For me; unpleasant feelings are as important to sit with and express as positive ones. Feeling them is not a cause to seek help or a reason to create conflict in my mind by papering over them with a kick up the bum & a fake smile. They are a part of me it is important to accept and not be ashamed of. Only then will those thoughts and feelings lose their power to dominate my actions. That doesn't mean wallowing, far from it. It means experiencing them and letting them pass naturally. 03/08/17
It is a quirk of my own mind which is the issue. I have trouble accepting that I have the right to feel angry, sad, etc. so when I get a positive or helpful comment in response to expressing these emotions I may interpret it in an unintended way and use it as justification to invalidate my feelings... Is that crazy? HELL YEAH! I want to stress that I am in no way criticising any post from anyone here. It is my distorted responses which can be a problem for me.
On the plus side; actually beginning to recognise, allow, express and work through my feelings of sadness appear to have lightened my load. My thinking rather than my mood appears to have significantly changed for the better. It is either the work I have done or that I forgot to take my Sertraline the last couple of days. Not sure which but I suspect the former, it feels like a blockage has been cleared. Still many more baby steps ahead on this but looking good. 05/08/17
I've been engaged in Cognitive Analytic Therapy, it, and the therapist, are helping a great deal. I've also been self teaching myself Acceptance and Commitment Therapy from a self help book which is about accepting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
The essence of CAT seems to be firstly; talking through your experiences and identifying the damaging thoughts, feelings and habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviours which stem from these experiences. Second is noticing when you are slipping into these unhealthy places. Third is identifying how to exit those patterns and take control of your actions.
I'm not sure how much of the help I've received is strictly part of CAT and how much has been the psychotherapist adapting it to suit me. For me it was clear that a lot of my discomfort is caused by repressing emotions and so we have focused on identifying and allowing emotions to surface. It's been slow going, it was only this week, session 21, that my therapist commented that I seemed in touch with my emotions for the first time. Well worth all the effort. 09/08/17Where I am at today.
Hmmm. What is it they say about football, a game of two halves? That's a good way of thinking about where I am today. I am still making the effort to be in touch with my emotions, and to avoid damaging personality states. I am still feeling the benefit of accepting the sadness I've been feeling recently. My reactions in social situations have been much less calculated and more natural too and I am more relaxed as a result. I'm getting out, meeting new people, doing new things and doing small things for me most days, even though I don't feel like it. All that is good.
The other half is that I am not doing any substantial things for me, I'm avoiding those, even simple things like arranging a dental check up. I am also ignoring my to do list. As much as I am talking a good fight, I am largely retreading old victories in socialising, etc as a way of distracting myself and avoiding moving forwards. I am still eating compulsively and doing other damaging stuff. Having said that, I have done very well in some ways recently. Particularly in that I have developed a real sense of "I". My shredded ego appears to be recuperating.
As much as I loathe my current way of life I have a lot of fear around making substantial changes. I've broken them up into small steps so as not to have the emotional load of labeling them as BIG changes but I am still avoiding them. I am going to be more watchful of my motivations and try to make sure my actions are in line with my newly identified values.
Being tough with myself is counter productive, instead I am going to try to notice when I am off track and gently coax myself back, focusing on questioning each choice and action before I make it to ensure it is in line with my values and goals. Will it work? Dunno but I'll give it a da*n good try. If I can be compassionate with myself and believe in myself enough to overcome the fear and allow my actions to match my attitude then I'll be on a winner.11/08/17
I've noticed changes flowing naturally from acceptance and I'm not really there with acceptance or emotional freedom in many ways but taking action and building experience to challenge negative beliefs are also important. Baby steps but still taking steps with the emphasis on making the attempt, not the result. Learning to accept fear and improve self esteem and self compassion are important skills for me to learn next.
I'm really proud of the changes I am making, considering my starting point, I'm doing really well. 12/08/17
I've been locked in avoidance behaviours and procrastination for a couple of weeks now. I believe it comes down to fear of making a change, of letting go of my negative predictions for the future, fear of embracing life.
I'm letting myself feel fear at the moment, encouraging it with a sense of curiosity in the hope that I will learn to accept it. It kinda feels like every horror movie I've ever seen playing all at once. I'm going out soon and I want to retain this feeling in a social setting. Anger and loneliness are the emotions I want to become familiar with and accept next.
Accepting my emotions is an objective all of it's own but I hope that accepting fear will naturally lead to me being able to deal with my resistance to getting better, I am resisting every step I take but I am beginning to recognise that the key to freedom is in my hands.
I intend to revisit CBT though the David Burns book, Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy and his book on Self Esteem. I feel that, as well as my resistance, the lack of recognition of my thoughts and emotions, the lack of a real sense of self, prevented me from getting the most from CBT previously. The NHS analytical therapy has enabled me to have a much better chance of effective outcomes. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to cry again too.
I also intend to buy the book 'Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life, turns out it is by the founder of ACT and I hope that armed with the results of the analytical therapy and having challenged my resistance through CBT techniques, and continued practice of my mindfulness skills, I will be in a position to get the most out of ACT too. I may even look for a private therapist to join me on the journey should it be desirable once I have revisited CBT.
I am still intending to ask for a referral to a group being run by my MHT and, with September approaching I want to make good on my intention to buy a light box and glasses for the darkening days. It may not help but there is a chance it will. They are affordable so nothing more to lose by trying than the cost of a few weeks of junk food. It is a chance well worth taking.
I've been eating healthily again for the past few days, one of the incentives behind that was struggling to fit into my seat for a show last weekend. I felt ashamed.
Shame fighting is another of my plans. I've been very open in therapy and here and I intend to visit a self help group on Tuesday and seize the spotlight for a bit, be very open there too. I have nothing to be ashamed of in my past, present or future. I am doing the best I can and that is all I can ask of myself or anyone else. If people have a more judgmental view then I pity them for it because I have found that it is only when I stop judging others that I stop judging myself.
Talking of shame fighting, I have always refused to be open about my loneliness, about my need for a partner. The shame is rooted in my basic feelings of being sub-human. That the appropriate response of anyone hearing I wanted a relationship would be pity, horror and disgust. I think I am able to address this now, be open about my interest in women without alcohol and without shame.
I've got a lot of plans here and, realistically, it is likely to be another 12 months at the very least before I have gotten close to completing them but there will be benefits with every step. Ever since I began to address my issues after a suicide attempt in my late 20s my life has gotten better with each step. sometimes it is two steps forward and one (or six!) steps back but the truth is that I have felt better and gotten more from life each year, increasing age nonwithstanding.14/08/17
First chunk of CBT done today, the new viewpoint from having a different book is really enlightening of course it will be a balance as I may try to use absorbing this lot as a way of avoiding other stuff. I really am likely to do that but at least I'm aware of how sneaky my subconscious can be so other priorities tomorrow and then some more of this Wednesday.15/08/17Shame fighting is another of my plans. I've been very open in therapy and here and I intend to visit a self help group on Tuesday and seize the spotlight for a bit, be very open there too. I have nothing to be ashamed of in my past, present or future. I am doing the best I can and that is all I can ask of myself or anyone else. If people have a more judgmental view then I pity them for it because I have found that it is only when I stop judging others that I stop judging myself.
Well, I did it. I told the facilitator I wanted 5 minutes, it was closer to 25 with an unexpected feedback session after I opened up and outlined my story to a bunch of strangers and I listed everything I was feeling ashamed of at that moment. I've briefly listed them again below.
The fear and negative predictions before and during are almost amusing to look back on, as I can see from my original post, I was expecting to be judged harshly, or to be cut off for wasting peoples time or for being whingey or inappropriate. Of course that never happened, they were sympathetic, supportive and showed real understanding. The facts that I was abused sexually, physically and emotionally as a small child, and emotionally right through to adulthood, the neglect as normal approach to parenting, the way my self esteem was so shredded that I saw myself as sub-human and was planning suicide from 6 / 7 years old and the fact that I have been isolated through so much of my life and have engaged with life so little are all things I was and still am ashamed of but I had no control over the behaviours of others when I was a child and I have done the best I can since. Doing our best is all we can ask of ourselves and of others.
During my monologue, I was mentally preparing my ripostes for verbal attacks which never came. As I told the group after, there was probably 2% of me that expected to be physically attacked for being myself. Really glad I went, It brought shame to the surface for me to try to explore with self compassion and provided proof to that 2% that those fears are unfounded.
Feels like the shame and self-blame has actually reduced which was the hope. It is another step on drawing out the damaging emotions, thoughts and beliefs I've been carrying around for all these years.
It was not an easy thing to do, really proud of myself. I'll accept this and forgive myself for not doing anything else productive on Tuesday.
This post hasn't been too easy to write either, thanks for reading. 15/08/17
I felt great for opening up today and I feel a little better in general, more hopeful, less ashamed and guilty which, hopefully, will reduce the need to punish myself and treat myself badly, but it is a journey. My post here was another step. I have noticed a few positive changes in how I am thinking and feeling. The big kahuna is if they flow through to changes in my behaviour. Not pressuring myself, just observing what happens. Anyhow, back to CBT today and maybe do a few other bits too.17/08/17
Had the 2 best nights of sleep I've had in ages.