Blog Feed

Therapy (Version 2.0): Part 1

My thoughts and observations following my assessment session for on 15/10/2019.

Covered in this session

  • Introductions
  • Identified what was to be covered in session
  • Identified main issue to be addressed
  • Established level of immediate risk
  • Next appointment time agreed.

Reflections

Wow, what a difference a change of therapist can make.

Those of you that have read my previous blog posts about therapy will be aware of how negatively I tend to approach it, but despite not having a session for almost a month I have managed to maintain my determination to get better. I’m not saying I haven’t considered giving up on therapy and going it alone – I have, whenever I feel less bad – but my mild panic attack the other day opened my eyes to how much I am struggling. I can only assume that if I didn’t have the benefit of 20 years of experience with mental health issues and various therapies that I would be in a much less functional state right now.

Back to the assessment though. It was a pre-planned phone call with a trainee therapist called Rose. She introduced herself and talked through the format of the assessment, which was undertaken much more comprehensively than for the online therapy.

Most of the session was similar to before, ie. the therapist asking for personal about the areas in which I have been struggling.

I briefly explained to Rose my history of mental health issues. I also explained that I now believe that my current struggles are related to the postnatal depression (PND) that I developed over 2 years ago and never received treatment for. My PND was compounded by interpersonal issues at work (some would say bullying). The bad experiences at work resulted in me feeling such severe guilt, anxiety, stress, self-doubt, depression and low confidence that I believe I am essentially traumatised by these events and that is why CBT isn’t right for me just yet. Rose suggested that a better path for me would be some counselling, followed by CBT once I am in a position to focus more on the here and now.

Finally, I thought, someone is actually listening to me!

In addition to immediately having more of a rappor with Rose, I also had the benefit of a few weeks of soul-searching and reflection on the last therapy to build a more articulate depiction of my current mental state. I felt I had a better grasp of what I did and didn’t want from therapy and therefore felt more in control of the assessment process. I felt that recommendations were reached with mutual input, rather than me being forced along a standard path of treatment, as if that was the only option.

Overall I felt much more was covered in a shorter time than in the online sessions. We overran the allotted time by 15 minutes but at no point did I feel rushed.

Conclusion

I found it much easier to built a rappor with Rose due to the assessment being done over the phone rather than the clunky chatting format. Her approach was friendly and quite passive (in a good way), rather than insisting on validating everything I said in a patronising manner, which is how I felt my last therapist approached things.

I feel so relieved to talk to someone that actually seemed to listen to what I was saying and understood it.

However, I am fairly sure that my positive experience has a lot to do with the therapist undertaking the assessment (Rose), so if I am referred to another therapist for the counselling then I may find myself in a similar position to the last therapy, where we just didn’t ‘click’. This may cause me some anxiety initially, but hopefully it will prove to be unfounded.

Mood at start of session: Anxious

Mood at end of session: Positive

Has anyone else had a similar experience with therapy? I would love to hear from you.

When Anxiety Bites

Warning: Post contains gratuitous introspection and bad jokes.

Today I had a full-on anxiety attack; the first in years. I experience perpetual low-level generalised anxiety related to “life”, but this was so close to becoming a panic attack – tremors, shortness of breath, literally running away from the situation… OK, so maybe it was a mild panic attack – it took me by surprise, is my point.

Reflecting on it now, it isn’t at all surprising. All the warning signs were there; trouble sleeping, irritability, disturbing thoughts. I have had a stressful week in parenting terms and I actually mentioned to my partner the other day that I needed a break. It’s quite hard to have a proper break with a newborn though, so I’m not sure what greater self-awareness would have achieved in this scenario.

On the plus side, I have something specific to discuss with my new therapist during my appointment this week, yay?

I was only half joking in my last post when I claimed that watching the documentary about “super morbidly obese” people was research. I mean, I do have a complicated relationship with food and impulse control, so I was actually curious to see whether the programme helped me to get into the mindset where I could focus more on my unconscious motivations for binging. It appears that I may have accidentally triggered myself in the process. Duh, well done me.

After six months of being off work (maternity leave, taken early just to GTFO) I am still only just starting to tap into what the underlying causes of my anxiety are. It’s going to take a lot more work to really drill down to the core issues.

My problems with anxiety have cropped up several times since my late teens, but the last time I had therapy was early 2015. So there is FIVE YEARS worth of baggage that I’m trying to sift through.

I feel that I’m an onion (not the smelly kind) and I’m having to peel back the layers of armour that I’ve built around myself just to get through life and present as a functioning human being.

So, I’m an armoured anxiety onion.

Ha, maybe my rings just need battering?

Maybe I should go to sleep.

***

Have you any tips for ways to tap into deeper motivations behind emotions and behaviours? If so, please leave a comment. I’m open to new ideas!

Dairy Free Days: A Confession

I am very happy to announce that I have remained dairy free for a few days now. I’ve been diligently checking packets and refusing foods that I cannot verify as dairy-free.

However, I am spotting a potential pitfall of this obsessive packet-reading, being that I seem to have shifted my focus from eating healthy foods that are naturally dairy-free to trying to find acceptable substitutes to the foods I want. I’ve eaten a lot of dark chocolate mousse and protein bars so far this week.

I hope that by noting and admitting this in this public space, I will keep this budding bad habit in check, if only to save face!

I will update this blog soon with my progress, so watch out for any omission of this particular issue (in the event that I’ve simply scoffed a week’s worth of fake chocolate and iced buns).

As for whether my son is feeling the benefit of this change? Its kinda hard to tell as any progress is probably being compounded by what appears to be early teething. This week, he has mostly been grumpy.

Twittering

So I’m finally jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, only a decade too late but hey-ho.

I thought it might help to have somewhere to share my little nuggets of wisdom (ha) as well as keeping me in the loop on online trends so that I can better respond to my potential audience.

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really ‘get’ it and never have, but perhaps it’s time to change that.

Anyway, if you would like to follow me or give me feedback on my blog or tweets, please feel free! I will happily follow you back.

@girlvstights

Cotton Fresh Produce Bags FTW!

Perhaps I missed the memo on this, but I was pleasantly surprised to spot these (reasonably priced) fresh bags for sale at Sainsbury’s, for use with their weighing scales.

They are apparently made of cotton and can be recycled alongside other textiles if required.

I thought they seemed a bargain at 30p a pop, so immediately purchased a few and made my way over to my local greengrocers to test them out…

Probably not quite what Sainsbury’s wanted me to do, but hey, I’m on a tight budget!

If only the greengrocer staff weren’t so incredulous about the bags; surely they have missed a great business opportunity here?

Hooray! Dairy-free Day!

A small victory, but today is the first day I’ve gone 100% dairy-free in 4 or 5 years, so I feel this is noteworthy.

In truth, I don’t think I’ve actually ever gone a full week 100% dairy free – see my post about being a rubbish vegan – so if I achieve that then I’ve probably smashed my previous record.

If I manage two weeks dairy free, then I really hope by that point that my baby will be feeling the benefit as the amount of lactose/animal protein should be massively reduced.

So, I’m 1/14 of the way there..? Unfortunately no celebration cake for me though.