Jump to content

Too Emotional For Too Long?


KathyD

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

I went to see my psychiatrist for the first time since Dad died this past March and was a complete wreck since I had to re-tell what happened. I was crying because it's hard to talk about Dad's sudden downfall and last day but my doctor seemed to think that I was being overly emotional. I tried to tell him that I'm not upset every day and that I didn't think that my sadness less than five months after Dad's death was abnormal...I did confess to doing some stupid things immediately after he passed and how hard some things have been but I walked out of his office feeling like I should be over it. He didn't come out and say it but disregarded my comments about five months not being that long, how I've tried to be social, do yoga, etc. All I got in return was the sense that there is something wrong with me. I don't know how he expected me to behave since while I can talk about Dad talking about his last days is much different. I know a lot of us have had people tell us we should be "over it" and although I agreed with my doctor that counseling would be helpful I also was let down that he couldn't recognize that I'm trying and that I'm early into the grief process (he didn't seem to think that what my grief books have to say meant much). Has anyone else had someone who's a professional be like this? I felt OK when I woke up this morning but feel everything I've been proud of doing meant nothing after talking to him.

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kathy D,

I too get too emotional and can not figure out why after one year am I still really upset... You are normal for the time that has gone by for your loss. I get very emotional and I can not imagine what it is like not being upset anymore... I think alot of my problems is that I was a main caregiver for both my parents and now they are gone I have nothing to fill the void I am feeling right now... Take care Kathy and I hope this helped a little I will pray for you and ask God for the strength to allow you to get through your grief journey.. Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Starkiss,

I can't say that I'm completely normal because of how hard grieving is but I'm a psychology major and to have a person who supposedly knows the difficulty of loss not provide any reinforcement hurt. In my mind a psychiatrist or counselor should congratulate you on what you have overcome and suggest actions that can help with what you haven't. I guess I just thought I was doing better by following an exercise plan and trying to re-connect with friends but since I'm admittedly emotionally fragile to hear only negatives hurt. I understand the void you feel completely because I feel the same way...I suppose that because I was trying to fill that void and a doctor ignored my efforts it stung harder. He even told me that to come here and vent was the wrong thing to do because none of us are counselors! I responded that this place has been more than helpful but he brushed that off as well. Right now I'm torn - I personally believe that my emotions are natural since Dad passed recently but it seems that I'm in the minority with that belief.

Whatever the case, thanks for responding. I left my doctor's office more upset and angry than I have been in a long time.

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Kathy

I think you should find another physciatrist to talk to. Some are good and some are not. I see a social worker who does alot of grief work and she is wonderful . YOu should not go to therapy and feel worse, pls change drs so you can get the right therapy. you are perfectly normal, my therapist say each person is different in how long it takes. she told me not to worry about how long it takes just try my best. thats all you can do. lori

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kathy, I had the exact same experience on May 31st (That was just before the 3 month mark for me). I had seen a counselor through work starting 2 days after Josh died (beginning of March) until the end of April. But I had a limited number of sessions through work so I had to find a counselor through my insurance. My couselor through work always made me feel better by the time I left. By the end of April she said she had seen alot of progress, etc. Well, I put off finding a new counselor until the end of May. I told my new counselor my story (with lots of tears), explained how Josh's death had put a rift in my mom's and I relationship, and how Josh's death also got me thinking about my career and that I wasn't happy in the way it was headed. I was also super stressed about work and making changes there (I had to.. it was timing, not by choice). The counselor said little but by the end of the session, I was convinced I was NUTS!! Especially where she emphatically said I should see her every week. I felt awful. I also felt awful because I made a follow-up appt and then decided to cancel. Fortunately, a handful of my friends have or have had counselors and all agreed that if I just didn't click with that counselor then there was no reason for me to force it. If I wasn't going to get anything out of it, why go?? I am so sorry you had this awful experience too!!! Just when you think you're heading in the right direction..... But I knew I still couldn't do this grief thing alone... So I started writing here on this site more, starting going to a Hospice support group, and started talking to Josh's mom on a more regular basis. I was also considering driving farther to go to my friend's counselor but still haven't followed through. Is there any way you can try out a different counselor or get recommendations from someone with similar views on counseling?? Maybe a counselor with experience in grief?? Maybe a support group? Fortunately we have this site!!! And you are doing great!!! You come to this site and share your experiences. (We may not be counselors but we're a support group with a leader, Marty. And support groups are proven to work, right???) You've done research and reading on grieving. It's wonderful that you started an exercise program.. It's so healthy and therapeutic. And reaching out to friends when you just want to withdraw takes a very strong person. You have made progress, you recognize that you're still on your way, and you're making efforts to make sure you deal with your grief appropriately. So I think you deserve a HUGE HUG and a big pat on the back. You are doing a great job!! I'm just sorry you had a yucky experience. It took me a little while to bounce back after my bad experience but I have faith that you can do it too. We're always here for you! Lots of hugs, Kelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Lori!

You're right about switching doctors but I've seen this one for so long that it's hard to start with someone new. I'm hoping that the therapist I called will be helpful and not be so negative...I know that any counseling is hard because you have to confront feelings but to have them completely ignored is not good. I don't think therapy is designed to make you happy - it's more about learning about yourself - but on the flip side too much is too much. I told him just what you wrote, that I was trying my best, but apparently in his view I'm not. He asked whether I'd rather "experience the grief and be miserabe for a year or more" or take something to ease the pain. In all fairness I have been suffering from depression for a long time but I told him in this case I needed to feel the feelings. He disagreed because he didn't want me wallowing in sorrow. I do see his point but in my case this sort of wallowing in sorrow has nothing to do with the depressions I've experienced in the past. Dad was my world and not a neurobiological abnormality, so instead of being simply depressed I'm trying to work on the grief. It's very frustrating since my doctor lumps in Dad's death with everything else when that is far from the truth. I hope this makes some sense because I know most of you haven't had clinical depression, but I also hope that you know there is a difference between being depressed and grieving because there is. Sorry to ramble - it's been a rough and very "down" day due to my doctor.

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kathy

I have been depressed for awhile i think caregiving of my mom and my siblings problems made me depressed.. Anyway i went to see my regular dr and he prescribed Paxil well i took it for 12 days and just stopped. i read horrible things about it and withdrawl. i am happy i stopped but also scared b/c i thought it was going to be a wonder drug. i do take xanax for anxiety that i have. what i am trying to say is that maybe we have to experience the grief so that we can get through it. if you are depressed and need meds for that then take them don't be afraid . i think this is a long process and we have to go through the highs and lows of it. i think you are doing just fine and will be fine. don't worry about that dr find someone new who can help you. Be proud of how far you have come. lori

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kathy, I agree to what everyone has said, find a doctor that specializes in grief. I am in the middle of looking for one myself. Unfortunately not everyone understands the grief process and how long it can take. I know it is hard to change doctors when you have been with one for a long time, they know your history and it makes it easier than having to go over it all with a new doctor, nut right now you need someone who understands and isn't negative. You have come a long way in your recovery and the things you are doing I am sure are helping, don't let peoples negativity slow you down.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi All,

I am seeing a great counsellor and she seems to really care about how I am...I also had a great group at the local hospice office that is very helpful and very caring group of people and leaders... So I just wanted you all to know that there is hope out there waiting to be found and I wish for everyone who needs a good grief counsellor will find the very best one for themselves. Take care Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for everyone's responses, for some reason I wasn't able to access this site for a couple of days and I think my appreciations were erased (at least a few posts were!). I think I have found a decent grief counselor but she's also so busy that she won't be able to see me for at least week. That wouldn't have been a problem until I learned on Friday that my Mom has a tumor in her bladder. Mom didn't want to get into details but from what I can tell it's probably cancerous...I know I'll be bringing her to have surgery on the 6th and then she has to go back to the doctor every 3 months for at least a year or more. Does anyone know anything about bladder cancer/tumors? I've tried to do research but everything is very unclear.

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kathy D,

There was a problem with the site for the last couple days. I emailed Marty T, and she said she did not know exactly what happened but the website would be back soon... I am sorry I do not know anything about bladder cancer or tumours... Take care Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dear Kathy,

I’m attempting to reconstruct the message I posted to you on last Wednesday (August 16), because I want to make sure that you and our other members see it. (My post was one of those that went missing when our site went down for several hours last week. We’re still trying to recover those messages.)

I am disturbed by a number of things you’ve said about your psychiatrist’s response to the grief you’re experiencing following the death of your father. If this is representative of your doctor’s understanding of normal grief, I think it’s safe to say that he is woefully misinformed.

It so happens that I’ve just finished reading Alan D. Wolfelt’s latest book, Companioning the Bereaved: A Soulful Guide for Caregivers. (You probably recognize Dr. Wolfelt as the internationally noted author, teacher and grief counselor who acts as educational consultant to hospices, hospitals, schools, universities, funeral homes and a variety of other community agencies across North America. He also serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Transition in Fort Collins, and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine.) Here is what Alan has to say about the traditional medical model of mental health care, particularly with regard to understanding grief:

Our modern understanding of grief all too often lacks any appreciation for and attention to the spiritual, soul-based nature of the grief journey . . . academic psychology has been too interfaced with the natural sciences and laboratory methods of weighing, counting and objective reporting

. . . [this book] presents an alternative based on “companioning” versus “treating” one’s fellow human beings in grief. Critical self-observation would suggest that perhaps we rely too much on psychosocial, biological and psychodynamic constructs that we have been taught to “treat away,” such as depression, anxiety, and loss of control . . . Without doubt, the grief journey requires contemplation and turning inward. In other words, it requires depression, anxiety and loss of control. It requires going into the wilderness. Quietness and emptiness invite the heart to observe signs of sacredness, to regain purpose, to rediscover love, to renew life! Searching for meaning, reasons to get one’s feet out of bed, and understanding the pain of loss are not the domain of the medical model of bereavement care. Experience has taught me that it is the mysterious, spiritual dimension of grief that allows us to go on living until we, too, die. (pp. 8-9)

Alan goes on to express his hope that his philosophical model of companioning will eventually replace the more traditional medical model:

The companioning model

• empathizes with the human need to mourn authentically without any sense of shame

• encourages every one of us to discover how loss has forever changed us

• understands the normalcy of drowning in your grief before you tread water, and that only after treading water do you go on to swim

• helps the caregiver acknowledge the responsibility for creating conditions that allow the grieving person to embrace the wilderness of grief. (p. 19)

In another passage, he offers what I believe to be a perfect description of what we provide here in our Grief Healing Discussion Groups~ creating Divine Momentum:

In grief, Divine Momentum is the notion that the process of mourning will, all by itself, lead to healing and reconciliation. In embracing and expressing their grief, mourners will, over time and with the support of others, move forward. To trust in Divine Momentum is to believe that healing can and will unfold . . . you help create Divine Momentum for healing by offering a safe starting place for the journey. You offer a free and open space for mourners to give attention to that which they need to give attention to. (p. 40)

What about controlling and confronting the pain of grief? You say your doctor “asked whether I'd rather ‘experience the grief and be miserable for a year or more’ or take something to ease the pain.”

For many people in a mourning-avoidant culture, it is easier to avoid, repress or deny the pain of grief than it is to confront it. Yet, it is in confronting one’s pain and realizing it doesn’t mean something is wrong that we ultimately integrate loss into our lives. To heal we must go to the wilderness of our souls. The opposite of embracing pain is often demonstrated by attempts to stay “in control.” Underlying that controlling impulse is anxiety and fear – the fear that the mourner will have to experience pain in any or all of five domains [physical, emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual]. If the mourner accepts that she cannot go around the pain of loss, then she may discover the courage (i.e., “the ability to do what one believes is right, despite the fact that others may strongly and persuasively disagree”) to relax into the pain, and herein lies the paradox. Trying to avoid, repress or deny the pain of grief makes the mourner an opponent of the journey and creates more chronic states of anxiety and depression. Control appears to be one of North Americans’ favorite ways of running from grief and loss . . . Spiritual maturity in grief is attained when the mourner embraces a paradox – to live in the state of both encounter and surrender while simultaneously “working at” and “surrendering” to the journey. As the mourner comes to know this paradox, she can very slowly, with no rewards for speed, discover the soothing of her soul. Many mourners have taught me that they actually find themselves wrapped in a gentle peace – the peace of living at once in the encounter (the “grief work”) and the surrender (embracing the mystery of not understanding). (pp. 168-169)

You say your doctor told you “that to come here and vent was the wrong thing to do because none of us are counselors!” What your doctor fails to realize is that the real “experts” in grief are the people who come together to share in and grow through their common experience of loss, and for many grieving people, support groups are one of the best helping resources. Furthermore, what makes this particular site different from many other message boards “out there” is that this one is sponsored and supported by Hospice of the Valley, one of the nation’s largest and oldest hospices, and certainly one of its finest. Our site is closely monitored and moderated by bereavement counselors who are certified by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. (For your doctor’s information, ADEC is a multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in death education, bereavement counseling and care of the dying, and the people it certifies are required to meet its rigorous educational standards, demonstrate excellence in counseling and pass a comprehensive national board examination.)

I understand that you’ve been in treatment with this psychiatrist because you’ve been “suffering from depression for a long time.” Clinical depression is now recognized as a true medical disorder, and certainly if you’ve been given this diagnosis, you should continue with a physician who is giving you appropriate treatment for it. Nevertheless, you are right in your observation that there is a difference between clinical depression and the sorrow that normally accompanies grief. Clinical depression is an illness that can be treated – but grief is a normal, natural and healthy process that requires an entirely different approach.

While I am terribly sorry to learn of your mother’s serious illness, Kathy, I’m also gratified to read that, in addition to the medical treatment you’re receiving from your doctor, you’ve also found yourself “a decent grief counselor.” As you’ve already discovered, not every psychiatrist or psychotherapist is educated, trained and experienced in death, dying and bereavement, and you deserve far better information, comfort and support for your grief than what you’ve obtained from your current doctor. Good for you for recognizing that, and good for you for looking elsewhere until you found it!

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your post, Marty! I did miss it when the website was down and it was very much a relief to know that my thoughts regarding my psychiatrist's cluelessness were on the right track. I think that because he knows I have a long history of clinical depression he automatically pre-judged my behaviors after Dad passed as "signs" that the depression had returned and ignored the fact that grief is NOT the same as clinical depression. It was just disheartening to be completely reamed by a so-called professional despite the fact that I have a degree in psychology and have have done extensive graduate study in the field. While I don't look forward to my next visit with him I will tell him about what you've written with hopes that he might be able to stop being a clinician for a moment and start learning what empathy is, along with the fact that sites such as this one are much more helpful than psychiatrists who dole out textbook judgements.

Thanks again,

Kathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...