Naming things

Yesterday I met my new therapist. My old one is moving to another country, so she trusted my files with someone whose work she’s known for a long time.

We started talking, and for the first time I heard the story of my life being given specific and scary names. She said I had a lot of symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and that a lot of events in my life could be considered traumatic. I always thought post-traumatic stress was something only people who had survived war, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse would experience. Turns out the definition of trauma is anything that threatens one’s survival, and that can include for instance the loss of a close relative in the early years of a young child, especially if the child doesn’t have a secure attachment to the parents and doesn’t have the emotional language to cope with it. That being said, my life has a series of minor traumas and at least three events that, if not considered major, are at least traumas written in bold. The fact that I’m a hypervigilant and have had trouble sleeping since my teenage years is nothing but a consequence.

Then I learned that I had at least two dissociative episodes in my life. One when I was 5 and had to be hospitalized because my legs went numb and I couldn’t feel them or move them, and the other after I turned 20 and suffered an episode of transient global amnesia and failed to remember stressful events in my then recent past. Even my recent state of daydreaming (see previous post) is a form, though mild, of dissociation. To me, “dissociation” and “dissociative” are scary words, so I felt apprehensive when I heard her saying that.

I also felt that returning to therapy after a little hiatus brought back all the resentment, anger, and fear I carry with me and that have been anesthetized through daydreaming and being on a break from therapy.

Overall, I feel like a car when you step on the accelerator with the hand brake pulled up. The engine roars and the rotations in the rev counter go up — and that’s my survival instinct, all ready to go and fight and scream… But the car isn’t really going anywhere, is it?

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3 thoughts on “Naming things

  1. I understand the basic human need to name everything in order for that thing to be real, or to give us the illusion that, once we name it, we can deal with it. “If I know the specific name of this and that, I’ll have power over it”. If you know the name of your disease or condition, you can cure it.
    Which is all very well, by I’ve always felt that the psyche doctors tend to go a little overboard with all their labeling. Our minds – and emotions – are far more complex and boundless than what they try to make them sound.
    As much as I can relate to our need to name and define what and how we are (how are we to understand anything if we don’t, right?) the way the psychs over-do it is one of my pet peeves.
    That being said, most of the times it is best to get rid of all the dirt swept under the rug and throw it out. But not all wounds are meant to be healed… If you feel you’re moving backwards (or nowhere) instead of forward, maybe there’s no point in digging up the past and/or the subconscious.

    Signed: the girl with schizotypal personality disorder 🙂

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    1. I agree that our minds and emotions are far more complex than labels, but I’ve been underdiagnosed for a long time now and things have been snowballing because of that. I myself ignored warning signs because I thought everything would pass. It didn’t, it just got worse. I’m not sure the problem is with digging up the past, but maybe how you/your therapist do it… I shall see.

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