Of Transference and Empathy

Yesterday I had my appointment with M. It was good.

One of the most embarrassing things I told her was that to me, she’s like a big sister. I asked her if it was wrong to see her this way. She then went on a lengthy explanation about what is transference and how it applies to what I feel with regards to her. She said that no, it wasn’t wrong for me to see her like a big sister, since it reflects my very positive relationship with one of my actual sisters.

You see, I have 2 sisters, who I will call MM and Y. I have a very good relationship with MM, she was the first one in my family who I told I had depression and BPD. She’s the sister I will be visiting over Christmas break. My other sister, Y, lives at home and I also have a good relationship with her. However, Y has a very strong character and our relationship doesn’t really span the emotional side. It’s really superficial simply because I’m too shy and embarrassed to say anything personal to her, and she also puts up her own walls.

So M and I discussed how it would be good if our relationship simulates that of MM and myself. However, if it is similar to the relationship I have with Y, then there would be things we would still have to work on in therapy. Thankfully, it simulates my relationship with MM, which means there’s a lot of positive things in my relationship with M. One of those things is trust.

Still, the highlight of the appointment was when M called me empathic. You have no idea what it means to me that a doctor would call me empathic. You see, empathy is something that I consider to be extremely important in medicine. Sometimes I doubt whether I’m empathic enough, so M calling me empathic was the highlight of my day. She said it’s an important quality for me to reach my goal of being a Psychiatrist. On a side note, it goes to show that us Borderlines can, in fact, be empathic. So, take that, BPD-critics!

M and I also discussed my suicidal thoughts. They’ve become quite invasive and unwelcome, which is a good sign because it means I’m not indulging in thoughts about death. M said they’re probably related to all the stress I’m having recently, what with the coming test and my trip to visit my sister. And she’s right. I hadn’t realized this, but the thoughts about death always happen at moments of stress. For example, I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts as soon as I arrive at my school’s amphitheater to take class. It’s a very stressful situation for me, having to go there and take classes for half a day in a dark and cold amphitheater. So, I guess I’ll have to learn to manage my stress in more effective ways.

Like I said, it was a good appointment. Lots of positivity flowing during the 40 minutes it lasted.ย 

Well, I’ll be leaving now, to…you guessed it….study.

  1. From reading your writing you clearly are empathetic ๐Ÿ™‚ I think with Borderlines our struggle can be that even though the empathy is there, our emotions can be so intense they end up taking priority – which given the intensity of BPD emotions is completely understandable. So, we just need the skills to make sure we're balancing the needs of others as well as our own. We know how to care, we just need to remind our brain circuitry to factor it in!

    So given how intelligent you clearly are, your empathy will be loud and clear when you're treating patients – unless they're arguing with you ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I mean seriously who argues with a doctor who's helping them?! Love, Jess xox


  2. Jess, thank you for the lovely comments, as usual! I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're definitely on the right track there. Our feelings are so intense and visceral that they have the capacity to take over us. It's something I worry about constantly as I'm studying medicine and I'm always reminding myself to keep my emotions in check when having activities that involve patients. In my opinion, us borderlines are VERY empathetic, considering how intense our feelings are. We're capable of being the type of person who “just gets you”, simply because we understand what a tormented life can be like. Know what I mean?

    Take care!


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