A Session Every Time I’m Restimulated

At a recent “mental health” liberation workshop, Janet Foner[1] counseled me on my leadership. As a leader, I know I am scared, but sometimes I can’t feel my fear or remember to work on it.

When I was thirteen, my parents divorced and my mother (whom I was living with) got so restimulated that she thought people were trying to kill us. I lived with both real and imagined dangers, and there was no room for being scared. I wasn’t supposed to have feelings. Nothing was supposed to upset me, and I was supposed to take care of my mother now that my father had left. I made a decision to be “tough.” Knowing I was not going to get help with the feelings, I decided to just go on. I survived by not noticing my feelings and putting one foot in front of the other, regardless of what was going on.[2] It worked well enough for surviving my childhood, but it doesn’t work so well for leading in RC, or for living a life without migraine headaches!

Janet counseled me on noticing I was scared and on getting all the sessions I needed on how scared I was. She proposed that I call for a Co-Counseling session every time I get restimulated. I already had at least two scheduled in-person sessions and six phone mini-sessions a week, and often called for additional mini-sessions, and already felt embarrassed and guilty about needing and getting so much help.

With distresses involving sex, it was often hard to call. The material[3] made me feel bad about myself, and bad about telling someone about it. I felt like a child who had been told not to tell anyone about sexual abuse, and I didn’t always feel hopeful that RCers would be able to counsel me on that.

Janet believed that the oppression I’d experienced—as an ex-psychiatric inmate, as the son of an ex-inmate, as a Gay man—combined with the leadership I’d taken, inside and outside of RC—meant that I needed much more discharge than I was getting. She also believed that I could actually get through the backlog of restimulation and live my life much more in present time.

She had offered me this challenge (of calling for sessions every time I got restimulated) before, but I hadn’t been ready to take it on[4] or even take it seriously. I had felt that if I was restimulated, I should decide to get my attention out and exhort myself to do something productive. However, I hadn’t been particularly good at making that decision, and getting unstuck, without being counseled by someone and discharging.

For the past several weeks I have been making lots of calls for sessions. Many times I have discharged well and then been able to do something more interesting than stay stuck in my distress. After discharging I have often found myself returning phone calls and staying on top of housework.[5] (Letting myself get restimulated, without cleaning up the restimulation, had led to messes accumulating in my house and my relationships.) I have reconnected with lots of people—especially people in other time zones and countries, as I am often restimulated late at night or early in the morning. This has been a wonderful reminder of the global nature of our RC Communities and a great contradiction to my isolation as a USer. It has had a positive effect on other people as well. People have enjoyed hearing from me. Some people have gotten sessions they would not otherwise have had. Some are even thinking of joining me in this radical experiment.

Sometimes I call and call, and all I get are answering machines. This is still a better use of my time than what I would have done otherwise. I probably would have frittered away time on Facebook,[6] or restimulated myself even more by looking at pornography.

I find I can move things that I didn’t know I could move, but sometimes it takes half a day to get enough discharge to really move them. In the past, if I got a ten-minute mini-session I would slog along afterward in a heavy, discouraged way and be a little more productive. I would feel that if something hadn’t moved with ten minutes of discharge, then it wouldn’t move. In fact, some distresses require repeated whacks to get through. Yesterday I spent most of the day having mini-sessions, and then suddenly and unpredictably I started crying heavily. Then my attention was really out, instead of just a little better.

I’ve noticed that once I reach a tipping point of restimulation, it is much harder to reach out and ask for a session—even with my decision in place and after all my successes. I need to anticipate when the heavy stuff is going to come up and schedule sessions in advance.

Sometimes I can’t tell[7] if I’m restimulated or not. What does it mean to call every time I’m restimulated, when I still have chronic distresses? Doesn’t having chronic distresses mean that I’m restimulated all the time? Perhaps, but there seems to be a tipping point when I start to believe the distresses, or they keep me from doing what I want to do. (Sometimes they even keep me from knowing what I want to do.)

I’m still learning when I need to call for a mini, but there are some cues I’ve noticed. I need to call for a mini when

I want to look at pornography
I don’t know what I want to do
I can’t get myself to do what I want to do
I’m upset about something
I just got into an argument with somebody
The world looks like a miserable, hopeless, scary place
I am alone, and I want to eat sugar
I want to eat foods that are bad for me
I feel alone
I can’t tell if I’m restimulated
I don’t “feel like” calling anyone.

It seems obvious to me now that these are good times to get a session, but in the moment it is often a struggle. To the reader: I’d be interested in your list. I would also be interested in counseling with you. I am probably looking for a session right now!

Thank you so much, Janet, for suggesting this project. There is something you understand about RC that we can all learn from. I am lucky to have you thinking about me.

“Henry Church”
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
lists for RC Community members and
for leaders of “mental health” liberation

[1] Janet Foner is the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation.
[2] “Going on” means happening.
[3] “Material” means distress.
[4] “Take it on” means act on it.
[5] “Staying on top of housework” means doing housework when it needs to be done.
[6] Facebook is a popular social-networking site on the Internet.
[7] “Tell” means perceive, notice.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00