Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Interpersonal Therapy (Take Two) - Session 4

As with other sessions, I had to fill in my PHQ9 etc and my Symptom Review. I scored quite highly on the Depression and Anxiety questionnaires particularly, but this was mainly for reasons related to my physical health. For about 5 months now, I have been having some awful stomach and bowel problems. I am already diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but what I have been experiencing is out of the ordinary for me. Waiting for test results had me worrying about all sorts of possible diagnoses, including Bowel Cancer. (I will talk about this in full in the next blog post). 

My 5 most powerful symptoms this week are as below:

  • Anxiety: This was mainly about some blood test results that had just come through to my Gastroenterologist. The secretary would not tell me the results, and said I would get a letter and a phone appointment to discuss them. This set off my Anxiety, as I worried there might be very bad news. I spent the week waiting for the results and hearing nothing back, which only made me worry more.
  • Wake early in the morning: I have had disturbed sleep through worrying about various things. I'm scared of missing calls or post, in case it is some news about my physical health problems. I have been extremely fatigued, but I have been forcing myself to get up if I haven't naturally woken early anyway. 
  • Can't concentrate: I was hoping to do more "antidepressant activities" such as playing musical instruments and singing. I have not been able to focus on doing that, or watching full television programmes. This is because worrying and fixating on my test results has given me a sort of mental "tunnel vision" where I can't see anything aside from the problem at hand, in front of me. 
  • Sadness: I feel extremely negative about my results. I am sure that I will be given bad, worrying news and will suddenly have something huge to deal with. The constant anxiety is draining any positivity from me too. I have been trying not to be too negative, as I know that has an impact on others, but I can't seem to help myself out of this hole. 
  • Can't get going: I feel far too tired and distracted to do much, and getting started with things such as blogging, housework etc, has become a really difficult task. I have been worried that friends wouldn't understand why I'm so fixated on my current health problems. My To Do list has been getting bigger and bigger. I have been really stressed out, which has exacerbated physical symptoms and made it physically harder to get things started. I particularly notice my Vestibular Migraines have returned with a vengeance, and my Fibromyalgia/Hypermobility pain is worse.

Alongside talking through my Symptom Review, this session was mainly about my support network; i.e. friends, family members etc that I felt close to for various reasons. My homework, leading up to this session, was to draw a social map of people in my life, using increasing circles (with me in the middle) to plot how close I felt each person was to me. I also had to think about why I felt they were so close, how they help me, the roles they play in my life etc. 

I won't say who featured in these circles, as I don't think it is fair to list my favourites in case friends see this. I'm sure the ones who are close to me know they're close anyway. I will use numbers instead of names.

Persons 1-6 are very close to me for different reasons:

Person 1: They have been a support to me all my life; but especially since I turned 18. They provide emotional support, as well as some practical support. I feel I can tell them almost anything and I feel they can tell me almost anything too. There is a lot of trust in this relationship. We both have mental health problems, so have an understanding when one or both of us is depressed. We advise each other and aren't afraid to help out when needed. 

Person 2: This person has also been a support all my life. They do not understand mental health quite as well as Person 1, but they will listen to what I feel comfortable telling them. They are also brilliant with practical help, such as lifts to appointments and sitting with me for assessments/appointments when allowed to. I feel like they are on my side and I try to help them out too.

Person 3: I've known this person since the start of university and I'm not sure if they know this but I see them as my rock. They have been there for me through some of my darkest moments, including the traumatic abortion and the abusive relationship I had. I have had times where I have been afraid of losing them to other people, but they have never given me reason to doubt our friendship. They wouldn't agree, but I feel I owe them everything. This person gives me practical, as well as emotional support, and I can tell them anything that is on my mind without fear of them taking it personally.

Person 4: I became friends with this person from out of the blue. I met them in a club when I was 18. I thought they were part of my friendship group, as they happened to be sitting near us, but years later found they didn't know each other! We hit it off straight away. We have had our differences, and don't talk every day, but I know we have each other's back. This person has seen my disaster of a love life and is not afraid to be honest about it! I respect them for that and I give as good as I get.

Person 5: I met this person online many years ago, and we have met in person a few times. We support each other a lot, especially emotionally. We talk nearly every day and know a lot about each other's mental health, for example. We are very honest with each other and seem to know when the other one needs extra help. They have seen me through some very dark moments too, and I really appreciate their support, honesty, and ability to keep my feet on solid ground.

Person 6: I also met this person at university, while I was with my abusive ex. We have got on well for many years, despite some falling out times. They showed so much support during my abusive relationship especially, and they noticed things that many others didn't. I could confide in them and they would turn up at any time for a good chat, watching a funny TV show, and the best of hugs. We may not be able to meet up much now, but I still feel we are close and have each other's back. 


I talked through most of this with my therapist, and told her I felt I was lucky to have such a large and solid support network. Not everyone has this, and I can't understand why I'm still so paranoid about friends when I feel so supported by the above people especially. Alongside these, I have other close friends, but I worry more that I might lose them. It may not be that I get as much reassurance, although that is neither of our faults. It just shows how different friendships can be. My therapist found this interesting, although she could understand where I was coming from. She sympathised with my worries about my test results too, and said that if anything changed and an appointment clashed with the next therapy session, then to email or phone her as soon as I knew. 

The next session would be about going through all the information I'd given her about my most recent, and some of my past Depressive episodes, as well as my support network, recent events, triggers, interests etc. These would be summarised and she would read them out to me so I could agree with them, amend anything that wasn't quite right etc. We would then move onto the next phase of therapy; where we use skills to improve my symptoms of Depression and my social skills. My homework this time was just to complete the PHQ9 etc questionnaires, and the Symptom Review.  


Resources

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/

Gastroenterology: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/doctors/roles-doctors/medicine/gastroenterology

Am I "Triggered"?: Amy's Mystery Illness: https://www.amysmysteryillness.co.uk/2014/03/am-i-triggered.html

I'm a Survivor: Amy's Mystery Illness: https://www.amysmysteryillness.co.uk/2018/07/im-survivor.html


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