So far I\'ve had about 8 sessions with my psychologist. After the intial rough spots we have started to jive. At the beginning of our professional relationship I had really high expectations, and was disappointed a lot by his not emailing me the intial intake forms when he said he would, and accepting phone calls in the middle of our session from his son, and not understanding my mumbling…or something. After all that, and considering going with someone else I stuck it out. Despite all my complaining and hesitation I really felt like I should chill and wait to see what would happen. And it\'s hard for me to chill because I\'m a doer, and because it was scary to contact him in the first place. I haven\'t had any success with therapy in the past, so I had no reason to believe that it would go any different. But at the time I called I was getting to the end of my rope.
So, 8 sessions in and we\'ve started working through with the ACT therapy option. It has been hard to be patient with myself and process, but I feel like it\'s going somewhere good. For the past three-four weeks he has given me a "homework" assignment, which usually entails a question to ponder and report back on. I usually do this by sitting down and just typing out the thoughts that come to my mind. Since there are no wrong answers this has gone pretty well. I\'m going to post my reflections from my homework here, just in case anyone is curious about my progress over time.
Last week I really surprised myself by breaking down and sobbing and hyperventilating uncontrollably for a good five minutes or so. He just let me do it too. I tried to apologize amidst my blubbering, but he reassured me that it was okay to cry. I still hate crying regardless. But he didn\'t have a big reaction, no judgement, no interruptions….it was good, but I scared and embarassed myself.
I\'ve been feeling happier lately…or at least not as restless and wacky. Still a bit emotional, but not as off the handle. Hasn\'t stopped me from hugging random people that I like though. Which is a strange new development because I\'ve never been much of a hugger.
Therapy and Homework 9/21/2010
"Deep down in our humanity, in our “humanness”, we’re all perfect."
In therapy my doctor presented a metaphor that he would blindfold me, give me a bag that I\'ll "need", and set me loose in a field. What he doesn\'t tell me is that the field is full of big, deep holes. So I fall in a hole. Then he asks me what I do next. I say that I try to climb out. He\'s shocked asking that "Wouldn\'t you take off the blindfold?" It did not occur to me, so after some back and forth I agree that next I would take off the blindfold. Then he asks what I would do next. I reply that then I would try to find a way out. He asks in surprise, "You would not open the bag?" And again after some back and forth I\'m like "Okay I\'ll open the bag." So in the bag is a shovel. So what would I do with the shovel? I said I would try to carve out stairs into the walls of the hole, or dig it out from one side until the pile made a slope at the other side allowing me to walk out. After more back and forth, he convinced me these were not options. So, after even changing the metaphor to quicksand, and how struggling only makes you sink deeper into the pit where you will ultimately die. So, I am so think that with a shovel all you can do is dig deeper and deeper into the hole.
After talking about all my ways of coping with my anxiety over about 20 years, he is getting me to think about the idea that it\'s a bit weird that I\'ve been trying all these different things to cope, but they haven\'t really worked or truly helped me feel relief. So, the questions was raised, "When do you stop digging?" I just couldn\'t conceive that you wouldn\'t dig/or keep trying. The thing that gave me hope was that there must be some "solution" for my issues. And that one day I would finally feel relief from the symptoms of my anxiety/depression.
Upon discussing the “hole” metaphor with my husband we considered the idea that maybe I am the way I am. That there is no “solution” and no magic shut-off switch for my anxiety. That the whole point is that I have to live with it. Which was a very emotional and disheartening discovery!!! I really broke into tears when I said, “It’s not fair! I don’t want to live with this. I want it to die! I haven’t done…” I was about to say that I haven’t done so many things because I fear the symptoms of my anxiety. I have come to expect myself to be flaky and unreliable. I HAVEN’T done things I love because I’m afraid of my ANXIETY! This makes me so sad. Of all the regrets buzzing around in my head this one really came as a blow. It was like opening a door to a room you thought you knew the contents of, should know the contents of, but until you opened it you actually didn’t know. And it’s not pretty. The prospect of this new concept freaks me out big time, and makes me angry. It makes no sense that I spent so much time trying to get everyone else to believe in me and to think I\'m good enough, when I haven’t even believed in myself. It kinda makes sense because I really put a lot of value in what other people think of me, and their praise.
I think I\'m at the beginning of a long journey…