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How My Therapist Invalidated My Trauma Struggle During COVID-19

I’ve had my fair share of “bad” experiences with therapists, but never any like what I experienced recently. It sent me into a shame spiral, wondering if the years of working toward accepting my diagnoses were for nothing. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this was a FaceTime session with my ex-therapist. I’m thankful my husband sat in this time because he validated that I wasn’t overreacting.

It started as a normal session, but the more I talked, it became awkward in a way. Eventually, the conversation took a sudden sharp turn that I wasn’t expecting. She began telling me it doesn’t make sense I still have trauma issues after eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy — that my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) problems should pretty much be resolved by now. She told me that I need to stop identifying with my diagnoses, and wouldn’t let me say, “my depression is making me feel…”

I was in shock. She began telling me to set boundaries on how often I speak to my family. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t know how to react. After the call I ended, I looked at my husband and said, “did you feel like that was wrong too?” He validated my feelings a hundred percent. Then the emotion came of, “wow… she gave up on me.” I’ve felt this before with therapists, but never like this. Looking back on it, I just wish she would’ve told me she didn’t know how to help me anymore — as some therapists had said before.

If I’m being honest, I’m still scared to go back to therapy. It has left me questioning everything. It made me feel less valid, so much so that I relapsed with my eating disorder. It made me feel inherently broken that my PTSD hasn’t gotten much better.

It’s taken me years to identify with my diagnoses, to accept them as something in my life, and I am doing everything in my power to not let this experience take that progress away from me. I am trying to work through believing that trauma healing doesn’t look the same for everyone, and there isn’t one miracle “cure.”

Not everyone has had this experience with a therapist, but maybe you’ve had it with someone in your family, or your friend circle, and I just want to say:

Sometimes, people don’t know how to help us, but that doesn’t make you unlovable, that doesn’t make you less valid and that doesn’t make your story less real.

I’m trying to take this as a lesson, but I am working toward building enough trust and courage to let someone in again.

Image Credits: Julia Amburgey

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