Friday, August 24, 2012

Breaking through fog: therapy lessons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:V%C3%A9theuil_dans_le_brouillard.jpg


It worked out this week that I saw both my psychiatrist and my psychologist, and I had helpful sessions with both. But I still feel like I'm trying to break through fog.

The psychiatrist


I discussed my increased anxiety with the psychiatrist Wednesday, and he was concerned because of the sense of dread I was experiencing and because I had reached the point of starting to fear driving, like I did a few years ago when I was in the midst of the worst anxiety I’ve ever had.
So he decided to take me off of one of the medications, Wellbutrin. It could be having unintended consequences, especially in combination with another medication.
It’s a balancing act to not tinker with the medication enough to allow the depression to get worse, and yet help the anxiety. It’s trial and error sometimes, and that’s not always easy to deal with, especially for an impatient person like me. I just have to wait and see.
At least it won’t be long. He said I should notice a difference by this weekend if it was going to have an effect. Here’s hoping it will help.

On an added note about the anxiety, I’ve been listening to a mindfulness CD by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and it has helped me to be able to fall asleep fairly quickly each night. I’ll write more about the CD and what I’m learning in a future post.

The psychologist


My psychologist and I, as usual, did a situational analysis yesterday, and this led to a discussion about anger, fear and anxiety.
I don’t express anger very well. A lot of the time, I don’t express it at all.
In the particular situation we discussed, I was feeling anger but interpreted my feelings as fear. I never expressed my anger in words.
My therapist said the bodily reaction to anger and anxiety is the same. What I’m not always recognizing is that I’m feeling anger. I recognize it as fear. I then fail to verbally express my anger in healthy ways.
I also tend to think of anger as something bad, something I should feel guilty for feeling.
Something that my therapist told me that was helpful was to think of the motivation for anger and the method of anger.
A motivation for anger might be the fact that you care about someone. A method for showing that anger might be yelling. No one likes to be yelled at. That’s not an appropriate way to express anger.
But the fact that you yelled doesn’t negate your motivation for the anger. You can apologize for yelling, but you don’t have to feel guilty for being angry.

I certainly don’t want to hold on to anger. I just want to stop feeling like I’m a bad person because I sometimes get angry.
It’s all in the balance.

  So that was my week in therapy. To say that I’m frustrated at having to work on these issues at my age is an understatement. I know such issues have no age limit. But I’d have thought I was past them.
  I’ll just keep plugging along, going forward.

Do you ever get frustrated at your progress to become a better person, improve in a skill, or make a positive change? How do you handle it?

24 comments:

  1. I found what you said about anger very interesting. I rarely express my anger, and I'm not sure whether I even realize that I'm angry most of the time. My wife has told me many times that it surprises her how rarely I show anger. I think for most of my life I have been out of touch with my emotions, unconsciously avoiding them because it was so painful to let them out. I also feel guilty when I'm angry at other people. My OCD tells me that they're just doing what they feel is right; what right do I have to be angry at them for it? OCD also makes me very angry with myself, when I fail at something or take too long making up my mind, or upset my wife somehow. The only time I usually let out my anger is when my wife is describing how something is depressing her, and it makes me feel like the whole world is conspiring to make her miserable, and I feel so angry at myself for not being able to help her. I don't know how to channel it so I hit tables or walls or whatever is nearby. That does help me feel better in some way, but I also feel stupid for losing control and I realize how futile it is for me to be so angry. I don't like expressing my anger because my OCD tells me there is nothing to gain from it, so I have never learned to channel my anger in any more constructive way.

    I had no idea about the body's reaction to anxiety and anger being the same. I wonder if I'm angry more often than I realize.

    Thank you for posting this. I hope the adjustment in your medication helps reduce your anxiety.

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    1. Thank you, and I appreciate your comment. I don't feel comfortable feeling anger or expressing it, either, and I, too, wonder if I'm angry more than I realize. The OCD and guilt keep me from having an easy relationship with anger. I'm trying to learn to express it and to do so in a positive way.

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  2. I understand where you are coming from Tina. With me, I show more anger, and hold my fear in. The thing is though, I show both, and find it extremely difficult to handle them and show them in appropriate ways. Frustration, yes, I set all these goals for myself, example my study, then find it so overwhelming it distresses me to the max. New things scare me. Change scares me. Maybe this is why I find coping with new things so difficult? I hope your medication adjustment works out for you :)

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Coping with change sometimes is difficult for me, also. I think it's a fear of the unknown that keeps me from embracing change.

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  3. Oh hugs, Tina. I hope the medication adjustment helps you with your sense of dread and your driving anxiety.

    I also don't do well with anger and rarely express it and when I do, I basically preface it with an apology. Getting angry makes me feel guilty. I have been taught that it is natural and normal to feel angry but I just haven't allowed myself to ever feel okay feeling that way. It's true that anxiety and anger feel the same to me.

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    1. Elizabeth, thank you. I wasn't taught that anger was natural and normal to feel, so I tend to apologize for it and feel guilty about it. It's a learning process, for sure.

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  4. I hope the medication change helps! I tried wellbutrin some years ago and reacted really badly to it. After 2 weeks I felt like my head was going to blow (literally). I stopped it and the doctor prescribed something that worked much better!

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    1. Lisa, Thanks for the good wishes. I hope the change helps, too. I used to tolerate Wellbutrin pretty well, but I think now it has been causing the increase in anxiety, at least in combination with another drug. So we'll see!

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  5. Medication adjustments were the most frustrating thing for me,(I wanted it to be as quick as take an aspirin and have my headache go away) and it ended up taking years for me to find an anti-depressant that worked for me without making my anxiety worse. It would not have taken years, maybe months instead, except that my first few SSRI's made me so much worse that I was scared to try more and really gave up for a period. I feel like I could be a better advocate for myself now, and I would also recognize faster if something was not working or making me worse but back then I was not even comfortable telling the doctor something was not working. "sigh"
    I hope you feel better soon Tina.
    I think that having grown up with so much anger, expressed in very unhealthy ways, it has given me the false sense that anger is all bad when feeling angry is natural and expressing it in a healthy way would leave me less repressed. A few years ago I would have said "I am never angry" when in fact I was holding so much anger and resentment in that it interfered in me feeling any happiness. I am not trying to make excuses for how I am, but I did not have parents who modeled normal responses to emotion to me as a child and so I am still learning as an adult what normal responses are. I thought anger was flying off the handle, screaming and throwing stuff and that, even as a child was the last thing I wanted to be like so I went to the opposite extreme and did not express anger and in some cases hurt feelings at all for a very long time. I would bury it, seethe, or deny it. I do feel very safe to talk with my husband about my feelings but with others I really just shut down and stew. I need to work on that.











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    1. Krystal Lynn, I didn't have great role models with anger, either, so I'm still learning to handle it well. I think I've denied anger, too, and stuffed it down inside, and this can make the anxiety bubble along, according to my therapist. I'm glad you have a safe person to talk with. I feel that way about my husband, too.

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  6. I feel frustrated all the time, Tina! I feel the same way - at my age I'm still learning how to do this "basic" stuff? The thing is, I actually don't really think anymore that it is basic stuff. I think we all struggle with these types of things, but to different degrees.

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    1. Sunny, That makes me feel better, to think that it's not basic stuff, that everyone struggles with these types of things. I tend to think everyone else has it down pat--emotions, expressing emotions, feelings, etc.--when really they don't. As you say, we all struggle. Thank you!

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  7. I am so glad to have had a peek into your doctor's and counselor's visits. As you know those things are private, and unless someone who can shares (like ourselves -the patients) then we don't get 'pictures' like this that some of find the comfort of: we really are not alone in this.

    Having no intentions of comparing my situations to yours or others inside the common thread of mental illness -- I just want to say thanks again for being to share openly about this. *I too find it such a sensitive matter, and often a mysterious one, with the balancing of medications. Often times I have seen a pattern for myself that it can get worse before it gets better and my own impatience gets in the way of 'hanging on' like it need to.

    I'm still struggling with the fact of how needful it is for me to stay in constant counseling right now with my therapist. I say my therapist this week too, and though I am still stubborn about it all --- it really really is a good, and SAFE outlet for me to unload what ever it is I am thinking, feeling both emotionally and physically -- it's helpful because she is a neurtral sounding board and with trained interpretations of what the battle really might be all about that I am struggling with.

    Blessings to you as you work through this medication chage- may it be exactly what you need and is good for *you*
    ~Deanna

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    1. Tee Hee- oh my, I noticed that I have some typos and missing words in my comment above... hopefully not enough to make it had to understand. (That's why it's good to proof read before I hit 'publish.') Silly me!

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    2. Deanna, don't worry about typos--I still understood what you were saying. We all make typos! :-)

      I get tired of seeing a therapist sometimes, but as long as I see progress, then I believe I'm doing the right thing. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't need a therapist--the guilt comes in--but then again, I'm doing something positive for myself. Thank you for your comment!

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  8. Tina, your blog is really amazing. So forthright and expressive. I hope that other people who suffer from similar issues can read it and find hope, and a sense that they are not alone. Thank God you have an outlet for your journey towards wellness. And thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca, for your kind and encouraging words. It means a lot!

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  9. Anger is such a crazy thing - and I like how your therapist laid it out (for understanding it better). I struggle with it also. I don't feel it for situations that I should - instead I see it as a situation that causes sadness. I cannot count the number of times my therapist has expressed her anger with the way things have taken place for me, in my life - and I have just sat there with a blank stare, not understanding why she's angry.

    I tend to go on a bit, please excuse me!

    I hope your medication and your anger all balance out in the ways that you need/want them to. Wishing you a wonderful weekend :0)

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    1. Amanda, thank you for your comment--I appreciate it! I've had that experience, too--feeling sad when others have had anger. I hope you have a great weekend, too!

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  10. I attended a hospital wellness clinic for my chronic fatigue syndrome where mindfulness was used as part of the technique to approach our illness. A lot of people with CFS cut off from what they are feeling physically and emotionally to try and cope with the effects of the illness and that is not helpful-thus the mindfulness techniques. I do not express my anger and as a result it seems to affect my body physically. I too feel bad for feeling anger but I am trying to accept that anger is an okay emotion to feel and not to be scared of expressing it but in a controlled, safe way. I experienced a lot of anger from others in my life expressed in aggression and pain and I think this has made me scared of any anger I may feel. I too feel frustrated at my progress physically and in trying to recover from past trauma-I always am impatient with the slowness of recovery or treatment offered.

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    1. That's great that the clinic offered mindfulness instruction. I've gotten a lot of benefit from the little practice that I've done, and I'm trying to learn more.

      Treatment and recovery can seem very slow, can't it? I can so relate to that. I think little changes happen every day, though, and add up to changes we can really notice, given time.

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  11. Reacting a little late, hope you are feeling a bit better in the meantime Tina!

    I tent to "swallow" my anger in stead of expressing it and then it goes on boiling inside of me. And my psychologist used to say that it then turns into fear too.
    It's so hard to know what to do though when there is a situation that makes you angry. I am not a great hero in standing up for myself either, which often makes the situation worse, for then I direct the anger toward myself, feeling I'm just a coward who's scared of everything.

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    1. Klaaske, I can relate to what you write, because I'm not a hero either when it comes to taking up for myself. I don't always know how to react in anger, either, so it's a tough situation to be in.

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  12. Yes, i got frustrated with having to learn things that i should as an adult already know! I had to learn to express anger appropriately instead of bottling it up. I had to learn to be assertive (am still learning that one)instead of a door mat. I'd get frustrated knowing that while people give kids/ teens a break while they are learning sociall skills, that adults are 'supposed' to know this stuff and do it. Sometimes i'd just take a break from it all. I'm (sort of) learning how to be social with people. I want to be THERE already. Being social ONCE is enough, right? Wrong. Sigh. AT least now i can look back at social sits where i could have been more social, but didin't know what to say and tell myself how i could have done better. Not to beat myself up, but so that next time ( i've discovered there's always a next time) I can do a little better. I'm slowly learning to accept me where i am, and not be so upset at myself for not being where i 'should' be.

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