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Trouble talking in therapy

I just started with a new therapist, mainly for 15 years of bulimia and lifelong depression and anxiety. I have tried therapy before but never made much progress. I was hoping this time would be different - that I would be able to open my heart, make eye contact, say more than just a few words with this new therapist. But I was so nervous. Before I knew it the same old pattern of behaviour played out - no thoughts, no voice, rigid, slooooowwww, spaced out, almost surreal. Interestingly, I was selectively mute as a child....I feel like I go back to being that child in therapy. I think I have a personality disorder - perhaps BPD. I'm really scared when I read other people's stories of never-ending suffering and isolation. I can be a warm, caring, and affectionate person. I can be lively and funny at times. But get me alone and I'm lost, empty and very depressed - suicidal. I have never been in a relationship and I'm now 30. I see other people enjoying the company of a partner and it's something I long for, but I have this overwhelming sense of shame that I cannot share and I don't believe anyone could love me if they really knew me. I think it stems from having overly critical parents and being bullied throughout school.

I'm not in denial about my problems. I'm well aware of them and I think I need therapy. I'm still living with my parents. Never travelled. I feel like a failure. I've pretty much spend my entire life studying. I don't think I'll be any good at anything. I fear responsibility.

I'm just so disappointed in myself for making a mess of this therapy. I think what I'm most afraid of is putting my trust in the therapist, and being vulnerable. In therapy I have an overwhelming desire to feel loved and cared for. I don't look for it in the real world, just in therapy. I guess it's something I feel as though I need to pay for. Trouble is, once I start to put my trust in the therapist, my expectations of them (secretly) far exceed what I know they can reasonably and ethically provide. I feel overwheming heartache and disapointment because my need for love goes unmet. Opening up to a therapist is like opening up pandoras box, inside of which I discover a bottomless pit of need....extremely painful. I think I'm scared of feeling like that again. I'm also scared of getting close to the therapist and then being dumped.

So how do I put my fears aside and stop myself from slipping into this same old pattern of behaviour in therapy? It seems there's a very powerful force that somehow sweeps me away to sabotage any potential for developing a relationship with the therapist. This is supposed to be a safe place for me to share my thoughts, feelings and experiences, and I want it to be, yet it feels so unsafe. My theory is that, without it being a conscious thing, I shut them out becuase the more trust I put into the relationship, the greater their power to hurt me. Or perhaps it is just a case of thinking it's a waste of time because I don't believe I'm capable of changing for the better.

Any one else experienced anything similar? Any ideas as to how I might approach therpy differently. How I can calm myself enough to be able to actually talk in therapy.



Re: Trouble talking in therapy

I have a hard time relating to this. I couldnt even finish reading it, too complainy/victimy ( what excuse is there for living with your parents at 30? what could possibly go wrong by making a little trip etc). I just think, what is there to lose in your life, just lots to win? You can open up on this forum, maybe write your therapist the exact same note so she can get you started? Dig up your ego and free yourself:-)

Re: Trouble talking in therapy

Well, I disagree with Disney. This is not about being a victim, but about shame, which for many people is a difficult problem.

I suggest that you write your therapist a letter about this. Be as honest and open as you possibly can be about your doubts, fears, difficulties in opening up to therapy, and especially about your shameful feelings of failure and inadequacy . Then, at your next session, simply read it to him or her. If your therapist is any good, he or she will know what to do.

You know, entering into therapy can feel a bit like trying to jump into to some very cold water for a swim. At first it seems impossible, and so you just put one toe in. But if you will simply force yourself to jump in, after an initial shock, the water may feel just fine.

Be well,