleep for a few days" because "that will make it easier to excuse you from exams." There was no mention of the psychiatric ward.

I honestly pictured myself asleep in a hospital bed having Jello-O brought to me after I awoke from a long medication-induced nap. It sounded wonderful.

She asked me if I was ready to go over right then, and I told her that I needed to go to my dorm to pack some things. She told me that it would be better if I went ahead now and had a friend bring my stuff over later. I thought that was a little annoying, but I agreed. Hell, anything to not take exams. Still no mention of the psychiatric ward.

She told me to head over to the ER and she'd let them know I was coming.

I need to take a break and will finish a little later.


  1. Did you admit yourself for a few days? Did it help? Maybe that's the vacation I need.

    That first surge of emotions are very scary, trying, and difficult.

  2. Technically I admitted myself; however, I didn't realize that was what I was doing.

    A few days after my rape occurred, I went into the school counseling center because I was supposed to be beginning exams the following week, and I had begun to get a little weirded out by my behavior/mental state.

    I told the school counselor that I had been really intoxicated a few days earlier and that I was fairly certain something really bad had happened with a friend against my will (at this point my memory of the night was limited to what led up to the assault, and the moment it ended) and that normally I would have been really upset, but instead felt nothing. I told her that I felt disconnected from myself and too hyper to concentrate on school.

    The counselor listened to my story and asked me if I "would like to go sleep in the hospital for a few days." I honestly had no idea I was going to the psychiatric ward for treatment - I thought I was going to be given sleeping medication and a hospital bed.

    Instead, I stayed at the psychiatric ward for a week (even with "voluntary admission", you are not allowed to leave unless they officially dismiss you; otherwise, your medical records permanently state that you left the mental hospital before being released by professionals).

    For me, it was too weird being in there with no prior knowledge. It added to my feelings of being out of control and "crazy." Although the doctors encouraged me to talk about the assault in group therapy sessions (I was the only victim of sexual assault - not particularly a comfortable environment to open up), the main focus of my treatment was medically treating all of my PTSD symptoms under the diagnosis of bipolar. I was heavily medicated. Lots and lots of medications. This continued for approximately 4 years until I discovered how to safely wean myself off the meds without notifying my doctor who was convinced I was chronically bipolar.

    The psychiatric hospital wasn't a good experience for me, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't benefit if it is something you're interested in.I imagine there are in-patient hospitalization programs that are better equipped for dealing with sexual assault. If it's something you think might benefit you, it would be worth researching.

  3. I couldn't handle the "PUNISHMENT" for leaving on O.R.

    Wow, yeah that must have been rough on you.

  4. Yeah, it was pretty frustrating. Couldn't straight answer from anyone regarding when they planned to release me. After two days, I started inquiring each morning and night. I don't know if this is always the case (or perhaps it was because my mind felt fried), but that little, but very important fact must have been brushed over because I had no idea (it was obviously somewhere in the paperwork I signed though).