When I was in elementary school, there was this game I made up: I would try to walk through a crowded room without letting anyone look up at/see me. I was very good at it. I’ve always been good at disappearing.
As a child, I had to hide. Nowhere was safe. At home, I was abused; at school, I was bullied mercilessly. So I learned how to be invisible. I was always the best at hide-and-seek, so good that people gave up looking for me eventually. Once, I fell asleep in a suitcase in my parents’ hall closet, and my father, a cop, put out an APB on me. In high school, the bullying stopped (I went to an arts magnet full of kids who’d been bullied at normal school), but I didn’t know how to handle fitting in. I started having panic attacks when I thought people were looking at me. I spent a lot of time hiding in bathroom stalls.
Finally, at Riggs, I began to realize it was safe to be seen. I did a lot of hiding at first–my first 6 months there were just me hiding behind my eating disorder so no one would see how messed up I was beneath that. It wasn’t until I got kicked out of Riggs and sent to an EDU that I realized how much I did want to be seen–and as a whole person, not an assemblage of symptoms. I got the ED [mostly] under control and went back to Riggs. It wasn’t magically easy, and I did a lot of ambivalent stuff in terms of being seen: skipping therapy for a week, then panicking/getting angry if my therapist would be away, etc. But for the first time, it felt okay to be seen, even in that ambivalence.
Now I’m struggling again with being seen, though in a different way. My treatment team is, frankly, not equipped to deal with me. They are much more experienced in dealing with psychosis than with dissociation, and they’re more oriented toward outward functionality than dealing with core issues. And perhaps that’s useful for someone with psychosis, which tends to be mostly a neurochemical issue; but my symptoms are almost all traumatic in origin. My team is so focused on addressing surface symptoms and getting me to be functional that I feel like they’re missing me as a whole. They’re scared of the traumatic stuff, and it’s easier not to get into it. So they don’t.
I’ve tried bringing up the feeling of not being seen, but they’re not getting it. I’ve explained it the best way I know how, but they don’t understand me. Sometimes, I really just want to scream and shake them, but I keep trying to get through. But I find myself withdrawing more and more. I don’t talk to my team as much or I make small talk, I don’t reach out for help when I’m struggling, and I’ve even stopped leaving my room at home when it’s not absolutely necessary. It’s less painful to not be seen because I choose to hide than to be not seen because I’m too difficult or scary.
I think it will be better once I figure out this therapist situation. We should hear sometime this coming week about whether/when New Therapist will be able to come back to work. The team’s also supposed to be helping me find someone else in case New Therapist can’t come back to work, but last time I asked (middle of last week), they hadn’t really done anything about it.
I really just want to cry.