Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Session Two

Session 2 of a possible 12.  I say possible because if I 'get to grips' with things earlier, they can stop the sessions but at the moment it is a one week at a time thing.  I had mixed feelings about session 2, mainly because I was unwell.  Running through my head was 'Am I actually unwell or is my body trying to take over again?'  I had been to the doctor, where I was prescribed antibiotics but that does not always mean to me that I am ill.  Symptoms can be deceptive and after living with anxiety and panic attacks for 12 years, my body has gotten very clever.

The session started smoothly.  She read through my questionnaire that I am required to complete just before each new session.  Apparently my phobias, anxieties and panic levels are still high.  Well who would have thought hey?! The therapist wanted me to think of a situation that I had last had a panic or anxiety attack in.  My mind went blank.  More because the anxiety has been there daily until  just recently when the tablets started to kick in - I can now do the shopping without getting anxious, yeah me! Anything bigger than that was a hard one to pinpoint because I avoid all situations.  She said 'Do you go to the cinema, restaurant, pub?' I laughed and replied 'No!'  Which is true, I have not been 'out' for a long time.  My husband and I are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage, but we have not been out as a couple for about 7 years!

I eventually thought of a situation that will make me anxious and it was going to a naming ceremony that weekend.  Just thinking about the event conjured up emotions.  The pit of my stomach started to churn away as it thought what it could do to me.  The therapist took that situation and we placed it into a chart.  This chart helped me actually break down the whole process of the panic attack.  I wrote down the 'Worry Processes' then the 'Symptoms' I felt. Then the 'Behaviours, Internal/External' I used to get through or get out of a situation.  All the 3 sections are linked in a cycle that feeds each other and back again.  It is your body perceiving a threat i.e the situation, and your body reacting to it.  So for example, I know I am going out, the worry process kicks in with thoughts like 'I am going to be sick, then seen as a troublemaker for causing a fuss.  I won't be able to cope and I will need to go to the toilet (not for a wee), I might faint, I might need to go to the hospital.'  These thoughts start in the sub-conscious and so sometimes are hard to break. The symptoms kick in and mine include nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, light-headed and an overall tension in my body that makes me feel 'fuzzy' which is the only way I can describe it!

These 2 are the same for all situations, hence why I have written them down.  If you can relate to it, then you will also know how it all makes you feel.  Out of control is a good way to sum it up.  I hate being out of control.

My behaviours I thought were unique to me but apparently not! If I cannot find a reason to get out of a situation or I know I really need to go, like to a wedding,  I carry quite a bit of medication around with me to cover all eventualities.  In my bag I have Buspirone which is an anxiety drug that also stops messages from the bowels to the brain. Nux vomica, a herbal treatment for nausea, rescue remedy, immodium and pain killers.  Not forgetting a bottle of water, hand gel and tissues.  I am assuming most of these are self explanatory, but if not, please ask me!  I also run through possible explanations to tell my husband and the hosts as to why we have to leave early.  I am usually working out timings in my head and clock watch throughout so I know when to start saying things like 'I am not feeling great'.

To truly make head way, I must break the cycle.  To do this we are going to work on each section separately.  Writing it all down here makes me think I am a little mad! That is half the problem with me though, my head is always arguing with itself 'I can't go' then 'yes you can, pick yourself up'.  I suppose it goes back to the fly or die thing........

........I want to start flying.