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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Help! My Therapist Has Morphed Into Nancy Reagan!!!!

Ugh!!!  So Tuesday's therapy session set me off a little.  Yes, it has taken me two days to even get to the point where I can blog about it.  It started off with the construction in the parking lot.  I couldn't park where I normally do, and there was only one space available.  The problem was that the cars parked on either side of the empty space were hugging the line.  Once I finally got squeezed into the skinny strip of asphalt available, I had a new problem.  I could barely get out of the car!  UGH!!!  Don't people know you're supposed to park in the middle of the space???  Come on people!  Show some courtesy!

Once I finally made it inside, less than five minutes before my scheduled time, the waiting room was crowded.  There was a college student near the door (blowing his nose for five minutes straight) and a flock of other people spread around the room.  I had to wait in line behind a woman who must have thought she had all the time in the world, just so I could sign in.  I finally took a seat as far away from everyone as possible (without being near the bathroom).  Unfortunately, this was right by the reception desk, at which the woman with the temporal issues was still standing.  So, of course, my body automatically leans toward the right and the other empty seats.  But wait...this can't be the end of the ordeal.  In walks a snotty-nosed, hyperactive little boy who immediately leaps into the chairs next to me.  HELLO!!!  On top of all this, my therapist was running late....fifteen minutes late to be exact.

By the time I finally got back to my therapist's office, my head was spinning, my pulse was racing, and I was ready to throw up and run away screaming all at the same time.  Just thinking about it now has my pulse rising.  Whew.....Breathe....Okay.....

So, I finally start my session...fifteen minutes late....and my therapist asks me how I've been doing and what I want to talk about.  The problem is, I can't think straight, because my mind is still out in the waiting room.  So,  I tell her that.  Which sets off a whole, "Why didn't you ask to wait in the back?" thing.  Yes, I get that plenty of people wait in the back.  Yes, I get that it is an accepted thing for them.  Yes, I get that it is more than okay with the staff, that they even expect it.  Still, it's not acceptable for me.  I try to explain this to Rachel, but I'm not sure if she gets it.  Yes,  the waiting room sent my anxiety sky high, but for me, waiting in the back (which I've never done) sets of an entirely different set of worries and anxieties as well as a feeling of failure and "why can't I just suck it up and wait in the waiting room like a "normal" person?".

Rachel tries to explain that waiting in the back is normal, accepted, and even expected and that removing myself from a situation that makes my anxiety flare is not failure, but a positive step.  Cognitively, I get that, but emotionally, I'm not there.  The entire idea of waiting in the back raises my anxiety even more than just waiting it out.  Why in the world is something so simple so difficult???!!!

Anyway...this brings the entire session to the good old conversation that I feel I've had a thousand times within the last few months...putting myself and my needs first.  I just can't seem to get this.  Rachel and I have been over this time and again.  We've talked about voicing my needs and setting boundaries, etc.   I get the need.  I just can't seem to do it.

It is so complicated.  I can't seem to reconcile the idea that putting some focus on my need is not the same as being selfish.  We're always taught to share, to eat what you are served, to give to others who are less fortunate, to be a good sport, to be there for your friends and family when they need you, etc.  Not doing so is equivalent to being selfish.  If this is true, then how is it not selfish when I say, "No, I can't babysit my niece and nephew this weekend" and do so for no other reason than I simply don't want to, that babysitting them drives up my anxiety until I am physically ill?  How is it not selfish to say, "No, I understand that you really want chili for dinner tonight, but I don't.  Let's have something else"?  To me, being unselfish means giving others what they want and need and making them happy.  Taking away what they want simply because I don't would then make me selfish.

I'm sure this is all just some warped idea my brain has conjured up.  I just can't find my way out of it's mess right now.  Rachel asked a question.  Do I give in because it's easier, or do I give in because I don't think I deserve to be happy and have what I want as much as others deserve to be happy and have what they want?  My blunt, truthful answer???  Both.  Yes, it is easier to give in, especially with family.  My family knows how to bully and manipulate to get what they want.  When they do so, they prey on things that make me feel worse about myself.  Of course, I want to avoid this.  If the purpose of "Saying No" and setting boundaries is to avoid things that make me anxious and to make myself happy, then how is submitting to their bullying and manipulation helping???   It definitely doesn't help me avoid things that make me feel worse.

I know that this is more of my mind's messed up thought process.  I can't keep everyone happy, and I can't keep everyone safe.  It's not possible.  I don't have that kind of control over the world.  Still, I can't wrap my mind around the thought of not doing everything possible.  I can't wrap my mind around the fact that my saying, "No, I can't go shopping today.  I know it's better for you, but I'm just not in a place, mentally, to do it.  Let's go tomorrow instead..." isn't going to hurt someone's feelings and make them upset at me, or if it does, then that's their problem, not mine.  That getting upset over something as little as that is their problem to deal with and doesn't reflect on me.  That they are adults who can deal with it themselves and make their own decisions.  That they'll either get over it and move on, or they won't, and that if they can't respect my needs, then maybe it's better I'm not around them.

All of this has made this week's "homework" overwhelming.  I'm supposed to focus on putting my needs first and setting boundaries.  I'm supposed to work on "Just Say No".  The thought of doing so makes me physically ill.  I literally started crying at the thought of this as Rachel and I discussed it during my session.  Rachel noticed and asked if we needed to back off.  Of course, I couldn't even say no to that.  I smiled, wiped away the tears, and told her I was fine, but for the last two days, I've been in a whirl of thoughts and emotions, sick to my stomach, and just an overall mess.  I know this is something I need to work on.  I know it will be hard.  I know it will eventually be possible.  I'm just not sure how I can do this, if I can do this, especially right now.


  1. Hey Kat!

    I have thought about doing one of these blog things before but I dont think I could be as honest and open about such personal parts of myself as you are :). I think my anxiety comes from, among other things, worrying about what people think of me. This is something I have dealt with since I can remember. All through elementary school I was picked mercissly (sp?) and told I was ugly and a geek. After awhile I started believing it because I had nobody telling me different. To this day when my husband tells me I look beautiful I get angry at him because I dont believe it and it bothers me to think I am worth such compliments. Twisted, right?

    You are probably wondering why I am telling you this but I think it helps me understand what you go through a little. I totally understand why you have a hard time putting yourself first. Being a mother thats foreign language to me! LOL. You and I are working on changing a lifelong belief. And who ever said change was easy?! I personally believe that sometimes the mind is impossible to argue with but I for one am working more and more at winning that arguement everyday. :)

    I am always willing to be a listening ear. If it helps I am here! It helps me to be able to talk to someone who understands my pain lol. Thank you for allowing me to read your thoughts :)


  2. I have often felt the same way, Sarah. Self-esteem is a big issue for me. So, I understand exactly what you're saying.

    I find that the blogging helps because it allows me to just type without thinking and let out all he stuff I wouldn't say otherwise. Once I click "post" it's out there in the universe, there's no going back , and it actually takes some of the weight off me.

    There are still personal things i have trouble talking about, but that's because they are still just too painful for me to deal with and I'm not emotionally prepared for that. We bloggers learn that we only write what we are comfortable with. Whatever needs to come out, comes out when it's ready. :)

    PS...I've also got an extra shoulder and an extra ear if you ever need them. ; )

  3. That waiting room situation would have set me off too. And like you, I would have felt like a failure to ask to sit in the back. I also get that it's a good thing to remove ourselves from situations that make us anxious but, how do we balance that with feelings of failure for not being able to hack it? Ugh.

    As far as saying no, setting boundaries, feeling selfish etc. I struggle so much with all this as well. One thing that helps me press on and keep my goals in mind is that I have proved to myself over and over that I have to take care of me, for if I don't take care of me, I become a sick and anxious codependent mess who can only take care of others and not even do that very well. My entire summer beach vacation was an example of just this type of thing for me and it took me 2 months to recover from it all. That was a huge wake up call to me that I really have to work on not only believing I can say NO but actually doing so. Otherwise, I am an anxious, depressed, insomniac, frazzled, OCD mess.

    I really get what you're saying in this post. I really really do. I have those same thoughts about being selfish and my family knows how to get me to do what they want. It's so hard!


  4. Thanks, Elizabeth. It really is a huge comfort to know that I'm not the only one out there who feels this way. Although I'd never wish it on my worst enemy, let alone you and the others that have been so supportive. : )

  5. OMG I hate waiting rooms. Breeding grounds for anxiety. Hate them so much. I use my headphones and an absorbing smutty novel to keep me distracted. If I'm really out of it, like I have an OBGYN appointment, then I probably will have a stuffed animal with me, too. If my docs had a 'wait in the back' option I'd be all over it. Maybe you could try it once, and if you hate it more than the regular waiting room, you don't have to go there again.

    And not to flame all over again, but having read a few posts now about crazy families, I can't help it. Here is how I feel about people, family included. Having anyone offer to share their time with me is an honor. Life is short. But if their idea of 'sharing time' is making my life miserable, then they can find someone else. There is always another enabler looking to support the emotional vampires of the world. Not me. I'm into healthy, candid, loving relationships. That does not mean waiting for people to be perfect. It means we all accept how imperfect we are, take responsibility for our actions and choices, and treat ourselves and others with fairness and compassion. End of flame. Well, probably not. :)
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  6. LOL...I think my post set of Elizabeth's. Getting a little guilt flare-up there.

    I actually considered waiting in the back last time, but just the thought sent me overboard and actually made the anxiety even worse. It took all I had not to run out the door screaming after actually thinking about waiting in the back. I'm not sure if I'll ever be at the point where that is a good option for me.

    I have huge issues with people not treating each other with fairness and compassion, respect and courtesy, yet I continue to let my family treat me that way. I actually don't have a lot to do with my family, other than my mom. I hit my breaking point and now the idea of spending much time with them sends my anxiety sky high. Still, I have trouble saying no things come up, no matter how badly it affects me. It's something I'm working on. : )

  7. Kat-- don't feel guilty! I was going to write that post a few days ago but didn't want to deal with it at the time. Yesterday morning, I felt like doing so-- it was just a coincidence that you wrote about a similar situation :-)

  8. Whew! We must be on the same wavelength. It's like the tea thing all over again. LOL

  9. Kat and Elizabeth - Oh gosh, no guilt! Post whatever, whenever! It's about feeling better. If I get my buttons pushed, that's my problem. You can see I have a bit of rage I need to deal with.

  10. LOL...I have a bit of rage to deal with, too. I'm pretty sure that goes along with the PTSD.

  11. Hi Kat!

    I hope you're doing well.



Please leave me a comment below. Feel free to share your stories and struggles with anxiety or those of your loved ones. Please show respect when doing so. : )