Things are better today.
Yesterday’s therapy session which I was dreading wasn’t as confronting as I’d feared. We stayed away from some of the pointier issues.
While therapy is helping me understand why I’ve been struggling, and how the past is impacting on my present, I sometimes wonder if its doing much good. I still get triggered, I still have anxiety attacks, and I don’t know how to predict when that will happen, or much about how to deal with it when it does.
I suppose in terms of progress, I could say that the duration, frequency and intensity of the anxiety is reducing. Yesterday I was on edge all day, but for most of today, I felt completely normal. That only changed when I went to check my email. A number of messages required actions and considered responses. That sort of thing has been bringing about anxiety attacks lately. However, after an initial panic, I was able to pull myself together and deal with a couple, before it got to stressful and I had to walk away.
I really hate admitting to having a difficulty with email right now. It seems so weak, and it isn’t how I like to see myself. We talked about it in my therapy session. It seems that email is triggering fears related to a very difficult time in my youth. And that’s the weird thing with trauma triggers – they can be the most ordinary things.
When the anxiety hits, I try not to get caught up in all the thoughts around it or resist it. I do some breathing and mindfulness exercises which don’t end the anxiety but seem to stop it escalating.
I also have a daily routine which helps:
I’m using the headspace app to practice meditation each morning, and I go for an hour’s walk. My therapist wants me to add to that 30 minutes of email after breakfast, lunch and dinner as I have a mountain to get through. The time limit makes it manageable. I’m supposed to do a bit of self-talk when I commence, but I forgot that today. I’ll try email again after dinner and see if the self-talk helps.
Blogging also helps. When I began this post, I was feeling negative, as if I’d made no progress at all. But as I continued this reflection, I discovered that in fact there’s been a lot.
Someone recommended I read “Happiness and How it Happens”
I wasn’t sure if I would like the book, but so far, much has been helpful. When dealing with triggers, I find this particularly apt.
‘It is our tendency to ‘add on’ to our experience that leads to our suffering. Most of the thinking around the event is unneccessary; it is this that is the problem.’
The Happy Buddah