This week drew a close to the CBT that I have been lucky enough to receive at least fortnightly since January. For almost half a year, I met with my therapist to try and put an end to the horrible OCD thoughts, anxiety and depression by learning new tips and techniques.
I woke up this morning to the awful news of the terrorist attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. My heart goes out to all those affected by such a tragic incident that should never have happened. It got me thinking, as most tragedies do, about how we should all keep our loved ones as close as we can because we never know what is going to be round the corner. I truly hope those parents with missing children or have lost their children can find peace. I cannot even imagine the pain they must be suffering. We saw some wonderful acts of kindness as all people fled to help, with taxi drivers offering free fares to safety and hotels opening their doors to people who needed it most. Know that although something so evil has happened, there was love and kindness around at the time and this can help people to try to remain positive.
This evening, I received a text from my best friend. She told me she was feeling low about herself and unattractive. That she didn’t feel that people ever looked at her and thought, wow, she’s beautiful.
Whilst we know that ‘beauty’ is only skin deep, it got me thinking about how unkind my friend was being to herself, and how we all do it to ourselves all the time. I couldn’t ever imagine telling my friend she was unattractive and that nobody thought she was beautiful. So why is she saying it to herself?
Sometimes we feel anxious when we think about the future. We worry that something will go wrong, or that something terrible could happen, and we do whatever we can to prevent those things from happening. When we feel that we can’t prevent these things that we don’t want to happen, we panic, and things become a downward spiral, and we become anxious and irritable… then we just don’t do whatever it is that is causing the worry.
I have found that it is not always enough to just put off the things that are worrying me. The problems are still going to be there and most of the problems are things that are just out of my control. When I explained to my therapist that I often get anxious about things I can’t do anything about, she told me to try and bring myself back to the ‘now’ to help ease the anxiety for the time being. I spend a lot of my time worrying about tomorrow, even though really I know that it’s going to be okay in the end. That doesn’t stop the shaky, irritable body sensations and my brain telling me awful things that make me want to cancel everything in my schedule and just stay in bed. So now I have to try and experience the ‘now’. And this is how she told me to do it.
Throughout my entire life, I have been a perfectionist. Many would argue that it can’t be a bad thing to always want to do things correctly, or always have things look a certain way. The difficult with perfectionism, however, is the question; what is perfect? If perfect is a matter of opinion, then who am I to say that the way things are for me now, isn’t perfect?
When I was younger, I planned the ‘perfect’ life for myself. I wanted to be a teacher, have a long term boyfriend, be engaged and married by 25, have children by 30 and live in a beautiful house in the countryside with dogs and horses. Now that I think about it, that may have been my perception of a perfect life, but actually, how shallow is that?! And who says that’s perfect anyway?!
At the beginning of the week, I wrote a post about making your own personal goals. (Read it here.) So, that’s just what I did. I have been off work due to Easter break and this week had to spend it alone, which is something I find difficult to do. So, every day this week, I wrote a list of things that I wanted to get done and also in order, so that I had a structure for my day and something to achieve. Some items on the lists were small and others were larger jobs. I was going to add a photograph of them but I feel it’ll be much neater if I type them out (though I have added an image of them at the end, to show you how I did it)!
It is part of human nature to protect ourselves. We have adrenalin which triggers the fight or flight mode in our bodies, so when we feel that we are in danger, we can make a quick reaction to get back to safety. This is a normal reaction, but in some cases, we find that we encounter this in situations that other people would not find a problem, otherwise known as a panic attack. This can often come from catastrophising scenarios in our head.
My problem is that I catastrophise (I don’t know if I am spelling this correctly, my computer says I’m not, but hey…). Before any social event, or simply going to work, my mind thinks up scenarios that may or may not happen, which lead me to feel very anxious about them. In some cases, I feel terrible enough that I will simply cancel and I won’t go. Instantly, my panic eases and I don’t feel anxious anymore.