So tomorrow marks the third experience sitting in on group therapy with the mental health and addictions unit in my area, which means I’m coming in on about 6 weeks of major, therapy induced anxiety. It seems counter-productive to me, at this point, having anxiety about something that is supposed to eventually lead me to living happily without anxiety, but for all intents and purposes at this moment in time… It is what it is.
Many of my readers have been quietly or not-so-quietly following along as I bit the big one and asked for help, only to find none. Many people have read along as I got the call, swallowed my pride despite not wanting to with everything inside of me and showed up to attend group therapy, only to be left in the waiting room. And others still will have been following my journey as I was faced with a therapist who didn’t suit me so well and where I ended up in the group alone.
Through each of these less-than-optimal results, I heard voices echoing through me of reason and rhyme. Of people who offered supportive words and thoughts to get me through. One of the thoughts that stayed closest to the surface was the one that said the decision I was making was that of whether it was more important to me to get better, or for the feelings of dread and anxiety were going to win out. Because I have a serious desire to be better and no longer feel this way, I push myself time and time again to go back to that room. The room with the sterile smell, the sound of high heels clicking on the floor through the wall. The room where I stare at the table and sweat.
So it’s been two sessions so far with the real therapist and featuring other people. The first session I spent very nearly in tears the entire time. I said my piece when called on, but I wanted to run away every second that the clock ticked away. I didn’t run. It took everything in my power to stay… and I also didn’t burst into tears. I explained that I live my life in a constant state of embarrassment and of jealousy. We identified that one of my main things that needs work is my self image and confidence.
I quantify myself, at current, by what others think of me. And sometimes not even by what they think, but moreover what I think they might be thinking, which is never very positive. I spoke a bit about how I feel that it’s easy for me to be able to identify beauty in many women of different shapes and sizes, but when it comes to me, personally, I have a hard time turning a non-judgmental eye to myself. Saying it’s a hard time is actually an understatement. People tell me that what really matters is what I think of myself… and I just don’t buy it. I feel as though, even on a day where I feel pretty good about myself… just one comment or look can tear me down and leave me aching inside. It’s something that I’m told I have to combat slowly. One thought at a time.
But I find myself so resistant.
I’ve learned that there are methods to cope with anxiety as it builds. For example, focusing on the catastrophic worst-case scenario tends to be a feature of depression. I’ve been challenged to instead find the realistic worst-case scenario, which is perhaps unpleasant but also often a reality that is something I could manage to survive. This is a method that I have had to heavily swallow this week, as I feel life has come crashing down around me. Subject to surprise changes and surprise comments, I’ve been isolating in an attempt to handle my own emotions surrounding these incidents and events.
When the therapist asked me how I was and to check in, I said that the week had been better. He told me that often when people come in saying that their week had been better, the truth was that their coping mechanisms had been practiced in a more positive way. I’m not completely sure that it’s the case, it may have been hormones and the fact that I was extremely busy. Still, things feel like they need to be taken minute by minute, and at any point that they can come crashing down.
I have to go back to therapy tomorrow, and again I’m faced with massive bouts of anxiety because I don’t want to and I’m embarrassed. I know the people there are trying to help me and be supportive, or at least, I’m told that they are… but instead it feels like they’re saying I don’t belong there and that my issues aren’t valid. In fact, that’s a lot of what I’ve been hearing, even when that’s not what’s being said. I feel like the people around me want me to be better, but that it comes with an expectation that I’m not particularly good at fulfilling.
A good friend told me that I need to be honest. And to let the therapist do what he’s trained to do. I find it so hard to let down my guard because I feel like everyone else is going to judge me and make fun of me. I AM guarded in sessions. I’ll share enough, but just enough. I can’t imagine what could happen if some of these feelings and thoughts got out in the open and saw the light of day.
Someone else told me that this endeavour is bound to fail simply based on how much I hate it. They said that it seems I’ve made my mind up and that no amount of therapy will bust through that wall if that’s the case. I understand the sentiment, but I promised six weeks of this before I gave up. Tomorrow marks the half way point, and I’d rather stay in bed.
What happens on the seventh week? Part of my healing is supposedly going to come from looking no further than today. So, for right now I’m not going to speculate what may or may not come of this all. I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other again until I get where I need to go. Hopefully one of these days I’ll have myself back, only a self who doesn’t get hurt every time someone else tells her she’s not enough. For results like that? I’m not holding my breath.