Thursday, 27 June 2019

The CBT Diaries Week Nine

It's been lovely and sunny and bright recently this week, so today's photo is a throwback to visiting the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden where the sun was glorious! 
I'm not sure how I really felt going into today's session other than one real overriding emotion. My scores weren't in the green zone today like two weeks prior, which was completely expected. They were as follows: 

Anxiety - 8
Depression - 6

Once again, anxiety took the limelight.

We set the  agenda for the session - 

1. Homework review
2. Anger and impatience 
3. Dreams 
4. Homework for next week 

Can you guess my overriding emotion? 

For the homework I'd gone a bit off route on how I completed it - I had two diary sheets for scheduling my day so one I completed as normal (it featured a lot of TV on it!) The second one I created a rough plan for the future - it's difficult as some days I don't know what I will be doing or if I will be at home, but I figured I could use it as a back up plan for if I'm at home and not sure what to do. I hate being at home, and waiting for Brad to come home. I need to give my days some purpose and routine. I've started colour coding the boxes too. Once I've finished, I'll share it on here maybe if it's something you'd want to see! I've included activities like cooking - actually cooking from a recipe book and not just shoving in whatever frozen delight I can find in the freezer (Turkey Dinosaurs I'm looking at you)! It also includes times during the week to focus on creative and I've also scheduled social media times as my iPhone screen time is scary - today my screen time is 5hr 12m and for the week it's over 32 hours, 10 of which were on Instagram! It's just far too much, and I've noticed it's becoming an unhealthy habit. I thought by maybe giving it a dedicated time for things such as messaging the TTC community, or general messaging or blog promotion etc, it will make those times improve! 

We moved onto anger and impatience. I've been anxious this week. I've also been very very angry. I'm angry for so many reasons, many of which I can't openly disclose on here. I'm angry because I'm in never ending limbo in multiple aspects of my life. I'm angry because I've had to turn down opportunities due to not being well enough. I'm angry that my mental health is seen as a joke by some people. I'm angry. Literally could turn into anger from Inside Out. I'm not smashing plates or anything, but I feel irritated and overwhelmed because of the anger a lot. I also feel guilty because if I'm feeling angry, then could this be affecting my chances of getting pregnant? 

My counsellor talked me through that it was completely okay and normal for me to be angry. If I wasn't angry then everything would be perfect and my body and mind would not be telling me to sort things out. We discussed how I'd exhausted a lot of avenues, and then she suggested a few more which were thinking outside the box. Talking helps. As I'm writing this, it's just been Mental Health Awareness Week, and honestly people need to talk. It helps to talk. The amount of things I've discovered and ideas thought of have come because I've spoken honestly and openly is unreal. I had little expectation of this session if I'm being completely honest with you - I didn't think there would be an explanation for my anger and irritability. 

We discussed my habits which were having a negative affect on me. One of them was my inability to make plans. Currently I feel worried about making plans with friends. Sounds silly but I feel by committing to something, I'm worried if I have to cancel, I'll lose the friendship. We picked apart why I'd have to cancel, then realised there are very few reasons why I'd have to cancel, and sometimes you have to change plans! It's been a real anxiety that I didn't even really recognise as there. 

Another thing we touched upon, which actually did make me cry during the session was discussion other people's perceptions of my mental health and why that makes me angry. I go from feeling so confident in sharing my mental health and owning it, knowing that it is nothing to be ashamed of to never wanting to hear the word anxiety ever again. I've had some pretty awful things said to me about my mental health and some bad experiences in different aspects of my life. When I told my counsellor - her expression said it all. As I was wiping away tears, the little wave of fight came out of me as I stated 'I know what those people have said is completely unacceptable' yet it still hurts. I then thought of other people, who have been mocked because of their mental health and that makes me angry too. People don't choose this. 

We moved onto dreams, where quite literally there was a bit of a revelation. I've been having odd dreams for four nights in a row. Last month I also had an odd dream. I'll elaborate on two of them.

Last month's dream, I dreamt I was sitting there minding my own business when all of sudden my teeth started crumbling out of my mouth. I woke up and didn't think too much of it and then I heard Elizabeth Day talk about the fact she had that dream on her podcast, and that it represented a loss of power and it clicked with me why I would have that dream. Looking into it further, it also represents insecurity and being highly critical of yourself.

The second of four of this week's dreams - I was standing on a train platform with a dog in tow. The dog was a golden colour, and not resembling any dog I knew of and had no name. I was standing with the dog, then all of a sudden my eyesight went blurry, and all I could see was flashes of light. I felt panic. I woke up and I was completely shaken by this dream. Thinking of Elizabeth Day and the meaning behind dreams so went on Google and loss of eyesight can mean a variety of things from loss of logic, losing something important to you & periods of confusion in life. Whilst I appreciate the dream and it's meaning, what I didn't want was my dreams to turn into night time panic attacks which is something I did suffer with two years ago (which later a psychiatrist diagnosed as stemming from a trauma). 

So enter my counsellor who quite literally offered up a pretty nifty trick to try. Prior to this advice too, I had been following the GP's recommendations for sleep hygiene - cool room, having a Horlicks, reduced screen time etc. Regarding the dreams, she explained the difference between being in a deep sleep or being in a sleep where you can dream. To try and trigger a deep sleep, try going to bed later to be more tired. For me that would be trying an 11pm bedtime over a 10pm bedtime. She also said about reading to relax before bed. I love a lot of self help style books, or non fiction style reads. I need to invest in some easy reading folks! She recommended Danielle Steele which I know my Nan is a fan of! As an easy grab, I'm going to try re-reading Harry Potter to begin with as that's been on my to do list for a while. Now the big one - regarding an odd dream/nightmare/panicked dream the big advice ... write the ending. By writing the ending, if the dream were to occur again, you can train your brain to remember the ending. Take control of the dream.

This for me could be a game changer. I started thinking about the dreams and how they could have a funny ending or even just as simple as, my eyesight came back! Simple - done! 

Two years back my panic attack dreams used to be horrendous and I discussed them today. I'd literally have a dream where I'd be talking to two other people standing in triangle formation and it'd be like a conversation which would repeat again and again and I'd be unable to stop the dream. I had this for weeks - and it exhausted me because I didn't properly rest. It caused a major depressive episode - not that I'd realised it at the time until a psychiatrist explained what was happening to me, and then even figured out the root cause of it. I feel so grateful that I am not going through what I did back then because they were scary, stressful dreams and I will never miss that exhaustion I felt and it was like a different league to other exhaustion I've felt.

I'm going to try re-writing the dreams. And hopefully it won't expand to something more. 

Homework for the following week - take 10 minutes a day to ask myself how I'm really feeling and trial run the new schedule for the week to see if it makes a difference. 

Next week is my last session - and I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. I feel on the one hand ready to give this a go without a weekly session, but the thought of a relapse into high teens anxiety and depression numbers is scary too! 

Further resources: 
Making Sense of CBT by Mind
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