First Semester of Third Year–Memories (Counseling)

It seems a little weird to title this one memories since it just happened…but for the sake of consistency…

So much to say, so little time…I feel like a LOT happened this semester…My life was a bit turbulent this semester, and it showed in my grades…looking back, I think that same thing is kind of that was going on in my sophomore year of high school–I was losing everything I had identified myself by and everything my life and dreams had revolved around, and on top of that was taking difficult classes. In high school I got through this and still had A’s…however in college I wasn’t so lucky and my grades took a hit. I am really upset about that, but all things considered, I suppose I prefer ending the semester with my life and lousy grades than ending it with great grades but without my life…I wish I could have had both, but that wasn’t one of my choices.

At my first meeting in the fall (so my actually second meeting) I spent most of the time filling out a whole bunch of forms, but Michelle also mentioned that she was going to look for the results from the MMPI and MCMI tests that I took first year! I was excited that I was finally going to get to see them!

The next time I met with her, she asked something about autism. I was kind of surprised about that…really I don’t know exactly what I was thinking, but I do know that my first thoughts to that question did not register at all that she might be suggesting that I might have autism…haha yeah, I might be a little slow–but it isn’t totally my fault for not picking up on it considering that Brittani had pretty clearly ruled that out for me. I was not really sure how I felt about that. Hearing the description it seemed to fit in some ways but not at all in other ways, but as I thought about it, the same could be said about social anxiety. Some parts fit really well and other parts–not so much…looking at it, the part of social anxiety that fit me least well was the part that is different in the Japanese version of social anxiety, and I didn’t see how it could divide strictly along geographic or ethnic lines, but looking again with this new idea I realized that maybe that was a part that just didn’t fit. I wasn’t yet ready to let go of the labels I had been given first and second years based on a label I was being given in under 5 meetings, but it was definitely something to think about. I hadn’t really had a problem with being labeled with social anxiety or OCD, and didn’t really see them as a big deal in the broader picture of my life–they seemed pretty manageable…I wasn’t sure I felt the same way about autism…The label itself wasn’t what bothered me, but with social anxiety (and OCD) I was pretty familiar with the treatment and in my head it was a very A+B=C kind of transaction–I expected to work on social skills then have it figured out and be done and not have any problems anymore…my perception of autism was less rosy…I saw this as something that never went away (probably true) which had the potential to shatter my imagination of myself completely leaving behind my frustration with social situations. I remembered in abnormal psych learning about how some kids (I don’t remember what disorder we were talking about) work really hard to catch up and learn the skills their peers already have, but by the time they learn those skills, their peers have continued on and have a whole new set of skills that the child then needs to learn to emulate–this was how I was picturing autism…being perpetually behind everyone else, never able to catch up and just fit in and be like everyone else like I have always wanted to be. My mom has always said that being like everyone else is a bad goal, but for as long as I can remember I have really just wanted to be like everyone else. Being different draws attention to oneself, and I don’t want that attention and I just want to live the way everyone else does without being paralyzed and held captive by the intense fears that have often taken the reins in my life. I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea, because I believe that putting people in boxes can be very useful, and having a definite label would more clearly place me in the box which would let me know what I was up against so I could set up my expectations accordingly, but at the same time I was having a hard time reconciling this new information with the information I already had…I was confused, and I think I am still solidifying my opinion on what autism means to me.

The next time I met with her was the first day of school. We started talking about when I had to change churches. At first I was really glad we were talking about it because it is a very emotionally charged subject for me, and it is really frustrating to be innocently listening to the radio while doing something and hear a certain song come on and need to turn it off as soon as humanly possible and find a quick distractor, and it is really frustrating to be sitting in church and have a specific passage mentioned and just freeze but have to find a way to calm down without drawing attention to myself. I had hope that this was going to make the bad feelings go away so I could move on and not constantly go through life avoiding triggers that could send me into re-experiencing that time in my life. I quickly became very overwhelmed though. I am a fighter and like usual thought I could handle things myself…but I was quickly spiraling out of control and falling so fast I couldn’t even flail myself around to feel anything slipping past me. I continued to go through life like nothing was wrong, but there was something wrong. That Wednesday was the first night of Cru for the semester, and we invited everyone to the roof of the parking garage for a pizza party…people tell me it was a success, but I wouldn’t know. I got there at the time I was supposed to, but after we prayed and talked about our plan for the night, people were going back to setting up and I was trying really hard not to cry, and someone asked if I was okay and I lost it and started crying and said something about how I was overwhelmed with school and felt like I was going to fail everything. One girl tried to talk to me for hours. I have no idea how many people were there. As much as I wanted to hear the people who were talking, I couldn’t because I was still crying. I was finally almost calmed down enough to at least watch the last few people talk and play games, but then I saw Alyssa and she started talking to me, but I couldn’t say anything without crying again. She talked to me for a while and then I went home. She walked me to my car, and I went to my apartment and tried to go to bed, but I was too worked up to fall asleep. In the morning I emailed Michelle and told her that as much as I wanted to work on not reacting to the church thing, that what we had done was too much. The beginning of a semester always makes me feel like I am in over my head, but this was much different than that. This affected me so much that by the end of that particular unit in advanced physio everyone else had declared that chapter an easier one–and I thought it made absolutely no sense…I was so overwhelmed at the time I was reading it that I guess I didn’t absorb much information, and I am not sure if maybe the emotion I was experiencing the first time I read it put a block on that information or if it is just that my notes were lousy for it due to the issues reading and taking notes while completely overwhelmed or crying and it is not the material that skimming works well for…luckily in this case I got away without knowing it…so I had a rough start to the semester…not to mention that I also forgot to take a quiz that day–but enough people complained about unclear directions that I got a second chance at the quiz…

Also the first week of school, Rebecca told me I should ask to eat lunch during counseling. Eating in front of people can be hard for me, and eating in an environment non-conducive to washing my hands is also not my favorite, but I agreed…I mention this mostly because I might refer back to it later…IDK…

One last thing that happened the first week of school is that Michelle brought up the idea of me going to SLBMI…looking back, that should have been my first warning sign that something was wrong…at that point it probably wouldn’t have been too late to bail…I think working with Michelle has been really good for me, but there was one thing that happened in early November that made me wish I had made a different choice…She wasn’t pressuring me into it right then–just bringing it up as a choice…

A few weeks later I got back the results from my first micro exam…and it was awful–most of my problems came in not understanding the directions on the page worth most of the points, so that made it especially frustrating because until I talked to the teacher I didn’t even know why I had gotten so much incorrect…I was really frustrated and scared and started getting close to hurting myself. As hard and frustrating as this was, it led to a HUGE success. I know people tell me that when I feel like hurting myself I should reach out and ask for help, but I usually end up pulling into myself and trying to get through it alone. I guess part of it is that socially reaching out can be really hard so when a lot of the triggers were social it didn’t make sense to try stretching myself even further, and even now that most triggers are more school-related I feel that I need to be cautious and protect myself from further stress that could push me beyond what I can handle. The other part of it is that I don’t want to bother or scare or stress out anyone, I don’t really know what anyone else can do to help besides just BE there, and because of what has happened other times I have shared, I am afraid of having it used against me. So it was a great success when I let Michelle in on what was going on and asked for help. Most of what she actually said just made me feel more stupid and frustrated, but her encouragement that she was glad I had talked to her about it let me feel like I could at least do SOMETHING right even if I was failing at everything else, and really I think most of what I need is just presence while I am struggling, I guess so that I am not fighting alone. I used to say that it doesn’t matter if I am with people or not because I could hurt myself right in front of someone and they would never have to know about it, but I realize now that someone else there does help, because I think my conscience would kill me if I hurt myself in front of someone who knew about that but didn’t tell them…and I don’t want to mess up and have to tell anyone.

While I was very proud of myself for sharing, this pride was very short lived. The very next meeting, Michelle told me that she was considering refusing to see me and tell everyone else on campus to do likewise because she didn’t think I was making any progress. And that meeting came late…but that wasn’t such a big deal because it ended up meaning that I could immediately be with Alyssa afterwards…plus Michelle told me she wasn’t going to be there at the usual time a few hours in advance which, while not ideal, is a lot better than Brittani’s 15 minutes past start time email that she was going to be late once and I could either reschedule or meet until I needed to go…she was usually a couple minutes late, but by 15 minutes later I was about to email her to ask where she was/if I messed something up…anyway, so she said we could meet a few more weeks and if I still hadn’t made progress we would take a break…I was really upset by this. I can’t speak to her perspective, but my perspective was that she didn’t understand that self-injury has a been a fight I have been battling for years, and while I did ask for help, that is a sign of progress, not a sign that I am too far gone for help. She might not have seen me reach out for help with the SI before, but that isn’t because the desire was never there–it was only because I wasn’t willing to share about it yet. The insinuation that I hadn’t made progress was especially frustrating. I am so excited with how much progress I have made. Who I am now is very different from who I was when I started, and not only have I seen it, but other people have commented on it as well. People who don’t even know I have been struggling with things and been getting help have commented on noticing that I have gotten more confident and that I walk more–they attribute the change to other factors obviously, but they notice, so for someone I am working with every week to tell me I am actually not making progress made me somewhere between mad and confused. I don’t understand how someone could not recognize how far I have come, which led me to conclude that the progress was seen but being intentionally ignored to get rid of me which made me mad. Alyssa told me that a more likely explanation is that because the first years this year have had a lot of issues that Michelle has been very busy and was trying to tell me I was doing well enough to be on my own so that she would have time to help someone who needed it more than I did…I wanted to believe Alyssa, but selfishly I still wanted my place in counseling because I knew I still had a long way to go to completely fit in the way I wanted to. Additionally, Alyssa was helping me already way more than she should have to, and I didn’t think it was fair for her for me to be dependent upon her to function, and I thought that without counseling I was probably either going to abandon her completely or end up depending on her even more (It can be hard to tell what will happen with me because so many things are fighting within me). Also, on my cru leadership applications I have been saying that I will not fulfill most of the requirements because socially that is beyond my abilities, and they have been willing to accept that I cannot make it happen right now, but they also know that I am in counseling, and I think the expectation is that I will continue and I was told at the end of last spring that the goal is that by the time I finish at STLCOP that I have attended at least one fall getaway, DCC, or big break. No one is going to force me into it, but they would like me to give it a chance before I am done. The next day I met with Blair and told her about it and she reminded me about Karis house and how they have free lay counseling if I want to try that. I didn’t want to have to do that, because I still wanted to work with Michelle, but it was really good to know I had an accessible option open. That week, just in case I needed it, I started working on the notes I would put in my Karis house application, and on a letter to Brittani in case I decided to go back to her.

Luckily, the next week I shared my concerns and frustrations, and Michelle agreed that she had been wrong about me not having made any progress, and said she would continue to meet with me as long as I felt it was helping me and wanted to meet with her. I felt good about that resolution, and completely moved on. I think it was very important that I not be cut off because that would have validated to me that letting people know when I am struggling is bad and something to be avoided, and even though I know that you are supposed to let people in for support when you are struggling, my attempts at doing so have been used against me so many times that I think this would likely have been the last straw and no one would get to see anything but successes if I could help it…I also told her that the reason I share successes is partly because otherwise it seems like counseling turns into tell [name redacted] everything she isn’t good enough at, and partly because it makes Betsy really excited and I like making people happy. (I told her that because she had said something about it the week before)…She told me not to write the successes anymore, I think she said because she didn’t need them or something, but I had no intention of stopping with writing my successes, because what she sees as my counseling topics, I have always seen (hence the title I have always given the document) as my questions and comments. I have trouble speaking to people in person, so the way I participate and the way my thoughts get heard in counseling is through what I write in that document in response to what happened the week before. I believe part of conversation is sharing things you are excited about, and therefore did not really intend to delete all of those items from my notes. They may be higher on the list for deletion when I was running out of space on the page, but they were not going to be completely deleted unless I agreed with the reasoning. I’ve been fed a lot of stories that I naïvely believed, so I was not going to let go of sharing successes if I was not close to 100% sure that it was not going to turn counseling into telling me what I was doing wrong…

I had one more session with her before fall break. At this session I brought some papers that I decided I was willing to part with if she thought I didn’t need them, because I have always had a problem with getting rid of things, especially papers, and the papers at that point were starting to accumulate faster than I could keep up with. I had gone through the papers many times already to throw away the things I could convince myself I really didn’t need, and to take out anything that I was not willing to part with…I use pictures of people to help me practice my speeches to slowly make the idea of giving the speech to actual people a little more real at a time by starting with maybe just one person who I feel really safe with on the page, and changing who is on the page or adding people to make it progressively more difficult…I had a page in the pile that was a collection of picture of people who would be supportive of me, people who would be in my real audience, and people who I kind of knew but wouldn’t be very comfortable performing for–and Michelle was on that page. When I realized that I braced myself to be yelled at–but I didn’t get in trouble. Second year when Brittani found out that I had used her picture for something similar she freaked out and yelled at me for pretty much the rest of our meeting that day that that is not okay. That was possibly the only time she ever apologized for getting mad at me though–the next week she told me that she still felt that it was inappropriate but that she had over-reacted. Then she started saying like haven’t we talked about this before, and although I didn’t really respond what I as thinking was umm no, first year you randomly told me one day you didn’t want to be friends with me on facebook which I agreed to since I didn’t know you well enough at the time to have any desire to friend you whatsoever, but we have never talked about whether it was okay for me to borrow a picture for like two days that you posted on the internet for the world to see for months…anyway, I was braced for an attack when I realized the picture with Michelle was in there, but she didn’t get mad at me…she wanted to know why I had it and when I had used it, but there wasn’t any insinuation that what I did was bad, just a sense of trying to understand. She said later that she wasn’t mad at me because my use of the picture was intended to be supportive not to pry into her life, so that is okay.

So then there was fall break. Fall break should have been a great time to relax a little but mostly work really hard and maybe even get ahead a little in classes…that would have been great except when I came to school on Monday everyone was not gone like I expected them to be…that wasn’t really a big deal though and wouldn’t have caused a problem, except that Erin started talking about how cute it was that Emma threw up all over her and she asked her husband for help and he said no because she smelled bad, and she just kept talking about it, but I doon’t know the rest of what went on because I picked up some stuff to work on and my hand sanitizer and literally ran to get away from it, because I was feeling really overwhelmed, and I knew the more I heard the worse I was going to feel and the harder it was going to be to get over it. After probably about a half hour or so I had not actually looked at any of the school items I had brought with me, but I had calmed down enough that I could go back to all my stuff and keep attempting to study. The fact that Erin had said that she didn’t think Emma was actually sick, just that she had been coughing or crying so hard she threw up made me able to convince myself there was a possibility I was safe. I was still scared, but it was manageable at that point. I knew Michelle was not at school that day and someone had said something about her not being at some event, but I was perfectly happy to assume she was not there because of spending time with her family over fall break, because a lot of times people take time off for fall break.

My ability to deal with it changed with the events that happened the next day. I was already stressed out and on guard due to the previous day’s events though I was not overwhelmed and not in crisis mode…then people started showing up…and with the people came the stories. Erin had the stomach flu–she was not faking, she got thrown up on, plus Michelle had the stomach flu too.

I do not know if it is a good idea for me to be writing about this, because I really want to be able to share about this, but thinking about it right now is greatly diminishing my sense of safety. When things happen I gradually go back to normal because every extra tiny margin of safety requires an intense extra level of effort and energy, and because I try to get myself to forget about the danger…so I am going to abbreviate this as much as I can while still telling the story somewhat coherently, because I really like having skin on my hands and would like to keep it that way.

When I go into germ crisis mode life gets very overwhelming and difficult and many extraneous rules intended to protect me get set. As much as I would like to stay safe, I do know that I over-react, so the logical side of my brain fights as hard as it can to keep me out of crisis. This time, mentally I was not in a very good place–my mind was more than occupied with thoughts about the germs, but somehow I managed to not go into super strong avoidance…I suppose to anyone who doesn’t know what my germ freak-outs have been like in the past would disagree with that last statement–I still did end up with a very oppressive new set of rules for a while, but the rules were much more live-able than usual, and lasted a MUCH shorter length of time…

I stayed in the success center most of the day, but was very stressed out and all day I was trying to read a chapter of micro–and only made it about two pages from like 8am until like 1pm…Alyssa and I were planning on going to Applebees together that night, and I snuck up to her room to tell her I was too stressed out to go there, because I was trying really hard to get lunch in and it was really hard, and going to a restaurant where there is not much control over germs was going to be extremely difficult and more challenge than I wanted to take on…except that Robert was still there…I thought he had already left…I kind of told her what was going on, but I was kind of thrown off by Robert being there so I didn’t ask for us not to go. Alyssa tried really hard to calm me down, but I was not in a mode where anything was really going to get through…The one useful thing she said that did make it into my head was that if I couldn’t study there then find somewhere else to study. I had to go tutor soon anyway so I went over to Jones where I was going to be tutoring…and I brought a pile of sanitizing wipes with me…Dr. Vandyke came to check on me a couple times and I am guessing she could sense something was going wrong, but she didn’t really comment too much on it. I stayed there until it was almost time to meet with Alyssa. I found Alyssa and after some back and forth we realized that neither of us actually wanted to go to Applebees, and we both had food since she brought a bunch of food back from home, and I had never really finished my lunch, so while she worked on some things I stayed in her room and ate dinner, finished an email I had been writing for hours that Alyssa knew I needed to finish, then attempted to study. I was so stressed out that even being in Alyssa’s room wasn’t letting me be calm enough to really study, and her room seemed dirty because I knew she had been in the success center during the day, as had I, so we had both brought some germs to her room, and since she doesn’t have the same issue with germs as I do, she especially may have contaminated her room. I knew if I went home though that I was only going to clean, and I had washed my sheets the day before so I needed to wait to get home until I was tired enough to let myself go to bed without showering and changing the sheets first. At this point in the semester it was very rare that the sound toy would be not locked up when people were not using it, but that weekend it had been left unlocked, so I decided that I would borrow it because no one would miss it when they weren’t around, and it said not to touch it, but I was very skilled already at “I didn’t touch it, my sock touched it or stuff like that so I figured I could get it to Alyssa’s room…I didn’t account for Jo actually being at school, but I decided to be brave and ask her if I could borrow it…That was really hard, but I asked and she was totally fine with it. I intended to bring it back before she left, but I guess she left early so when I brought it back she wasn’t there…I emailed her to let her know it was back because I know if I were in her position I would want to know that it was back to be sure that it really had gotten returned…and she emailed back that I could have it whenever I wanted it!!!!! So anyway, I went home and tried to calm down enough to get some sleep and tried to plan how I would manage the next day without freaking out too much.

The next day I stopped by the res hall long enough to pick up some sanitizer wipes and then went to all of my classes for the day to wipe down my desk and other areas my belongings or I may have to touch. Then I went to my first class to set my stuff down and went outside to eat breakfast…I had good intentions of studying while I ate, but it was a bit cold outside to attempt to do anything besides get some food in my mouth. When I couldn’t take the cold anymore I went back inside and went on with the rest of my day. I tried really hard to concentrate all day…but that afternoon I had a meeting with Michelle…when I have even the slightest thought that someone *might* be sick I usually avoid them, so knowing that Michelle had been sick meant that really I wanted to completely avoid the success center and first floor hallway in as much as possible, and when I needed to be there I would try as hard as I could to make it fast and not breathe…so being in the same room as someone who had definitely been sick AND talking was terrifying. I knew if I didn’t do it then that I would never come back, because one of the things I do when I am really freaked out about germs is research the stomach flu–I probably end up seeing the same things each time, but I am always on the lookout for ways to avoid it and/or stories about how scary it is…so especially at times when I am stressed out, I am very much aware that the person continues to shed germs for weeks after he or she feels better and depending on the variety of stomach flu bug can also be contagious for a few days before he or she gets sick. These germs can live for months or longer on surfaces, and depending on the specific bug, it is possible that even one cell is enough to cause symptoms–a single sneeze contains millions or more bacteria and viruses…hand sanitizer and hand washing supposedly remove about 99.9% of those germs and bacteria which means A LOT is left over…some germs can even multiply in cleaning solutions!…so while waiting a week might have seemed like it would be easier, in reality giving myself a pass once to avoid the germs would make it really hard for me to convince myself to ever go back–and I knew that would be a bad decision…so that was really scary. Michelle let me go early, because she could tell how hard it was for me. She said she wished I would have talked more but that she understood that it was hard for me just to come. I left and went to the study room which was where I decided was the safest place I had access to where I would be able to study. I made it there, kicked the door closed, sat down with my knees pulled against my body and rocked for a few minutes until I calmed down enough to get my shoes off and turn on simplyRain and some music and use some hand sanitizer and continue to rock and calm down…Once I felt like I could breathe again I tried really hard to get some studying and stuff done…my mind was still stuck in how dirty I was, but I knew I needed to get stuff done so I kept working.

I stayed overnight with Alyssa like I usually did on Wednesday nights…in the morning I used Lysol on the shirt I use to make it seem safer to borrow Alyssa’s pillow because my hair was disgusting from having been near Michelle, and I hadn’t washed it before going to bed but didn’t want to have to remember to bring a clean shirt back to sleep with the next week…I had decided that the only safe place to eat would be outside because UV kills germs…unfortunately, it was not only cold, but rainy, so I couldn’t go outside. I borrowed the noise toy and tried to get cheerios in my mouth in the study room…I think facing my fear so head on by meeting with Michelle really helped me to force myself to get back closer to normal a lot faster–by Friday I was willing to (after using a lot of sanitizer wipes) use the success center to study again, use the first floor sink and microwave, and not run past Michelle and Erin’s offices holding my breath…I still am not totally feeling comfortable about germs in respect to Michelle and Erin and the success center, and there are some rules as usual that have stuck, but mostly I got past it and my life became much more live-able a lot more quickly than usual…from the outside my life appeared to pretty much go back to normal rather quickly and never get as bad as it had been in the past though from the inside it was still extremely intense and I am pretty sure it was no less bad than previous times, and possibly even worse…

Haha yeah, I was going to try to keep it short and that is how much I had to say…I guess it is a good thing I didn’t try to write everything or I’d be writing for months!

Since maybe mid-to-late-September or so I had been supposed to pick items from my questions and comments list for Michelle and I to talk about during our meetings. That was getting really frustrating and I was feeling like I couldn’t measure up to Michelle’s standards for me which was making me feel like a failure every week. The first week in November I finally got up enough courage to tell her that I really wanted something to change. I was really scared to ask for a change, but I also knew that I had been scared to tell Elisha how frustrated and anxious I was getting and when I finally did things got a LOT better, and I didn’t know how to tell Brittani that I was writing things every week to share though she was very rarely getting anything from me, but when I kind of let her find that out for herself by stupidly sending her the document I had stopped deleting things from over break, she started reading what I wrote each week which gave me a way to communicate, so I was hopeful that this was going to make things work better as long as I didn’t impulsively decide to delete that comment and find something else to write. Unfortunately, Michelle told me that if this was feeling too hard for me then she wasn’t helping me enough and we couldn’t meet for the next two weeks. I tried really hard to convince her otherwise, because she had said before that we could meet until I didn’t want to anymore and I still wanted to, and she said that I let other people make decisions for me too much so I was trying as hard as I could to be the one making this decision–maybe it was a test–but it was no use, my opinion held absolutely no weight with her. It was a good thing she let me go early, because I decided if she didn’t care then I didn’t need to care either and after I changed clothes for lab I washed my hands over and over not caring how much it hurt and stuff. Being in lab was very good for me to try to have something on my mind besides how frustrated I was–it gave me some time to cool off and think and realize that even if Michelle didn’t care about me anymore that that didn’t mean no one did, and I could still ask Alicia or Jo for help…I got permission to leave lab a bit early–probably because it was obvious that physically I was in lab but my mind was not present in lab–and worked on an email to Michelle because she hadn’t specifically said I couldn’t get help from someone else, but I didn’t want to get her even more mad at me so I wanted to ask her before I asked anyone else for help…and she pretty much said no…now I was really upset because she wouldn’t help me and was kind of keeping me from the people who would–she did not technically forbid it, but it was clear that she would not be happy with me if I did…that night as I was going to bed I told Alyssa about it because she had seen me crying and I hadn’t been able to tell her what was happening. She suggested that she had seen Michelle at school late a lot and Michelle is probably tired…I was half asleep for this conversation so I don’t remember exactly how it went but I do remember being close to crying as she was telling me that she ahs seen Michelle past Rebecca hours like even at midnight…and I remember hastily wiping away tears as I realized Alyssa was about to pull the covers away from my face to make sure I wasn’t crying…the next morning was the first Thursday morning that I kind of had off because I had finished my site visit hours…so I should have had a really good study session but I was so upset that it was really difficult for me to focus on studying. I wrote Michelle an email, she wrote me one back that wasn’t very nice, so I didn’t work overly hard at being nice back…

That afternoon I met with Blair and I told her what was going on and she suggested Karis house again and looked over the intake form with me. She told me that she knows a lot of people who have gone there and really liked it and one of her friends works there, and at Karis house they would never just cut someone off with no warning when the person didn’t want to be done yet. She told me that usually they schedule one meeting with someone who won’t be your counselor to just collect more information but as long as I wrote a really good background of myself like she knew I would anyway that I could skip that step since it is easier for me to express myself in writing than in spoken word anyway. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to go off campus and would much prefer to stick with Michelle if I could get her to take me back, so I decided not to apply even though she said I could apply and just tell them what was going on and that I was not planning on doing anything until the beginning of spring semester…

Friday I was still really struggling. In prof comm we were learning about suicide and as the teacher was talking I was trying so hard not to cry because what she was saying about people who commit suicide was basically describing me right about then…I was scared, and I started writing about it on my computer thinking that perhaps I would share it with Alyssa because I was really scared and I needed help but had no where to go…that evening I turned that note into an email to Brittani and explained the situation and asked to meet with her. She never responded, but it was helpful for me to have sent it because it helped me to regain some semblance of control. I knew Michelle hadn’t wanted me to contact anyone else, and once I started feeling more in control I started feeling really guilty for going against her will and contacting Brittani so on Sunday I sent her another email to apologize and to hopefully get the word to her from me before she heard it from Brittani, because I remembered about how Brittani told Elisha when I was having problems with Elisha…

Throughout this whole thing I was trying as hard as I could to study for an exam on Monday…I was re-reading my notes, re-writing my notes, and studying in whatever ways I could come up with…Although my heart was elsewhere, to an outside observer it was quite obvious that I was putting a lot of effort into studying even if a lot of it wasn’t sticking very well since when you are in fight or flight mode remembering things like the number of weeks of treatment for each infection for each antimicrobial is not high on the priority list…At one point I took a short break to think about what was going on. One big thing that was probably the biggest problem for me was that I still didn’t really know why this was happening. I didn’t want to be pushy, because I felt like I had already tried that initially and it had failed, but without a reason why I was really frustrated with this unwelcome break coming at a time when I really thought I was making a lot of progress. I decided to give Michelle some space and wait until Wednesday to talk to her, then present the facts that she wanted me to go away and I didn’t so I wanted to ask for a compromise and meet at 11 the 18th which she had said weeks ago was a time I could have, and potentially find out she had reconsidered and would let me meet with her that day. I knew second year she had said something to Rebecca in passing about having trouble saying no, and I intended to use that to my advantage because I was very set in this decision, and thought that probably for most people it would be harder to say no to me if I asked in person than over email, especially for anyone who knows me since they would know that writing is my modus operandum for communication…unfortunately Monday afternoon I found out she would be gone the rest of the week…so that plan wasn’t going to work very well…but I decided that I would email her on Tuesday, acknowledge that talking in person would be better, and state my case…She eventually emailed me back with a time, except that it was not a time I was available…I tried changing it, but when it didn’t seem to be working I was afraid she was going to change her mind and worked on becoming available at that time…and of course it wasn’t too long after I had worked it out that she emailed me back with a time that would work–but I was happy to send another email un-excusing myself from biology help session…so yeah, that happened…oh, and the Monday exam…ouch…it was rather obvious I was not fully present for it…as I was going over it with the teacher I would explain exactly why each answer choice was right or wrong…and be completely correct–apparently the information did stick–but have answered something totally stupid…as always there were also a few that I got completely correct that I just didn’t write the way he thought it in his head and therefore got no points for, but it was really frustrating that something I couldn’t control that wasn’t really even my fault had messed up my grade…I knew considering how I was feeling when I took it I should be grateful for what I answered correctly, but I didn’t really want to be grateful, I wanted to not be stupid and to have the right answers.

So we did come to a compromise and I met with her a week from that Thursday so that she got a break from me but I didn’t have to take too many frustrated weeks off of counseling and could get some closure on the situation. She was willing to take me back on the condition that I do not say “I don’t know” and that I keep talking…and we decided that it was okay if I didn’t choose things from my notes to talk about.

I think it was that next week that Michelle had me make a call during our meeting. Because I get so stressed out when I am making a call, especially since I couldn’t express any frustration by complaining about it since I had promised myself that anything reasonable that Michelle asked me to do I would do, as soon as I ended the call I kind of fell into myself and Michelle tried to get me to talk and I wasn’t really saying anything because I was struggling just to focus on what she was saying enough to comprehend the words and didn’t really have enough energy yet to put into thinking of a response putting it into words and verbalizing it…I was really scared she was going to get mad at me and get rid of me forever this time…instead she said that each week she would have me make another call that was maybe a little more difficult each time…so the next week I came stressed out about making another call…oh wait, I mean I came prepared to make another call 🙂 …except she didn’t have me call anyone…I was a little frustrated about that because I had this plan in my head that I was going to call my best friend on my way home and so I wanted practice making calls and am not mean enough to myself as to make myself make a call when I don’t have to, plus I was kind of craving skittles which are my treat for doing good things like making a call…so that night I took a break from studying to go to community group because I decided that would be good enough to earn me my skittles…

The next time I met with Michelle was after I was done with finals…we role-played calling Betsy…Michelle doesn’t make a very realistic Betsy, but it did make it a little more approachable to call Betsy on my way home, and it was also kind of nice that instead of helping me script the conversation she had me do it myself even though I felt like I couldn’t do it–that forced me to figure out for myself how to do it which was hard, but it definitely made it a lot easier when on the way home from school when Betsy finally answered her phone but my computer died to be able to still talk, because I still remembered enough of it to start the conversation since it was in my own words instead of someone else’s…

That last meeting Michelle and I also set up a couple times over break for me to call her to get some more practice with phone calls…

So that was my first semester of third year, and that is where I am now!

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