Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Fifth CBT Session

The day before the session I rang Doreen in a panic because I hadn’t written one diary entry since I saw her last. “Sorry Doreen,” I said. “I’ve had a bit of a relapse, and I’ve not filled in my thought diary. I was busy preparing for my party and then a few days ago my mood plummeted. Perhaps we’d better leave it for a few weeks?”
“Oh no,” she said. “You obviously need to see someone. It’s not just about keeping the diary. It’s about getting you better. You must come in.”
“If that’s OK then, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Driving to Chester I felt nervous and agitated, and had to force myself to concentrate on driving safely. I arrived feeling shaky and miserable.
“What’s happened? You were doing so well,” Doreen asked.
A torrent of tears fell before I could muster a reply.
“Let it all out,” she said handing me the box of tissues.
The tears turned into violent sobs, as pent up emotion shook my body and was released.
“I’d been feeling much better and more in control of my negative thoughts. I was looking forward to my party, which was great by the way, when… I know it’s irrational but do you remember, I told you about the non observation.”
“Yes, the person never turned up, and you were awarded your grade 1 from last year.”
“Yes, well the following week, we had a team meeting and the obs were discussed. I was told that I could have my grade 1 from last year, but that an ALP (Advanced Learning Practitioner) would come into one of my sessions, just for my personal development.”
“And?”
“I refused. To me this was an observation by the back door. I told my manager, Carly, that if anyone came into my session, I’d walk out. Perhaps I over-reacted, but my colleagues all said I’d done the right thing. I felt betrayed. I’d worked so hard for the observation and I couldn’t go through it again. I felt as though the college was attacking me, not supporting me, as they should be.
“It’s because you are vulnerable, and can’t cope with any extra stress at the moment.”
“I go into work every day and I’m cheerful and because I don’t talk about how I really feel, everyone thinks I’m OK.”
“Being up when underneath you feel low, takes a great amount of energy, and you’re wearing yourself out. You need to express you feelings. You should talk about how you feel more. People will be supportive."
"Everyone has problems, and I don't like to burden people with mine. It's my way of coping - just getting on with it."
"But you can't keep that up for ever. You need to rest. To stop everything. You need some time off work. Is it nearly the end of term now?”
“Yes, my students have all done their qualifications.”
“What would you like to do?”
“Sit in the garden and stare into space.”
“Tell me about your party?”
“It went like a dream. Everyone dressed up. The DJ, the band, the Austin Powers dance, it all just flowed. No one got drunk or caused trouble. The atmosphere was definitely love not war. I got up on stage and gave a speech to thank everyone, and danced till dawn, as though nothing was wrong with me, but I felt somehow detached, and in a dream. As though I wasn’t really there, just looking on. Perhaps the way I feel now is part of the anti-climax.”
“Maybe. But I’m glad I made you come in today. You needed to stop and take stock. To release that emotion. If you carry on pretending that you're fine, when you’re not, one morning you’ll wake up and you won’t be able to get out of bed. You’ll burn yourself out. Instead of the thought diary which might be too difficult for you right now, just write your thoughts down randomly and we’ll examine them next time.”

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

1 comment:

joannie said...

I don't think there is anything more hurtful than having your character impuned in an area where you know you are competent. Having an incarcerated child on top of that which always causes mental doubts and potential and automatic judgement calls from strangers is really hard to bear. I've become better at protecting myself, and I think flight is valid if there is nothing else you can do in a situation, which happened to me recently. I knew what I was talking about and I tried to press my point. It wasn't received in the end, not as intended. I just had to let it go, but I was so angry.

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