This is going to be another one of those posts that doesn't have any easy answers. I've realized that many of my mental health issues are ones that don't have simple fixes, and that sometimes, the best I can do is think out loud to at least attempt to get a better understanding of what I need for myself. I hope all who read will allow me the indulgence.
Anxiety Management – Anxiety Schmanxiety
I never really had a hobby, per se. I married young and had three kids. That, plus a full-time job, left little time for me, let alone hobbies. I write—this blog, for instance—and read, but I don't consider either of these hobbies. As a creative outlet, and with the hope that I could channel my thoughts and energy into something that wasn't all about my trauma and residual anxieties, I decided it was time to pursue a hobby.
In a recent blog post, I talked a little about the fact that I restarted therapy for the first time in many years. Specifically, I spoke about how it was a lot more difficult than I imagined it would be.
"I am innocent of the illness that befell me." "I am strong. I am brave." "I am worthy of self-compassion." These are a few of my positive affirmations, said aloud or in silence, to help (re)train my brain. When I started therapy to treat trauma-induced anxiety and panic, these words were hollow and represented nothing more than wishful thinking. As my treatment progresses, adaptive thoughts, similar to my affirmations, are integrating themselves into what I believe about myself.
A little while ago I wrote about my experience with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. I had never heard of EMDR until my therapist, who specializes in trauma therapy, introduced it to me as a way to treat the panic and anxiety I experience associated with a trauma I recently suffered. Now, I'd like to share how I feel immediately following an EMDR session.
I have aphantasia, a neurodiversity (a different way of thinking), whereby I am unable to visualize. Most of you reading this now can easily imagine a sunset, a calm lake, or fluffy white clouds against a crisp, blue sky. I simply cannot conjure images. Having a blind imagination, as it's sometimes called, used to trigger my anxiety insomuch as my inability to visualize used to cause frustration, anger, confusion, shame, and a feeling of failure.
As someone who’s into metal music, one of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while is make a vest covered with patches. I’ve been collecting patches for about four years, so at the beginning of this year, I decided I should stop waiting and just go ahead and make it.
My history with therapy has been, to put it mildly, spotty. I’ve seen a number of therapists since I was a child, but I haven’t had good experiences with most of them – this was due to any number of factors ranging from some being incompatible with my personality to others literally causing me to cry after the session ended. Because of that, my desire to continue with any new therapist has not been strong. But because my mental health has been so unstable for a while now, I decided I needed to make a change. As of the end of last month, I decided to restart therapy, so this post will focus on that.
Therapy can be grueling sometimes. Anybody who tells you differently is either lying or trying to soften the blow. Regardless, they've done you a disservice, in my opinion. In order to reap the benefits of therapy, a commitment to work hard in partnership with your therapist is required. I've engaged in trauma therapy to help with my anxiety. My experience with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) trauma therapy is hard work that's paying off.
I've suffered from anxiety since I was a child, although I didn't get diagnosed with an anxiety disorder until my late-30s. The often visceral symptoms of anxiety are hard enough for an adult to describe, let alone a child. The episodes I had as a child were scary, and while I tried to explain what was happening to my parents, they simply didn't know enough back then to help me. And so, I began to suffer my anxiety in silence.