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anxiety

I’m still going to therapy every other week. This week was a no session week. I’m trying to remember a week back to our last session. What did we discuss?

I remember Ron did bring up this time that I’m cancelling a lot and wondered why. I just said I wanted some time where I wasn’t triggered, and that sometimes, therapy seems to trigger all kinds of emotions but doesn’t really resolve anything, so that I’m not sure how helpful it is.

Ron didn’t say much. I got the impression he doesn’t agree that we should have fewer sessions, but he didn’t say so.

I didn’t say this, but I also think I can commit to approaching difficult topics every second week, but not every week. I’m willing to sacrifice some days to therapy recovery if it’s not every single week.

I’ve been thinking about how alone I’ve been in my life, and how that’s especially evident now. I suspect one reason I can’t seem to recover from therapy is I have no one in my regular life to help me ‘regulate’. It sometimes is very helpful to have people around, not even to discuss issues with, but just people doing ordinary living. It helps me calm down.

I’ve noticed this at work. I now have the option of working with some other writers at a big table, instead of in my cubicle. I actually prefer the big table. I thought I would hate it and feel horribly exposed, but having little interactions with other writers makes my day feel so much better. Just being able to speak sometimes, or listen to someone else go on about something.

I spent one day in my cubicle at work, and was pretty much suicidal by the end of the day. No one spoke to me. It’s a bit of a bad atmosphere there at the moment as the contract is ending, although we haven’t been told that in any kind of an upfront way. As well, there’s renewed pressure to produce lots of work very quickly. And the PM is no longer friendly to me, maybe because I’m not that fast. I like to think about what I’m doing, and produce quality, and all he cares about is quantity, because that makes his project look good.

When I moved to the table the next day, I had a much much better day. Other people are in ordinary moods, and they are catching. If I want to grumble about something, I can, in a low voice. My mood was so much improved.

So generally I’ve concluded, although I do need some time to myself, in general I do better with people around.

Somehow I’ve ended up pretty much alone. My one friend and I seem to have had a bit of a falling out, unless I’m imagining it, so she hasn’t called in a few weeks. I know I could call her. I have my ex I suppose. He’s very misanthropic and unsociable however.

I feel that I am fairly well liked at work. Chance threw myself and my star co-worker, whom I disliked, together, and it turns out we do OK together. He’s pretty outgoing, and it’s helping me to practice being more outgoing also.

Having people around at work is cushioning some of the blows of work – the contract is not being extended as promised, the PM is asking for impossible quantities of work, and other things. I just think in the same way, if I had people in my life outside of work who were more reliably present, it would help me come out of the bad places therapy puts me into.

I’m not sure Ron can really conceive of my difficulties in sociability. His view is that we need to be authentic with people and have real relationships. But I think we first need to have any kind of relationships. If I have no ability to attract anyone, I need to work on that. I don’t mean attract as in sexually attract, but attract in terms of someone wants me around. And I will not be attractive to people if I’m completely depressed and unable to be social.

I just came back from a birthday tea for my sister at my parents’ house. I can see how my social anxiety developed by watching them. My mother basically doesn’t speak. My father has very set topics that he wants to talk about – his garden, his work when he worked. So everyone dances about him speaking in horrible detail about his garden, as if we were all fascinated by this, to appease him.

Some other guests came, and so the conversation veered to different topics. At that point both my parents stopped speaking at all.

I think the dynamic is that speaking puts you at risk. In my family it’s not safe to have your own life, your own experience and opinions. So no one risks speaking about anything. I do, and I get rejected quite a bit. For example, this afternoon my brother wasn’t veering far afield, but started to talk about how he wanted to plant a miniature rose for his front walk. I suggested a tea rose. Well. My father is obsessed with old fashioned once flowering varieties. My suggestion was completely unacceptable to my sister and my father. Because intelligent people only love the old style roses. It doesn’t seem to be OK to have your own opinion on what you like.

Anyway, I can see where I developed a fear of saying anything that dogged me for my first forty years. I experienced this as not being able to think of what to say, but it’s more that all topics were potentially humiliating, so I kept quiet. Even when keeping quiet was peculiar in the situation.

So now, I can speak, thank goodness. Just I haven’t peopled my life with people who want to hear me and speak back. Wanting people in my life doesn’t have much of anything to do with ‘authenticity’ though, as recommended in therapy. I don’t really want to pour my heart out at this point. I just want some people around who like me.

 

 

I’ve been considering cancelling my therapy session. I go back and forth on it. This week, I really feel therapy is not doing me any good. Do I want to go through the suffering the session seems to catapult me into, when I don’t see how it’s helping me?

I felt all this mistrust of Ron last session and voiced it close to the end of session. I was trying to follow what he was saying about anxiety, and I realized with another part of my mind, I was feeling like I was being tortured. Ron was kind of taken aback when I said that, though he did ask me to speak from that part of me. It was almost end of session at that point.

I quickly still told him about my moth dream, getting into a younger part at that point and becoming upset. So as it was end of session, I told Ron I needed to ground so I could leave. He tried to do a quick visualization of grounding through my legs. Which was fine. Just the sound of his voice really irritated me, so I asked him to stop.

So I left.

I was running into huge amounts of anxiety in the days after the session. I decided to trust Ron and sent him two emails about what I was going through. One of them, I asked him a question about something he’d said in session. He didn’t reply to either email, which really distressed me further. Maybe he does think we are not doing well, I am experiencing him as an enemy, and so why should he respond to me.

On the other hand, I don’t want to run when the going gets tough. Is the toughness to some purpose, or is it a sign I need to leave?

So Mr Coffee Date is not even going to respond to my email. What a change from when we hadn’t met yet, where he responded to every email right away. Personally, I think it’s rude not to say a polite no thanks, when someone has taken the trouble to meet with you and sends a follow up. At least I found out he’s a bit of a jerk right away. I suppose it’s a bonus that I’m not that attractive – men won’t deceive me by pretending when they just like how I look.

I feel better knowing he’s not interested, instead of wondering and trying to read the tea leaves. Trying to date will be painful for me. I don’t have social ease, men see me and think they have to try and be intellectual, and then are bored, I have parts that can cut in if I get anxious, which then makes me look like I’m kind of stupid. I need someone to see past all that to the greatness within! Without insulting me on my appearance, which has also happened to me.

At least I made an effort.

The anxiety has left. My method for conquering it was to play dead – I went to bed, I read a classic I already know very well, I dozed and stared out the window. And like magic, no more anxiety. Instead I feel calmly sad. I got nothing at all done today, though I did go for a walk. Job hunting activities made me more anxious, and I couldn’t bear more anxiety. Sometimes giving up is the way to go. I am appreciating being able to sit and write without all the fear I was experiencing today.

My session last week was one hundred percent more helpful than the last. We talked about how unhelpful I’d found therapy the week before, about how I wasn’t feeling trusting. Ron brought up the fact that I hadn’t sent him any tracking – I had decided to wait and see if he would bring it up, or just let it go by. I’m glad he brought it up, otherwise we’d be in denial land, where I no longer wish to live. I brought up that Ron seemed to be taking a bit personally what I’d said the week before about him not seeming caring to me. And that I’d left the session with a kind of pain in my gut that lasted for days.

Ron listened and did not seem to take anything at all personally this time.

However I did have a major therapy hangover this time, which took up the rest of Friday and all of Saturday and most of Sunday. Which did suck. If I’m going to do any socializing or see anyone at all, it tends to be on weekends, so if I can’t function for those days, it really affects my life.

Ron asked by email if I had thoughts on what part of the session caused me to collapse afterwards. I think it’s because I pretty much completely switched into B in the last part of the session. This was crying and upset B. I was trying to switch back out so I could leave and it was really difficult to do. So maybe it was that. One painful thing leading to another at home until I was completely flooded with sadness? And perhaps stuck in a young part, with my mind not working correctly.

Another topic that came up was my sister. My mother did greatly prefer my sister to me as a child. I’d had some dreams where there was some kind of theme that related to being ignored in favor of other people. It seemed to be about that. Maybe that was the trouble?

Hard to say. I don’t really understand why therapy affects me like this. Ron has said this doesn’t happen for his other clients. So it’s not something he’s trying to do, or thinks is especially positive. I’m not sure he thinks it’s entirely negative either, but to me it is. I do need therapy, but I don’t need to lose all those days either.

But, all in all, it seemed a better session. I felt cared about and connected. I felt Ron was hearing me on some things. For instance, at one point, I said I feel like I don’t want to answer that question, and he was ready to back off, as I’d asked him to. But then I went ahead and answered the question anyway – it actually didn’t feel like too much after all. I’d asked him to back off, weeks ago, if I said I didn’t want to discuss something, so it was nice to see that he was prepared to do that.

Unfortunately, I was not in good enough shape to record the session after, so I’ve forgotten most of it. I do remember the dreams, speaking about sibling favoritism, discussing the previous bad session…. That’ll have to do. It’s good enough for now.

 

I seem to have landed in anxiety land. After three full months of unemployment and fruitless job search, maybe it makes sense. Almost every action causes me intense anxiety, and mostly, I’m seamlessly anxious/afraid without needing to do anything much. Big sigh.

Despite the fact that yesterday, I went for yet another interview, and it seemed to go quite well. I had a bunch of memorized ‘examples’ of things going well at work and myself being a working superhero. The interview was at my favorite time, early afternoon, so I had no struggle getting there on time. And then, the interviewer didn’t use the standard behavioural interview questions at all. He was pretty off the wall in fact, and very ready to be pleased with me it seemed.

The interview was not with a big corporation. It is a small company that contracts out to large corporations. So, more informal. And in the old section of town, which makes me feel a bit better – a lot of buildings in that hundred year old orange brick that’s a little crumbly and narrower than modern brick.

At the end of the interview, the interviewer said he liked me a lot, and that most likely they’d ask me to join them for a three month upcoming project. So I know nothing for sure yet. As they are small, I’m a little uncertain about them. The project might fall through, for instance. However, the fact is, I did well in the interview, they liked me, and whether I get work or not, this is a good experience.

I also took a small dose of an anti-anxiety med before hand. This makes a big difference I think. I certainly feel better, and I believe I come across as more trustworthy and competent when I’m not trying to batten down mega doses of anxiety while fielding bizarre and useless questions.

So I should be feeling calmer. I’m not. This is anxiety like a sickness – I’m not aware of thinking anything in particular, and most everything is causing it.

The other thing that happened was I went on a short date. A coffee date, with someone from the internet. Men will stir up my anxieties and could be that this has contributed to my current state.

The man was quite nice. He wanted to talk about culture, so we talked books and movies, as well as jobs. He was more self-assured than I was, more outgoing, and I told him i don’t date much so am a bit shy at first. I did see a look of boredom flash on his face a few times, especially at first. After an hour, I said I wanted to get going. I wasn’t bored, but I was anxious, and so glad I had had the courage to meet someone, and relieved it could be over now.

I’m not sure what he thought. The situation made me too anxious to really evaluate how much I liked him. I think I did basically like him. He said maybe we’d talk again, I said sure, that would be great, and that was it. I haven’t heard from him since – we met three days ago. A friend advised a quick email after several days, so I’ve sent an email saying I enjoyed meeting him and hope he wants to meet again. Haven’t heard back. So could be, he’s actually not interested. Though he might still write back I suppose.

I have to learn to tolerate this kind of thing I suppose. But maybe the dating/ probable rejection plus the rejection inherent in a job search has been a bit much for me to cope with.

If I go to bed, and do nothing much, or try some light reading, the anxiety goes away. It’s like playing dead. Maybe I have to do that for a while now. I should be continuing to look for work but it’s too anxiety provoking at the moment.

Anxiety like this that’s around all the time is unusual for me. I’m much more likely to be felled by depression than by endless feelings of fear when there is actually no threat.

 

I went to my ‘bio-session’ last Saturday. I think it was helpful but it’s hard to describe.

It was in a different location from Ron’s office, in a therapy school in an older Victorian building. The room was in the basement. It was very rec room like – fake wood paneling, grey wall-to-wall, mats piled up in a corner, and old sofa and chair at one end. It felt like a trip back to the sixties actually, complete with old wooden tennis rackets with peeling varnish and little pictures of tennis greats painted on. I remember those from my childhood.

It was much less talky than a regular session. Ron asked how I was feeling, where the feeling was located in my body, and we tended to follow that. I was asked to try different ways of expressing or helping myself feel better. I told Ron I was very anxious being in this new situation, as I wasn’t sure what was expected. As well, the openness of the space, with us seated in one corner on the couch and chair, was disconcerting.

At first, I didn’t want to try anything, sure nothing would work for me. For the anxiety, which was like a need to leave, I actually walked to the exit and made as if to leave. Sure, that feels fine, I tell Ron, returning.

The anxiety seemed like I felt like I was falling apart, because there seemed to be no boundaries. So advised by Ron, I experimented with moving to the couch and feeling the boundary of the couch at my back. Also piling some cushions in my lap for ballast. And this surprisingly did help me feel calmer and more at ease. Later in the session, we also brought over some folding screens to create another boundary around the sitting area, and that helped also.

A goal was to try and work with what was coming up in a way that would help, but didn’t just suppress the feelings.

One thing that really suited me was the emphasis on feelings and the body without talking a lot about what it all means. Not that Ron discouraged my talking, but as he didn’t encourage it, or rather focused more on moving around and responding to feelings, I ended up following his lead. It’s good for me because it means parts can get equal say. If I’m telling a lot of adult type stories, parts can be totally suppressed, and that feels bad to me later. By going with feelings, anyone’s feelings were valid, and no one had more right to time than anyone else.

After my anxiety had subsided, I started to feel black depression and some anger, so I walked around the space, looking for what I might do. Of course, I tried the wooden dowels, which I could smack against a large mat, and the tennis racket, which I liked the best. It felt fine smashing the mat with the racket and making various sounds.

At first, I was smashing against the black depression, but as that seemed like I was hitting myself, Ron said to picture hitting whatever was causing the depression, and that felt a lot better. I felt clear and strong, bashing the tennis racket. Ron said my family was intrusive with their constant judgements, and that felt possible.

Of course, being me, everything turns painful and sad. To this point, I’d really been noticing that I can work with what comes up, instead of having it overwhelm me. But now with expressing anger, up comes a huge amount of pain. I lose all my energy for hitting and go back to the couch and lie down. I feel so bad, and try to tell Ron about it, but I can’t really explain – I don’t have a story. We discuss that anger is attached to a whole lot of other emotions that come along with it.

That was about the end of the long session.

One thing I noticed, Ron looked tired and sad. I asked him if it was hard for him to work on the weekend, and he said no, and I left it at that. He’s a good therapist when he’s sad – he focused on me the entire time, and didn’t go off on any lectures or any kind.

The day after this was hard – I slept a lot, and stayed in bed for some of the day. But it wasn’t that kind of pain where parts weren’t heard from and the adult took over, which is worse for me. It may have been helpful to go through – how do I know?

One thing was really noticeable for me – I walked to Starbucks, and I noticed I was completely unafraid of people. Usually I have some low level fear of random strangers’ judgements about me, which I’m so used to I don’t even notice. But that day, even though I was awash in sadness, I couldn’t care less what anyone thought. Kind of interesting. I don’t think this has lasted, but it was very surprising at the time.

I feel better. Just want to get this down before I once again feel like I’m endlessly wading through sticky mud.

I did not miss my cancelled second session today at all. I’m glad I have the chance to recover from therapy for the rest of the week. Therapy is just so hard on me. I’m forever stirring up old crap. I hope it’s doing some good.

I feel quite disconnected from Ron, but it’s not bothering me at this point. We had a session last week where I didn’t feel connected and I felt missed, in a way. I used to write angry emails to Ron following this kind of session, and then when he replied, I’d feel better and usually connected again. But. This time I felt like letting the adult me stay in charge. The adult me sees very well that Ron didn’t do anything to hurt me. He encouraged me to speak about anything I needed to, and did his best to listen and beĀ  empathic. So what the heck.

I suspect the disconnection came from the fact that I did the session as an adult only, even though a big reason for going to see him is to take care of these younger parts. But the adult me did have traumas to discuss. My painful family, my mother, my son….Everything I talked about was basically deeply painful. Just I talked all from one point of view. For me it’s like pretending to be a regular client without parts. Ron is happy to go with this, and he treats me as if there’s just the adult there. Which then hurts my feelings. But why should it really. I can see why he does that. It’s not his role to encourage parts or call them forth. I think he’s always hoping they’ve disappeared – integrated. They never have, but he hopes it might happen.

Today was almost depression free. I did have a lot of anxiety instead, but it was manageable. It seems to help to launch myself out into the world somehow in the morning, resisting the temptation to hide at home and surf the web. I enjoyed a walk in the sunny middle part of the day, went to the library, drove to the mall to look into buying a shredder, got groceries, and worked out at the gym. For me, this is a huge amount of activity, but it all felt doable.

I’m in an odd space because I don’t feel like reading. Reading has always been my go to activity and I can usually be drawn in by a story. Right now, I’m finding it hard to concentrate and don’t find any book appealing. Very strange for me, but if it means less depression, I’ll take it.

I have also been doing some shopping online. It feels a bit dangerous to be spending money when none is coming in. However, I have a built up demand, as I haven’t been taking care of things on the home front while I was working. I bought a modest TV to replace my twenty incher, and now need something to put this on. I bought an inexpensive printer, since mine isn’t working, and a shredder, so I can get rid of old documents and free up space to file the overflow. I want to buy curtains to make my place seem cosier. I have all this energy right now to try and fix a bunch of stuff that I’ve just let slide in my need to survive working. Maybe I should go with that and not worry too much. Things are on sale right now too.

I feel quite superficial. I’m happily staying out of the depths and the muck, and doing my online shopping and errands, and letting that be OK. I feel like I’m finally bouncing back from the stress of my last job, and I want to give my mind and spirit a chance to just rest and recover. I want to try not to worry over much about finding work right away. The market is very slow before the holidays, so I want to not go into a panic about this. I have faith it will pick up in the new year, and in the meantime, I can take care of things I need to take care of.

 

A bunch of things are going on for me. Work is better. My boss came back from holidays this week and we have so far not had any difficult interactions. I have a personal mission of sorts, to get along with this boss. I know I affect her, and I can be ‘nice’. I need to play the game, and find ways to keep her calm and feeling in control. I really want to find a way to do that. Then she will go off and be angry and upset about other groups, other people, but not me.

OK, I feel bad writing about this. Because I know that some readers and commenters, with my best interests at heart, will not agree with what I did. But – I think it’s for the best and I feel good about this decision, so far.

I took the full-time job.

I didn’t ask for a different manager.

I thought about the distress this would cause, if I got a different manager. This is not a big department – it has maybe fifteen people, total. Four of these are people managers, and my own boss has only two direct reports. I would still sit very close to her. It would just be horribly awkward, and I decided not to ask for this.

I deeply deeply did not want to start again somewhere else in yet another short term contract. I’ve reached my limit with that, even though I have little doubt I could find contracts fairly easily. I am just starting to learn the subject matter in this role. I want to build on that.

I realized I must manage this boss, and I must realize what she is like, and try to sooth her her anxieties if I possibly can. The good (and bad) thing is that she usually has very little input into my job. I work with other internal clients, in an area she has no knowledge of at all. So for the main part of my job, she is irrelevant. If I can build up a better history of interacting with her, I think she will mostly leave me alone.

Secondly, I want the health insurance. Because of the cancer, I don’t qualify for anything decent on my own, so I want to be covered just by virtue of working there. I now have another health concern, which I am worrying might be some degenerative type illness. I need some type of coverage. It’s likely not the worst case scenario I worry I have, but having insurance is important to me. (For US readers, we are all covered for basics like doctor visits and hospital stays in Canada, luckily, but I’m talking benefits – some percentage of pay if I can’t work for a time, drug coverage, etc.).

Thirdly, the stability means a lot to me. I’ve felt these little starts of connections form to people at work, and it means something that I keep the same people in my life, for a time at least. This is not like a family, of course, but it’s still some stability and continuity for me.

Maybe I’m being defensive. There were also good reasons for turning the job down, but anyway, this is what I did, and I feel happy with my choice at this moment.

And in other news. The yoga for anxiety class was helpful. It was very very slow, and you’d almost be hard pressed to find the yoga in it. We moved our arms and breathed to various counts, basically. The part I really am doing every day is a type of balanced breathing. I downloaded the recommended recording, which is simply two bells, one for in breath, one for out breath. So very simple, but I am not getting tired of it. I do feel calmer after doing this breathing for a while. And I’ve been practicing on my commute, and on breaks at work. I noticed I carry and unbelievable amount of stress with me all the time. This is so noticeable when I try to do the slow breathing. My throat is almost panicking, my chest is tight….And normally, I don’t notice.

Anxiety at work is a real problem for me. I talk in an anxious way sometimes, or just plunge into anxiety, so I’m hopeful this little breathing exercise is going to help. It’s already helping, but I hope I don’t get tired of it.

All in all, I feel kind of hopeful about everything.