Monday, February 16, 2015

My Counselors and Me

During my life, I have seen a lot of counselors.

The above is a snippet of an old record. The problems related to the social environment are from a recent move and social isolation. . My GAF and GAS score is lower from being disabled and being unable to work. This counselor diagnosed me with Panic Disorder, and PTSD as well. She also had Axis III diagnoses pertaining to my severe endocrine problems. I never have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. You can see their mention of severe emotional abuse.

With the counselors, I would be diagnosed with Panic Disorder and just about every one of them including a recent one from a few years ago diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder otherwise known as PTSD.  Depression also came up from time to time. I never was diagnosed with any personality disorders myself. I found out about my Aspergers too of course from the counselors which was backed up by a recent psychologist who specialized in it partially.

When I went away to college, I went into counseling at the age of 18. One reason I had to go into counseling was severe panic attacks. They were affecting my functioning. I would run out of classes, telling my professors I was having an asthma attack sometimes it really was one but other times, I felt trapped!

I would be seeing repeated counselors just to function at work and elsewhere. My work life meant just trying to hold it together while inside my mind seethed. While I would get anxiety from breathing problems, I did have separate bone-rattling panic attacks. Panic attacks that made the world spin around me, and literally almost made me crawl into a ball. Counselors taught me techniques to hold it together.

By the way no contact has cut my panic attacks by 80%. I am not kidding. It actually improved this problem to the extreme.

One thing though as I sought refuge with counselors, is many admitted I was one of the most severely abused people they ever had talked to. One told me I was the worse case of emotional abuse they ever had heard of. I would literally shock my counselors with things I had to tell them. I didn't mean to.

My counseling often was beneficial. I liked many of my counselors. Counselors kept me out of the hospital. Counselors helped me process what I dealt with in the big city and the violence I saw on the job working with troubled youth. Christian Counselors helped me and my husband's marriage survive, during his career implosion. There were only one or two here and there I did not click with but recently pondering my past counseling experiences........

Sometimes I ask myself, why didn't my counselors tell me about narcissistic personality disorder?

Why didn't my counselors tell me about sociopathy?

Why didn't my counselors tell me about no contact?

Why did I have to find out about these things in my 40s?

I actually had a few well-meaning counselors tell me that to heal, I need to reconcile with my mother and family. This was during my first no contact! I remember one counselor insisting on this strongly even knowing about my abuse. "You can't cut off your whole family, you need to open the lanes of communication and heal those relationships!"  I was told it was unhealthy to cut my family off and I should explore forgiveness. I think these counselors were well-meaning but the reality of sociopathy never occurred to them.

Many gave me fantasies of connecting to my mother as an adult. They told me since I was no longer a child, we could connect as equals. I got the feeling some saw abusive parents as troubled people that made mistakes but inherently reasonable, with the ability to be reformed.

A lot of counselors are not taught about the reality of evil, but taught that counseling improves human relationships and that communication will solve a lot of problems and disconnection. Even if one faces abuse, they still see communication and forgiveness as solving the problem. They did not even tell me that remorse may not be on the menu with one of the parties. Perhaps with some dealing with the conscience-less is not part of their life experience but it made me vulnerable.

Sometimes I think in the counseling world that narcissism and sociopathy are ignored to the detriment of many people. Perhaps a few domestic abuse counselors may warn their clients of Cluster B disorders, but what about then young women like me seeking answers crawling out of a very abusive childhood?

I may be returning to counseling soon, and I am worried about finding a counselor that understands narcissism or sociopathy. It could be a problem. I know I could not handle getting a counselor that tells me no contact is bad, and that reconciliation is the answer. I have been down that road before.


  1. I think once society stops treating narcissism as a virtue it will be recognized. In counselling, I would be afraid of the counsellor telling me all this stuff I've been learning online from other abuse survivors is wrong.

    I think the greatest challenge would be having them believe me. Or that they might believe me but deny it's impact on my life. They might think all can be well if I just do the program that the gov't specifies, and not even recognize what has this got to do with my formative years.

    They might think I am just like everyone else, even those from a loving family, that all I need is a self-esteem course. And I did that, and all of it was way over my head. They won't come down and be present with me and my needs, but look at me in frustration.

    I'm not trying to persuade you not to attend counselling, as I don't know how much the world has changed from when I went. I hope it works out well.

    1. Oh I am worried about it too. A bad counselor who sees every relationship as "fixable" would be bad news to me right now. I need someone who understands Aspergers too. I can't afford the Aspie specialist at 65 copays per session. I also hope of one who can think beyond middle class and fat biases too. That may be a bit of a tall order LOL. I have had a couple good ones before.

      I fear too narcissism is such a virtue that nothing will be done and there will be no improvements. LOL about self esteem courses. I need a bit more then the proverbial light slap on the back.

      I know they can't solve every problem but just need some support right now over the NC and losing family to a narc thing.

  2. Good post. It drives me insane that so many counselors try to get you to reconcile with your FOO. They don't seem to understand that some people are just plain evil and don't WANT to reconcile with you, no matter how nicely or maturely you approach the subject with them.
    I have tried doing that, to no avail. I just get ignored or put down for being "needy." When you have no health insurance, it's even harder to find a good counselor who understands, because you're limited to clinics or whatever is available in your community that's free--and that usually means a counselor who isn't highly trained and doesn't specialize in these type of relationships.
    I am also sick and tired of people telling me (when I've been down on my luck and/or need money or emotional support) to go to my parents. Everyone assumes your parents will always take you back, will always support you, and always care. People think you're lying or exaggerating when you tell them THEY DON'T CARE. There really isn't any help out there for a poor person with no family to speak of. It really sucks. Blogging is what's kept me sane. -- Lucky Otter