Accountability

I haven’t written about my new therapist yet.  I’ve had two sessions with her so far.  The first was spent answering a bunch of questions about why I was interested in therapy, basic background/history, a bit about my relationships, strengths, etc.  I also told her about my previous therapy experiences, and she assured me our sessions would not be like that.  Which made me very happy.  She assured me she uses a very practical approach, to which I replied, “I’m all for practicality.”

She asked that I come to each session knowing what I wanted to discuss.  Because I was having such a hard time narrowing it down for my second session, I decided the topic for the day would be my racing thoughts and constant worry.  This seemed like a good place to start.

You know when I said I got an extra hour of sleep when I found out I could go to work two hours later than normal the other day?  Yeah, that’s not exactly true.  I went back to bed, and watched as my thoughts proceeded to spiral out of control.  it went something like this:

Our writing group is meeting on Saturday and I haven’t read or commented on a single poem.  And I’m the only one who hasn’t written anything.

Oh, and Sincerity asked for that book back.  I don’t even know where it is.  I hope I didn’t lose it.

I wish I had some better books about writing.  Actually, I have some on the shelf I haven’t even read yet.  I should put them next to the couch so I can read them while I’m on bed rest.

Crap, I wonder if I can use the laptop on bed rest.  Is the heat or radiation going to kill our embryos?

And on, and on, and on.

So that’s what I talked about with my therapist, Dr. N., that very same afternoon.  She offered lots of practical solutions, nothing revolutionary, nothing I hadn’t heard before.  But the difference is I know I’ll be back in her office next week, and I’ll have to report on how it’s going.  Am I going to sit there and say I didn’t follow any of her suggestions?  Never one to miss an opportunity to seek a pat on the back, I don’t see that happening.  I’ll have to try these strategies and give my impressions on how well they’re working (or not) for me.

Here was my homework:

Set aside a “worry time” each day.  Write down my worries, then put them aside and try not to think about them for the rest of the day.

Practice mindfulness and single-tasking.  Rather than letting my thoughts roll around in my brain willy-nilly, focus on the task at hand, whether it’s showering, eating an apple, or having a conversation with Hubby.  Concentrate on one thing at a time (even if only in short bursts).

Streamline my morning routine.  She listened to my concerns about spending 20 minutes in bed planning my day, and made a few suggestions.  One of which was giving myself permission(!) to make lying in bed for a while part of my routine.  She also said it might be a good idea to lay out my clothes the night before.  Again, nothing I haven’t heard before, but execution hasn’t been my strong suit.

If I have trouble sleeping because of worry, get out of bed and worry in another room.  Don’t associate worry with lying in bed trying to sleep.  This hasn’t been an issue lately (other than the other morning).

Simple, right?

Since that session, I’ve only had one opportunity to try to streamline my morning routine, which worked out beautifully.  I set a time limit and only spent 10 minutes in bed and had my clothes laid out, ready to go, which thrilled Hubby because he didn’t even hear me come back into our bedroom to get them (as opposed to my usual opening and closing of drawers).

I’ve also been trying to practice mindfulness.  When I think of it.  Baby steps.

What I haven’t tried yet is the “worry time.”  This was a concept that came up back when I was taking journal-writing classes.  Something about the act of writing helping to clear those thoughts from your mind.  Again, not a revolutionary concept, but I’ve felt so good that past few days, I haven’t felt the need to try this exercise.

Yesterday was a good day.  I woke up early.  I did yoga.  I ran/walked with Hubby.  I practiced mindful eating.  I was supposed to meet with Sincerity and A. for our writing group, but S. cancelled the night before, and A. also ended up cancelling, but I didn’t know it until long after I’d gone to the meeting place.  I waited 10 minutes, knowing there was a possibility she wouldn’t come, but not beating myself up for not trying to contact her to confirm or feeling stood-up.  I didn’t make myself feel stupid, which is huge for me.  Same goes for when I got a parking ticket that afternoon.  Oh, well.  Shit happens.

This is progress.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

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17 thoughts on “Accountability

  1. It sounds like you’ve found a great match in your current therapist. I can identify strongly with the feeling of being kept from sleep because of worry. I love the idea of “worrying” in another room. I’m going to try this next time it happens!

    I have a great hypnosis/meditation series for IVF, if you’re interested. I would listen to it before bed and it did wonders for my sleep and my stress level.

  2. This is very interesting, I mean, I have also heard these things before but to actually have someone to report back to and talk about it must make all the difference. I’m so glad it is already helping you.

  3. It doesn’t happen often, but every once in awhile I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind racing and can’t go back to sleep. I used to lay in bed and suffer until finally I decided I might as well get up. So I usually getup and start watching TV. It helps distract my brain and slows it down, plus I usually am able to fall asleep on the couch. Glad your liking the therapist.

  4. This is progress indeed! I’m a big advocate of single tasking as a means of meditative practice, and I concur on the getting up rather than lying in bed tossing and turning strategy. I go to the sofa with a book until I get sleepy again, and it just disrupts the spiral of thinking somehow. Anyway, so pleased to hear you’re having good days and that the therapy seems to be helping in its way!

  5. Interesting…M has been seeing someone for similar issues but his exercises are a bit different. He doesn’t get “time to worry”, he’s just supposed to identify what he’s worrying about and then ask whether worrying will help him at the moment. But it’s early days yet, so maybe more is to come. You guys sound like you have similar thought patterns. I’m so glad that you found someone that you trust and feel like you can really talk to, and that you’re able to start putting things into practice.

  6. Mindfulness is awesome… when it works! I try to do it… then forget and get distracted… then curse myself for forgetting… and sart again… *sigh* all the roads to happiness are really freaking long ones and turns out I have to concentrate the whole way!

  7. I’m glad you found a good match. Interesting. I like the worry time. I keep a notepad by my bad and whenever I wake up worrying about to dos the next day I write it down to get it out of my head. I’ve done mindfulness… it is wonderful. Glad to hear you so happy!

  8. Maybe it’s just me being a brat in my head and not wanting to do something that could help me but I never understood the concept of worry time. I don’t see how designating 10 minutes a day to worry is going to stop those thoughts from invading my head the rest of the day. But like I said, I haven’t tried it. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes for you if you try it.

  9. Glad to hear that you found your match and are making progress. I like the homework / accountability strategy. I hope you keep us posted on how things enfold.

  10. Delighted to hear how you got on with your therapist. She sounds good. I must look for someone here in Ireland. I need help with my racing thoughts at night too – ‘should we try again in the Middle East? Will I spend the rest of my life wondering that it might have worked if not?’ That kind of thing. Looking forward to hearing your upcoming reports. 🙂

  11. Good for you for making progress. I too fall more onto the anxious side and am especially susceptible to unhelpful middle-of-the-night ruminations, so I can relate to your in-bed thought spiraling. One book that was recommended to me a few years ago was The Worry Cure. Did I buy it? Yes. Have I read it? No. Do I worry about that? Umm ……

  12. Definitely sounds like progress. Good for you. I totally get what you mean about her recommendations being pretty basic, but the accountability piece being what you’re looking for.

  13. Accountability is so important. I saw a therapist years ago for terrible problems sleeping. She taught me to yell “STOP” in my brain and then chant, “I can’t fix those things right now, but sleeping is something I can do.” It doesn’t work all the time, but the simplicity is something I love… and it does work sometimes.

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