Thursday, July 7, 2016

I will shrink my own head, thank you very much.

     So I recently decided to try therapy.  Actually, I recently decided to try therapy, and then even more recently than that decided to quit therapy.  I am sure the therapist think I have commitment issues, but the truth is I just generally do not trust therapists.
     There was a combination of two things that were really the impetus for giving therapy a go.  The first was that my anxiety levels have been increasing gradually since baby number two, and have been reaching something of a fever pitch. My doctor insists that I go off my Cymbalta, and, as we all know, that is not my favorite thing for her to say. Changing medication is like playing reverse Russian roulette: all the chambers are filled with hormonal rage monsters except for one, and that one contains just a normal monster that causes some weight gain.
     Yeah, my doctor is going to need to pull my Cymbalta from my cold dead fingers.
     Anywhoo...I decided to try and manage the anxiety through therapy.
     The other reason I tried therapy is because of the little girl.  She has been having a lot of nightmares, and sometimes gets scared in the middle of the day for no reason.  We'll be in the car, and all of a sudden she'll tell me she's really scared.  I remember feeling like that when I was little, and it was terrible.  I actually still feel like that, only now, only I realize it's anxiety. So, I thought that if I learned some techniques to deal with my anxiety, I could help the little one when she is feeling scared.
     The problem is that I get really annoyed at when a therapist asks me questions, which, I realize kinda limits how much a therapist can help me.  It's not that I don't like being reflective.  I am Dr. Reflective Ph.D., but it has been my experience that most therapists ask presumptive and/or leading questions in hopes of discovering my "real" problems. When I was a kid I felt like my therapists were looking for a history of sexual abuse, or a fear of abandonment, as if I had experienced it, but didn't know about it; so annoying.  Often when I explain to therapists that my father is schizophrenic, their eyes light up and they practically start salivating.  I told my latest therapist that I had always been independent and she responded, "Is that because you schizophrenic father couldn't provide for you?" C'mon, for real?
     I am not saying that people should not try therapy, and I have had a good therapist at one point, but generally, I don't think its for me.
     One positive thing that did come out of my latest endeavor with therapy was that I began reading Mind Over Mood, a workbook that trains the reader to use cognitive behavioral therapy to cope with anxiety, guilt, phobias and so on.  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a really focused therapy technique that uses concrete steps that help the patient deal with with distinct thought and behavior problems as articulated by the patient; articulate the problem, devise a plan, establish a goal. Follow through. Boom. Sounds good, right?  I had originally hoped the latest therapist could walk me through the process, but then she started trying to "uncover" the damage my parents had caused, and I couldn't handle it.  The book I ultimately feel is helping though.
     The problem I wanted help with was the endless stream of embarrassing memories that my brain perpetually harasses me with.  You know how sometimes you'll be lying in bed ready to drift off to sleep and all of a sudden you'll remember the time in elementary school when you laughed and shot snot all over the lunch table?  Or the time you were on a bowling field trip and partnered with a boy you had a crush on, and you were so distracted that you rolled the ball without any pins set up?  Or the time you were belting it out in the back of the band room and everyone heard you in the practice rooms?  Or how you're so stupid and incompetent and everyone thinks you're weird...gah!!!!
     This happens to other people, right?  Well, it happens to me endlessly.  Since I started reading the book, I've been timing how often this happens to me.  If I'm not actively engaged in something, my brain will torment me about every six minutes.  Usually I get so embarrassed and anxious about it, I have to say something out loud to relieve the tension, which makes me look like a crazy person.  The whole thing is very exhausting.
     So, the book is helping me with that.  I have this little chart that I feel out whenever I have an "anxiety storm" that has me describe where I was when I had the memory, what exactly I remembered and how it made me feel.  The I am supposed to find evidence that supports my interpretation of the memory, as well as evidence that might support a more balanced interpretation of the memory. I think it's kind of working.  I think I've been having fewer attacks, and when I do have them, my brain kind of automatically begins to analyze the memory, so I don't start to catastrophize what happened.  So it's good; it's a start anyway, and there is something refreshing about making progress.

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