I know best….

I was unsure when I first met with the counselor, she reminded me a bit of a headmistress type. The sessions were at her house and it was in a cosy sectioned off corner of her living room and she asked me why I was there and I started to explain, that I had been told I had anxiety, done the CBT etc but now it seems to have come back with a vengeance and I wanted to try to figure out if there was an underlying cause or trigger, after my explanation she just stayed silent, so I felt obliged to fill the silence and didn’t shut up for the rest of the hour, as with the CBT sessions, I felt lighter and like I it had been worth doing. We decided on fortnightly sessions and I booked in for my next appointment.

I’ll be completely honest, I wasnt sure if she was right for me, I felt a little bit like she was judging me which I never had with the CBT therapist, with her I felt like I was having a conversation with a friend but with my counselor, although she never really said much, I just didn’t get that click with her and maybe I should have changed counsellors but as you may have guessed, I am not a fan of change and didnt want to go through the rigmarole of opening the floodgates again as it could be quite emotionally draining.

One thing she did say to me, which  was true but at the time I just couldn’t believe it. She said I sounded like I was abusive to my boyfriend, not physically, but verbally and emotionally. I was stunned, I let the works spin around my brain and when I left the session I got in my car and I cried, not because I was upset at what she had said but because I knew deep down she was right. I love my boyfriend more than anything, yet the way I spoke to him when I was angry or stressed out was absolutely disgraceful, even worse if I had been drinking, I think I had been excusing my behaviour for shifting the blame or trying to justify it somehow, I’m not saying I shouldnt have been stressed out or angry, but I should absolutely have not spoken to him or treated him the way I did and I will always regret that. We are very different, he has the patience of a saint and a very long fuse whereas I have no patience and pretty much no fuse, but I am happy to say I am working on these things and coming along very nicely, but you’ll hear more about that later.

The sessions with my counselor went on for a few months, but I found myself not wanting to leave the house at all. I am usually a really sociable person, I would be out seeing friends a couple of times a week and out with my boyfriend once or twice a week, yet I found myself wanting to go home and get under a blanket and not see or speak to anyone, even to the point where I cancelled appointments with my counselor, although I never cancelled consecutive sessions. I had been seeing her for 3 months when I made my 3rd cancellation, it was a Tuesday, I’d had a shitty day at work and the trains were all screwed up again, I just wanted go home and be a recluse, so I sent her a text and asked to reschedule to the following week. I went home and had a much-needed early night.

I woke up the next day to realise that she hadn’t text me back as she usually would, I thought maybe she was busy but I never did get a response, I can only she assume she was upset that I had wanted to reschedule, I had only done this three times in the 3 months that I had been going and would rather she had just said that she didn’t think it was going to work out or something. I was confused and this did nothing to help my anxious mind, what had I done? Had she thought I was a drama queen and had no right being there? the list was endless. I would be fine anyway, I was training to the run the marathon and doing meditation, I didnt need a counsellor, plus, I had bigger things to worry about, like my idiot ex husband making more financial demands from me and just being awkward and spiteful, our relationship had ended several years ago and as far as I was aware he now had a family, why was he so hell-bent on trying to cause me misery?

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Barrys Back

The thing with Anxiety is, it’s always there, it’s never going away, the techniques I learned at my CBT therapy are great and do work, but you do have to work at it. I got a bit lazy. I finished the therapy in March, carried on doing the minimum (meditation etc) then there was a birthday and then we were off on holiday, great right? Apparently not for Barry. Barry decided that now would be a great time to start feeling insecure, so instead of lying by the pool sipping cocktails and thinking what a great time I was having, I was comparing myself to all the other female sunbathers, thinking that my boyfriend probably wished I looked like them, why don’t I take care of myself more? I feel disgusted with myself – all this whilst sipping several pina coladas I might add. I hated myself, but I didn’t want to do anything about it. All these negative thoughts I was having about myself was literally draining me, looking back now, I was slowly slipping into a hole. I tried to put a brave face on to my boyfriend but inside I was feeling quite sad, I put it down to hormones and got on with the holiday.

About 6 weeks later, I received a letter from my ex husbands solicitor officially starting the divorce proceedings, prior to this we had tried to resolve this between us, but it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, we did not part on good terms. He was making ridiculous demands and I had 14 days to respond from the date, so now I had 10. Enter Barry. I got completely stressed out, he was asking for money I didn’t have, I didn’t know where to start or what to do, my boyfriend tried to calm me down but I was too far gone in the state of what I call “Punch or Cry” I’m either going to punch something in a rage or burst into tears. My poor boyfriend, who although amazing and very understanding, does not deal very well with anger or tears and didn’t know what to say or do, sorry I should re-phrase that, he didn’t know the right thing to say or do, everything was just making it worse. So I followed my instincts and called the only person I knew who would calm me down. My Dad.

After being consoled and advised, pretty much the same advise the boyfriend gave me but worded differently but still. I went into work the next day, spoke to my boss, who was brilliant and very supportive, telling me to take whatever time I needed for solicitors etc. I booked an appointment to see a solicitor the following morning. I was so anxious that night I barely slept. Barry had become a full-time companion by this point, so any time it look like I might fall asleep he would whisper “what if you have to pay him thousands of pounds” even tho I don’t have a penny to my name and up to my eyeballs in debt it still worried me. It was going to be a loooooong night.

 

 

Its not OCD its GAD!

Theres going to a lot of acronyms flying around in this post, so please try to bear with me.

So I had booked my lunchtime appointment with the CBT therapist (cognitive behavioural therapist) I was really nervous and wasnt really sure what to expect. I had only told my boyfriend and the friend who had told me about CBT, I didn’t want anyone to know, I was quite embarrassed, I wasn’t mentally stable!

It was down a little side street near Bank with about 100 stairs, I was out of breath by the time I got to the first floor and all hot and flustered. I sat in the waiting area, half of me eager to rid myself of the craziness, the other half wanting to run out of the door and hide from it all. Then my therapist came out, she was lovely, if she was an animal she would have been a sparrow (I do this a lot) she was tiny and birdlike. She put me at ease straight away. I explained that I thought I had OCD and why I thought that, I explained my temperament, the constant worrying and she diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) I’d never even heard of it, GAD didn’t even sound like a nice word, it sounds like some sort of STD, can I have something that sounds better please?

The first session was just really going over the basics, whats was going on in my life. “Well I have been separated from my ex husband for several years and in the process of starting divorced proceedings, I live with my boyfriend who has a psycho ex girlfriend who he has children with, I don’t want children myself and sometimes struggle with the situation as it’s all still very new and I am not quite sure where I fit in. I know that my behaviour isnt normal and I don’t like feeling like this” Wow, I didn’t even know all of that was swimming around in my head and she got it out of me in 15 minutes, I felt relieved and also quite alarmed, how was I going to resolve this? However, I can honestly say that after that session, I felt a little lighter, she gave me some homework to do, nothing heavy just basically to monitor my anxiety and report back.

I had a one hour session every week for 10 weeks, my life didn’t change but my thinking did, which is what CBT is all about. Dont get me wrong, I still had anxiety and some panic attacks but I dealt with them a lot better and that was because I understood what was going on.

I did other things  to help with the GAD. I started mediating using the Calm app on my phone, I liked it so much I went and paid for the full version, I also did a lot of reading on the subject as I do love a good book. A books I would definitely recommend is “The Chimp Paradox”  which basically tells you that your brain has 3 sections, you, a computer and a chimp, it tells you to name your chimp, mine was called “Barry” and this actually lightened some of the darker moments for me & my boyfriend as he would say stuff like “Tell Barry to piss off” if I was being a pain or I would say “It wasn’t me it was Barry” It did really help me understand how the brain works though and how to train Barry into behaving differently.

This was only my first trip on the mental health express…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2017

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So its halfway into January, the regime isn’t going too badly, although I did have Burger & Chips washed down with several glasses of wine last night ( I was celebrating viewing a potential wedding venue) and now have a doughnut in front of me. Apart from that its going well. I’ve decided to try The Body coach lean in 15 plan, it’s actually quite easy and the meals I’ve made so far are really nice, although I currently have things in my kitchen cupboards that I’d never even seen before, such as Fennel. WTF is that all about? It was actually quite nice.

In all seriousness, I need to lose weight. After I separated from ex 8 years ago I was so slim, a size 10-12 could literally wear anything I wanted, but it’s slowly piled on and I am now 3 stone heavier, hardly any of my clothes look decent on me and I feel awful. I have two weddings this year, one of which I am bridesmaid for and I am the biggest bridesmaid by far.

So now is a good a time as any for a change of lifestyle as I finally feel like my head is in the right place, which I never thought would happen as a couple of years ago I was told I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) I used to worry about EVERYTHING, to the point it was interfering with my life. My head was a mess.

I had been with my boyfriend for about 18 months, we’d been living together for 6 and I gradually started letting the worry creep in, if he went out for the night even to play football for a couple of hours, I would be panicking about his safety and could not rest until he was home, this sometimes meant staying up until the early hours. If he was later than I expected (even though he never told me what time he would be home) I was be so distressed I would either be in tears or furious, which would then end in an argument.

I would worry about missing the train to work, getting a seat on the train, someone turning up at my house unexpectedly, my boyfriends  kids breaking something, the list was endless, not to mention exhausting and my health and my relationship were starting to suffer big time. I was living on my nerves, so when I had a drink, which was quite often, I would turn into this awful person shouting and screaming at my boyfriend most of which I wouldn’t even remember the next day, I would just wake up with a feeling of dread.

It all came to a head after one particularly bad drunken rage and I knew that if I wanted to save my relationship I needed to do something about it, rather than be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. Then my friend told me she was seeing a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and they had diagnosed her with OCD. The symptoms she described were almost identical to how I felt. I went online to research therapists in my area and booked myself an appointment for the following week at lunchtime. I work in London so the fees were pretty expensive but my relationship was far too important not to mention my health! I was just praying it would help.