Going back to Therapy

I have just re-engaged with therapy last week on Friday after taking a break from it to focus on psychological work with a clinical psychology for the past 11 weeks. I am still on a temporary schedule for the next three sessions while waiting for a more permanent slot when it comes up.

When I requested for a session with the therapist, I wasn’t in a good space. I could feel the depression descending and as it always does, it filled me with dread and hopelessness, that this is what the rest of my life is going to be like. I went to bed restless, with my mind, having a field trip of tormenting me. I did eventually fall asleep, albeit a restless one. Somehow, I managed through the next four days at work, with only moments of despair and dread. Only during therapy did I realise that I have fallen back into the habit of coping through numbing and busyness. I wouldn’t have realised this if I did not have a therapy session. Therapy was a good reminder that I need to be mindful to move towards switching to helpful coping styles when I am falling back to old habits of numbing, ambivalence and busyness.

On a good note though, I am starting to enjoy work much more. Anticipatory anxiety every night before bed time is still in the fore, making sleep quite restless. There is a lot of psychological preparation that I need to make to calm myself down and not go into a panic every time I need to facilitate a group. I am not sure when this is going to be less prominent, but, I am hopeful that with time, and lots of practice with grounding skills, it will get easier.

Reminding Myself… It’s ok!

My anxiety levels started creeping up on me since Saturday (16 Jan 2021), as I know that after 6 weeks of being back at work, I am expected to be back in facilitating psycho-educational groups at work. Most of Saturday, I kept myself busy: I went for a 10km run with a friend of mine; worked on what to write; dinner with some friends in the evening; walked my dog and helped my partner in an essay she was writing. All of this worked well to distract me from the anxiety that was building up.

On Sunday morning, I woke up with the tightness in my chest and a palpable feeling of dread. I decided not to pay any attention to that and pottered along with my day, quite aimlessly, even though I was working on another article on a book review that I post on Medium.com. It took me almost the whole day to get it done, as I was forcing myself to concentrate. I did think of not writing and do some studying instead, but that did not work either. So, I went back to writing. By Sunday evening, after dinner, the anxiety and feelings of dread about work was bursting from under the layer of mud that I have worked so hard to suppress since Saturday. Come bed time, I did not want to go to bed, because when I wake up the next morning, I have to face work.

Woke up this morning with the same awful feeling of dread and tightness in my chest. The chatter in my mind was relentless: “I can’t do this, I can’t do groups!” I pushed it all away buried all of this deep into the recesses of my mind, had breakfast, got changed, jumped into my car and drove to work. The beginnings of a panic attack was surfacing as I parked my car, and the bubbling under the surface panic attack hit me: my chest tightens and I could not breathe. My mind was racing as I try to gather my thoughts together to ground myself: Knuckles turned pale as I gripped the steering wheel as I tried to breathe, focus on my shoes, then lifted my head to see what was around me and placed my feet firmly on the floor of the car. It worked. The tightness in my chest relaxes, and my breathing slowed down, but I was paralysed. I just could not make step out of the car! I sat there, in the driver’s seat, for almost 20 minutes, focusing on telling myself that I need to be at work. Over and over again: “I need to be at work.”

As I write this, the relentless chatter in my mind that says: “I am weak, I am useless, this is how it is going to be always”, dominates. My rational mind is saying: “Write an entry for what happened this morning (so you can process what happened), don’t beat yourself up, everything passes, and it’s ok.”