Therapy Things — Summer 2019

I’m really enjoying going to therapy lately. I’ve managed to go 3 times now over the summer (with the same person at least)…and now that the summer is ending, I’m going to try so so hard to go once a week. My goal is to work out 4x a week…but if I have to cut it to 3 once or twice to get an appointment in and maybe do a shorter workout, I may just do it. I have to take care of my mind as well.

After our first session, I had homework. I had to: 1) Think of my values/the kind of person I want to be, 2) Set goals with concrete ways to track them, 3) Write down the bad thoughts that I had towards myself through the week. It was really great because it allowed me to see moments that aligned with my values, and moments of my own that did not. I also noticed just how many negative thoughts I had towards myself and it made me laugh, quite honestly. For me, some of these thoughts were self-deprecating jokes, but some were serious doubts about everything.

So then, at our second session, we wrote on the board — we discussed what the purposes of my actions were, and how they related to either my values or potential emotional regulation (aka coping strategies). And we wrote down some of the general negative phrases that I liked to say to myself. I took a picture of it and it was so cool just to see my thoughts and my emotions mapped out on a board. It makes everything more orderly and organized, and I like doing that with my emotions. Organizing stuff calms me down, okay…my homework was to spend the week seeing what the purposes of my actions were, and if they related to my values or my coping strategies.

I definitely came prepared with a lot of information. But the main thing I came away with this time was the discussion on pulling myself “out of the hole” when I’m emotional. When my emotions are heightened, everything else seems to disappear. It’s all I can think about and it takes over. Usually I can come down from it just by distracting myself and realizing I have a job to do, or I have a duty as a friend/girlfriend/daughter/sister to calm down and behave rationally.

One of my biggest things is learning how to handle uncomfortable feelings of awkwardness, sadness, being upset, etc. One example of this is when someone takes a long time to respond to me while we’re talking, I’ll usually keep rambling until they respond because I don’t know what to do with the silence. I’m comfortable with some people, but the instant that I start thinking they might think I’m weird, I just get…ridiculous.

Another example is when I do something wrong, or I’m with a loved one who I hurt or upset — I crave forgiveness and approval immediately. It’s part of my urgent nature, but also my fear that I’ll lose them forever. And of course, my ridiculous idea is to just keep talking or saying things until they hand me that forgiveness, which is not how it works at all. And often, they know what I am looking for. And it just causes rifts and discomfort. And I quite dislike that feeling.

So, I’ve been assigned to do this in at least 2 instances where I’m emotionally heightened — I need to pause for a second and think about what I want to do, and then I do it. Specifically where I’m struggling with that thing just above — craving that instant approval/forgiveness, because I’ve realized I’m constantly looking for instant responses from people (whether it’s emotionally, physically regarding injuries, etc.), and it’s not good. I actually had a good chance to practice that on Friday, and it was definitely tough, but I did it and I was proud of myself.

The really great thing is that it is so stinkin’ easy to talk to my therapist! And she really makes me think, and everything is organized, even when I’m just rambling. I may come with my homework assignments written out and ready to share, but sometimes it’s just nice to be asked “how was your week?” and just start talking and going. That’s what we did last week, and as uncomfortable as I was with the “lack of structure” that I felt, it actually felt good to push myself.

It’s definitely hard to make therapy appointments when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole and it’s hard to ask for help for coverage… I just don’t know how much is too much to ask for. It’s much easier when you’re not in school or doing research, but I want to keep up as best as I can. I want to actually do my homework so I’m not wasting my time. I want to spend this time to get better, as best as I can.

Fall semesters historically have always been the happiest for me. I’m with friends again, the weather is still great even if it’s getting colder and colder, and my favorite sports take place here — soccer and water polo. I’m also only taking one class and I’ll have research assistants, and I know I’ll be insanely busy, but I think I can do this and I’m so ready to make sure I make my workouts, my therapy appointments, and I’m on top of my documentation/paperwork as well. Bring it on, Fall 2019…

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