Okay, I’m going to begin with my story now, this will be long and I don’t know if I’ll get it done in one sitting.
I’m thinking later I can copy it from the blog here to a story page and if anyone has an experience they’d like to share they can put it in the comments below and I can copy it over to the page as well.
I’m in my mid-40’s, suffered with anxieties and depression nearly my whole life, but starting young I buried the problems inside me, put the fake smile on my face, and plowed my way through life. A couple of years ago was a breaking point for me, I no longer had the stamina and strength of youth so dealing with my mental health and the stress of a high position at work was no longer viable. I left my position of over twenty years.
Still in denial though I thought a change in employment would be the answer so I got a job with a government agency. I was excited for this position, but one week into the job I realized I wasn’t able to do it mentally so I left.
At this point I finally came to realize I needed some help, between physical pain and mental suffering I could not work a job, be around people, saw nothing good in my future. I talked to my GP about it and he referred me to a local mental health clinic.
There a prescriber worked with me on a prescription regiment that did help a little. She suggested that I see a therapist and that could be done in-house at the same clinic. At first I resisted the idea as I did have preconceived ideas about therapy and the associated Freudian psychobabble. (Freud was a perverted old drug user that based his theories on a handful of sexually neurotic women that were his clients. But I digress, that’s a conversation for another day.)
My prescriber again gently brought up the idea of seeing a therapist as I continued with follow ups with her. I began to give the idea some real thought, I was there to seek help and it wouldn’t hurt to try and see what it’s all about. If I didn’t like it or the therapist got all Freudian on me I could always drop it. So I agreed and my prescriber set me up with an appointment with a therapist. For the sake of this story I will refer to this therapist as “Ms Twig”, not her real name obviously.
So I show up at my first appointment rather nervous, not knowing what to expect. I’m sitting in the waiting room until she calls me in. We go back to her office and sit down. The office is nice, comfortable, and there’s a device playing some background noise, like oceans and wind, presumably to calm the patient and provide some privacy by blocking voices in and out of the office. Ms Twig seemed nice, pretty in a professional way, probably a few years my junior. I began by telling her that I’m not much of a talker and I particularity don’t talk about myself. She didn’t press and we talked about what brought me to the clinic and generally what’s been going on with me lately.
That session ended and I felt it wasn’t that bad, the therapist seemed genuinely interested in helping and no Freudian talk ever came up. Still didn’t quite know what to think though, but consented to a second session.
Over the next few sessions Ms Twig begun to win me over, she gave me some questions and a test and came up with a diagnosis of PTSD over some stuff that happened early in my childhood and later in life additional trauma from my work. Like many I had thought that PTSD was something that soldiers got from battle. She explained that it can happen to anyone that has had trauma. Upon doing my own research I discovered just how dead-on her diagnosis was, the PTSD not only explained my depression and anxiety, but all of the social and health issues I have/had had over the years! (IE; I was developing digestive issues as early as in my childhood.)
It wasn’t long before I was on regular scheduled weekly visits. Ms Twig had me doing some homework out of a Cognitive Behavioral Workbook. I see now the reasons were multifaceted, I was learning the cognitive skills the book offered, but it provided topics of discussion and proved helpful in drawing me out as it only made sense to discuss what I had written down.
Now I’ll condense the following year as it’s mainly the relationship itself and the bad ending of it that’s relative to this story. I saw Ms Twig weekly for 14 consecutive months, I never missed or was late to an appointment. Ms Twig missed a few for personal reasons and I do not begrudge her those absences. Some months into my treatment Ms Twig left the clinic to start her own practice. She had graciously, (I thought at the time), asked if I would like to see her at her practice. I told her of course, that my loyalty was to her as I was her patient, that the clinic was just the middleman and I didn’t want to start all over with a new therapist anyway. So we continued at her practice without interruption in my treatment.
A few things worthy of note in the following months, I had my disability hearing which greatly distressed me as it felt like I had surrendered my dignity. The weight of this hearing is increasing to this day and cause of a great deal of depression and anxiety, and worry all in of itself.
Ms Twig suggested during a session that I may be an empath. Not knowing much about the subject I researched it and sure enough, just like the PTSD diagnosis everything clicked, the definition fits me to a T and from what I’ve read it’s not uncommon for an empath to have PTSD.
We finished the CBT workbook and began work out of a PTSD workbook.
Now, it’s important to note here one of the problems I deal with is trust. I find people to be cruel and unreliable and since I am hyper-sensitive to rejection and hurt I have trained myself over the years to simply keep all people at arms distance and not give them the opportunity to misuse or abuse my trust or sensitivity. I do not make new friends, my old ones have long moved away or have passed on. I never sought to replace them. Not an ideal situation in life, but it did offer protection I needed.
What this is leading up to is over the course of about a year Ms Twig had done something no one has managed in my adult life and that is to win over my trust. I had thought her kind and compassionate and often had good feedback/input on things going on in my life. I found myself opening up to her about things regarding me and my past I thought I’d never tell a soul. I felt I could trust her and since she was my therapist trying to help me it made sense to give her as much information as possible for my treatment.
Also, while my life is in limbo awaiting the disability ruling, my finances failing, and my lack of finding a part time job that I could do during this time I found my therapy sessions instrumental in helping me get through the week, a sort of emotional booster during all this stress and chaos.
Now, we’re nearing the end. (Thankfully, right?) I found myself slipping into a major depressive episode, I was trying hard to find a part time job I could do, I had signed up with a temp agency, but the few jobs they found for me were too demanding. And nothing I could find pursuing the job boards fit the criteria I needed. This is where I was getting super-depressed, seeing all the jobs that I could have done a long time ago, but was not something I could do with my physical and mental handicaps. My prescriber increased the dosage of my meds, but that did not help.
At my regular weekly session Ms Twig noticing my depressed mood offered a second session later in the week if I felt I needed it. Later on I reached out to her and scheduled this extra session. The beginning of the end.
I show up for this session deep into my depression. Partway into the session I made the comment that I considered Ms Twig a friend. Wow, the response. She lectured me on professional ethics and that I was not a friend, just a client. This hurt me, (remember I wasn’t myself at this point, majorly depressed), and I left with half the session left. In reflection, I do understand professional ethics and boundaries, not to mention personal choice, but what really threw me off was her reaction. Instead of recognizing I was out of character and depressed she could have tactfully made the point about professional ethics/boundaries. But she almost snapped it out at me and acted like being my friend was the most absurd thing she’d ever heard of.
Next week I was slightly better as far as the depressive episode went, but I was irritated about Ms Twig’s reaction and position as stated the previous session, so much of this session was spent on discussing then arguing ethics. It is important to note here due to subsequent events that it was a mild argument, no rage, yelling, or anything like that.
The rest of the week was spent by me putting myself back together and getting out of the depressive episode. It was not easy, but I was at another breaking point and something had to be done and I chose to do something positive. At this point I realized how out of character I was during the past two sessions and was ashamed of my behavior, so the first thing I did at next week’s session was apologize profusely for the way I acted before. Ms Twig said she accepted my apology and then she went on to reiterate her professional ethics, and I agreed wholeheartedly to recognize and abide by them.
The rest of the session went well and was much like our normal sessions. At the end while I was leaving I gave a quick “I’m so sorry” and she smiled and assured me that “it’s okay.”
Next week’s session, the last one, she saw me to her office, we sat down and I started to talk about my little dog. I was feeling good, the best I had in quite a while coming out of that three week depressive episode. I had my notes and books ready, I had news of a new grand-nephew, the depressive episode was behind me, the apology was behind me, things were back to normal.
I got a few sentences out and noticed Ms Twig was absolutely glaring at me, looked like a mixture of anger and hate, something I’ve never seen in her before. I stopped myself and asked “what’s wrong?” She replied “Nothing’s wrong.” And, trying to be tactful, said “you look like somebody that has something on your mind.” She responds with telling me that she doesn’t want me as a client anymore because she’d “been thinking over what you’ve said the past few visits.”
I was devastated, we had settled that matter last session! And she knew I had been in a depressive episode and not doing well, but was just now doing better. And suddenly I’m being abandoned and betrayed by the one person I trusted, and over a mild and silly argument over friendship! And to lose this therapeutic relationship of 14 months over such a minor argument and issue. And when I needed it the most while I’m dealing with getting better and stressing over the disability verdict. She might as well have torn out my heart, thrown it to the floor, and stomped all over it.
At this point I lack the words to explain just how utterly devastated I was/am. If you, the reader, cannot comprehend why and how I felt, I’m sorry I cannot explain it better, but I’m also glad for you that you not get hurt like this.
But I went from feeling better than I have after a particularly large depressive mode and the positive things I had to discuss with someone I thought was kind and caring, to an unexpected quick kick in the teeth and tossed to the curb in great distress by this very person!
I was in shock, I found absolutely nothing to say, I gathered my books and binder, started to get up to leave and Ms Twig stopped me, she said “let’s see what this looks like first.” At that point I lost my composure and started crying heavily. I am not one to cry in front of people, I am a suffer in silence type of guy. In fact, Ms Twig is the only person outside of family that has ever seen me cry.
Sadly, she seemed to be enjoying my despair, first by making me stay there against my wishes, watching me cry, ignoring my pleas of wanting to know “why, what happened, what have I done” etc, providing no useful information or any consolation at all. After this persistent callous treatment from Ms Twig I began to get angry and at that point she was done with me and said “I’ll see you out” and I left.
I was greatly distressed, betrayed and destroyed by the first person I’ve trusted in nearly a lifetime, knocked back into the depressive episode I had just worked so hard to get out of, 14 months of work just flushed down the toilet, and now to have the tool of therapy removed from use as there is no way I could trust another therapist again, and now I have this new trauma to live with. And that’s not been easy, the ruminations have been terrible and I’m not sleeping well at all. The drive home was not an easy or safe one.
I should have just stuck to my original rejection of going to therapy in the first place and saved myself a lot of pain and hurting.
It is unknown if Ms Twig’s actions in this event were maliciously intentional or just gross negligent malpractice. Either way she displayed no tact and zero compassion. She could have tactfully approached the subject of ethics and boundaries in that extra session. In that last session she could have said “I’ve been thinking about the last few sessions and I have some concerns we should discuss” or many other tactful and less hurtful ways to handle it. Instead she let me have both barrels at point blank range. And she must be incredibly thin-skinned to escalate a simple argument over friendship to therapeutic abandonment. Upon research I find that therapist are supposed to deal with strong emotions like hate, anger, rage, arguments, or disagreements. IT IS THEIR JOB! It is why they are there, and these emotions are part of PTSD so they should be expected. And I only gave her a simple argument, no strong emotions. Do a job for 14 months while it’s easy, but the moment we hit a little turbulence it’s all over, see you later sucker? Really?
It’s been suggested to me that Ms Twig might be going through some mental health issues of her own, and I do consider this as it would explain the sudden change between the last two sessions and the total lack of caring and compassion. If this is the case I feel for her as I know it’s tough and I will pray for her healing. But why did I become the subject of abuse if mental health is the issue? Or is it just me, maybe other clients received the same treatment?
We’re reaching the wrap-up here, at some point there will be a part two to this as there is more to the story as Ms Twig continued to twist the knife wherever she could post-event, but the above does cover the primary story of the abandonment and betrayal.
I feel this story is testament to the great damage that was done to me, as mentioned above I do not normally talk about myself, let alone post personal feelings and experiences to the internet. But I feel compelled to try to salvage some positive out of this mess by creating this site to offer support and tools to those whom also were hurt by their therapists and to stand as a warning to those considering psychotherapy of any kind. As mentioned in the “Site Purpose” blog, I am not recommending you don’t go to therapy, some do gain from it, but just that if you do choose to, guard your heart as this is a very callous field and the people in it do not deserve our utmost trust.
If you stuck with me this far thanks a lot for reading! I’m not a professional author and I know I repeated some of my points, but I felt them important enough to reiterate. I know it’s not the most stimulating subject, but hope it helps someone. Feel free to leave comments if you wish, I read them all. Post your own personal stories as well if you’d like.
Thank you and God Bless!