Don’t say “I told you so”

I knew the town would be packed out yesterday. People thinking “ooh, must go shopping” and trying to avoid Saturday. We needed some bits and pieces, and although Mr D said, “I’ll go by myself if you want” I decided to go with him, because hell – you never know what you might need in M&S’s food hall…
We got there fairly early, and the town itself was busy but I could deal with it. As we walked from the car park, I made a note of saying to Mr D “look after me” which is my code for saying ‘I don’t know if I’ll manage very well, and I need to know you’re really switched on to my anxiety’. I know he already is, I guess it’s just my way of being Absolutely Sure. We made our way along the high street, chatting about rubbish, and I was fine.
In M&S, the food hall is at the back of the store. It was busy when we went in, but still do-able. My focus was on getting a small trolley – it makes me feel safer somehow, and I don’t go supermarket shopping without one. As we went further into the food hall, my focus became fuzzier – what did I want? Where was it? Things that I thought I knew started to get lost in a fog of “OHMYGOD where the FUCK did all these PEOPLE come from???” It was half past nine, and the queues for the checkout traversed up the aisles towards the back of the store. And people WEREN’T MOVING FOR ANYTHING. We needed breadbuns, which meant a marathon fight through five rows of people like that. Yelling “EXCUSE ME PLEASE!” fell on deaf ears. The anxiety grew. I turned to Mr D. “Sod this,” I said, “just dump the trolley and let’s get out of here.”
Mr D insisted on taking the trolley back to the proper place, which (in my mind) seemed to take even longer. “I need to get out, please – just leave it there” I begged, as he stood waiting for people to move so he could put the trolley back in the line with the other ones. The world was swirling. “I NEED TO GET OUT! bollocks – I’ll meet you outside.”
The journey to the front of the store is a bit of a blur. I remember people walking towards me – so many people – please just MOVE. At the doors now. Two sets, and in my panic I try to get out of the one that’s locked. I hit it with my fist, retreat and try again. Suddenly, cold air. I hit some railings, and sit down, head in hands, foetal. The panic washes over me, and I feel sick. I can’t breathe – my chest hurts. Now Mr D is here, talking to me, telling me it’s okay.
I sit like that for a while, until my breathing starts returning to normal. I feel numb, aware only of his voice – and the fact that my backside is cold from sitting on the icy concrete. I get up and my legs feel like jelly. I’ve been crying, and my glasses are fogged up. My chest still hurts, and I feel utterly spent.
This morning (Saturday), Mr D has gone back to M&S for opening time. And this time, he’s gone by himself.

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stampstampstamp

Because I don’t have enough stuff going round in my head, and enough stuff to do, I learned a new craft – the art of hand cutting stamps.
I blame the lovely Carrie-Anne, who makes it all look so easy and has done some incredible pieces. If you thought stamping was all about making twee cards or just kids stuff, think again. I bought a kit from her that contains various cutting tools and a piece of acrylic that’s big enough to carve several stamps. Once you get going, it’s rather addictive, like popping bubble wrap or something.
I promised her I’d post photos of what I’d done so far:



ta da!

Don’t be so bloody hard on yourself…

Okay, the format of this may seem a little odd. First thing this morning, I started writing a blog entry about how I’d done with my CBT in the last couple of weeks, ahead of an appointment with D this morning. I never finished it, and now I’ve come back from my appointment, Things Have Changed. What I’ve written in normal type (aside from this bit) is what I wrote first thing – in italics is what I’ve realised since I saw D.
* * * * *
I suppose it was bound to happen – CBT is frustrating the life out of me. [this is because I have very high expectations of myself]
Firstly, I’m not getting out to do ‘therapy’ as much as I should. In the last fortnight since I saw D, I’ve managed maybe three or four purposeful expeditions, and one of those was last night, at the last minute. Part of the problem is that life gets in the way. We had all that trouble with the car, which (and I won’t bore you with the details) only got worse, resulting in Mr D driving around for a few days illegally because of a garage’s incompetence. All non essential journeys were cancelled, and that included ‘therapy’. Mr D has been worrying about his dad, who isn’t well. Mr D’s mind has been everywhere but on my therapy.
[okay, so things happen. I need to accept that it’s not always going to be a perfect therapy scenario]
On Thursday, we went into town. I’d said “look, we really need to do something” and we’d decided to go to the retail park. Unfortunately, the weather was atrocious, and when Mr D got home from work, he said he’d rather not go there because there’d been an accident and the police had the road blocked off. Plans changing suddenly doesn’t help my anxiety. Mr D suggested that all was not lost – our town centre opens late on Thursdays up to Christmas.
I tried to unravel my mind from the swirling thoughts of “hang on, this isn’t the retail park” and we set off. I think everyone in town had the same idea, because it was really busy. The car parks were so busy, that we only found a space in the third car park we found. In my head, busy car parks means busy streets, so my anxiety was rising steadily.
When we’d planned to go to the retail park, I’d said I wanted to go into Staples for something, and said I would use that as my therapy. As we walked along the high street on Thursday evening, I wondered out loud if Stationery Box was open – and exclaimed “oh good!” when it was. Something was at least going to be the same. Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t spell it out to Mr D. Inside the shop, he stuck to me like a damn magnet. I said “can I not do this by myself?” and he backed off a couple of steps. I ducked round a corner and he followed me, almost instinctively like the Old Days. I found what I wanted, went to the till and paid, and we left the shop.
I was frustrated, and mentioned it. He didn’t hear me. I said something else, and had to follow it up with “HELLO??” to which he responded, “wha? sorry, I was miles off…” I got angry, and said “fuck it – I can’t do any therapy if you’re like this” and quickened my stride as I always do when I’m cross. He didn’t say anything about it, and I didn’t try anywhere else.
[so, in spite of the fact that my anxiety was high, I still TRIED. The fact that I was wanting Mr D to sod off so I could do it on my own was a GOOD THING]
On Saturday, we were going somewhere else, and by the time we got to some shops, everywhere was too busy. On Sunday, we had a chat about what was happening. I’d been building up frustrations about how much I was doing for a while – and had actually started worrying that D would discharge me if she thought I wasn’t trying.
[this is my silly melodramatic over-reacting head. Of course D isn’t going to discharge me. Maybe if I sat there sullenly and said “I don’t give a fuck and I’m not going to try” she would, but not because I didn’t live up to my OWN expectations!]
Monday, I went into Borders, and managed to get a DVD and wander about the store while he was upstairs. We went into M&S, and for some reason, my anxiety was higher, but I stayed there for a while, telling Mr D why I was wandering around in a seemingly aimless way. It seems that Monday’s experience was the best of a bad bunch.
[in fact, what really happened was me trying incredibly hard IN SPITE of the obstacles in my way. Even with my low mood, I managed to do quite a bit, and I persevered.]
* * * * *
I told D all of this – including the bit where I was afraid she’d discharge me. She smiled a little, and said “that’s over reactive thinking…” After listening to her opinions of how I’d done, it made me realise just how hard I am on myself. I mentioned that I’d done little things – for example on Sunday in Morrisons (supermarket) while Mr D was at the till, I realised that the latest issue of the knitting magazine that I get would be out. On a whim, I said “I’m just going over there to get my knitting magazine, you stay here” and went to get it. It wasn’t far, but it was busy. I’ve always had this feeling that my ‘therapy’ outings should be structured and planned, and when I said meekly “do these things count?” to D, she replied “of course they do!”
Towards the end, she asked what I wanted to do for therapy before our next appointment. I thought for a moment and said “I want to do this last fortnight again – but this time without being so bloody negative. Try and look at the positive things I did.” It’s frustrated me that I can’t accept that I did well in spite of things going wrong, and I needed someone else to point this out to me. I also need to stop the whole “so-and-so doesn’t count” because dammit, it does count. I just read back a couple of posts – “I didn’t treat [Harrogate] as ‘therapy’.” Why not? It was big and I achieved something!
I need to start again – and this time, I’m going to be kinder to myself.

Knitting Saved my Life!

I know, it sounds like something that should be in my email spam folder – “Learn to kn1t! Results Gu@ranteed!”, but this morning as I was starting to write a post about going to B’s other knitting group last week, it occurred to me just how much knitting has been a part of my ‘therapy’. There are so many ways in which balls of yarn and pointy sticks have helped me.
Firstly, knitting gives me things to think about. I am an obsessive thinker, and while I have nothing constructive to think about, stuff goes round in my head that is both toxic and futile. Problems that are years old and have already been labelled as ‘unsolvable’ go round and round, rehashing the same old crap, getting upset by things in the past. I’m not saying I should “get over it” but frankly I’m not helping myself by obsessing. This is where knitting comes in. Obsessive bad thoughts come into my head, and I try and concentrate on learning a new technique. Look at a pattern that I thought was a bit too advanced for me, and work out in my head how to do it. Hash out a knitting problem, or work on an item while listening to something on my mp3 player. I had tried music on its own. U2 yelling at me that it was a “beautiful day” or something, yet still the bad thoughts seeped in. I’d turn up the volume to drown them out, but succeeded only in giving myself a headache. Sprinkling a liberal amount of yarn and bamboo into the mixture seems to help.
The self critical aspect of me has been kicked into touch by knitting too. As I finish something, I invariably put photos on flickr, and it’s so nice to get comments from complete strangers complementing my work. My self confidence is rubbish, and it’s lovely to get that little boost. This is something that shows a lot at the knitting group, too.
When B said she was starting an evening knitting group, I rejoiced knowing that I could get there. I knew about the monthly Friday morning one, but with Mr D working during the day, it would be virtually impossible to attend. Every journey at that point relied on him, I needed him to not only take me, but to stay with me and then bring me home again. When I asked if he’d take me to the Monday group, he was happy to – it meant that I was getting out and meeting people. He’d take whatever book he happened to be reading, and fight off the ladies er, attempts to get him knitting, and he was fine. At first, only B knew about my panic and anxiety, and I was happy with that. To be honest, I didn’t want anyone else to know. There was still that worry that I would be treated differently, or people would ‘back away slowly from the crazy lady’. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong – these are some of the lovliest people I’ve met.
A couple of months ago, the conversation drifted on to pets, and I realised that I had some photos of the cats – on the moo cards that I’d had printed, with my website and email address on the back. Before I could think, people were cooing over my kitties, and enthusing about how cool the cards were. I mumbled something about it being “just my blog” and suddenly I was giving them away. Maybe I subconsciously wanted people to know – maybe I felt comfortable enough for them to know, in a Haley Joel Osment “Sixth Sense” kind of way – “I’m ready to tell you my secrets now.” Still, I worried for a while about what they would think, and berated myself for opening up.
One thing that’s very apparent when this kind of mental fart happens is that people who knew you before behave very differently. I guess a lot of it is lack of understanding and lack of communication (which is difficult on both sides) but it still makes me nervous when I tell anybody. The only change I noticed once the knitters knew was a sense of understanding and compassion, but other than that, nothing changed. This means a hell of a lot to someone who can get incredibly paranoid…
Last week, B picked me up and took me to the Friday group. I was a little bit anxious, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and once I got there it was just like the evening group – only with more daylight. I had a great time, chattered non stop (K and CA, next time tell me to shut up if I go on!) and was able to show off my first complete Jelly-Tots sock, complete with groovy heel.
Maybe I would have found other things if I didn’t knit, but right now, knitting is an integral part of my recovery.