Things are rarely as they seem
People come to therapy when they "decompensate."
This is a purely technical term that has nothing to do with how we, therapists (hopefully), are with our clients. But therapists, we sometimes have plenty of technical shit in our heads, so yes, we use this miserable and cold "decompensate".
To decompensate simply means that long-used means of transportations that a client has been using are starting to decline. Somehow doable drives are becoming impossible tours. Sight-seeing voyages are turning blurred, nightmarish trips as everything seems gray, black, messy, fuzzy—a bummer.
You'd be surprised how "overcompensated" we people are... just as you'd be surprised how bad relationships are people having and how much cheating and abuse is going on.
One evening, the FB algorithm showed me a picture of someone, and I had this impression - but I know this person! I know this name. But I have no idea who she is. Where did I meet her?
In my social-media down-the-rabbit-hole moment, I did some clicks and in a few sec, her it was. Omg, I was utterly impressed! How she looks! What she says! How she presents herself! How adorable is she!! With that million $ action-driven, "just do it" Olympic winner mindset shining through an absolutely brilliant, fascinating, seductive go-getter persona!!
Everything perfect. Everything "as it should be." Highly professional, top of the tops, straight-A.
Honestly, I started to feel pretty much like a failure scrolling through all that info about her.
OK, not failure; like a shit.
"Investigating", I still had no idea why her name is so familiar to me?
Instead, my mind started to focus on me. Recovering all the projects I planned and didn't start since 2002. I began to think about things I started and didn't finish since 2017. I began to think about stuff I have done and achieved since 1977... no, actually, I wasn't thinking about them, Karen, that didn't cross my mind at all! #lol
Instead, I was using my brill mental focus to think how some folks are so fucking self-confident... while some losers, like me, are fucking "working for" self-confidence... well, more often than we'd wish for.
Even though I know, as a client and mental-health professional and intelligent human, comparisons are poison, an absolute no-go, the worst strategy to nurture self-confidence... well, my monkey mind grabbed that social-media opportunity and did a workout!! And there I was, slipping in the mud of self-critique and negativity, smoothly and fluffy like a choco mousse made with avocado.
So boring. So real.
Then, something shifted.
I started to think, wow, how hard this must be for her!
How freaking difficult this must be? To hold up such a polished, no-fucks-given persona and build a career from it! Being a tough, uncompromising woman, always in for more, always in for better, always in for... all.
OK, yes. Perhaps it was my own frustration. Or jealousy. Some kind of a sophisticated psychological defense. I mean, I'm human. I have my shadows. And nastiness. And these kind of triggering situations are then opportunity to reflect and get to know myself eve more.
But perhaps it was also a sort of clairvoyance, rooted in more than 25 years of education and two decades of clinical work?
Well, who knows.
Humans and human machines
I know some people have kinda "low levels" of emotionality. They function very rationally. They are straightforward, and, as weird as this sounds, they do resemble human machines. For example, if they get upset... well, they don't get upset. As a highly sensitive person, I need like 3 days to process a highly emotional situation, incapable of doing anything but feeding myself and sleeping, as those human machines simply move on and execute swiftly, with that machine-like weird, artificial grace.
I'm not saying that lady is functioning in mentioned way.
But her persona is for sure offering this kind of impression.
Persona is an adaptive strategy that doesn't work for real.
It is overcompensation.vWhich sooner or later leads to decompensation.
This kind of masculine, no-negotiable image of perfection is even less believable and sustainable for women. Because women are all about cycles. Nothing in a woman's world is linear. Organically, women don't respond well to bigger, better, pressure, more. Organically, women don't respond to hustle, or when we try harder, more. We don't thrive when we work hard to bypass emotions and control - emotions, weight, body look, wombs, relationships, careers.
This works temporarily like a few years, even decades. Then it collapses, and women decompensate.
If not sooner, when we reach brinks of perimenopause or menopause.
Decompensation is an intro step to the healing crisis. Healing crisis is an absolute mess—the more potent the overcompensation, the messier the decompensation.
Often we underestimate the psyche.
We're shocked when long-buried emotions and feelings etc. surface and shit hits the fan.
We assume I will talk about this with someone and it will be fine (an understandable wish). Or, I will take a magic pill (please, think it through deeply). Or, it will be over in a few weeks (it rarely is). Or, I will keep my life as it is (you won't).
When a crisis hits, we sometimes cannot work. We need rest. Sleep a lot. We need to change our routines, eating habits. We need to change the people around us. We need to ask for help. We need therapy. We need rest. We need to learn how to self-regulate. Or quiet our mind. Get grounded. Else.
What I want to say is, it is OK to do go into this. It is OK to allow the conditioned self to dissolve and die, so we are reborn as I, as real. Noone really needs everything perfect, everything polished. It's not particularly ecological either.
Our ideal polished personas are very well-designed conditioned strategies, and they don't make other people feel terrific at all.
Of course, you can argue, but we are not responsible for other people's feelings, which is accurate. However, we influence each other, and the point here is, perfect and polished is questionable. It doesn't make anyone happy, not really utterly organically happy.
The morning after that social media trip, when I woke up, I suddenly remembered.
There was a vague memory of an auditorium. With colleagues, we were sitting as a young lady was coming up the stairs. Someone whispered she is new and very ambitious; this is her second bachelor's degree she's been taking, simultaneously.
As far as I recall, she didn't finish that second BA's.
And she doesn't mention this in her impressive bio.
I mean, I wouldn't either if I was in her shoes.
But I think you got the point.
Things are rarely entirely as they seem.
What does it mean to decompensate? In psychotherapy, as clients, we start with work when we "decompensate", which means our personas - public masks - are not functioning anymore. To get well again, we need to make a change and face our real, buried feelings and emotions. This is often a painful process that demands lots of time, energy, and persistence. However? The award is immense. We get ourselves - true selves - back!
Tina Bozic is a psychologist and psychotherapist in private practice (est. 2009). She is practicing holistic energy-based psychotherapy for women willing to relentlessly follow their Souls. She helps women use body’s innate wisdom and develop radical self-love so they can call on their Souls to guide them.