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Friday, August 26, 2011

Outlets vs. Receptacles

Wednesday was therapy day.  Usually, therapy day is not a good day for me.  Actually, the two days before and two days after therapy day are usually not good days for me.  Usually, the two days prior to therapy and therapy day itself is filled with amped up anxiety.  My need to have perfection around me increases, hand washing increases, the number of lists I make in a day increases.  I tend to rant over every little thing that sets me off.  Boy do I feel sorry for those around me.  The two days following therapy tend to be the exact opposite.  i go into a deep funk of depression.  I don't want to deal with anyone or anything.  I just want to be left alone to wallow in my thoughts.  Not a healthy time.

This Wednesday was slightly better, however.  I'm becoming more comfortable with my therapist, Rachel.  She and I share similar personalities.  We both have super sarcastic senses of humor, and we both prefer alt rock (especially when compared to the cheesy spa music played in most relaxation cds).  It has also helped that Rachel is no longer "flooding" me as part of my sessions.  Let's just say "flooding" and I don't get along.

Instead, we're taking it slow.  She's helping me to look at the events that happen between sessions and the emotions that go along with them.  This is much more pleasant than diving head first into my past.  Instead, I can explore which emotions are amped up because they are linked to my past experiences.  She also helps me understand which behaviors I experience due to these emotions are appropriate and which are illogical.  (Ranting for a couple of hours and including some choice words in those rants, because a semi-driver wouldn't move into the fast lane and nearly ran me down on the interstate is okay.  Following said truck driver until he exits the interstate and beating him with a tire iron would not.)  

While I acknowledge that this is an important part of my therapy, it is also extremely difficult.  I simply don't do well with emotions.  I often find them overpowering and simply can't understand them.  So, I lock them up and let them build up until they all come out in an eruption that cannot be reigned in let alone controlled.   Not only is this not good for those around me, but it's also terrible for me.  When this happens, I immediately feel guilty for having such outbursts.  The guilt leads to depression, which leads to anxiety, and around in the whirlpool we go.

So...needless to say, one of my "homework" assignments is to work on finding "outlets" for my emotions.  Since I have trouble voicing them, I have to find another way.  What is an "outlet"?  Let's look at the definition:  "A means by which something escapes, passes, or is released, in particular".  In this case I need to find some means by which my frustration, anger, sadness, etc can escape or be released (before it explodes like Krakatoa).  I've never really focused on this.  Instead I've relied on "receptacles":   An object or space used to contain something.  

Think of an electrical outlet versus an electrical receptacle.  What good is the receptacle (which contains the plug) if there is no outlet to allow the energy to pass through the wires and into the cord which carries it to our appliances of choice.  All this time, I've been plugged in, but the juice hasn't been making it's way through to the necessary destination.

So....I need outlets (other than 2 hour rants about the decline of civilization as seen in traffic violations).  I love to cook and it does make me feel better.  I mean, I get to torture food by hacking it into pieces, beating it up, and baking or frying it under high heat.  What better way to work through frustrations?  (Plus, in the end I come  out with something beautiful and nourishing to share with my family.)  Still, sometimes I just don't have the energy to hack, beat, and bake.  Sometimes my anxiety level is so high that I simply dread touching the raw ingredients.  So, what do I do when I can't cook?  I'd love to take up kickboxing, but I'm not sure the injuries to my hip, elbow, or back would cooperate.  Goodness knows meditation is not my forte.  So, where does that leave me?  

Any ideas for me to try out?  What kind of outlets do you have that might be helpful for me? 


  1. How about listening to music, or singing while driving? You can belt it out as loudly as you need to get the tension out without disturbing others, or just play the music loudly. Either option might work for you. Do you like to draw or do arts & crafts? That might help when feeling anxious...

  2. Boy can I relate to you when you said about feelings:

    "I often find them overpowering and simply can't understand them."

    ME TOO!

    As far as outlets-- blogging really helps me as does writing in my journal and crafting. Exercise also helps me work out all that excess adrenaline-- the only problem there is I've got to actually do it :-)


  3. I found you via the Beat OCD Blog. For me, visual journaling was really helpful as an outlet for my feelings. I cut pictures out of magazines and made collages, and also did drawings with crayon. Writing words in my journal tended to send me farther into OCD and trying to compulsively figure things out.


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