Holistic Depth Psychotherapy - Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC

Musings on the Metamorphosis of a Psychotherapist

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N Ditz

"My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of spring…"

~ Christina Rosseti

The Cadaverous Caterpillar:

The academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University states that the primary job of the larva stage or caterpillar is to "eat and eat and eat" so it might grow "up to 100 times its size" during this crucial time period. Ironically, during my mid adolescence, I was starving instead of eating. I lost close to 30 % of my originally already slender body weight. At the peak of my growth spurt, I seemed to be dying. My life hung precariously in the balance.

As a prepubescent child, I was only able to wander about in bemused leisure for very brief periods. Mostly, I was too busy trying to cope with the pains of growing up within a traumatizing second generation holocaust family. I experienced this familial crucible as riddled with thorny stress and sharp prickles that could sting me with little provocation like a hornet in a foul mood. I became increasingly preoccupied with trying hard to be a dutiful daughter in this harsh and suffocating cocoon. By the 5th grade, I was expected to study every moment that I wasn't in school or swimming endless laps on a junior swim team. I remember wistfully looking out the window at neighborhood kids playing kickball while my feet hung lifelessly, then evaporated into numb at my desk. Any questioning of the rules or less than perfect grades were consistently punishable offenses with fearfully long sentences and no option for bail.

As time unraveled, essential parts of the True Core Me felt as though they were entombed in a dark, subterranean deep freeze. I was heeling in my roots to preserve and protect them in a place no one could invade, not even my own self. It would take years and years of tough psychological shoveling and foraging in the hardpan of my defenses to unearth, thaw out, and set free what had once been buried for safe keeping.

During my early adolescence, my emotional struggle to adjust to a familial environment I found largely inhospitable to healthy growth blazed on. Increasingly, I began to directly taste and smell the strong acrid flavor of emotional affliction and free floating anxiety. A dark existential depression loomed like a vulture upon me;  its wingspan was not broad enough to measure the length of my despair. I began to feel as though the colors and meaning and magic were draining out of the sinkhole of my life. At the same time, however, I experienced a torrential hunger to make sense of my own emotional pain as well as that of the larger human condition. I longed to understand the ubiquitous and unfathomable motif of human suffering in the short tributary between birth and death.

Wooden clogs

Holly Marie Ma

"A walking skeleton, the victim of some terrible wasting disease,
like something out of the history books, a death camp survivor...
... the girl is none of those things.
Every lineament of the girl's wasted body is a testament to her inner turmoil."

~ Julia Hoban

By mid adolescence, my embodied self had seriously diminished along with my shrinking spirit and had exposed to the world, beyond the mask of my silent stoicism, my internal pandemonium of body- emotive distress. I went from having a healthy, slender, and athletic physique to wasting away into a pale, gaunt, and anorexic reed. Depression was literally devouring the flesh from my bones, cannibalizing me body and soul, as the outer tips of my vitality and hope seemed to experience a sort of dieback.

At the age of sixteen, I was very ill: weighing 82 pounds, without appetite, wracked with chronic gastric pain, freezing cold, and skewered by the prongs of agitated depression. I was forced to take a leave of absence from my high school and enter psychiatric facilities ranging from frankly abusive to benign but largely ineffectual. My ivy league parents considered throwing me into foster care as they were disturbed by my sadness and tearful visits home. My obvious embodiment of soul sickness was a silent accusation that something was terribly wrong in my family. I was described in one psychiatric report as appearing similar to a victim of a concentration camp. My parents honestly believed they had no culpability for contributing to my suffering and attributed my agony to my simply being a "difficult child" whose distress was merely an expression of my tendency toward "exaggeration".

Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC, Holistic Depth Psychotherapist

Voice Mail: (401) 573-6396  Email: info@holisticdepththerapy.com

Serving Rhode Island and Southeastern Connecticut