I am doing a research assistantship over summer within a mental health team. Every week we have a research team meeting covering a specific area that someone on the floor is working on, or we get a specific training.
Earlier, my supervisor let us know what the next research team meeting will be focusing on. I will not write exactly what it is here, but as it turns out, we will be discussing a very sensitive topic – one which is close to the bone for me.
The academic, studious, motivated and rational part of me wants to go to the meeting, because it is a very important topic and the research around it is invaluable. Wearing my “professional” hat, I think it could be interesting and important for me to attend. I am sure I could learn a lot, and it may even help me understand myself and my experiences further.
On the other hand, I can barely look people in the eye nor regulate my internal response when someone as much as mentions this specific topic. The emotional, fearful, traumatised Borderline me is far too scared to attend; there is no way I can go to the research team meeting if we are discussing what my supervisor told me.
It is too close to the bone for comfort. Anything associated with it has the potential to evoke a strong mental, emotional and bodily reaction in me based on my own past. It is not a straightforward reaction, nor one I am able to control at this stage. I am too vulnerable. I have not worked through it yet in therapy. I do not want to dissociate. Or have a panic attack! I don’t want to become dysregulated in the work environment, in my professional role. There are so many reasons to not go.
However, there is a catch. If I do not go to the meeting, I am worried that my absence will inadvertently draw more attention to me. People will wonder why I am not there. Although not everyone goes to the team meetings every week, most people do, and I have yet to miss a single one. If I miss this one – a particularly sensitive one such as this – I am concerned that people will know exactly why. They will know I am avoiding it; they will know it must be because the topic is something I have had experience of; and they will know that I do not feel able to face it in that capacity… they will probably then doubt my ability as an aspiring psychologist/ researcher/ academic.
(The fact that a handful of them know I have BPD – or have at least seen some of my old scars – may make it easier for them to do the guesswork, if my absence is noted)
I do not know what I am meant to do. I want to email my supervisor to ask specifically what will come up, and ask if it is okay to skip the meeting that week depending on her answer. However, if I bring it up with her, she will realise why I am asking to skip the meeting and what it means. (She knows I have BPD, she knows a little of my history – it will not take much to put two and two together.)
I do not want anyone to know about it, nor connect me to the topic in any personal way. So I need to not avoid the meeting. And yet, I do not feel able to go to the meeting because of the topic and the reasons above. (My face went red at the mention of it by my supervisor within that five second conversation, and I start panicking at the mere thought.)
I feel stuck. I have been thinking about it for hours. The part of me that catastrophises is saying I should just stay home that day and pretend I am ill – so that I can avoid this whole palaver altogether.
Overall, Emotion Mind says both DO NOT GO to the meeting and GO to the meeting at the same time, based on the different reasons and emotions above. I don’t even know what my Reasonable Mind is thinking. Either way, there is no middle option – I either go or I do not – and so I am at a loss as to what a Wise Minded decision would be.
I do not often ask for advice on here, but any thoughts would be much appreciated with this one!