anxiety

I had a panic attack today

I’m okay now. I think. 

I was at work, in a meeting we have everyday. I started getting really hot and buzzing with a nervous energy. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and like I was falling. The whole world just felt sideways. 

It was so sudden and so unexpected, and not triggered by anything. 

And I did it all silently because disrupting the meeting and embarrassing myself felt like it would only make it worse. So I just tried to wait it out and I left early. My boss was totally cool about it and is letting me work from home tomorrow. 

So, I came home and Rich made me lie down and take my temperature, and I have a low grade fever.  I don’t know if one was a product of the other, but it is what it is. I took a long nap but still feel exhausted. 

I have similar experiences to this more often than I’d realized now that I’m thinking about it. I just feel so trapped for no reason. Times in class or work or even relaxing at home when I just get a flood of overwhelming feeling, and I push it deep down to keep hysteria at bay. 

It occurs to me this isn’t normal. 

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therapy

Bye-bye, Billy – reflecting on my first experiences with therapy

Earlier this week, I had my last session with Billy, my therapist through my college’s counselling center (name changed), since the school year is ending and he’s graduating (Congratulations, dude!).

I know he’s a person. Obviously. I wondered about things in his life and wanted to ask about them, but I felt like I wasn’t supposed to. That I was supposed to talk to him only about my problems in the same clinical way you tell a medical doctor that your ears are ringing or your knee is broken or your spleen is falling out your belly button. And maybe for some therapy-goers, this is the perfect kind of communication for their specific cases. But not so for me. For my intake meeting with someone besides Billy, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to answer questions because there were so many, as the center uses this to determine the best kind of therapy they can offer. For my first session with Billy, I felt like I had too much time to answer his questions. I scrambled to find the “right” answers so we could keep moving, get to the route of the problem, again, like with a medical doctor when they ask questions trying to pinpoint and diagnose you. That’s what I thought I wanted from my experience at first.

But after my second session, I hadn’t been given a diagnosis or treatment plan or anything you would expect from doctor’s visits. I wondered why, am I worse than I thought? Or are my perceived problems just me being whiny? Would I seem like a drug-seeker if I asked about if there was medication I should be taking? Despite these thoughts though, I also kept thinking this is helping me and I realized that this, going to counselling, was my treatment plan. I got more comfortable talking in our sessions, and wasn’t always looking for the “right” answer. In our last session, only our 4th or 5th, unfortunately, we reflected on our short time together. I told him I thought he had helped me, that I was doing better and looking at things more positively. I told him about the shirt I have that reminds me of my grandfather, which I wear when I’m having a hard, sad day, but I haven’t worn it probably since I started seeing him. I told him about why I started therapy and my influences and support. Toward the end, I asked if I could ask about his real life. What followed was just an organic conversation, which was completely mutual and the most happy and comfortable I’ve been in a session. At the end, he told me, “You were courageous to sign up and start therapy for the first time, and you’ve shown a lot of commitment to making your life better.”

When I left, I was feeling genuinely the most happy I have in literal months, and I drove around, taking the day off, and driving around, doing some shopping, and working on setting up my new apartment.

I took this picture after leaving my appointment and posted it on social media with the caption “Today is a very good day.” And it was.

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anxiety, therapy, Uncategorized

Rollercoasters are fun unless they’re emotional

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( Picture: https://pixabay.com/en/santamonicapier-santamonica-sunset-1768005/ )

These past two weeks have been full of ups and downs for me. Rich and I signed a lease on an apartment! Work has been difficult with big deadlines coming up. The weather is turning towards the better! I’ve had two tests, homework assignments, and projects. Just everything moving, moving, moving so fast; I feel dizzy.

I had another meeting with my counselor, Billy today, and I think it went really well, that it’s really helping me.

Among other things, Billy reminded me to take time for myself, something I’ve been missing out on lately because of deadlines and tests and everything.

So tonight, I took like five hours and tried something new, this paper marbling technique I found on Pinterest. It was fun and I really like how my pieces turned out! I put them on my Etsy shop, Hermit Hobby Shop, if you’d like to check them out!

Deadlines are looming, though, for school and work; projects, projects, projects. Easter is this weekend, and it will be my family’s first without my grandfather. Easter was the holiday he was most involved in, and my family has many fun and different traditions that go with it (e.g. we have a basketball shootout with a cash prize).

I’ve been reminding myself of positive things; that every low part of the ride comes in between the peaks in this rollercoaster I’ve been on lately.

I’ve been feeling on top of things at work; my team and I made a list of all the things that needed done and signed our names to the ones we’d each do. I’ve already finished mine and agreed to take on another that my coworker was unsure of! I’ve still got a while on the school project that’s due and plan to start earlier than I did on the last one (which led me to a bit of a breakdown after I put it off for too long). As for the holiday, I know that my family will be together and carry on my grandfather’s traditions; it’ll be hard, but at least we’ll be together.

Even with the ups and downs of the last couple weeks, I’m feeling more myself again though, like this rollercoaster ride is almost over.

anxiety, therapy

Thoughts during therapy

Yesterday was my second ever therapy session. The first one, which I wrote about beforehand, was last week and was an intake meeting, so it was a bunch of questions. My second one got more into things, so here’s a stream of consciousness from my session yesterday:

  • Billy (my counselor, name changed),  you’ve got a boss beard, bro
    • Am I allowed to talk to you as a person?
  • Your voice is really soft
    • Is that a prereq to becoming a shrink? Or do they teach you that
    • Is this your real voice? Like the one you talk to your friends and your cousins and your mom with?
  • Am I gonna cry right now?
    • Oh god, Billy can tell I feel like crying
    • He offered me tissues, that bastard
    • Am I supposed to cry during these things?
    • I don’t want to cry
    • I am not going to cry
  • I wonder if I’m an interesting case, or am I just run of the mill
  • Am I being too whiny?
  • I forgot my water bottle in my car
  • I don’t deserve to feel sad
    • I’m a white, straight, middle class person from the United States, I’m being dramatic
      • You’re allowed to feel however you feel, listen to Billy, your feelings are valid, besides no one deserves to be sad, no one wants it, calm down
  • Does Billy like me?
    • Would he like me if we like met in the food court and just started talking?
    • I care what people think about me, but I try not to, I just don’t want to be a pariah
  • They keep asking me if I want to kill myself, I don’t want that
    • Wait, do I? Do they know something I don’t know
      • No, I know I don’t want to die
  • Ask me more questions, Billy, I’m rambling
    • You’re in charge here, reign this crazy in.
    • I just want to put everything in perspective, you don’t know my life, I just remembered a minor detail that maybe means something?
  • Are you taking notes? I feel like I haven’t seen you take any notes
    • Oh shit, I forgot this was on camera
  • This is my second session ever, I’m basically an expert
  • I don’t think I’m making enough eye contact, but this isn’t like a normal conversation so
  • I feel like I keep justifying my feelings, saying like “I feel like everyone feels that way sometimes.”
  • I keep trying to show that I’m empathetic, saying “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it, they’re just stressed, too”
  • What do you want from me?
    • Am I saying the right things? Are there right answers?
  • I am so drained
  • This is helping me
therapy

Today is the first day

Today, is my first counseling appointment. I’m a wreck, I’ve been having a really stressful week, not sleeping well, feeling singled out at work, and I worked out yesterday, so that sucked. I woke up feeling super woozy and unable to focus on anything; I feel like barfing and crying and sleeping.

I have one class where the professor is an associate professor, which to me means he’s new, trying to get all his info out at his class, and hasn’t gotten his teaching legs beneath him. And that’s exactly how he is. When I try to pay attention in class, I can tell he knows what he’s talking about, but he just straight lectures the whole time, usually without pause, and when he asks a question and no one knows the answer instead of asking us if we don’t understand and explaining it differently (read: better), he just says the answer and keeps right on lecturing. The assignments, while they are based on class usually, take a lot of work for me. I mean, it’s not just the fault of the teacher, I could pay more attention, but it would certainly be easier if he was more experienced.

I mention this because they way I feel doing his homework, like I have to put in more effort than I usually would or should, mirrors the way I’ve been feeling for a few months now.

My work is awesome, and we have super flexible hours. We’re allowed to get our hours in whenever we can, just as long as we get half of them during usual business hours. If we don’t, this can result in a strike on your record. I work 20 hours a week, so 10 of them need to be Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. I usually work from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays (among other hours). But the other day, my boss messaged me and told me he and the staff felt like I wasn’t around often enough. It wasn’t a reprimand or strike or anything, just a check in. But I do get more than half in during business hours, and I work really hard to do my best work and get things done on time despite the issues I’ve been battling. I explained my situation to him, when I worked, what I’ve been going through, etc. and my boss was nothing but kind and sympathetic and told me that my supervisor had even said he’d seen no decline in my work (in quality or quantity). He said if I needed to take a break from work for my mental health, that could be arranged.

But it just felt the same as the homework thing, but worse, because my job is really, really important to me. It gives me self-validation, that I’m not only in the right field for me (computer science), but that I’m good at it. Taking time off is the last thing I need to do. This just made me feel like I was doing everything right, getting my work done, getting my hours in, but it still wasn’t enough; that the staff, whom I love and look up to, were saying I was doing it, but not doing it enough.

I’m putting so much energy into school and work, that my social life has suffered. I have these two friends who I used to spend every Friday and Saturday night with. I used to go to club meetings with them and sometimes to a breakfast for dinner buffet on Thursdays. There are other factors as to why I haven’t spent as much time with them lately, nothing is black and white, but the biggest part of it is because I’m exhausted. I am so sorry that I haven’t been able to be there, but I just can’t right now. I’ve told them my situation and I hope they understand at least a little of what’s going on with me.

Now because of my mental state strain, I’m going to therapy for the first time ever today, and right now that stresses me out and scares me. I have no idea what to expect or say or do. Can I just have my therapist read this?

Hello, Therapist, how are you? Welcome to my blog, please fix me. I hope our session goes well.