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All Her "Yesterdays:"

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Larissa Boley

on 27 February 2016

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Transcript of All Her "Yesterdays:"

The Song-Writing Process:
A Women's Struggle Against
Depression and Suicide

Presented by: Larissa Boley

Patient- Jean, 27 year old female
When first admitted she was finishing her training to become a nun (converted to Catholicism 8 years earlier and entered the convent 6 years earlier)
Admitted for several suicide gestures and depression
With each admission she was placed in a group music therapy session along with individual music therapy sessions.
Months prior to her admission Jean said she felt increasingly depressed and troubled.
Treatment Process: First Hospitalization
Jean's therapy focused on communicating needs
Became hurt/resentful when her needs were not met
However, had excessive feelings of guilt or took too much responsibility concerning the behavior of her peers
Jean would blame more than often blame others for their problems making her feeling helpless
Jean felt anxious all the time; fearing been seen if she messed up
Jean was placed into a music therapy group where she worked on communication skills and social interaction goals
Jean at first was quiet and withdrawn and refused to participate in the improvisation sessions and passively participated in the singing/listening exercises.
Four weeks passed and Jean remained quiet but there was a general brightening to her affect.
Eye contact improved
Peer interaction was better than before, became more friendly and open
Second Hospitalization
After discharged, Jean returned to the convent, seeing a psychiatrist every month.
Jean visited her home, Jean regressed into her suicide tendencies, depression, became irritable and once again questioned her life choices
Was readmitted and requested to be placed in the same music therapy group because it made her safe exploring her family history issues
Jean became more engaged and found that songwriting helped her express her feelings, the responses her group gave Jean for her song helped her to build a more positive self-image.
Three weeks later Jean shared her original song that she wrote herself, identifying issues that many of the group members raised during session.
The group requested copies and together the group learned the song, over time Jean starting sharing her story of being emotional abandoned.
Jean kept seeing her therapist and music therapy group outside of the hospital
Jean's medications were monitored
The ultimate goal for both was to master the parental issues and to nurture and support her while she tries independent life
When Jean's anxiety became a issue again, she was asked to write another original song and bring to the group.
This time Jean was able to express how the show expressed what she was feeling
Out Patient Treatment
Jean did volunteer work at a hospital
Helped her to gain a sense of contribution to helping other recovering patients
Jean worked her music therapist to record her songs
Jean started working house cleaning
Would come into her music therapy session feeling anxious and upset so her music therapist asked Jean to do imaging exercises to help her explore/identify the source of her feelings
She discovered that her self-destructive impulses, manifested as a form of a dragon.
She learned to gauge the seriousness of her thoughts through size and degree of danger
When it reappeared she need positive reinforcement in the form of phone calls, relaxation exercises, and journal writing
Writing A Life Song
There were several factors to her feelings:
moving to a new convent house while attending college
conflicts with another nuns
brother's discharge from the Marines due to alcohol problems
constant disapproval from her father
These feelings led Jean to engage in impulsive behavior (cutting, swallowing windshield washer fluid etc.)
Jean grew up in a rural setting
Father and grandfather were alcoholics
Brother was into alcohol as well, becoming increasingly bitter towards his sister.
Father also had numerous affairs and was described as harsh and negative with Jean
Jean's mother was kind and cared about Jean's well being but was passive towards the behavior of Jean's father
Jean had a decent life outside of the home.
After graduating, Jean found work and eventually moved into her own apartment. She started to attend a local Catholic church, loved the feeling of being "at peace," was later baptized, became a member of the church.
Father threatened to disown her; Jean decided to become a nun at age 21
Jean was always worried about failing, displeasing others, and having everyone she knew abandon her
During this time Jean started to experience marked ataxia, falling on several occasions and ended with several injuries.
She became discouraged and was put on medication to reduce her depressive and suicidal tendencies.
Weeks following, Jean seemed depressed in the group sessions and was asked to perform her song again. after during so she told the group that she was having flashbacks about the time when she was 7 years old, when she was raped.
Tried to tell her mother but Jean's mother said; "good girls" don't talk about such things
Jean was trying to understand why she brought this particular memory up, why she shared it and why it made her feel so strongly.
Jean was put on high watch and wasn't allowed to join the group due to her consistent cutting.
Jean during this time decided that she did not want to be a nun anymore and was taken out of the sisterhood
Jean enters into a women's shelter where she stabilizes, finding a job to manage her impulses
Jean's music therapist introduced her to a title track, "Cristofori's Dream" by David Lanz which sparked the desire of writing another song.
Throughout the weeks of writing the lyrics, Jean expressed feelings of guilt and frustration and hopelessness she felt even though everything in her life for once was good
Jean began to realize that she did not "trust" her good feelings because she felt she would be punished for having them was due to her father's behavior and how that behavior was developed through childhood
Jean's borderline personality features started to overwhelm her, Jean started to feel an overabundance of abandonment
Jean's fear of abandonment by both therapist continues but she also began to express her rage towards her parents, with her feelings of disloyalty and guilt followed suit.
When she self-destructive thoughts increased, Jean started to call her therapist with everyday and she shared with them that her in hospital fall attributed to ataxia was deliberate
She would now promise that she wouldn't hurt herself if the therapist would talk with her
Jean took a turn for the better, she took time to be more assertive in her life
Jean and her music therapist finally finish her song
Final Thoughts
Jean did visit her parents and she asked her father to stop putting her down
She helped him with a project, which ease their time together and at the end of week her father thank her for her help. This was a huge step
However, Jean's fear that her therapists were leaving her and was convinced that if she couldn't see them they weren't there.
Jean was admitted to the hospital again when she put her face through a window
After this experience Jean realized her positive qualities and accepted that her therapist weren't going to leave her.
Jean worked through her anxiety attacks without self destructive behavior, she was able to say no to herself and choose a more healthier option.
Jean got a stable job and actually had a group therapy session with her family.
Jean's family said they were hurt, they felt their actions of providing food and shelter were ways to show support. They admitted that they didn't know how to show support with "words"
It was brought to light that alcohol addiction and physical abuse ran in the family and wanted to continue sessions together.
Jean relapsed several times, meetings with her therapists doubled, admitted to hospitals became more frequent, her feelings of anxiety and abandonment lingered until finally Jean was placed a half-way house.
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