Lifer versus lifeboat therapy: when is it enough?

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I have gone to therapy on and off for decades. I am grateful for this availability, alive, make healthier proactive choices, pull out of my depression easier, cut down flashback hi-Jack time and am still learning some. However, most of the symptoms of PTSD and complex PTSD ect, -have not gone away for me.

I went through another grieving spell recently coming to terms of acceptance on a soul jarring level that I can’t be ”normal” on the spectrum no matter what treatment, therapist, magical potion ... like duh, huh😉? I can only be the best version of my disability that I am capable of being.

My questions to you are as follows:
*when do you personally consider taking a break from therapy
* is it perhaps not as wise to do during this time of pandemic
*have you regretted the lack emotional available support

I appreciate any shares you wish to post. I will of course discuss it with my T but I am tired of expecting unrealistic heights by jumping through more hoops. Sometimes things for me might be ‘it is what it is’ and move forward not being a lifer in therapy but using it as a lifeboat. Thanks: take care.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
I liken it to when I decided to stop going to 12 step meetings. I had been attending meetings for 10 years and realized that if I didn't know how to stay clean and sober by then, well, too bad on me.

I understand the premise of helping others and that helps us stay clean, but Life handed me many opportunities outside the rooms to still do that. So I stopped going.

I haven't been in therapy for many years now. I get my emotional support from this forum and my friends here. I still read things that are PTSD-oriented, but for the most part, acknowledging I'm still a work in progress as I am a human still learning, I would know if I needed therapy again.

I still have times of symptoms taking over like last year with the death of my son. But, I came here. My PA suggested grief therapy. Covid was just getting started and most T's were going to phones or Zoom. I wasn't going to talk to a stranger on the phone about my dead son. Again, I came here.

The fact that you are feeling it's time, probably means you are confident enough in your skills and tools to fly on your own now. You are a very smart lady and I give you all the credit for you to know if you need extra help you will seek it out.

I've found that Life keeps teaching us and challenging us to use what we have learned to figure it out. That to me was when I felt like my growth was different. It has shifted to a much more personal level. I could tell myself I was proud of how I handled XYZ and be very ok.

Hope your T agrees and you get to be ok with being ok.
 

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
I liken it to when I decided to stop going to 12 step meetings. I had been attending meetings for 10 years and realized that if I didn't know how to stay clean and sober by then, well, too bad on me.
Me too. I got burned out with too much recovery. I did end up drinking again but it was because I was bored. I didn't have anyone to answer to. But I have been sober for 6 years now without going to meetings.( maybe 7.. I don't keep count really) I am over it. Even when I did go back out, nothing worked for me. I was so mad and I tried everything. I just ended up dehydrated and that was a pain. ( that is hardly stoned from alcohol)

But it has really resonated with me that PTSD never goes away lately. I don't know why that never entered my head. I still was looking at it as sonething I could control. By the way, I do go to therapy but don't really get much out of it other than talking to someone human. I'm really isolated in my work and in my life. I have a boyfriend but he's PTSD as well. We're friends I guess but I honestly don't know if I'll get too close to someone. I hate to say that.. But I'll have to look for a beneficial relationship eventually but don't know if I'll ever look.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Your post is timely for me. I have been in therapy going 4 years and honestly I think great during the pandemic...just cause I focused on solely on the self since social was limited, I could not talk about others...there were no crisis and no deep social disagreements so the therapy process for the intra-psychic worked well for me.
But lately I had similar questions as you.

I learned therapy works faster than life. In such what I could learn in normal living of trial and error in life for years, now I can learn in few weeks or months of deep grief of body embodiment and the result of implicit body memory. And this alone for me at least I find not so healthy.
Therapy works for things I did not master or learn or overcame yet not those that I had corrective memories as an adult in normal everyday life.
Personally, I am more somatic than psychological meaning my emotional pain is thrown to the body than to the mind - hence more dissociation than depression or anxiety.
I am well resourced socially. I am not inclined to be symbolic person when it comes to my past cause I have a lot of physical scars that are hard to wish away in finding meaning but I do believe and have body pain that I soothe, care and exercise to recover so it is keeping me alive.

Still whenever I mention end of therapy, my therapist has other opinions and ideas and this itself is a major obstacle in the process. It is the ultimate double bind. Therapist says she trusts me to trust myself but when I do, she has her input "trying" to run over my state of mind but yet I am fully aware. I think when I am really ready, I will give the date and the decision will be solo but I am holding myself back just to see for how long - trying to master my patience! I think IMHO the true recovery is we say good bye in therapy just like an adult leaves parents at some point to build their own family (here meaning our own supportive community) and grieve, loss, and cry are normal in such time but the decision does not have to be mutual.

IMHO, stay in therapy if you do not have a lot of social support or in need of mastering certain things emotionally, intellectually and spiritually (which never end of course). Find other groups in the meantime, whether a site like this or other groups of like minded. Therapy, imho, does not replace a supportive, equal opportunity, communal needs for humanity.

As long as you have unrealistic expectation of the therapist, it might be deep abandonment issues that are not processed one way or another. Leaving therapy, might be (of course different for each person) a time for loss, grief, sadness even death but still continuing to keep living and carrying those who helped us in our hearts.

Not easy decision but I get what you are saying.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Idk. This started at my earliest memories and here I am in my sixties and I have health problems. I recall my first therapist said I could be cured. Maybe she knows something nobody else does. She retired. If I could try something, it’d be a more clinical psychologist route. Like I’m a lab rat. I sorta knew that by the time I was in my early 20s. I didn’t know why though. After all this I know that i medicate and I can make myself feel better. I feel I have the medicate part down to a dull roar. I don’t know if I can get any better, I just don’t want things to get a whole lot worse.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I liken it to when I decided to stop going to 12 step meetings. I had been attending meetings for 10 years and realized that if I didn't know how to stay clean and sober by then, well, too bad on me.

Truth in this for sure.^ Again so sorry for your loss and thanks for the open share.

But it has really resonated with me that PTSD never goes away lately

Your post offered me a lot of food for thought. Maybe acceptance is a several time thing for some of us.

Your post is timely for me. I have been in therapy going 4 years and honestly I think great during the pandemic...just cause I focused on solely on the self since social was limited, I could not talk about others...there were no crisis and no deep social disagreements so the therapy process for the intra-psychic worked well for me.
But lately I had similar questions as you.

I can honestly offer that your post held truth for me as well. Buffering up on a regime for self-regulation ‘pre’ Covid has opened my eyes to the value of handling newer trauma.

cured. Maybe she knows something nobody else does. She retired. If

Often your wit has helped me laugh. This post was no exception. Thanks for the share and humor.

~~~~~~~~~

I opened up to my T today about a few goals sets for my part of the dance within my current family dynamics. I then offered that shortly, I would like to a take a break and maybe scoring high all the time in PCL-5, Gad 7, and PHQ9 (SU Scale 6 is only done during emergency sessions) is where I am at as a individual.

He went over some of the areas that has shifted for me recently as I move forward on integrating several themes. Seems as I process as well as dilute layered triggers, other areas fluff up until it all gels. So in a few sessions (if all goes well) I will take a break.

I wanted to offer that all your post assisted me during this process and decision. People that walk the walk are very valuable and different from those who perhaps just studied PTSD. Not to minimize any supporter or therapist or anyone at all (because they can see our reactions outside of our heads) ... just saying there is comfort from one to another who really knows. 🤗
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I have gone to therapy on and off for decades. I am grateful for this availability, alive, make healthier proactive choices, pull out of my depression easier, cut down flashback hi-Jack time and am still learning some. However, most of the symptoms of PTSD and complex PTSD ect, -have not gone away for me.

I went through another grieving spell recently coming to terms of acceptance on a soul jarring level that I can’t be ”normal” on the spectrum no matter what treatment, therapist, magical potion ... like duh, huh😉? I can only be the best version of my disability that I am capable of being.

My questions to you are as follows:
*when do you personally consider taking a break from therapy
* is it perhaps not as wise to do during this time of pandemic
*have you regretted the lack emotional available support

I appreciate any shares you wish to post. I will of course discuss it with my T but I am tired of expecting unrealistic heights by jumping through more hoops. Sometimes things for me might be ‘it is what it is’ and move forward not being a lifer in therapy but using it as a lifeboat. Thanks: take care.
I'd suggest weaning back to once a month.....for a couple of months.....and then you still have a lifeboat.....and if you still feel you don't need it, then let go and swim (of course with the understanding that you can return if you decide that's what you need). It will give you a couple of sessions to prepare to terminate. If you are ready, I think it is a great thing to fly solo.....that too, is my goal. I don't want to be therapy dependent for the rest of my life, either.
 

brat17

MyPTSD Pro
I went to therapy for a few months about 4 years ago to help me make a big decision. I know my ptsd symptoms will likely never be gone, but I am managing them. I screw up but recognize it (both in thinking and behavior). The thing is, I know exactly what a good therapist would say to me, so I try to apply that and it works for the most part. I have a chronic depression that a therapist cant make go away (its like a real burn out). I just accept that now and it prevents me from sinking lower. I have to give myself a couple mental health days off of life once in awhile.

For me, there is a lot of "it is what it is" type of acceptance. I am still trying to do things that will enhance my happiness and too often I remain status quo, which is also a choice. Of course there have been many limitations during covid. Since vaccinated....I am hopeful to do more for bits of joy.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I'd suggest weaning back to once a month.....for a couple of months.....and then you still have a lifeboat.....and if you still feel you don't need it, then let go and swim

^^^This is an very valuable thought which reduces my stress about it and I will offer this to my T. Love it :love it! Thanks.

@brat17 Such a vulnerable post...meant a lot. I struggle daily with mild depression myself so to see your last statement of striving for joy and happiness... so heartwarming plus inspiring. 🤗 if you accept
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I think therapy as a term can be a very diffuse topic: is it to manage and recover from a single critical event? Does it open other cans of worms, whether they be traumas, or attachment? Does it unearth cognitive distortions and long-held beliefs that affect crises management, decision making, and interpretation? What about related relevant areas, like self-esteem, self-worth, and self-compassion? And then the journey from surviving to thriving, as @brat17 said ? But also all of it within it's context, like other crises or abuse, grief and loss (as @ladee said), pain management, insomnia, etc. and just regular 'other' conditions and abilities/ disabilities. So there's processing of traumas, current situations, future dreams or thoughts or goals or fears, and all life throws at us.

So I would guess that what is grounding and regulating, that which stabilizes or gently pushes or pulls towards growth and peace and happiness, or opens new ways to look at one's self (and the past) is a good thing. However that looks for you. Even the awareness that things don't have to be black or white in terms of choices or options can be indicative of a lot of growth that probably was years in the making.

Just an aside, I realized something strange about myself, some of which i knew, some which I didn't. I think (for me) it comes naturally to want to solve or think my way to a solution. But the thinking itself if left to only my own devices frequently digs me deeper in. So, for example, I always thought SI needed to be put in the 'non option' list. The more I'd think about it, the more of an obvious option it seemed. Then I thought recently, what are non-options? For example, going and eating the neighbour's dog, or going to my workplace naked. Etc. (Anything ridiculous or humorus or gross- but SI is pretty gross and violent, too.) And I remembered being told ( not just for me, but for anyone) years ago, "You can't do it!" Now I try to think of it solely from that basis, I "can't", just as I couldn't do those other things. (Technically I could, but I wouldn't. Because just as it makes sense to not do those things, without thinking more about it I have to trust that would make sense too. But that has taken me years to understand). So, long story short, I think learning or coping or eradicating/ replacing unhealthy or unhelpful beliefs and ways of existing do come through life. But they most come from where you can be both honest and it's safe to be honest at the same time, and where there is wisdom and support. Which actually, is pretty rare.
 
Last edited:

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Sometimes I find a post comes here and there is one natural progression then one learns more than one needed cause the beauty of our difference. I just loved this part of @Rosebud post.
I think therapy as a term can be a very diffuse topic: is it to manage and recover from a single critical event? Does it open other cans of worms, whether they be traumas, or attachment? Does it unearth cognitive distortions and long-held beliefs that affect crises management, decision making, and interpretation? What about related relevant areas, like self-esteem, self-worth, and self-compassion? And then the journey from surviving to thriving, as @brat17 said ? But also all of it within it's context, like other crises or abuse, grief and loss (as @ladee said), pain management, insomnia, etc. and just regular 'other' conditions and abilities/ disabilities. So there's processing of traumas, current situations, future dreams or thoughts or goals or fears, and all life throws at us.

So I would guess that what is grounding and regulating, that which stabilizes or gently pushes or pulls towards growth and peace and happiness, or opens new ways to look at one's self (and the past) is a good thing. However that looks for you. Even the awareness that things don't have to be black or white in terms of choices or options can be indicative of a lot of growth that probably was years in the making.

Just an aside, I realized something strange about myself, some of which i knew, some which I didn't. I think (for me) it comes naturally to want to solve or think my way to a solution. But the thinking itself if left to only my own devices frequently digs me deeper in. So, for example, I always thought SI needed to be put in the 'non option' list. The more I'd think about it, the more of an obvious option it seemed. Then I thought recently, what are non-options? For example, going and eating the neighbour's dog, or going to my workplace naked. Etc. (Anything ridiculous or humorus or gross- but SI is pretty gross and violent, too.) And I remembered being told ( not just for me, but for anyone) years ago, "You can't do it!" Now I try to think of it solely from that basis, I "can't", just as I couldn't do those other things. (Technically I could, but I wouldn't. Because just as it makes sense to not do those things, without thinking more about it I have to trust that would make sense too. But that has taken me years to understand). So, long story short, I think learning or coping or eradicating/ replacing unhealthy or unhelpful beliefs and ways of existing do come through life. But they most come from where you can be both honest and it's safe to be honest at the same time, and where there is wisdom and support. Which actually, is pretty rare.


I would like to add couple comments if I may and I hope this adds to assist your decision and food for thoughts @Recovery4Me.

I am in psychoanalysis...yes exactly what it is...lol and I sometimes fall into regression and deep dissociation where truly frighteningly I am as un-integrated as I can come...(this is why for me I think not healthy to be this done by the seams for a extended period of time). and I do not have SI now, but I did as a teenager and when I am that undone in therapy, I also dabble on the idea. What I learned for me is this: it was not it is option or not (sometimes I think truly the judgement of the therapy cannot leave the room as much as we say no judgement in therapy - put two people in a room for extended time and there will be some judgement, value exchanged, power of the mind etc....these are inevitable of living) to me it seemed a good option when I had the feeling during regression because a major part of my existence is offline (not active) the life I have as I write here is not the same life I have when I am regressed - so at that point of missing like Idk 70% of myself, it makes sense I should think of SI....but as I come fully out of the regression I do not. This told me - the therapist may have been fully integrated when I was not and in her eyes - this is a no no but from my perspective - this was like I am burning and see no chance of surviving what is the point so yes for sure just end it there. The perspectives get lost.

It is so easy for someone not at that level of pain to say it is not an option but option for who and how do you know? From my experience, the parts that may have had SI in the past or even in regression are quite young, discarded, abused, stuck at mom biting on my arm...so from that perspective I do agree I would prefer to end it...but as I heal, take much larger view of my life, that is not the case.
this is where I would like to tie to therapy. Therapy is the most unusual relationship an adult could ever have. It is a relationship where (most therapist - minus few amazing ones) use techniques that do not allow as much access as two minds meeting. It is boundaried to protect the therapists. That boundaried though looks good on paper is strange in real practice. Imagine once if your spouse all of sudden boundries their *mind* so you can use your mind and they are focused on your mind....I think most people will say that relationship will eventually become f*cked up!!!
the reason this may not happen in therapy is most therapists are regulated and must be careful not to go too far into taking over the clients and ethically use their boundary to help the clients.

Imagine now if one is having ptsd from childhood where precisely the sharing of the mind with a caretaker caused the present issue - those people are either in jail, dead, not in therapy, or struggle in therapy cause it is like 2.0 of experiencing another human who is focused on you - this time extreme opposite of what you had in the past....that is me and this if I do not wake up and become aware - will become I was thirsty for ever to have another mind focused on me (my delicious mother *Sarcasm*) but that did not happen, and now that I am given this, I will drink this water until I die. The major, glaring and most interesting is I am adult and as an adult, at least for me I could harness so many relationships and have many minds open to me and I am open to them equally and no more focus on the minds BUT HAVING FUN OUTSIDE!
Therapy is teaching that goes by embodiment - that is why it takes a long time. It is not intellectual exercise. Most intimate relationship are embodiment not intellectual exercise. all babies learn embodiment until they start to talk.

I am not persuading you anyway but offering you my own thoughts. I feel/think as I learned in therapy (I am middle east and the type of therapy we have does not exist in the culture --people go to solve a problem with another to borrow their mind to get different perspectives)...but when I went to western style therapy, to me, I saw it as teachings of embodiment and I am actually even encouraged not to intellectualize. I tried few different types...all are changing of the mind and consequently the behaviour...but with the therapist's input cause one must already accept - the value of the therapist.

I think your challenge, exploration of therapy, to me at least, means there are important parts of you coming to the surface and I think as you are doing, you should respect them, welcome them, and celebrate for them and see what lessons they are bringing. As someone else said already, you can always go back to therapy and the fear of not having it there is real too....cause look how deep it has to go!


sorry too philosophical.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I think it's completely natural to question at certain points... Do I need this at the moment? Or am I just spending money going round in circles? I'm my experience sometimes it's good to take a break because it makes you evaluate the situation, your thoughts and feelings. The key thing is that if you decide to take a break, then you discuss this with your therapist in a positive way and to know that if you need to, you can go back without it being a fuss.
 
Top