Friday 31 May 2019

Society's Influences and Stigma: Counselling Session 5

(TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of self harm and sexual assault)

Leading up to this latest session, I'd been very low, anxious, and lacking motivation. My physical health isn't great (which affects my functioning enough already) but my mental health is quite poor at the moment, and the lack of motivation that forms part of my Depression, really affects my ability to do daily tasks.

I managed to wash and dress, as well as feed myself, but this exhausts me enough. I want to be able to do more, more often, but I'm not on sufficient medication for my pain, so it becomes quite debilitating. I feel like I'm constantly having to balance looking after my mental and physical health.

Anyway, back to the counselling session. My Anxiety and Depression scores were high again, and I told my counsellor that the main things bothering me at the moment were my lack of motivation and worrying about my mum's mental health. I won't go into detail about mum, as it is her business to tell who she needs/wants to. I just want her to get the help she needs to make her life easier to cope with.

We ended up talking about all sorts of things, including how certain things that have happened affect my moods at the moment.

We did an exercise where I had to write down the big events that I think have affected my mental health. These were the termination, the bullying at school, and the abusive relationship at university. Underneath, I put the moods that have resulted from these things. Finally, I wrote down the behaviours that these things have led to. Here is what I wrote:

       Moods: Panic, Guilt, Shame, Low Mood, Anxiety
       Behaviours: Avoidance, Releasing anger by venting online, self harm to punish myself, making myself read/watch triggering things, as I feel I deserve to feel that way.

Bullying at school:
       Moods: Identity Problems, Low Mood, Low Self Esteem, Anxiety, Paranoia, Loneliness, Feeling useless.
       Behaviours: Seeking Reassurance, Avoiding Group Conversations, Self Harm when I feel myself acting like I used to, Lacking Motivation

Abusive Relationship: 
       Moods: Low Mood, Low Self Esteem, Anxiety/Panic
       Behaviours: Seeking Validation, Second Guessing Myself, Hyper-awareness, Being Suspicious of Men, Being Promiscuous in the past - seeking comfort, but with risky behaviour

The moods and behaviour from the termination are very complex and contradictory. I either avoid everything, or flood myself with everything. I show self-destructive behaviour; where I am constantly punishing myself, whether that's physically or mentally.

I'm the same with the bullying and the abusive relationship. All the comments and judgments made about me have formed part of my identity and made me feel suspicious of some people. I worry that people have ulterior motives and don't really like me/just as a friend.

I remember a time a friend of mine and I were thinking about meeting up. He'd been quite flirty and I had my guard up, so I kept putting him off. One day, when my parents were on holiday, he turned up out of the blue. Suddenly my safe place (i.e. my flat) didn't feel as safe. I let him in as I wasn't sure how he'd react if I didn't. We watched a movie together, but then he started playing with my hair. I felt like alarm bells were going in my head. I thought he'd try to have sex with me, without my explicit consent. I also worried I'd just let him because I wasn't sure what he'd do if I rejected him. As far as I was aware, he never did anything violent, but my mind instantly thought he might.

I've been sexually abused (by a stranger in a bus station) in the past, when I was a teenager. I didn't discuss this with the counsellor, but thinking back, I think this also fueled my suspicion of men who are flirty with me. If I'm not attracted to them, I find it very hard to reject them and I end up feeling violated, and disgusted in myself if anything happens.

We didn't have time to go through everything, but from what I explained to my counsellor, she spotted a pattern. I was very influenced by society's views, as well as possibly wanting to influence society with my own views. She said this was very interesting and important. This is something she wants us to discuss and unpick in subsequent sessions.

Although my moods have still been pretty awful, I'm at least feeling like I have a good therapeutic relationship with my counsellor, and it helps to talk about how I've been feeling. She gets me to explain certain things I say, gives her view when appropriate, and helps me to understand and pick up on things. I do feel positive about these sessions and I'm hoping in time I will be able to talk more freely about the things I've been through.

There's no "homework" as such, for the next session, but I am continuing my journal and at the very least, it is helping me monitor my moods and fill in the PHQ etc questionnaires.

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