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Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

For sharing your experiences and feelings about mental illness
andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:11 pm

My good mood following the above post has continued, anger at those who stole the first half of my life from me and valuing myself go hand in hand.

Anxiety is still ready to pop it's head out at every opportunity. Valuing myself slays one head of the Cerberus, fear of other people is the other head. Emotional flashbacks have been and gone over the past few days. They are manageable and I can see a way to reduce them further.

Had to retreat home today because very overtired, tough to keep anxiety at bay when knackered. Lesson learned.

In general, I really feel hopeful about my future for the first time in many years. Genuinely feel good about myself for possibly the first time ever

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:13 pm

Reminder of my favourite quote from Dr David Burns

"Then how can I develop a sense of self esteem" you may ask. The answer is - you don't have to! You don't have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self esteem; all you have to do is turn off that critical, haranguing inner voice. Why? Because that critical inner voice is wrong! Your internal self-abuse springs from illogical, distorted thinking. Your sense of worthlessness is not based on truth, it is just the abscess which lies at the core of depressive illness.

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:17 pm

Diary Entry Sunday, 23/08

It's been coming and going like the tide but angry again today, feeling like I matter again. I do matter! I did matter! I was failed and abused by those who should have nurtured and protected me. I owe them fk all. They deserve pain and loss!

This feels good, but anger is the path, not the destination. I will continue to nurture it, nurture me, as I look for the next step. I want to nurture myself, I deserve to be nurtured.

Diary entry Monday, 24/08

I enjoyed today. A long walk and lunch with a friend. So why did I feel so unhappy after we parted.

If we weren't comfortable together, I would have put it down to my general fear of judgement & humiliation, but there was no ruminating on what I said or did, no self criticism.

I've explored the feelings instead of reacting to them. I think it is abject loneliness, an emotional flashback to the long periods of my life when I was completely alone. Triggered by parting.

I am glad I have recognised this, glad I can counter it by reminding myself that I will see other friends soon. Feeling the loneliness, then recognising that this feeling is not forever, seems to have let the emotion pass. I am really pleased that I have proved to myself that the feeling will pass without the need to engage in self-destructive behaviors. :)

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:23 pm

Diary Entry 26/08/20

It can probably be put down to multiple things, and certainly follows a lot of self help and therapy, but right now I feel the foundation pillars of my self damaging outlook and behaviours are falling one after another, like huge dominoes :)

This post is to note another of my underlying perspectives that have informed so much of my thinking and feeling.

One of these underlying perspectives was that I am intrinsically flawed, less than others, a burden on those around me. I have recently shifted to a perspective that there is not, and never was, anything wrong with me. It was my family and environment that were broken. This new perspective still needs nurture and reinforcement, but the change in how I think and feel is amazing :)

Another was that other people are always dangerous. I have weakened this massively over the years by actually taking risks, meeting new people and trusting. Still some work to do here. I think the remaining work is around emotional flashbacks and will require management of these, in concert with taking further risks, allowing myself to be truly vulnerable to others.

I have identified a third underlying perspective today. I start from the belief that the world is entirely dangerous, everything a threat until proven otherwise. This is obviously incorrect and generates a lot of unnecessary fear, anxiety, pessimism, and freeze reactions. Now I've identified it, I can work to address it :) .

A further note to myself is about my emotional flashbacks to abject loneliness. I can see how these were seeded, not only by the long periods of my adult life when I had no social contact, but also by the sense of abject loneliness I experienced as a child in being rejected by my family and the abject loneliness of having few to no childhood friends, of feeling fundamentally different.

I can now see that abject loneliness has been an overwhelming emotion throughout my life. This is good news :) Identify, explore, process, accept.

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:26 pm

The abject loneliness and the sense of being fundamentally different and not belonging anywhere, cut right to the heart of it. Heavy stuff!

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:36 am

Diary Entry 1 September

It hasn't been a great few days and I am posting this a few hours before dawn, so still not great. I've not exercised since Friday. Despair is creeping in to my thoughts, like a stale fart creeping into my sinuses.

I have been reinforcing thoughts of what I never had as a child, I have also been preoccupied with thoughts around the years of my life lost to mental health issues, that is bound to be a downer but it is in a good cause. I have counselling this afternoon and I am going to try to feel grief for the losses, for what might have been. Going to try to feel empathy for myself while in that caring, supportive, environment.

I am planning to end counselling soon. I don't think there is much more I can get from it. That will be an opportunity to refocus on practical matters (without invalidating my MH gains). I will still be reinforcing what I have learned and generally continuing my self help efforts.

I am not socialising as much as I would like, nowt I can do about covid but I have arranged to meet a friend this evening :).

Diary entry 2 September

I tried my to feel compassion and sympathy for me, but it didn't happen. If anyone else had 25% of my childhood experiences, I would be completely broken up for them. I struggle to feel anything for me.

I feel it is really important to learn how to feel sorrow and compassion for me. I will have one or two more sessions before ending counselling by the end of the month. If I have not broken through by then, I will continue trying when mutual support groups reopen. I will continue with my self help but I want to refocus onto practical matters.

4 September

So, focusing so hard on sadness for last Tuesday's counselling has left me feeling really sad. I don't think I will gain anything from continuing with this, so I will try to snap myself out of it and carry on practising doing what I want :).

7th September

I didn't snap myself out of it. The feelings ran on. Very sad about so much, it was very debilitating and sucked the life out of me. Finally moved forward by reminding myself that what I want is important, imagined attaining a goal and reminded myself that achieving my goals is worth effort, because I am worth it. That gave me the will to want to get off the sofa and be productive, a caffeine hit gave me the energy. Today has been my first good day for a couple of weeks. Feeling so much better.

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:39 am

Monday 7 September

I was thinking about how I used to hide my light under a bushel at work. I self-evaluated as having improved in confidence by taking part and showing my worth, but on reflection I see that although I do that for work tasks, I still shrink from discussing my personal life. I'm still self sabotaging my work relationships by acting on a distorted belief. I'm avoiding the magnified risk of being judged and humiliated for being me and steering clear of being too friendly for the same reason... Interesting.

Tues 8 September

I think that the above post is linked to my fawn response. I suspect that both attitudes stem directly from my fear of other people. I think my outer critic is responsible. My inner narrative is based on the idea that everyone I don't know well is a bully waiting for an opportunity.

Another note to myself, before I forget.

That thing about others being bullies waiting for an opportunity went hand in hand with a belief that I deserved to be bullied and humiliated. I have fundamentally believed that most people are alright for many years, in my mind, attacking me would be the correct behaviour. Once lockdown ends, it will be interesting to see if my new view of myself as having value holds up and how that impacts my current wonky view of others.

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:39 am

Thursday 10 September

I really enjoyed time with friends yesterday. The abject loneliness, following parting, has kicked in today. It is such a strong emotion, like sadness, it is so, so, strong. I will see if focusing on anger dilutes this loneliness.

Saturday 12 September

I've done very little since seeing friends on Wednesday. My sleep pattern has defaulted back to vampire mode. Was being down on myself again. Lots of I will never... Lots of this feeling is forever... Lots of I am not good enough... Just remembered that these are classic signs of an emotional flashback as per the book I have been reading. Just realising it is a flashback is making me feel better :)

Sunday 13 September

Still feeling very down but I am more in observer mode, rather than being consumed by the feeling.

I think I may still be feeling the after-effects of my last counselling session, where I explored sadness. I think I am grieving the years of my life lost to my fear of others, my fear of relationships, my fear of bullying and humiliation.

I know I am in the throes of letting go of the idea that I can regain those lost years. I am hoping that I am in the depressive stage of the grief process, that this will burn itself out eventually, that I will be left in a better place.

I am trying to focus on the practical view that what is gone, is gone but I still have life left to live and I am in a much better place to enjoy it, the beliefs of the past are in the past. I want to live my remaining years as well as I can.

Sunday 13 September

I want to remember to self soothe. I recently learned how to, it helps.

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:19 am

Diary Entry 13 September

Question to self. Is my perfectionism an attempt to gain the acceptance of my mother (my mental construct of my mother, rather that the actual... person, for want of a better term)?

Diary Entry 14 September

Almost a great acronym for dealing with emotions.
IPADSS

Identify
Process
Accept
Distract when needed
Self-Soothe
Share

An acronym for dealing with the urge to engage in automatic behaviours, for the technically minded.
PBAX-D

Pause
Breathe
Ask what do I want?
Xhale
Decide

An acronym taken from elsewhere. Feelings when it is a good idea to pause and consider what I am really feeling.

Hunger
Anger
Loneliness
Tiredness

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: Emotional resilience and the impact of its lack

Postby andthistoomustpass » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:28 am

Diary Entry 17 September

The entries below were made over the last couple of months, as I read a self-help book. CPTSD: From Surviving To Thriving by Pete Walker.

2 August 2020

I'm already finding the ideas incredibly helpful. Too much to break down now but it really is helping with my recent efforts to stop seeing myself as intrinsically defective. The emotional flashbacks section was really well put, first time I have understood the concept. This understanding was followed by "Ah! So that is what is going on with me!" The book is also helping me to begin to feel... (whisper it) as if I maybe starting to like myself a little!? It has also introduced me to my new favourite word, 'parentdectomy'

12 August 2020

Have carefully read through chapter 6, the four F's about three times. I found it hard but helpful to recognise that I often lead with the fawn response. Not something that I wanted to believe about myself, but true. I felt good to recognise how far I have come in being able to utilise different four F's in day today life. Some are still less than nuanced reactions :D but the chapter has given me a map to work from. I uncomfortably recognise the flight/freeze response, described as working to exhaustion, vegging out and then throwing yourself back into work on recovery. I want to think more about this. Chapter 7 is equally meaningful to me. I will read that a couple of more times before moving on.

24 August 2020

I've read chapters 7 & 8 multiple times. Chapter 7 was strongly connected to chapter 6, chapter 8 is Emotional Flashbacks. It has given me so many ideas of how to self-soothe. Applying some of the lessons from this chapter to the section on Self-Medication allowed me to explore a feeling and the associated self-destructive response. Today, I didn't overeat as a response to a strong and frequent emotion [abject loneliness]. I think I now have a handle on this emotion and, after addressing a few further instances, can place it in the solved category. I think the method used is applicable to many future scenarios. Today was a victory thanks to Pete Walker & me.

26 August 2020

I've now read chapter 9, Shrinking the inner critic.

On first read, I thought the idea of getting mad at the inner critic was a bit silly.
My big takeaway has been learning to differentiate between my CBT type inner critic of "I can't do it", "It will be a disaster because it is me", etc. and what seem to be the fundemental assumptions that those predictions are based on. I am incompetent, I'm mad, I am useless, I am shameful, I am ugly, I am weak, etc. The first set of criticisms emanate from my distorted logic and I have been somewhat successful at managing those by contesting the logic. The second set do not emanate from me but are the words of my bullies. They are well worth becoming angry over. Identifying them as originating outside myself, and using anger at the originators as the hook to dismiss them, seems to be a promising route. Before today, these assumptions were, not unnoticed but not seen in the same light. I look forward to using this new understanding to make that abusive internalised bully shrivel up and die.

8 September 2020

Chapter 10, The Outer Critic.

I was smugly confident that I didn't have an outer critic. I was wrong. My main takeaway has been that I have a voice that assumes everyone I don't know well is a bully waiting for an opportunity to violently or verbally attack / humiliate. I suspect this voice is what supports my fear of others and my fawn response. A really good realisation. Now I can see what is going on, I can address it :).

11 September 2020

Re-read chapter 10 and engaged in some painful reflection. My outer critic does more than the above post. For the last few years, I have been fighting my tendency to pigeon hole people. If my first impression is negative, the outer critic labels everything about them as negative. This goes beyond labelling others as dangerous. Part of me has internalized the hierarchy I perceived as a child. I have friends I care for and respect, but I treat some people with a distinct lack of respect, in the same way my inner critic mercilessly judges myself as being less than others. I subconsciously look down on some people who exhibit characteristics that I am ashamed of having had in the past, or characteristics that I an ashamed of having now, or have shamed myself out of, as being less than me. This is an unwelcome surprise, I pride myself on being non-judgemental. Understandably, I have bought into the ranking of myself by bullies and am subconsciously applying it to myself and others. Happily, I do not apply this to friends. I do apply it to some acquaintances & some colleagues, unless they are clearly friendly and non-threatening. It is clearly a maladaptive safely behaviour. A response to my belief that others are dangerous until proven otherwise. As outlined in the book, this traps me in a negative cycle. I see some people as too good for me and myself as better than others, leading me not to engage with either type unless they make an effort. In some situations, I also take things too personally and feel disproportionate anger to others. This chapter has made it clear to me that I am transferring old assumptions and old anger onto new people. The above behaviour causes me emotional pain and considerable interpersonal problems. I am pleased that this chapter has caused me to reflect and reevaluate how I view others. I am pleased that I can see my hidden judgements and ranking of people. Now I can work to remove this psycho-social millstone.

11 September 2020

Chapter 11 is on grieving the losses.

It also recommends the following 3 part article https://www.google.com/search?channel=fs&client=ubuntu&q=sanctuary+web+the+grief+that+dare+not+speak+its+name+part+1

4 techniques are recommended.

Anger
I can feel anger about how I was treated and I am practising this feeling, trying to make it habitual. It really helps!

Crying
This one is beyond me for now, but I remember how cathartic crying was when I was a child. I will work on it when the support group restarts.

Verbal Ventilation
Have achieved this, connecting with the emotions, during counselling. I want to try outside of counselling, at an appropriate moment, with a trusted friend. Identifying and connecting with my emotions is the culmination of years of work. I feel so much less tightly wound, so much better as a result.

Passive Feeling
Again, this has been the culmination of years of work. Again, I feel so much better as a result. The exception has been the sadness and overwhelming sorrow I have been feeling in recent weeks. I'm not certain what is going on. I'm hoping that this sorrow represents my grieving process.

Another excellent chapter, not least because it gave me an understanding of what grief is. It also gives a purpose to grief and sets out an endpoint for grief work.

17 September 2020

Chapter 12 - Managing Abandonment Depression

A lot of this chapter was familiar to me. I did a Mindfulness course some years ago and therapy has taught me to sit with and explore emotions. What it did do is help me to identify my own self abandonment. It is clear to me that my next step in recovery is to re-parent myself. Not just with a compassionate, valuing and accepting approach, but also by disciplining myself in a nurturing way. ie. Enforcing a regular bedtime and creating other habits that are good for me. This chapter also me feel a little guilty about not routinely engaging in Mindfulness for a few years, I know it helps me and I want to create a habit. This chapter also reminded me that I have never fully engaged with Mindfulness. I have used it for relaxation but I have ignored the bit about embracing and exploring thoughts and emotions that insist on attention. I sneakily used mindfulness techniques to push these thoughts and emotions back down instead :D Seems like a good idea to fully embrace regular Mindfulness practice.

I've also read the remainder of the book, although useful, there is nothing else that I feel moved to share. I want to read through the book again, this time with a highlighter. Following that, I will move on to the next book on my list.


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