Angry therapy session

I went to therapy yesterday with a negative attitude. I’ve been feeling angry toward most everyone in my life and in therapy I directed my wrath straight at Lynn. I suppose her cancelling our appointment put me in a sour mood, plus the way she is only available every 2 weeks sent me over the edge. I consciously chose to express my displeasure instead of faking wellness as I had intended. Too many parts of this therapeutic relationship don’t feel right – Lynnlacks empathy and sympathy toward me. She and I haven’t really connected as much as I hoped. I said as much, right when I sat down on her floral couch.

The session starts with the usual pleasantries, which I always feel are more a test of my willingness to play the social game. What does the weather have to do with my psychological health anyway? I don’t embrace the conversation and so Lynn asks, “How are things going?”  I tell her I have been extremely angry lately and my relationships are deteriorating rapidly. I fear losing my husband, my kids and my job at this rate. Then I jump into my disappointment with her.

“I don’t think this therapy is working if I see you once every 2 (or this last time 3) weeks and I’ve got all these issues and past trauma resurfacing. I can’t come here and open up a wound and then be sent on my way to deal with it on my own. ”

Lynn says, “An issue came up last week and it was unexpected that I had to cancel. These things happen.”

I’m thinking, Where’s the apology or concern?

Lynn follows up with, “Is the problem the time we are seeing each other or the connection?”

I answer, “Both. Because you bring up issues in therapy and then we don’t have time to address them so I feel like I’m on my own to deal with the depression, anger or whatever. I need to talk about it weekly and not let the mental anguish go that long.”

Lynn responds, “I told you I would not be available every Saturday. I only have Tuesday mornings and some Saturdays.”

I say, “I work part-time and I am free every afternoon to see a therapist.” I’m thinking this relationship is totally on your schedule and your time and doesn’t work for me at all.

Lynn offers to give me referrals to other therapists. I watch her carefully to see if this saddens her but she doesn’t expose any emotions.  We talk about how I found her on my insurance company’s website. She says she has names but she doesn’t know how close or how available they are (Gee, thanks). She asks if I want a male or female, I shrug and say, “I’ve been to both, I prefer females but I don’t need a referral so if you have recommendations I could look them up on my insurance’s Doc Find.”

Lynn asks about the increase dosage of Wellbutrin (150 mg) and I say, “It made no difference.” She also asks if I’m taking the “relaxing medicine.” Why she doesn’t call it anti-anxiety medication I do not know. I tell her, “It just makes me dead tired and the purpose for which you prescribed it is not working. If I’m going to take a pill to relieve anxiety than I better feel better than that.” Linda tries to be empathic and says, “You don’t want to feel like this” and she hangs her head with her mouth open. I guess we agree on that. So, I’m not going to take the Clonazepam any longer.

She suggests that perhaps the antibiotic is causing some distress. I tell her I took the last one today. She asks if I took the Wellbutrin today. I say, “Yes, I take it every morning.” I’m thinking perhaps she sees a correlation between my anger and the increased dosage of the antidepressant but doesn’t say anything. (Suspicion rears its ugly head).

At this point in the session I explain how angry I’ve been feeling, giving an example of the frustration I experienced toward a coworker whom I normally get along with perfectly. Lynn thinks anger is good and says, “It’s better than hating yourself.” I agree that it is refreshing that I don’t have self-defeating thoughts; however I share my childhood experience with anger as a teenager and explain that I see it now as untreated depression.”

I swear Lynn rolls her eyes or makes a face that says You don’t know what you are talking about.

I back pedal and question myself. I retort, “Maybe your right, that the anger then and now isn’t depression.” I talk about how she said in an earlier session I need to find pleasure. I’m thinking maybe she thinks expressing anger is me working toward feeling pleasure. Not that I believe this because, being angry causes me to alienate from others.

Lynn asks, “What do you think you are seeing in me to change your thinking?” I have no answer but I sense that she is thinking more about my situation than what she is saying and I can’t stand it when I put myself out there and the therapist doesn’t react.

Lynn asks, “Are you drinking?”

I answer, “I am not drinking during the week and I’ve been good about not drinking while taking the clonazepam. I’m only drinking on the weekends.”

“Are you taking the Wellbutrin?” asks Lynn.

“Of course, I’m not going to stop taking the antidepressant.”

Lynn replies, “You told me that you feel better when you don’t drink.”

I agreed that later in the week, after not drinking, I do feel better.

Lynn directly asks me, “So, why are you still drinking? The medications do not work as they should with alcohol. Have you considered AA?”

I did not like her confrontational tone and I reply, “Why are you challenging me?”

Lynn says, “I’m not challenging you.” And rambles on,  “You came here wanting change, you tried getting off all medications because you wanted to see baseline for you. Then you had a tough Christmas. ” Etc.

I blast off into an angry tirade that goes something like this: “You are challenging me when you ask me why I’m still drinking. You know I shouldn’t drink and I’ve said I don’t want to drink so we both know it’s a problem. Why do you ask why am I still drinking? I do it to relieve my mental suffering. Yes, I came to you concerned about my drinking but I wasn’t angry and negative with the entire world. I’m worse right now. The drinking is masking my pain.” At this point I am near tears because this issue is the very reason that I am sitting in Lynn’s office, alcohol is affecting my weight, my high blood pressure and my depression. But I get pissed off when Lynn acts like it is simply a matter of me stopping the bad behavior.

How does Lynn think she can make a change in me by just asking “why are you still drinking?” That question infuriated me. I don’t have a physical addiction; my drinking is a coping skill for emotional pain. Does this therapist want to help me work through my issues of self-medication that mask my sense of shame and vulnerability, which are the underlining reasons for my drinking?

I’m no psychoanalyst so I don’t know whether Lynn was testing me and playing around with my head and mental state or what. It feels like it. Her entire demeanor appears counter intuitive to what I need to be helped.

I offer her an observation that lately all I want is to be alone because then I don’t feel angry.  She says, “There is less stimulation.” I find her idea interesting and I have to agree with her that I just want quiet in my mind.

Lynn switches subjects and we discuss changing my medications. She is not sure about doing so if I was to see someone else. I answer, “Right now I need to get my depression under control. I’m not going to anyone else in this state.”

Lynn’s suggestion, “Let’s lower the Wellbutrin back to 100 mg and add 10 mg Cymbalta, which is an SSRI.”

I agree. She offers to see me next week instead of waiting 2 weeks. What do you know? I first want to turn down her offer but I realize that is what I was asking for. Fine, I will see her again next Saturday.

I am eager to get back on an SSRI since they have helped me in the past. I tell her getting off SSRI’s causes major issues of discontinuation syndrome so I assume getting back on an SSRI will mess up my head and make me dizzy and cloud my thinking. Again, I think she looks at me like it’s all in my imagination. At this point, with my anger so out of control, I will try anything that I haven’t tried. Cymbalta is one drug I’ve not taken before so I wish for the miracle cure for my depression. Keep wishing, right?

I leave Lynn’s with prescriptions in hand and when I get to my car and check the time, I see I wasn’t even in her office for the allotted time. I drive off feeling pissed off (again) that she shorted my session by 5 minutes. It’s only a freaking 45 minute appointment but I really can’t blame her since we didn’t exactly fit too well together today.

I plan on starting the Cymbalta tomorrow. It’s a good time to try a new medication because its school vacation week and I’ll be home with the kids.

3 responses to “Angry therapy session

  1. HI
    I would say if the chemistry isn’t there between you and your therapist, it makes no sense to carry on seeing her. Difficult as it is to find a new one that you can trust, you have to do this for your own sake. I work in private practice and the relationship between therapist and client is key to the whole process. I have sometimes referred clients to other therapists when I felt this chemistry was not there. Good luck with your search.

    • Thank you for your remarks to my post. I suppose it is true that the chemistry is not there and I’m glad to have your professional opinion. One reason I’m hesitant to leave is because Linda is prescribing my medications. I’m feeling stuck in this situation until I get my depression back on track. As soon as my mood lightens, I will begin the search for a new therapist (or, truthfully, I will take a break and re-analyze everything). –Daylily

  2. Hey man.
    my best book of all time is The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck.
    He was a shrink and wrote all about different cases he had etc and besides for him insisting that the Catholic Church is the reason so many people are sick, the other thing that really stood out to me was his insistence that if the therapist doesnt truly care about ie. LOVE the patient, no amount of degrees or experience will help him heal that patient.

    And something my shrink kept telling me was to stop blaming my angry outbursts on PMS or caffeine the way I often did. she said those things might exacerbate angry feelings but they couldnt make them where there werent any to start with. And she NEVER spoke of medication. when I started, I told her that I’ve been on Nuzak for years but she never mentioned it even once. Or drinking. Or dope. Or anything. Just feelings, feelings, feelings. And everyone that knows me is amazed at how calmer I am nowadays.
    LOVE.
    I swear its her love thats helped me so.
    motherly love, but of the sensible kind 🙂
    She says the therapist should be like a positive parental figure.
    and she NEVER discusses the weather or anything else. that 45 min is all about me and my feelings ONLY.
    It feels selfish but she assured me its not.
    I cant wait to go back.

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