Tuesday 29 May 2018

Emotion Regulation Therapy: Session Three

(TW: Discussion of weight, medication, self harm, and suicidal ideations)

My third Emotion Regulation Therapy session was the day after my medication review. Because of this, a lot of how I was feeling related to it. I was also feeling very low, and therefore was putting a very negative spin on things.

We started off by discussing my medication review. My Support Worker wanted to know how it had gone, how I felt about the Nurse Prescriber's decisions etc. I wasn't sure what to think of it really. I think it went well, in that I was listened to, my antidepressant would be changed, and I would be seen again in 6 weeks. The antidepressant I may be put on though, is Mirtazapine. I was ok with that at first. A few of my friends take it and find it very helpful. Unfortunately, one of the most common side effects is weight gain. I'm trying very hard to lose weight at the moment, I struggle with comfort eating, and I'm honestly terrified of putting more weight on. I don't feel any benefits of Mirtazapine would be worth it, as the potential weight gain would worsen my depressive symptoms enough to cancel that out. I told my Support Worker this, and she said that when she'd been told by the nurse about the medication, alarm bells rung for her because she knows I'm trying to lose weight. She then told me that she would get the Nurse Prescriber to talk to the Consultant Psychiatrist (who is in charge of deciding the psychiatric medication I should be on) to see if he will consider prescribing something else. I've no idea what exactly will be considered, but I'm a bit more reassured that it'll be something that won't/is less likely to cause weight gain.

We then moved onto how I'd been feeling, besides the medication changes. I said that I'd been numb the day before, and was worried I came across as if nothing was wrong with me. I told my Support Worker that I'd overexplained this to the Nurse Prescriber and was worried about how I'd come across. Apparently, I'd explained myself well though, phew! I'd gone from numb to very depressed this day though. I felt like a failure, like nothing would work out ok, and honestly I felt lonely. It's been a while since I've been in a real loving relationship, and I missed it so much. I didn't feel very lovable anyway, and was nervous about trying to meet anyone new. I started crying a lot when I spoke about this. I just felt so worthless, as if no one could ever feel I'm worth staying with for the long run. I know I tend to take things personally, and the last person I met couldn't make his mind up about whether he wanted a relationship or not. One minute he'd be talking about meeting me, the next he would decide he'd rather stay in and smoke weed. I didn't know where I was with him, and although I understood he was addicted, I had to put myself first and stop seeing him. This made me feel very worthless as well. To me, it felt like smoking meant more to him than continuing to see me, as if I was worth less than a joint. I know with addictions it's complicated though, and it's not right for me to take it personally. I just hope he is able to get help at some point.

Next, we went onto the worksheet for that session. This was about becoming aware of emotions. It named eight main emotions as anger, sadness, happiness, love, fear, guilt/shame, surprise, and disgust.
The first task was to think about six of these emotions and, for each, try to remember a time I was in a situation where I felt this emotion. These were what I put:

Anger: When a PIP assessor lied on their report; saying I could walk much further than I could

Sadness: Losing a close friend to suicide

Happiness: Getting a good result on my research project at university

Love: When an ex told me he wanted to marry me

Fear: When a huge wasp flew into the classroom at school (I have a phobia of wasps)

Guilt/Shame: When I had to pull out of moving house with a friend, and they took it badly

The next section of the worksheet described each of those six emotions, in terms of their physical manifestations. It also reminded me that "feelings are felt in the body", "thinking distances you from your feelings", and "how you experience your feelings is neither right nor wrong, it just is"

The last task was to be mindful of my feelings; using the worksheet's descriptions to help me identify how I am feeling in that moment. I found this difficult, but one thing I noticed was how often I tend to feel anxious, without a particular cause. I'd always been unsure of my Generalised Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, but maybe it's right?

Just before the end of the session, my Support Worker recommended a book to me, that might help with identifying and managing my emotions. "Living Like You Mean It" by Ronald Frederick. It's a very cheesy title, but apparently it's a useful book. I've ordered it and if I manage to concentrate enough to finish reading it, maybe I'll write a review! (I'm not making any promises though).

For now though, I will be writing about Session 4 of Emotion Regulation Therapy. This is my last session, and I'm not sure if I will have another CPN appointment, so I'm not sure what will happen next. I'll keep you posted though!

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