Saturday, 31 March 2018

CBT for Anxiety Session 4 - Overwhelmed, But Less Anxious

At the time of this assessment, I was feeling quite low, but my anxiety levels weren't too high. We went through the usual PHQ etc paperwork and then the therapist asked how things had been recently.

I started off by talking about the fact that I was moving house with a friend of mine. At the time, we did have a house lined up and had paid the agency fees (Unfortunately we lost the house, but this was a day or so after the therapy appointment). I said I was looking forward to moving, but felt very overwhelmed by everything that needed doing e.g. boxing up what I needed to move, chucking out what I didn't need anymore, booking a removal company for the day etc. One other thing that worried me was whether DWP would make assumptions about us living together. I worried that they would think he was my partner and that, because he worked full time, I would lose my benefits. The therapist reassured me that they would be very unlikely to assume this as the house has more than one bedroom, if they went so far as to check my bank statements, they would also find no money from my friend going into my account. If I was still worried though, she advised I see Citizens Advice Bureau.

The next thing we spoke about was my nan. She's out of the hospital finally, and under the care of the Enablement Team (they basically give care for things she can't do and encourage her to do the things she can do). She reluctantly agreed to have this team help her for up to 6 weeks, but she's already cutting down how many times they can visit (from 4 to 2 per day). They note down the things she can and can't do, as well as observations (such as her cognitive struggles). More people involved in Nan's care are starting to notice how poor her mental health and capacity have become. She seems quite depressed and forgets things easily. She'll get confused and won't be able to fully process conversation; especially if more than one person is speaking. She can be quite inappropriate and rude too.

I explained to my therapist how I was finding it stressful and difficult to cope with Nan, and making decisions for her felt like a role reversal. I found it hard to decipher which of her views and behaviour were parts of her personality, and which behaviours were warning signs for Alzheimers. She is having a cognitive assessment soon though, which should clear things up (hopefully!)

My therapist reminded me that Nan is not solely my responsibility, and that it is also up to other members of family to help out.

The next overwhelming thing was a message I received from a friend I'd blocked a while back. This friend had been my "Favourite Person" for many years. (I have included a link to the article I wrote for The Mighty). He had read The Mighty article and wanted to apologise for everything he'd put me through. I have recently replied, but at the time I didn't know what to think! It was very unexpected and I found myself missing him a lot. He has not yet replied to my message, so again, I'm not sure what to think.

Lastly, we came on to the topic of anxiety with travelling alone. I'd filled in a worksheet of distressing situations, how I would rate them, and the order from most distressing to least. I'd managed one of the least distressing situations (walk to the shop alone) but was due to try one of the more distressing tasks (taking a taxi by myself). Although he gave me a lift to therapy, my dad couldn't give me a lift back home. I told the therapist that, although it felt like a daunting task, I felt ready to give it a try.

For homework, she wanted me to keep trying these distressing situations, but also to fill in a thought record to monitor how I felt, what thoughts I had, what alternative views I could have, and what happened/how I felt afterwards.

Once therapy had ended, I geared myself up for phoning a taxi, and then taking the taxi back home. I had to have a break first, to slow my breathing down, then I phoned. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long for the taxi to arrive, and I didn't panic when I got in! I feel like I could do this again, although not regularly.

I feel like CBT is really helping with my anxiety. I feel more ready to do some things that I wouldn't have even thought of before. I feel like I'm getting closer to seeing friends on a more regular basis, I just need to try tackling my anxiety with busy places now!

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