Musings and Snoozes

“And how does that make you feel?”

on April 3, 2018

Amongst my collection of general medical people, I have two different types of Psych doctors; a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist. My Psychiatrist is my favourite – he’s funny, clearly slightly fascinated by my life choices, and I enjoy our discussions on why Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder seem to be intrinsically linked. I also like him because we discuss concrete, controllable things like my medication, their side-effects, and what we can do about them.

And then on the other side we have my Psychologist. Despite her never actually having uttered the phrase in four months, I insist on calling her my “And how does that make you feel?” doctor, complete with soft, patronising voice. She’s neither of these things, but her whole purpose is to get me to talk about my feelings, which in stark comparison to dosage and medicinal components, is incredibly bloody difficult. Thus she is not my favourite doctor.

She is however, incredibly good at her job. She lets my sentences linger, rather than jumping in or guessing what I might be about to say. She has absolutely no problem with an awkward silence, knowing full well that I’ll fill it by continuing to talk and that when I do, that will be the most important part of the conversation, not whatever I was rambling on about previously. Today she asked me a question that resulted initially in an “I don’t know” response. It was genuine, I really didn’t have an answer for her, despite desperately trying to find one. Five minutes later I’ve said something else, probably to justify the aforementioned “I don’t know” and hey presto, we’ve just found not only the problem, but the solution, or at least the coping method. Witch, I tell you….

So while she can’t cure me, and she can’t make the problems disappear or fix my slightly wonky brain, she does have an incredible knack for giving me renewed confidence and a sense that I can have control over what feels like the uncontrollable. It’s not always an easy control, there’s still a considerable amount of “but I don’t want to, this is easier”, but it inevitably reminds me that there very much is a light, if not at the end of, then *in* the tunnel, if I’d only bloody take it.

So here’s this week’s light. Number one is telling people what I need. Not how I feel, or what I want, or an apology for not feeling great, but what I actually need, with a view to helping all of us! I categorically cannot make a decision right now, not even the simplest of ones (level A decisions as we called them) and that’s partly what’s fuelling the anxiety and the resulting depression. Every day I wake up and know I have things to do (we’re literally talking shower, get dressed, brush teeth here) and the overwhelmingness of even deciding what to wear or if I should wash my hair that day or not is stopping me from doing anything else, including getting out of bed some days. So given that I’m struggling to make those basic decisions, it’s no wonder I can’t get my mind to focus on what I should pack first or what I need to go through, and consequently I’m giving up, not doing it, and going back to hide under my blanket! So where I can, I need to communicate that I need someone to narrow the decision down for me, to make it an Option A or Option B type decision, rather than a pick a letter out of the sky type of decision.

Secondly I need to set limits/make baby steps. I’ve done a lot of either cancelling plans completely or being uncomfortable longer than I’d like recently and I need to find a middle ground. Making plans is positively terrifying at the moment, and this one’s tricky because the problem isn’t that I don’t want to see people or spend time with them, I absolutely do, the problem is my mind being too scared to be away from my so called Safe Space for too long. So if I know I’m going out somewhere for several hours, be it dinner, over to a friend’s place, out for a drink etc, that’s too long for my mind to cope with, so it just panics and I give up and cancel completely. What I need to do is find a compromise – go out and see people for a set amount of time instead, maybe just a couple of hours at a time, and then tell my mind it can come back to its Safe Space after that. If I’m doing ok and I want to stay longer, then that’s ok too, but it gives my mind a time frame to focus on, which along with the Hour by Hour way of coping, really helps. I used this (without really realising it) a couple of months back when I worked reduced hours for a bit – just starting my day knowing there was an “escape” time made each day a little more manageable. Some days I stayed past my alloted time because I was doing ok, but it was about having that fixed time in my head at the beginning of the day.

It’s crazy, quite literally mental, but the mind is a funny thing and there sure as hell isn’t any rationale to how it works, so I’ve just got to work with it! The first person I ever spoke to about my anxiety told me I should name it, to picture it as a person or a creature, and this feels similar, only in this case my mind is a crying toddler who doesn’t want to be without its blankie. All I can hope is that if I can learn to tame and pacify my mind, then the long term goal of what would be a toddler in a few years time should be a piece of cake, right……right?!

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