Saturday, October 29, 2011

Progress

So this last week and a half or so was pretty rough emotionally.  I won't get into it but I had another trust-related anxiety attack related to being gone, and not being able to spend time with my angel of a husband. It happens a lot when we're separated, unfortunately.  I'm just consumed with this fear that if I'm gone he'll find someone else and abandon me.

But this time I had 3-4 months of therapy on my side.  When I felt myself slipping into negative, all-consuming thoughts I printed off an Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) worksheet and filled out the whole thing.   It allowed me to stop and examine each of my thoughts for rationality (surprise, they were all irrational), and replace them with rational ones.  I was still feeling a little iffy and anxious, so I reread this post that I wrote in July (and your amazing comments) and felt a lot better.  I was able to talk to Rob a lot more coherently and didn't feel nearly the same level of anxiety. My baseline is around a 3 or 4 so I was doing pretty well.

THEN the situation that was "activating" these anxious thoughts changed and I won't lie, I came completely undone. My anxiety level was at a 7 or 8, I was shaking and completely depersonalizing. But simultaneously my mind was questioning itself and asking why on earth I was feeling so awful at something so trivial--and trivial it was.  I had this bizarre emotional dichotomy going on in my mind and I was quickly vacillating between emotions. I felt like I was going totally insane. I printed off the REBT worksheet and filled it out.  Then I printed off another and filled it out again.  I talked through all my feelings with Rob, and the next day with my therapist over instant message.  I felt so much more grounded, and when something happened that normally would've sent me into an anxious frenzy I barely gave it another thought.  And though this panic attack was worse than it had been before, it felt like growing pains rather than a step backward.  Does that make sense?

So it was a bumpy little side road I took, but I made it to the other side instead of crashing into a ditch.  Pardon the tortured metaphor.  Personally I call this progress and, at the risk of sounding silly, I was pretty damn proud of myself for this small accomplishment.  It also reminded me that these anxious thoughts and fear will likely never totally disappear and that it really takes work to get rid of them.  It's a lot easier to disconnect, to disengage, and to feel sorry for myself. With all the support I have, I think that I am finally willing and able to do what it takes to get myself into a healthy emotional place.

Have you been stressing about anything lately?  Have you ever tried Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Also, my sister is here, and we're spending Saturday at the Grand Canyon.  Again.  Yep, that's right...I will have officially been to the Grand Canyon twice.  You can contact me for autographs.

15 comments:

  1. Oh my word. I hear ya. This happens alot to me when My Paddy is gone. I am definately looking into that worksheet you mentioned. Sounds like your on the road to realizing your behaviour. Soon you'll be able to stop it before it starts...congrats to you. What an accomplishment!!! :)
    Cheers,
    Messy

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  2. I just clicked on that worksheet and it's fantastic! What a great tool to sort through your thoughts and emotions.

    Congrats to you on this ordeal ... while not pleasant, it shows that you're growing and THAT is fantastic. *hugs*

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  3. Congrats on your progress! I'm going to print the worksheet out. I have social anxiety and it has been rough since Springish. I decided to stay away from the triggers until I work on myself and the things in my life that I feel need fine tuning. Many will say it's all in your head, but how exactly do you get them to go away? *sigh* Sometimes I wish I were scared of spiders or something less debilitating and not conversing with people.

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  4. Thank you for so openly sharing your experiences! It helps me understand the people I know who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I don't have those issues - I'm more of a depression and hostility kind gal ;) - so the insight is valuable. Wishing you continued luck and progress in fighting with this particular demon.
    xoxo

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  5. Kudos for steps forward! Sometimes the toughest challenges bring about the best results. Glad you were able to work through your anxiety and you're a stronger person for it right now.

    Enjoy the Grand Canyon part 2! So jealous!

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  6. i definitely know what all-consuming anxiety feels like, and i know it isn't any fun, and especially in your case when you're so far from your husband. it's crazy how your brain can almost be at war with itself sometimes - part of it realizing the irrational thoughts and fears, and the other side sort of instigating and making everything worse. anyway, i'm glad you're making progress and hope you continue to feel better and better!

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  7. I'm all over the place emotionally - I have always thought I was borderline bi-polar. I have happy days, way too happy days where I am filled to the brim with creativity to the point of not being able to sleep, then have days where I'm consumed by irritation or something negative happens and it takes me over emotionally for weeks - I sure hope that's normal. People always ask me how I get so much done with twins and I say I find extra time, but the truth is I'm manic and can't stop 80% of the time.

    I really hope you find ways to cope. I personally think it's all about learning to live and work around our unique personalities.

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  8. So happy for you getting through it so "easily!" Eventually it'll be a habit to handle it in a more healthy way. =]
    Enjoy the Grand Canyon round II!

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  9. Nice goin', Caitlin! I totally understand the bit about growing pains as opposed to moving backwards. I had a similar experience with anxiety recently, and that's a perfect way to describe it. Progress, indeed!

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  10. I like that worksheet.

    Enjoy the grand canyon. Everyone should see it once in their life. How lucky you are to go twice!

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  11. Glad are starting to make yourself feel better quicker when you are in one of those negative spirals.

    Hope you are enjoying your final days of AZ!

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  12. Not to sound too silly, but this is my first visit to your blog (hello, by the way), and this worksheet is something I feel that I needed to see. Internet fate? I'm not sure, haha. Thank you for posting something so personal, and the steps you took to work through it. I might be utilizing that worksheet the next time I go through something similar.

    http://latchkeykid.typepad.com/blog/

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  13. Yes! The third time was the charm. Thank you so much for sending that my way. :)

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  14. Just wanted to say how happy I am to hear you were able to deal with your anxiety :) it sounds like your making great progress with your therapy and that freaking rocks. It's really inspiring.

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  15. I completely know how you feel when you've reached a point where not only are you anxious/emotional about things but you know that you're being irrational and you have an internal struggle that you can't really explain. This has been one of the hardest parts of my struggle and like you, I'm so glad that I have a wonderful man to help me through it.

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