Knitting and Stitching and PEOPLE oh my!

It nearly didn’t happen, and in the end I’m amazed we actually got there.
On Saturday morning, Mr D took the car to the garage for its annual MOT test. I admit I got upset when he phoned me to say that it had failed its emissions test, and needed a new catalytic converter. At a cost of around £160, it would mean that Harrogate was out of the question.
“..but it’s not that long since we had a new one put on!” I whined.
“about two years” he replied, “and they don’t last forever”
I ripped through the house like a mini tornado trying to find the paperwork for the old one – I did, and looked at the warranty. It had a week left to run. Cue massive sighs of relief, and general swearing.
That night, neither of us slept very well, and Mr D wasn’t feeling well. Inwardly my heart sank as I thought “we’re not going to get there”, but thankfully by morning he was feeling okay and the trip was back on again.
The journey there was straightforward and uneventful, and we found the car park easily thanks to a map I printed out from the Harrogate International Centre’s website. Except they hadn’t bothered to mention that it was a ‘coaches only’ park. Thankfully, there was a security guard there who gave us directions to the actual HIC car park underneath the Exhibition halls (which isn’t mentioned on their website at all).
The halls themselves were set out as you would expect, except there were several of them – and they were all laid out the same. Some traders had more than one stall, and unless you paid for an “exhibition guide” you were more or less an explorer. I didn’t mind too much, until the part where I said, “lets go back to so-and-so, they might have it…” and had no idea which direction to go. I guess the biggest obstacle for me was the people. I expected it to be busy, and had been advised to go on Sunday because it was the quieter day, but it was still incredibly busy. My anxiety levels were through the roof, and a few times, I stopped and looked at things I wasn’t remotely interested in just to ‘ground’ myself.
For people interested in any crafting stuff, Harrogate was the place to be this weekend. Obviously, there was more than the knitting and spinning stuff that I was looking for, but it was still interesting to see other things, and most places had demonstrations or stall holders working on their particular craft. I managed to hold a conversation with Debbie Tomkies, and learned to my joy that dyeing wool doesn’t necessarily have to involve nasty chemicals as I thought (you need to ‘fix’ the dye, and this is normally done with alum powder). My first purchase was a kit including 12 different colour dyes and fixatives for both animal and plant fibres. I fear for our kitchen…
I had a chat with a lady from the Spinning and Weaving Guild, and I sat for a rest on the spacious Rowan stand where they had sofas and coffee tables, where you could knit (they even had yarn and needles if you made a donation to some charity or the other). I on the other hand, pulled out the jellytots sock that I’d take with me. Trust me to be different.
I didn’t treat Sunday as ‘therapy’. It wasn’t a structured or meticulously planned thing; I definitely went with a ‘see how it goes’ attitude. However, I managed to put into practice some of the CBT stuff (albeit consciously ‘staying in the situation’ until my anxiety lessened). As with the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, I cheated a bit by distracting myself, but I’d like to think it was just distraction, not avoidance.
One interesting thing I picked up on was something that drove home how negative I am about myself. While we were there, I saw C, a lovely lady who owns a small yarn store in town. I knew she’d be going, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her, and she said she was glad I’d made it, and well done for getting here. I said thank you, I was glad too, but it wasn’t until Mr D and I talked in the car on the way home that it hit me just how profoundly different our attitudes were. While C thought I’d done well to go somewhere so busy, my thoughts were (as usual) something along the lines of “bloody hell, I should be managing this without even thinking about it”.
Maybe I should give myself a bit more credit…

…aaand breathe

I try hard not to read the Daily Mail because I end up getting far too shouty, and I know there is little point in commenting on something written therein, but I get angry with articles published that are misleading, one sided and downright irresponsible – especially when concerning mental health issues. And, when TV psychologist Oliver James writes an article entitled “Therapy on the NHS? What a crazy waste of £600 million!” I can’t help myself, even when I bear in mind that 1) Oliver James has recently had a book published and is therefore likely to want a load of publicity, and 2) this is the Daily Mail.
Dr James is an outspoken person at the best of times. He has made unethical and potentially damaging comments in the past – most notably about Peter Mandelson. Now, he turns his attention to the general public, poo-poohing CBT – one of the most successful treatments for mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, and others. He doesn’t merely question the efficacy of this treatment, and provide links to evidence – instead he dismisses CBT as a “crazy waste” of money. He supplies anecdotal ‘evidence’ to support this. He spouts ‘facts’ about relapsing after CBT without backing them up. He comes out with impressive sounding phrases like “research has shown” without going further to say who researched what and where the reader can learn more.
The validity of his claims are questionable, however more worrying is that these claims have been published in a widely read national newspaper, and basically say “having CBT? Don’t bother – you’ll be just as bad as ever in a couple of years…” According to biographies all over the internet, Dr James has had clinical experience, so he should know that the mind is a fragile thing when it is being assaulted by a mental health problem – in other words, the very minds that CBT can probably help. He should know that many people with depression and anxiety disorders frequently have a negative image of the future. CBT is hard work mentally, and I can’t help wondering how many people would give up if they read an article like this, written by a psychologist who has featured on “This Morning” and written successful self help books.
If Dr James is so against CBT, why not research it properly? Why not suggest possible solutions to the perceived problem? Dr James advocates Cognitive Analytic Therapy instead of CBT, yet studies have shown that in Generalised Anxiety Disorder, CBT was more effective. Dr James suggests that “where patients have been examined two years later, at least half of panicky ones have relapsed or sought further help.” yet makes no reference to the fact that CBT is an ongoing process – and techniques should be practiced long after the patient has stopped seeing their therapist. I personally would like to see research into how many people expect to be ‘cured’ (indeed James uses that word in the article) and go back to their normal lives. How many people didn’t really realise that they would need to practice CBT techniques to keep their symptoms at bay or help stem a relapse. But rather than suggesting that patient follow-up should improve, James dismisses the entire therapy.
He talks about CBT as though it’s as structured as a course of antibiotics. In fact, CBT is tailored to the individual. The principles are essentially the same, but because the problems that CBT can help are so diverse, obviously individual patients receive individual care. The three cases he refers to in the article do sound as though they are very disillusioned with their experience of CBT, but this could be for a myriad of reasons, not because CBT “doesn’t work”.
I really can’t understand why he has written the article in this way. It’s certainly not been written with the best interests of sufferers in mind. Why be so negative? What does he stand to gain from approaching it in this way? At the start of the article, he talks about how CBT is inexpensive, therefore would appeal to the government. Maybe it’s an incredibly round about way of saying the government isn’t spending enough money on Mental Health Services. If this is the case, I’m sure there are a million other ways of doing it without saying ‘CBT is a load of crap’.
I’d like to think that Daily Mail readers would have more sense than to take this somewhat vitriolic rant at face value, but I don’t know. When you factor in things like third party recanting, and the strange way in which these illnesses mess about with your emotions, you have a rather worrying mix. The media’s enormous reach has the power to cause much harm – just look at the MMR vaccine controversy.
I’m not writing this because of my own feelings on CBT. Having been ‘in the game’ for a while, I know better than to advocate one particular treatment over another. CBT seems to be working for me, others may find that it’s not for them. I personally think it is up to the individual and their therapist to come together with a plan for therapy that is most suitable for them, their problem, their personality and their lifestyle. If your therapist suggests CBT, have a go and be open minded. If they say something or suggest something you don’t feel happy with, tell them. Good communication with your therapist is paramount. Remember, even though it doesn’t work for some people, it does work for a hell of a lot of others. Have a look here for some success stories where CBT was used to help people with Social Anxiety Disorder. Hopefully, it will redress the balance.
Finally, please for the love of all that is sacred, can the media get their facts right about how much disability benefit is? £750 a month? I bloody wish…

Picnic Ponderings

Apologies for not posting sooner, but truth be told, I’ve felt utterly wrecked all week. I’ve been going to bed at 8pm because I’ve been nodding off on the sofa, then not sleeping properly because both my neck and lower back have been painful. So, my brain has also been fried and concentrating on anything for very long has been hard.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to write something that makes what I achieved on Friday sound like I was climbing a mountain. In the end, I’ve decided that the right adjectives aren’t out there, so just imagine, okay?
By half past eight on Friday morning, I was aware of every car going past, even though B wasn’t due to pick me up until 9.30. I packed and repacked my huge wicker basket with knitted food, stuff to knit while I was there, my mp3 player, a little tin with my tablets in, a bottle of water – the list goes on. When I thought I was ready, I stood at the window, my thoughts swirling. “Do I take that yarn? Maybe I should take a book – what about…” and so it went on. Eventually I said out loud to myself – “stop it. There’s only so much room in the car…”
The car journey was uneventful anxiety wise, we chatted about all sorts of things which helped, and affirmed the knowledge that B is very understanding. In fact, B should stand for brilliant. She reassured me by telling me what and who would be there, and told me that there were quiet corners in the place where we would be (an old converted church). I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel strange being out without Mr D, but even stranger, I didn’t feel too terrible about it. Of course, I felt like something was missing, but once I got there and saw all the familiar faces from the knitting group, I was fine.
I took a few photographs, and sat down with the knitters. At first, I fumbled with bits and pieces, noticing that my hands were a bit shaky, but eventually settled down with the most Amazing Sock Yarn Ever. Casting on and doing some of the rib helped me concentrate. I know that’s avoidance rather than dealing with it – but to be honest, I didn’t care. I just wanted to enjoy my day.
A woman from the local newspaper turned up, and once she’d interviewed the organisers, she frustratedly lamented that her photographer had gone missing. My inward sigh of relief was shortlived – she pulled out a compact camera from her bag and announced “I’ll just take a few photos”. That, I thought, was a perfect opportunity to nip to the loo…
Four hours went over so incredibly quickly. When a voice piped up, “right, d’you think we should start packing up?” my response was “what, already???” Just as we were about to take things out to various cars, a flustered young man walked in and announced he was the photographer for the local paper. Torn between staying and lusting after his camera (a Canon EOS 1D if you want to drool with me) I chickened out and opted for the comfort of the lavatory again. When I later told Mr D, he joked that now I’ve been in the Guardian, the local rag isn’t good enough!
I know it sounds so utterly ordinary, but it was a big step for me. Plus, the ordinary-ness means that it was a success. No panic or madness, unless you count accidentally stealing Carrie Anne’s lemonade..

Anticipation

I thought I’d mentioned this, but looking back on my old posts, it seems I haven’t.
As I mentioned a bit ago, this week is national knitting week, and my knitting group have been busy knitting items for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, culminating today in an exhibition and sale. On a Friday. Whose idea was that? When I found out, my response was “great, Mr D will never get time off work” but as the weeks progressed, so did my CBT.
About three weeks ago, I spoke to my friend B. She is my yarn guru – she has a market stall selling some gorgeous stuff, she runs weaving classes and the knitting groups, and I knew she would be going to the exhibition. I’d talked to her before about my CBT, and got the feeling she really understood. People like that are in the minority – usually it’s between “pull yourself together” and “back away from the crazy person”, but B was fine with it.
So, I asked her. “can I come with you?”
I explained that so far, I only go anywhere with Mr D. This could be part of my therapy – just outside my comfort zone. I said that I might back out, and she shouldn’t worry. People, B was lovely about it. She said that it was okay, and that even if I felt like it was too much, she’d bring me home. That understanding has meant that I’m sitting here waiting for her, and although I feel anxious, I’m also excited, expectant, eager.
I shall let you all know how I get on…

Progress

The health food shop was small, familiar. Ideal. Heart in mouth, she glanced round. The street was still fairly quiet – it was only 9am.
“Can you wait there?” she asked, the words tumbling somewhat. “I’m going in by myself.”
He nodded, going with the flow.
She took a deep breath, mentally reminded herself that her phone was in her pocket, and he would be waiting just there. Not too far away. Determined, she strode into the shop, aware that if she waited too long outside she’d put herself off and not do it. There were a few people around, but it wasn’t busy. She knew what she wanted, and where it was. She had deliberately chosen something that was at the back of the shop – it would be far too easy if she could do this whole thing while barely taking a few steps inside. Remember, “just outside your comfort zone”. Mentally taking the journey through a familiar shop, it had seemed so easy when she’d planned it. Now she was here.
She got to the back of the shop effortlessly, picked up the bottle of eco fabric conditioner, and started walking quickly to the front where the till was. Suddenly, she stopped. “I’m doing this far too fast” she thought. Aware of what J had said about staying in the situation until the anxiety had passed, she started to look at soap, essential oils, herbal teas – anything, something. She tried not to look at people, not wanting to be drawn into conversation. Not wanting to suddenly notice they were there. “right” she thought, “I need to pay for this”.
At the front of the shop, she could see through the window to the street where he was waiting. The sight was familiar, comforting. This was nearly over. With renewed zeal, she approached the counter, smiled, handed over her money – and in a few seconds she was leaving the shop.
At the door, there was a moment of increased anxiety as she realised she was Outside again, but within moments she was standing by his side – safe again.
“OK?” he asked.
She nodded, feeling slightly sick, rather anxious, tired yet somehow happy.

Books as Therapy, part 2

Borders is considerably bigger than Waterstones. It’s in a retail park, and we chose it because they are open in the evenings. Yesterday, Mr D and I planned to go there and continue the book buying extravaganza that is my therapy. Even before I left the house, I was planning. Waterstones was more of a spur of the moment thing, so I didn’t have time to think about it too much. This time, my mind went through everything – from visualising the layout of the store to deciding what type of book to get.
Downstairs in Borders, as well as a gazillion books, they have an entire corner of the store devoted to magazines, and a Paperchase franchise. Upstairs, there’s a large Starbucks and a generous section devoted to DVD’s. Upstairs is also where the craft books are, and as I’d already decided that I needed a book on crochet (now that I’ve finally gotten the hang of it) that’s where we headed. Of course, Mr D has no interest in crochet or knitting, so he wandered around the DVD section and left me to it.
Crafting books seem to fall into two distinct categories. Ones for absolute beginners that walk you through the basics in baby steps then give you incredibly simple projects to do, or ones which have complex advanced patterns, of which only a few are really nice. The thing about buying crafting books is that you need to bear in mind that the fashionable stuff soon becomes dated. You just need to look at some of the pattern books from the 1980’s to see my point…
“Crafters Corner” has a row of padded stools for people to sit on, which is visible as you go up the stairs. It’s nice to be able to sit there with a few books and leaf through them, but I noticed that someone was already sitting there, so mentally decided not to join her. I ended up sitting on the floor in the other corner, which is something I do when there are no seats. Presently, the lady from the stools leaned over to put a book back. I muttered “sorry” as you do when you may be in someone’s way, and leaned back for her to have more room. She thanked me, and chose a couple of books – crochet books. I smiled. Somehow there was this unspoken craft-person thing between us, and without thinking I said, “This one’s really good” and held up the book I was looking through, Essential Crochet by Erika Knight. Suddenly, that unspoken craft-person link became spoken, and we were talking about books and how hard it is to find good quality yarn. I even told her about a couple of places that I source my yarn locally, which she seemed pleased with.
Maybe it was because I was sitting on the floor, maybe it was because it was a subject I love, I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was there to push myself, and this was part of it. My mindset was different, I wasn’t thinking automatically “fuck off and leave me alone”, I was thinking “I have to do this. I need to communicate. I will communicate.
Buying the book was a little different. I’d gone to find Mr D, and contemplated out loud going downstairs to pay by myself. J’s comment about going “just a bit outside my comfort zone” came into my head, and I decided this was the way to do it. I hovered, putting it off, then thought, “sod it, I need to do this now” told Mr D I was off, and headed downstairs.
Towards the bottom of the stairs, I looked over towards the till area. There was someone waiting, but it wasn’t busy. I headed over, pausing to take a different route when my chosen one was blocked (I didn’t want to be in a confrontation situation by having to say “excuse me”, which doesn’t make much sense considering the conversation I’d had upstairs). I got to the till and waited. It was only when the girl beckoned me over and I smiled and said “hello” that I realised I’d been clenching my jaw.
The actual process of paying was very similar to Waterstones. An almost ‘self service’ system of putting my own debit card in the reader, and following the instructions on the lcd display – the only communication from the sales assistant was a “hello” and “would you like your receipt in the bag?”. I’m thinking I need to pay cash next time, just to make them do some work for my therapy…
I looked round, and saw that Mr D had come downstairs, but had hovered on the bottom step so I could see him. It made me feel better, somehow I felt that going upstairs to find him again was a bit more than I wanted to do. At this point, I felt incredibly tired, but also felt like I’d achieved something.
Last night, I went to bed early, and took my crochet book up with me. Although I’d looked through it in the shop, somehow it was like I was looking at it for the first time. I was seeing the pages again, but this time I was taking it in…

Books as Therapy

Not long after my appointment on Thursday, I found myself standing outside Waterstones wondering what the hell I was doing.
I walked in, my anxiety a little higher than usual, knowing I was going to face something that usually made me more anxious. The first thing I did was look for a book I knew I wanted – Tom Reynolds‘ brilliant “Blood Sweat and Tea”. I had been waiting to get it from Amazon, (with something else to qualify for free shipping) but I needed to buy a book for my therapy, and this was going to be it. Tom might be amused to learn that he’s had a little bit of community psychiatric input, there! I found it (in amongst the biographies, not on the 3 for 2 tables as it should be) and asked Mr D if there was anything he wanted so we could take advantage of the 3 for 2 offer. As we both looked around, I found myself inadvertantly looking at the till area. I was already gauging what was going on there. I realised that I’d also been looking around to see how busy it was and whether there was anyone or anything that was going to make my anxiety worse. I was so acutely aware of it, that I suddenly smiled to myself. Sometimes, this is like looking in from the outside…
Mr D chose a book (I can’t even remember what) and I was pleased to see the classics were included in the 3 for 2 offer, so I picked up HG Wells’ “The Time Machine“. Our local Waterstones isn’t very wide, so I instructed Mr D to stand where he was, which was about 18 feet away from the till on the opposite side of the store. He was close enough, but I was doing this on my own. At the till, a young mum with a pushchair was being served (why do mums think that pushchairs don’t take upany room, and park their ‘wheels’ horizontally?) and had a small girl in tow, who was pirouetting round the pole that holds the “please queue here” sign. In a way, I was pleased someone else was being served – it meant that I could do the whole queueing part of this exercise. My focus was on the mum and her kids – I didn’t want to trip the little girl up, nor did I want to be run over by the pushchair. Another assistant beckoned me over to the till, and I went through the motions. Put my books down, got out my purse, watched her scan them and say “that’s £14.98, please”. Handed her my debit card, and obeyed the instruction to put it in the card reader myself. (As an aside here, I wish shops would make their sodding minds up – either take the card from the customer, or all of them become almost self service. It drives me nuts when you hold out your card and they give you this “oh, no – you do it” thing. What happened to customer service?) To be fair on the girl, she was pleasant and smiling, asked if I wanted the receipt in the bag, which I did, and she waited for me to put my purse away, then handed me the bag with a smile.
There. That was easy. Maybe too easy? Maybe I should have done this on Saturday when there’s more likely to be a queue to contend with, and more people. But, as they say, I have to take baby steps. Two things have come to mind while writing this – firstly, I didn’t get flustered when she waited for me to put my purse away. Usually, I can’t organise my bag so that my purse slips down to the bottom, I’ll just stuff it in my pocket or take my goods and sort my purse out later. Secondly, I’m a sod for saving the environment, and always have a roll-up bag with me. For the first time in ages, it never occurred to me to say, “I don’t need a bag, thanks” – and I feel a tad ashamed.
However, Part One of my ‘homework’ is done. Because of the fact that Mr D works during the day and there’s no daytime opportunity to do this again before my next appointment with J, we have decided to wander into Borders book store during the week. It is at a large retail park nearby, and open late in the evenings.
Now all I have to do is think of some more books I want…

Dealing With It

It was only a matter of time before J was going to ask me to do a practical CBT exercise.
For a few weeks, we’ve been dissecting individual places and events, what causes the anxiety, what makes it worse, what helps (safety behaviour) and where I could be in that place to ride out the panic rather than running away. I’d always visualise myself in these places with the thoughts and feelings I usually had. Going into detail has been difficult, partly because I don’t really think about it at the time, (there’s a lot of times I’ve had a panic attack and not even remembered much of what went on) and partly because it’s hard to admit every little detail. It’s validating the fear, making it more real.
So far, J and I have come up with a list of places with scores between 0 (completely calm) and 100 (full blown panic). Most of these places are shops, and although I said “cinema” and “going out for a drink” I don’t think they count because they happen so infrequently. The last time I went to the cinema was when “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was out… We picked a choice place, somewhere halfway along the list so it wasn’t too easy and wasn’t going to be the exotic pet store where the tarantulas live. ‘Scuse me..
*throws up a bit*
I hate spiders.. Anyway, the place we chose was Waterstones. I’d already figured that my anxiety is less in there because of my love of books, and if I get anxious I know there is usually a seat nearby where I can flick through a knitting or photography book to distract myself. I guess there is the possibility that this knowledge means that my anxiety is lessened before I even get there. Plus there’s the benefit of a bookshop actually selling lots of things that I really want, rather than popping into Sainsbury’s for a pint of milk.
J asked me what part of the store would make me more anxious. This was easy – either standing by the front door, or waiting in a queue at the till. We looked in more detail at what I’m like waiting at the till to be served. He asked me about my behaviour – what’s going through my mind, what am I doing, where am I looking – that sort of thing. At first, I wasn’t sure – some things I do automatically, and some things I’m sure most people do, like check their purse, keep an eye on the till to see if it’s their turn yet. As we talked, I realised I do as much preparation as possible. Not only do I get my purse out, I get my debit card out (or cash, depending on how I’m paying) and I have a tendency to watch the sales person. I try and figure out what mood they’re in – are they chatty or efficient? Are they trying to get customers to fill in stuff or have a catalogue or store card? These things are important, because in my head I have everything in order. I know what will happen, and if I get to the till and they say something that throws me, it really increases the anxiety.
J and I then discussed my safety behaviour. What do I do to take my mind off the anxiety? There wasn’t a huge amount to say here – if my anxiety is high, I often tell myself not to be so silly, and that I’ve done this a thousand times. I try to focus on the task at hand, and not get distracted by anything or anyone. Maybe this is partly why I avoid eye contact with people. I don’t want to end up enganging in some (verbal or nonverbal) diatribe which ultimately would give me too much to think about and deal with at that moment. There’s also the fact that Mr D is rarely too far away. He’s convinced he doesn’t do much – but just knowing he’s around is a huge comfort. My biggest dread is having a panic attack when I’m alone.
What J picked up on is that I’m very negative about the whole thing. I hate my anxiety. I remember clearly what it was like to be ‘normal’ me, and this makes me feel like I die a little bit inside every time I do something ordinary and my stupid disease means that I freak out. The negative rebuke is now automatic, and J suggested that I need to approach it a different way. I can hate my anxiety as much as I want, but I need to accept that right now, it’s okay to feel this way. Hence my new motto:
   “I’m anxious, and I’m dealing with it.”
It looks like some new-age motivational speak, but it is right. I’m accepting the anxiety, rather than fighting it (I have a habit of saying “I’m fine” which Mr D knows means I am anxious) and I am reminding myself that I am doing something positive about it. I need to practice it, though. I guess the way it’s worded is also helpful if the “I’m so stupid” thoughts come into my head. I can say “hey, fucko, back off – I’m dealing with it…”
What J said next made my heart race. “D’you think you could do a practical exercise?”
What J wanted me to do was this. Go to the bookshop and buy a book. Gradually drop my safety behaviours, and get Mr D to back away. This should be done over several times until I go into the shop and buy a book myself.
“When do you think you can start this?” J asked. “How about this afternoon?” I ventured. I always go into town after an appointment to ‘treat’ myself. It’s an unspoken reward for dealing with my shit. This time, I could go and buy a book instead of a cream cake.
This was on Thursday. I have written about my experiences, and shall publish them tomorrow…

Belay that worry, ensign

My two main fears about how the CBT is going have been lifted.
Last Thursday, I asked J about the dihydrocodeine and whether the knowledge of how my panic attack disorder and subsequent agoraphobia started would have changed the direction in which my treatment was going. I didn’t explain it too well (thanks to only 2 hours sleep the previous night) and he thought I meant “would he have had reservations about treating someone who got addicted to opiate analgesics?” Eventually, we both got our heads round what I was trying to say, and he told me that regardless of how it all started, the principle of the CBT is the same. *phew*
I then said I was worried about how long we had left for appointments. J reassured me that I wouldn’t be “chucked out the door” half way to getting better, and that if needs be, I can be referred to his supervisor, D, who did my initial assessment a year ago. He also said that he could offer me weekly appointments instead of fortnightly, which I have accepted.
I feel a bit better about it all, although I still feel like I’m doing one of those orienteering things where you have to fall back into someone else’s arms and trust that they’ll be there to hold you…

CBT Thoughts Part 3

Since my last appointment my head has been swimming with thoughts. Not necessarily about me, but about this “whole CBT thing”. It’s hard to write them down because there’s that telltale little voice yelling “you’re giving up!”. I’m not, though. Just voicing my thoughts.
There are a few things bothering me. Firstly, at my last appointment, my back was really sore, and I was hobbling a bit. J mentioned it, and I said that my old back injury flared up occasionally, but it wasn’t too bad. At the end, as I was getting up to leave, something was said that made me say something about “stupid bloody back and stupid bloody dihydrocideine addiction”. J stopped, and looked taken aback? surprised? one of them. I said, “you didn’t know about that?” and when he looked puzzled, I explained that it was coming off the dihydrocodeine that started the panic attacks. J said, “We can talk about that next time”.
Next time is tomorrow. J has had holidays, so it means there’s been a four week gap between appointments rather than two. In the meantime, of course, my mind has been working overtime over what this means. Part of me is frustrated and annoyed that this has never come up. Isn’t it in my notes? Maybe it’s not relevant, but if sudden dihydrocodeine withdrawal started all this, then surely it is relevant? Withdrawing from massive amounts of an opiate drug as suddenly as I did left me feeling raw – my senses and emotions were heightened to levels I’d never experienced, and I just wanted to hide until it all went away. I developed coping techniques (actually avoidance techniques) to try and stem the horrible feelings, and gradually I learned to cope with them. That’s left me where I am today – panicky and scared when I go out, those raw emotions bubble to the surface and I just want to hide again. That’s why I think it’s so relevant.
Secondly, I’ve been thinking about the fact that J is a psych student, and his placement at my hospital finishes sometime in September. This means that at worst, I have one or maybe two appointments after Thursday, and at best, three. I’m terrified that I’m going to be ‘discharged’ when I still need help. Okay, so this CBT can give me the foundations to work on, but there’s been lots of times lately where I’ve thought “hang on, J said I should do x, what happens if y happens?” Right now, I have the comfort that I will see him tomorrow and I can ask him. However, the fact remains that once those few precious appointments are gone, I’m on my own.
I guess the upshot is, I’m terrified of failure. Again.