On Preparing for Therapy

It’s almost been 2 weeks since we’ve seen K. (our therapist). Snow storm hit in the beginning of the week, and so I’m a bit behind seeing her.  Honestly, I needed a little break.  Therapy has been tough.

Going through my regular night routine, and I’m preparing for tomorrow. I wanted to do some writing/internal communication about therapy.

I imagine tomorrow we’re going to follow up on the possibility of recorder/reporting parts.  I am terrified for multiple reasons to discuss this.  On one hand, I think I’m having some passive influence of Clara’s terror.  On the other hand, I’m having super rejection sensitive dysphoria (intense emotional response to the perception of disappointing/failing others–even when no actual rejection has taken place).  In other words, someone (maybe Clara again?) is afraid that K. will withdraw her care or abandon us if we continue to talk about this.

All of this is overwhelming, awful, and at times unbearable. We’re not even sure where to start with grounding when we hit this level.  It’s a level of yuck feeling that isn’t really addressed on our Crisis Continuum.  

BDA Plans

I’ve had several requests for more information on Before During After (BDA) Plans.  This is a symptom management techniques I learned at Sheppard Pratt last year.

BDA Plans are used to prepare for events that may cause an increase in CPTSD and/or DID symptoms.  You might use them to plan for both positive and negative events.  This includes things like holidays, appointments, or telephone calls.

The plan has three sections, aptly named Before, During and After (the event). In each section, you identify what symptom management skills you can use at each point.

Some things to note:

  • Before starts whenever you need it to start.  This could be anywhere from days to hours before the event.
  • During is helpful to focus on grounding skills or whatever else you need to do to stay present.
  • After is just as important as any part of this plan, to help you in case of any impact after the event is over.  Self-soothing and Internal Communication (if needed) are very important here.
  • Use your Crisis Continuum as a guide to incorporate things that help into the BDA.

To give you an idea of how a BDA looks when all pulled together, here is one that I developed at Sheppard Pratt:

Event: Taking a Shower

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As you can see, Internal Communication is a big part of the entire process.  What helps us is the BDAs not only helps us plan for difficult situations, but helps us have a script/talking points for Internal Communication.  This plan in particular has been very helpful in building trust between parts during a vulnerable moment and in turn giving us power in our recovery.

Recorder Parts

I’ve long suspected I have parts whose job it is to report back to our abusers, but I’ve never had internal communication with them. Clara hinted that she couldn’t talk to our therapist, K., as freely anymore now that she knows there are others listening.

I didn’t write about this, but our session last week was abruptly halted when another part came forward to stop Clara from sharing with K. This part was not cooperative with K. and would not say much else.

K. asked for more clarification, like what does Clara mean others are listening, who, etc. Clara took K.’s clipboard and a blank sheet of paper and started “pretend writing” like someone is recording notes. “Like this, when people write for a long time and write down everything that happens.”

“That’s why I have to be careful because I know things even they don’t know.” Clara said proudly.

“Oh, you know things they don’t? So that’s why you don’t want to say them out loud because you don’t want them to write it down?” K. repeats.

“Yes.” Clara nods. “But I think…” Clara believes the recording parts can see too, and she really wants to tell K. something but keep it a secret from those other parts. She starts to draw on the paper on the clipboard. It’s a drawing of what looks like a girl sitting alone somewhere indoors. She is frowning/sad and looks up at a Pac-Man ghost floating above her in the center of the drawing. Clara gives the drawing to K.

It is clear K. wants to ask questions but is unsure how to do so given Clara’s concerns. It was nearing the end of the session anyway, so she thanked Clara and promised nobody else would see the drawing. That she would keep it safe.

Fast forward today, I’m surprised I can even remember this happening. I have zero emotion attached to Clara’s session with K. I’m not really sure what Pac-Man means or why parts would be writing things down except to maybe scare us.

They always used to threaten that the government gave them supplies to monitor us at all times like tape recorders. I guess it would make sense that I have parts that literally record things.

Maybe that’s why I am struggling so much building internal communication. Everyone is too scared to talk and have their conversations written down.