Monthly Archives: November 2020

Therapy 2020: Session 13

Date of session: 25/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

I’m not sure how this post will go or if it will make sense due to my current mental state. Please bear with me.

I felt very unwell going into the session today. I’ve had a bad week and struggled a lot. I’ve not felt “with it” and have withdrawn from most people.

We started the session with a recap of where I am with self harm. This has not improved but has not worsened. She then suggested looking at some things linked to trauma. This took me by surprise as we haven’t touched on it for several weeks. I could of done with some warning. It was very hard to discuss. She seems to have a habit of making guesses that are spot on in her examples. This does make me feel like something is connected.

A lot was spent looking at trauma and it’s link to my core beliefs. There was a lot of memory recall required and my brain felt ready to explode and became a mess. I felt I couldn’t get things out right. I felt I was making little sense. I felt overwhelmed. The voice started.

I felt myself becoming more and more separate. I talked about dissociation. We looked at things I can do to bring myself back. They are things I’m aware of. Making use of senses and mindfulness. This is what I need to practice over the next week.

I feel utterly drained after the session. I’m not completely with it. This is all I can manage. I’m sorry.

Therapy 2020: Session 12

Date of session: 18/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

The usual dread of therapy still was present before the session. I had left my homework until the last minute in what I think was a rebellious “I’m not going to do it” followed by “I can’t not do homework”. I always have done my homework. So I did it and we didn’t look at it.

We started with the usual “How’s your week been?” To which I answer not too bad. Which we decided was me dismissing what had in fact been a god awful week. So we needed to explore this and I was asked again how my week had been.

We discussed some issues and talked about my feeling of separation from others. We looked into how it might be a mixture of depression and dissociation. And based on the events that had happened she thought dissociation was likely the biggest issue.

We carried on with the formulation that we have been doing. This is about exploring core beliefs and changing them. Today we looked at how recent events affected them. We spent most of the session on this.

Finally she had some words she wanted to share about my current situation and the effect of my mental health. I understood them and I’ve heard them before. If only things were simple.

My homework this week is to practice identifying emotions regularly. I’m dreading it as its something that I find so hard even using the pro forma from DBT. We shall see how it goes.

This week’s review is a little shorter as the things discussed were very personal and not something I can currently share. I hope you understand. Thank you.

Where I Am

Recently my blog has mainly been my therapy posts. There have not been many other types of posts and if they’re are they are ones I’ve had ready for a while. There are reasons behind this and I feel I just want to do a little update.

Currently my mental health is incredibly poor. The whole covid thing has obviously taken its toll on me with many of the things I do to keep well taken away from me. I’ve had several medication increases. Otherwise I’ve been told I’m doing all the right things to keep well but obviously some are restricted.

My physical health has also been an issue. Back in February I had the cancer scare and it revealed an issue that although not cancer did require further investigation and treatment. It led to me starting a course of steroids in April which was earlier than planned due to complications. I was then on them until October. They really effected my mental health and caused mania to begin with. I’m now being monitored still to check nothing returns.

I also have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Throughout the summer this was fine but with the cold weather the pain has been excruciating and prevented me doing more that keeps me well. I’ve been waiting for help with this for over a year and have an appointment next month to be assessed. My other joints also seem to be more and more painful.

I’m currently doing therapy and if you read my blog regularly you know it’s not been plain sailing. At times it has left me in a much worse place. It’s draining. And I’m really struggling.

With all thats been going on it has meant that I’ve had to prioritise other things that I’m working on in order to manage everything in my life. This has included contributions to a book and a project to combat stigma of people with an EUPD (BPD) diagnosis in my local mental health trust. I’m also trying to see if I can use my art as some form of income. This is on top of normal daily living and supporting clinically vulnerable people in my family.

I’m still passionate about my blog and its not going anywhere but posts may be a little more sporadic. I’m aiming to keep my social media accounts, linked to the blog, busy so please feel free to join them.

I’m so grateful to all the support I receive and I want to continue to honour that with content. There will be content (I will have 5 more therapy posts to go up and there are others planned), it just may be less regular.

To keep up to date you can follow the blog on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You may also like to visit my art pages on Facebook or Instagram.

If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments.

Thank you again for all your support.

Love and hugs. Jo πŸ’š

Therapy 2020: Session 11

Date of session: 11/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

I’m not sure where to begin with today’s session except its left me in a very bleak place. And if I’m honest I didn’t start in a very good place either. My mood has been extremely low. This isn’t just the ups and downs of life, this is sinking depression. I know the signs. I’ve lived with it long enough to know when I’m going into a full on depressive episode.

We started by looking at the task set for me last week of finding three good moments each day. I explained I’d found this extremely difficult and had only managed at most one a day. I said it was probably due to my mood being so low. She asked if anything had triggered the low mood and honestly nothing has that I can think of. Therefore the old addage of just be positive was put on the table. This is where she started to lose me for the session.

She decided we needed to do an exercise to find the positives. Fair enough I thought. She had me list what I could remember doing yesterday. She asked how I’d felt about those things. I said I hadn’t felt any enjoyment in them and they just felt like hardwork at the moment. I was being honest. I got asked if I thought everything had to be enjoyable and easy. Of course not. I live in the real world and know that life does not work that way. What I was getting across was that I’m struggling to look for the good and can’t find the energy. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

We went through each thing I’d done. She said I’d been productive. I knew this. It didn’t make it feel good to me. She kept reminding me I was privileged because:

  • I have a dog I can walk
  • My mum paid for the shopping I did for her, even though I bought nothing for myself
  • That my parents allow me to live with them as, I quote, “lots of people wouldn’t want a 31 year old adult living with them anymore”
  • I ate a cheese sandwich that I didn’t particularly enjoy

Now I’m aware I’m very lucky. I have always held my hands up to that. And I’ve never suggested that it is any other way, but using these to find the good in my day just felt really off to me. I felt awful. I felt a burden. I even wrote on my paper that “I am shit and a burden”. So finding the good had made me see I am an awful human being.

She then said that she wasn’t gaslighting me. Just wanted me to see the good. I found this hard as she had made me feel like what I was feeling wasn’t valid. That I wasn’t allowed to feel negative. Maybe I read it all wrong. I’m not saying that isn’t a possibility.

I still have to keep a log of the good in my day for the next week. At the moment I want to shove it where the sun don’t shine and not do it. I know how my mind works and I’m not sure if I’ll feel better or make me feel worse about myself. Who knows?

We discussed that I’m in physical pain at the moment. I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. She explained she didn’t know about that but as I tried to keep my hands warm to make it easier for myself, maybe wearing another pair of gloves would take the pain away. I don’t know why this statement bothered me so much or maybe it was the way it was said. Or maybe it is me just being sensitive.

My lack of eye contact was also mentioned briefly. I’m not sure why. She scribbled it down when I said I find it hard a lot of the time. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of that.

There was no telephone call as she rapidly brought the session to an end as she needed to head off. The session is normally at least 50 minutes. We finished at just over 40. Again brain is using this to punish me. I realise I’m being selfish and thinking I’m worth more. Apologies. I’ll get over it.

My Mental Health Survival Kit

We all have things that impact our mental health, whether these be good or bad. I’ve been thinking about all the things that help me get through when my mental health isn’t great or just day to day and I thought I’d share them in case there was something you may like to try, to add to your own mental health survival kit. I have not included pets and people in this list but it goes without saying they are definitely something that helps me.

Music

Music is a big part of my life. It’s great for all kinds of situations and I find great meaning in the lyrics. It also allows me to block out the voice I hear at times. I can also use it when I’m feeling anxious in a public place, especially if it’s noisy. Some of my favourites are Simple Plan, Linkin Park, George Ezra, Panic! At The Disco and Busted.

Earphones

Leading on from music is earphones. Obviously I use them to listen to music but I’ve also been known to put them in to block the outside world out with no music playing. They also can make people not talk to you so when I am feeling overwhelmed they are useful.

Reading/Books

Reading is my escape. I love it. I read a huge variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy learning new things as well which reading helps with. I particularly love books as they just feel good to hold. I have a kindle but haven’t used it in a while, though its useful to reread Harry Potter. It isn’t always easy to concentrate though which frustrates me.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a big part of my life. I love the books and the films. I’m a proud Hufflepuff. The world is an escape to me. I know it so well that it is comforting. It was also there for me as I grew up and made me feel less isolated. Its something I can talk to people about and makes me feel connected to them.

American Sitcoms

These are my go to when I feel bad but can’t concentrate for long. I say American sitcoms as I just find them better than others. My favourites are The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Speechless, How I Met Your Mother and Young Sheldon. They also tend to only be about 20 minutes which is perfect concentration time. Also I tend to watch them over and over so I know most of what to expect so I don’t have to concentrate too hard. Another reason I like rewatching them is that programmes obviously make us feel emotions. When I see programmes I feel the emotions incredibly intensely and I can’t bear the feelings they create. With sitcoms this is reduced as its normally positive emotions, plus if I’ve seen them already I don’t tend to get the extreme reaction.

Stand Up Comedy

Another coping strategy is to watch stand up comedy. It’s generally light and doesn’t cause the extreme emotions. I tend to be able to enjoy it, not all the time but mostly. I have a love for British comedians with Jon Richardson, Josh Widdecombe, Joe Lycett, Adam Hills and Nina Conti being my favourites.

Fidget Toys

I have a couple of fidget toys that I use out and about when I am anxious. I’ve always needed to fidget since I was small. I used to use bits of blu tac a lot to fidget with, making little animals out of it. I’ve also used lego minifigures in the past. Now I’ve invested in a couple of fidget toys. Not only is it good to move the pieces, I also find comfort in feeling the smooth textures. I’m quite a tactile person in this sense. They are well worth the investment.

Writing

Writing is my outlet. If I can do it then it helps me get things out of my head. It’s not always easy though and I do have to judge whether I’m in the right place to do it. I was always told I was no good at writing when I was younger. My ideas were said to be good but my construction of sentences was classed as poor as I tended to miss words out because my brain worked faster than my hand. I’ve kind of conquered this though and, while I still have doubts, I feel good that I can write and prove people wrong.

My Phone

Yes I know its modern and people will say its sad that I feel I need it but I would be lost without it. It allows me to stay connected even when I physically can’t connect. It is my camera for another hobby I enjoy, photography. It has my photo album so I can reflect on good times. I write my blog on it. It also has a game on it that helps me distract when things are bad. It has all these functions that help me. Obviously there are times when it is not great being so connected but the good outweighs this for me.

Maths

Sounds strange I know but there is something about the logical reasoning of maths that is comforting. I love immersing myself in maths problems. It’s been a major coping strategy for me since I was small. My grandad used to set me maths problems for fun and I loved it. At one point I did my 3 times table as far as I possibly could in an exercise book when I felt overwhelmed. More recently I’ve moved on to the Fibonacci sequence. I love algebra the most.

Memes

I love memes. They make me smile. They are relateable. They are fun. I can get lost looking through memes. For this Tumblr is great. Also Facebook can be good too. I see more memes on my Facebook news feed than I do what my friends are doing. And actually that’s OK.

Talc

This may be an odd one but I love the smell of talc (not so keen on the feel). It’s a smell I find really comforting. If I’m really stressed smelling talc calms me down. It can also help me sleep better when I’m upset.

Art

This is a fairly new addition and is something I feel has become part of my every day routine. I’m trying hard to work on not being a perfectionist but it is difficult and there are times it frustrates me. But it has also led to praise and I’m finding this something I am starting to allow myself to be praised for. (If you’d like to see more of my art you can find it on Facebook or Instagram).

So those are just a few things in my mental health survival kit. You may have your own things that work for you. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Therapy 2020: Session 10

Date of session: 04/11/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Going into today’s session I had no idea what I was going to say. This week has been hard mentally and when asked to rate out of ten I went with three (I hate this scale and I’m going to add in decimals and irrational numbers soon I think). This led to what was the whole session.

To find out more about why I felt a three I had to list three negative moments and three positive moments. I did this fairly easily as there had been three positive events and many, many negative ones.

We looked in detail at my positive events and she seemed surprised at what I do. I shared some things with her which I’m not sure I am completely comfortable about but she was very surprised that I could actually draw, actually knew a lot about the issues around mental illness and the projects I’m currently involved in. It was an eye opener to her she admitted.

From there we moved onto the negative events and looked at ways of dealing with some of them which I’d actually already started to put into place. However we went through them some more. It was good I guess to have some reassurance.

She then tried to use the positive experiences to tackle the core beliefs about myself: that I’m evil, worthless and useless. I could see where she was going with this but I found it hard to hear. I also couldn’t help thinking that we’d only looked at three of my negative moments and it was all very skewed towards the positive. This made me feel my original score wasn’t really accepted or seen as correct (this was however my feeling and not said by her).

I now have homework of listing three positive things each day, if possible, and look at how they tackle my core beliefs. I’m sure she will be disappointed as she heard about my three positive events from the WEEK, not just one day! And these events were a rarity that fell together. We shall see how it goes.

One other thing that came up was how much she is let into my life by seeing the way my room is set up where I do the sessions, as it’s my bedroom in my parents house so has everything in it. It’s made me feel a little exposed when she mentioned what she felt it told her. Is it weird I feel this way? I don’t know and I think I need to explore this myself.

Lockdown 2.0

Here in England we are heading into our second lockdown across the country. While the first was not great, I’m finding the thought of this second one much harder to cope with. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

For the first lockdown I had lots of projects I set myself. I had a routine that suited me well. I even enjoyed my lockdown birthday. This time I feel so empty about it. The idea of finding projects to do feels overwhelming. This time I’m not in charge of my routine. This time I can’t keep everyone safe as those that I live with who were shielding no longer need to this time.

The thing is I’d been hoping for a second lockdown as I didn’t feel safe in the world as it was becoming. People were hugely selfish and disregarding the rules. In shops it was like people thought their mask made them invincible. I’m convinced many had stopped washing their hands. And noone could count to six.

So now the second lockdown is here I’m anxious. I’m living with someone who is terrified of being trapped in the house again and who’s mental health has suffered a lot. This has impacted on my own mental health detrimentally. I feel trapped with them. I feel I’m not strong enough to support them through it all again. The first time took its toll as it was.

It also doesn’t help that my own mental health is probably in a poor state anyway. I’m going through therapy and it’s hard. I’m cut off still from those I just want to hug. And have been for months. I’ve seen so many people deteriorate over this time period that I’m worried what it will do to them further. But I don’t feel strong enough to support them and feel guilty about this.

Overall I’m full of anxiety and doing my best to stick my head in the sand. I don’t want to read the news or the endless speculations. I don’t want to see the selfish people who are hoarding already or hear the complaints about what is being done to save lives. It’s overwhelming me with feelings I can’t identify but make me feel sick.

This lockdown is necessary. But it’s scary. I wish I could say we’re all in this together but some have shown us otherwise. I’d like to say I’m here for you all but that would be stretching myself too far. All I can say is there are numbers in the crisis contacts part of the blog (look in the menu). If you feel bad, talk. You are not alone. Big hugs to you all. Be kind πŸ’š