Tag Archives: therapy

Throwing a Therapy Wobbly

I’m fizzing.

It’s not anger, exactly, and I’m not annoyed with anyone in particular, but I feel as though my fur has been stroked backward.

I completed Session One of the online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course.

Initial obstacles

First I had to sort out incompatibilities.

(1) Adobe Flash Player — had to use Adobe’s uninstaller before I could install the most recent version of Flash Player, which turned out to have been put in by old software. I hesitated because I couldn’t see why it was necessary, and was suspicious.

(2) Safari (probably because of Flash). Needed a different browser.

I tried to install Chrome, but it kept saying ‘thanks for downloading’ though nothing was happening. So I got Firefox, and found myself registering for an account so I could synchronize bookmarks (why?), then downloading Firefox to the iPad so the process could be completed.

I suspect it wasn’t mandatory to have a Firefox account, but by that time I was past trying to figure these things out — I just wanted to do what I was told so I could get on with life. I even made Firefox my default browser (I was that far gone!) but reverted to Safari a few days later.

The two browsers were playing tug of war. Safari used to be a happy ‘only browser’ on my Mac, but now there was another in the roost.

“Do you want to make me your default browser?”

“Yes.”

You fire up the first one out of habit, as it was your default browser till very recently.

“Do you want to make me your default browser?”

“Er…. oh, go on then!”

You switch back to the other one, as that’s where the online CBT account is lurking.

“Do you want to…?”

“No!”

By the time all issues were fixed, it was almost bedtime, so I left ‘Session One’ for another day.

‘Another day’ arrived…

I could think of fun things I would rather be doing this sunny afternoon, such as uploading photographs from my camera and looking to see if they were any good, but I might as well get this CBT thing over with.

Some time ago I put cheap paper in the printer especially for the CBT course, but Mum used it all on a manual for our new dishwasher, so I put in more… and now we were ready to rumble!

Rumbling

Subtitles were turned on so I didn’t need to listen to the course, and automatically put on some soothing music. The subtitles said something about music playing at the start, and I thought to myself, “Well, thanks, but I’ve got my own.”

I don’t know what they were playing, but mine happened to be Just the Way You Are by the Piano Guys.

Session One

Right now, I lack words to describe what I thought about Session One.

I mentioned in my last post (Shrouded in Scottish Gloom) that I’ve done CBT before and didn’t take to it. On the other hand, I thought once I got into this online course, I might enjoy it. I have a tidy mind… I like creating databases, organizing files and photos, and answering questionnaires and quizzes. Why wouldn’t I enjoy this too?

Nevertheless, I began the session feeling irritated, and it only got worse. I didn’t want to answer the questions.

“Did anything happen during the past week to upset or disturb you?”

“Yes!”

“Oh dear. What was it?”

I couldn’t believe I had to answer this.

“Well, we had to vote in a general election and then there was all the political fallout with everybody blaming everybody else…”

OK, I didn’t type that, but, honestly! I ended up backtracking and saying, “No. Nothing happened.” and the squiggly figure gave me a squinty-eyed look and said, “Hmmmmm…”

I don’t think it believed me.

It shocked and surprised me how reluctant I was to give any information at all. I just wanted to see what it had to say and have done, but if I had to interact to this degree, I had no wish to complete the course.

I realize this isn’t the point… it’s supposed to be a tool that I use to tighten up screws in my head that might happen to be a bit loose, so if it doesn’t know what screws those are, there isn’t a lot it can do. This reflection didn’t comfort me, and my irritation grew so bad I kept stopping and staring unblinkingly at the screen for long moments.

How many times a week do I get anxious? Once a week? Five times a week?

No, it doesn’t work like that!

Hissy fit

I quit the session altogether, absolutely smouldering, then gave myself a good talking-to. I didn’t want to have to explain to people why I didn’t want to do it… it seemed easier to shut my eyes and get it over with. That way you make fewer waves and it defuses the situation. After all, it’s not a big deal… it’s just an amped-up questionnaire.

I went back in and found I had to sit through the entire thing again, homilies and all, answering questions I’d already answered… but changed a few of my responses this time, taking a more measured attitude to it, so it was all to the good.

At the end, I was asked if any of it helped, and I answered honestly… no it didn’t. If I could have given it a minus score, I would have.

The forum did, though! There were people on it who had almost identical thoughts and emotions about the first session, including “I reallyreallyreally don’t want to do this!!” but in the end rationalizing that it’s not a big deal and just to get on with it.

What gets me is that it’s been a few hours now since I did the session, and I still feel like an electrocuted jellyfish.

One thing worth noting… people on the forum said the first session is notoriously awful, but it gets better, and I might gain some benefit in later sessions. So just hang in there…

…just stay clear of my stingers for a while. 😛

Deafness and Depression

I found this discussion on the BBC Ouch! forum about deafness and depression; I particularly liked the messages from Number 23 onwards. And Message 27 is depressing!! Black comedy, if you like.

Things are said there that I’ve thought a lot myself over the years. Even on the internet it’s so obvious that therapists’ advice is geared towards those without disabilities and communication issues. When I saw a cognitive behavioural therapist years ago, I really felt we were not on the same wavelength. She was trying to persuade me nothing was as black as I was painting it in my mind, and I was wondering how black couldn’t be black, and if she even knew what the picture was.

I asked her once if she thought that maybe my anxiety and ‘panic disorder’ (which she’d diagnosed it as at the time) was caused by my deafness, and she said “oh, I don’t know!” in a tone that seemed to say, “well, perhaps, but you don’t have to be deaf to have issues, and let’s not get into that anyway!”

I found myself thinking of that exchange much later, when I read that cognitive behavioural therapists are trained to guide their clients away from the probable causes… we’re supposed to focus on changing our behaviour and the way we look at things. How it all happened in the first place is apparently irrelevant (and, I grant, often impossible to untangle anyway).

I said to Mum recently that a therapist would advise one to go into a difficult situation with the intention of proving that yes, one can handle it perfectly well… but it’s not so simple when that you are deaf and have poor speech, and have to go through the wringer merely to get fish and chips from the local takeaway. Generally you prove to yourself all over again that any two year old could do it better and faster. I don’t see how the fact that one is deaf can be ignored.

Some of those taking part in the discussion thread say that of course we have these anxiety or depression issues — we’re all of us being shaped to fit in that round hole, whether or not we’re round.

Diddums Comes Rushing Up

I took the Overcoming Low Self Esteem (Melanie Fennell) book back to the library. I read it in one sitting (which apparently isn’t the best way to make use of it, except perhaps as a first reading). I believe my self esteem isn’t that impaired… if it was, would I have a blog?

We are supposed to rate how much we believe our own statements, so I asked myself for a rating for that one:

“I have healthy self esteem.” 80%.

Some of the book was interesting and even amusing, but when I tried to follow the exercises, I made myself a ‘vicious circle,’ remembered one that the cognitive behavioural therapist and I were trying together all those years ago, wrote down “we focused on the wrong one,” and then stopped. I couldn’t make myself do any of the rest.

The one we were dealing with in therapy was the big bewildering one, the going out and panicking; it wasn’t any of the individual events that all added up to make this one big Snowball. It’s of interest to trace back and think about why you might have felt a particular way in a specific situation; less helpful to say “the world won’t come to an end if you do have a panic attack.” I know it won’t… but it doesn’t stop me feeling that I don’t want to be there.

I agree with Elizabeth from 1sojournal that we’re all full of self-doubt; in this world it would be hard to avoid. But I also have a certain confidence in myself. I believe that, given time, adequate resources and enough space, I could solve problems and work things out. It’s mostly in my communications with people that things go wrong.

I’ve seen a lot of posts by others saying the same thing. They can get by perfectly well with whatever their specific problems are, and it’s only where other people (or their structures and arrangements) come into the mix that things take a nosedive.

I don’t know if that’s low self esteem or something else. I don’t think all anxieties will be due to that. I started life believing it would be a certain way, and that everything would be straightforward, and soon discovered it was anything but!

I can’t give a fair opinion of the book unless I follow its suggestions and guidelines, which I didn’t do, for reasons of my own. It led to some interesting trains of thought, however… the idea that we have personally-developed ‘rules’ which cause distress if we break them. Some are obvious; others less so, and might not make a lot of sense when examined.

Do you know what your ‘rules’ are?

One of my ‘rules’, I think, is to be the ‘finder’. I was the youngest in the family (sometimes feeling left out due to lack of age), and we would go on rambles, and so it was wonderful to be the one to discover a flower, shell, mushroom or fossil that nobody else saw. The vexing thing was that I rarely did… or if I found something, it turned out to be something perfectly ordinary, like a piece of quartz.

When I was 5 or 6, I read a short story about four-leaf clovers, and forever after I was always looking for one. My class was taken on an outing to a farm, where I found a four-leaf clover which I gave to my teacher to look after. At the end of the day I was surprised and hurt to find she didn’t have it any more… she had just dropped it. To me it was a magical thing, a rare find. It was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I thought she would be as happy as I was. 😀

I don’t know if it’s a ‘rule’ as such, but… I rather think it is. Nothing makes me happier than to be the one to answer a question; find something; make the best suggestion; think of the nicest name. I can’t say I come crashing to the ground if I fail, but that’s because there’s always the next time…