Waiting for This to Happen

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Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been making some pretty significant strides over the past several weeks regarding my anxiety and general mental health. Today, however, was the setback that I’d been anticipating for some time.

I got in a shouting match with my wife about two issues, and during the fracas I started to get irrational. I suppose that I just let it go, just as much as my wife did. Things eventually settled down as they always do, and we made up.

Given the stress that I’ve been under recently, I’m actually surprised this didn’t happen sooner. The death of my father-in-law was followed almost immediately by a great deal of soul searching regarding my future career choices, which was instantaneously followed with the prospect of having to do all the things new students get months to do before classes start in only four weeks. I think that was the tipping point, because I’ve been stressing out about the time frame all day.

The first step on this journey is going to be taking the TSI assessment, which determines what classes I’ll be placed in. That involves taking the email and certificate that I received upon successful completion of the pre-assessment module to the advising office, then stopping by the cashier to pay for the test, and finally back home to schedule the test online. All in all, not that much to do, and it should be easy for me to knock out on Monday.

The problem that I ran into this afternoon is that when I stopped by the local campus to check in with the advising office, I found out that it closes at noon on Fridays. So I’ve had the stress of knowing that I can’t do anything to move forward until the beginning of the week, and all this time other students will be registering for – and filling up – classes that I’ll need.

There are a lot of things that have to go right in order for this endeavor to work, and I’m nervous that it won’t happen the way it needs to in order for me to graduate. But it’s only the first full day of knowing for sure that this is the path I’m going to follow, so I need to remember to be easy on myself. I can only control myself, I can’t control anyone else.

I guess now that the decision’s been made, I want to get started as soon as possible, a sentiment that’s shared by the folks at Texas Workforce Commission. They sent emails over to Austin Community College expediting my financial aid yesterday after my meeting. That’s one less thing that I have to worry about, but it also shows the urgency that TWC has in getting me started.

Patience, grasshopper. All in good time.

New Blood, Old Pains

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My radio station family is growing!

We’ve brought two new DJs on board. One is a longtime listener who’s been working to become a DJ for years, and I’m thrilled that he finally made it. The other is a newcomer to the community, so I don’t know that much about him, only that he’s got experience with another station and is glad to have a new radio gig.

Tonight is the debut of one of our new DJs, the former longtime listener. I’m really looking forward to hearing him and seeing what he can do.

On the mental health side of things, this morning started with an immediate irrational disassociation that led to a verbal spar. Took us a while to recover from it, but we eventually did. I’m still a little on edge and probably overthinking everything I do to prevent a return to the elevated voices and irrational statements, but so far nothing’s happened since we calmed down this morning. And to top it all off, I have a screaming headache – again. So I’ll be listening to our new guy tonight but likely going to keep it kinda quiet.

Didja Miss Me?

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Well, that was fast.

A few days ago I said I was taking a break for an offline writing exercise. I finished that up last night, about four days before I anticipated being done, so here I am.

Today’s been somewhat rough. We had the car serviced this morning and in addition to the regular service being done and the right rear tire needing a plug to patch a hole from a nail, turns out the reason that the “check emissions” warning was coming up was that the thermostat was sticking, preventing our engine from running hot enough for optimal performance and as a result throwing the gas/oil ratio out of whack. We got the regular service and the patch done, but we’re shopping around for a place to replace the thermostat.

Somehow all this information got inside my head and made me very nervous and submissive – as we say here often, I felt very small. I don’t know what triggered it, and it came and went for a couple hours, but it’s better now. (There might have been an emergency viewing of the Avengers to distract me. It’s paused right now at the point just before Thor makes his entrance.)

There’ll be a radio show later tonight and that always manages to distract me. At this point I don’t think I need the distraction, but it’s definitely not going to hurt.

Anyway, that’s about all that I have that isn’t somehow political and I try really hard to keep my politics off this blog, so I’m shutting up now.

Morning Meltdown

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This morning I awoke at 7:30 or so because of my back (the alarm doesn’t go off until 9:00) and I did my vitals and brushed my teeth. Went to prepare coffee for both of us, which usually means putting sleeves on the cups (we use the plastic reusable Starbucks cups: they’re durable, they’re stackable, and they cost a buck apiece), putting one scoop of xylitol and two scoops of creamer into the cups, and preparing two reusable K-cup filters’ worth of regular coffee per cup, then using the small cup button on the Keurig when brewing. I was planning on prepping both cups for me and my wife, but only brewing mine until she awoke.

I got as far as getting the sweetener and the creamer in the cups when I suddenly was overcome with doubt that I had done it correctly – I thought I’d only put one scoop of creamer in each cup instead of two. I opted not to toss what I’d done and waste the xylitol, since we were pretty low, but instead just set them aside and quietly freaked out over screwing up the coffee. I went into the bedroom and snuggled up to my wife, who woke up and asked me what was wrong. I told her and she tried to reassure me that everything would be okay, but my brain, in the time it took to realize what I thought I’d done, stand there for about fifteen seconds contemplating my options, and then slowly pad into the bedroom with the gait of someone that’s guilty of committing a grievous offense against humanity and was caught doing it, wasn’t having any of it. I’d hit full meltdown mode and I was refuting everything she was trying to reassure me of.

Somewhere in there I got sleepy again and felt that it was wrong of me to have woken her up while I was still sleepy. Again she refuted me and asked me where my evidence was that I had done wrong. After getting her frustrated to the point that she was starting to kick herself for not fixing my problems, we both went back to bed and didn’t wake back up until 11:00. The sleep was the reset that we both needed.

The problem that I have with this is that I have the tools to refute my brain weasels on my own, yet this time I failed to use them – just like I’ve failed to do so very often throughout my life. The version of reality that my brain tries to convince me of is the only thing that I can hear, even in the face of overwhelming concrete evidence against that alternate reality. Maybe I wasn’t awake enough to bring those tools to bear – I oftentimes have morning meltdowns and that might be one of the reasons why. Maybe it’s because I felt like I had to be awake because I woke up and it was light outside, and my body really wasn’t done sleeping, and I was dealing with that fight that my body and my brain were having with one another. I really don’t know what caused it this morning, but I knew that it was almost instantaneous, the feeling that I had massively screwed up and the overwhelming need to be comforted through it.

Things worked out this time, but next time something like this happens I’m going to try and be more critical of it, refuting the brain weasels best I can. (Incidentally, if you’re wondering why this doesn’t work all the time, well … I wish I had an answer for you. If we could just talk or breathe our way through our emotional crises like this, we’d put the vast majority of therapists out of work. A lot of times events like this morning have a deeper root than we’d like to admit, and sometimes it takes digging deep to find the root problem and work on that. I think this was one of those times. I couldn’t point to a single instance from my childhood that would have formed the behavior that I exhibited this morning, but I can tell you that I was under a great deal of pressure from my parents to excel at school, and I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t, to rebel against the pressure to be the golden child. Or I could have been kicked in the head by a horse when I was a kid. Who knows. Also, that bit about the horse actually happened to me, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

A Glimpse Into My Irrationality

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I am not having a good day.

I was in the midst of my learning activities on my phone when my wife called during her break. Three times. Not knowing if the software would reset if I set it aside, I trudged on through the programs and ignored my wife’s calls. When I finished I asked her if she wanted to call. She did.

I profusely apologized to her about not picking up straightaway and immediately started looking for things to do around the house to do penance for my transgression. She told me that she’d set aside the stuff for my next cup of coffee. I told her I saw but I can’t have it yet, that I haven’t earned it. She told me I don’t have to earn the coffee, but of course I do. I have things left on my checklist that haven’t been done up to this point of the day and I need to get those done. So while I had her on speaker, I cleaned the cat box, washed my hands, and cycled the empty water jugs back into rotation. The reservoir is filling as I type this, then I can go top that off and put it away, then once I’ve typed this I can breathe and maybe have that cup of coffee.

I am convinced that because I didn’t pick up the phone immediately after she called that I’m a bad person, that she should be mad at me for wasting her break time, and that I need to be punished for doing so. The only punishment that I can think of is to finish the stuff I have to do and then sit here doing nothing, drinking nothing. It’s not time for me to do anything else yet and so with nothing to do I will do nothing.

Every mistake I’ve ever made comes back to haunt me. Every time I’ve done something wrong gets recalled and even though they’re years and years old I still have to somehow make up for them, even though I don’t know anyone that would remember what I did wrong way back then. There’s not enough I can do to make up for a lifetime of errors and so I find myself inadequate, lessened, unworthy.

And I have yet to find a way to control this except for distracting myself to the point that I forget what’s going on and have mentally moved on from this incident. But sitting and doing nothing gives me nothing to do except dwell on my failures as a person. Maybe that’s for the best, maybe that’s by design.

So this is my irrational brain in control. I don’t like it, but I don’t know what to do to stop it. I’ll understand if this is too weird for you and you want to stop reading my blog or unfriend me on Facebook. No one wants to have to put up with this and it was wrong of me to put you through it as well. I just didn’t have anything else to write about today and for once I figured that I’d write my feelings down and share those. I know it was a mistake, but I’m going to be brave and hit the Publish button now, let the aftermath work  itself however it will.

From Lethargic to Panicked to Calm(er)

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I spent the better part of the morning and afternoon in bed. I woke up in a dead panic because I had forgotten to do something in the kitchen, and went to do it before realizing my wonderful wife had already done it. My panic didn’t go away, though; now my brain is telling me that I have to accomplish everything humanly possible before I can do anything that I want to, and it’s so frantically screaming at me to “do all the things” that it’s not telling me a single thing to do, which is panicking me more.

I hate panic attacks like this.

At least at this point I realize that it’s a panic attack and can address it that way, but I need to pop my head back into rationality before I can adequately do that.

Blogging is helping with that.

The action of putting emotion to paper, as it’s occurring, is helping me to analyze my behavior and combat what my brain is telling me. Looking at my situation from the position of an outsider, an observer, is helping me to calm down and take things at face value instead of the rampant irrationality of earlier.

Fortunately this didn’t last very long. I was able to take my tools and put them to good use.

However, now my brain and my stomach are now telling me to hurry up and finish writing so I can have lunch, since that’s the next thing on my checklist to do, so I suppose I’ll do that.

An Irrational Hatred of Self

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I went to see my therapist today.

She asked how I’ve been doing, and I was honest with her: the last few days have been filled with such deep seated self-hatred. I cannot shake the feeling that I’m always doing something wrong or not doing enough for the people in my life or somehow screwing something up, and that quickly builds into completely polar thinking. I get distracted and things are just fine for a while, and then something happens and I remember I’m supposed to be mad at myself, and the whole cycle starts over again.

This is nothing new for me; in fact, it could be said that this is my modus operandi. Start with a faulty thought, let it cascade into a stream of faulty thoughts, hate myself for thinking that way, hate myself for hating myself, continue until I get to the point that I want to end the cycle but don’t know how so rather than listening to anyone I simply continue the cycle into absolute irrationality. Up is down, black is white. Nothing is correct, nothing is the truth. It’s exhausting to go through this because it’s starting to happen in cycles rather than isolated incidents. Where I once worked my way through episodes like this in a couple hours, now I’m stretching them out over several days.

My therapist asked me to write down the expectations I have of myself, as a way of getting the irrationality down on paper and in a tangible, refutable form. Then she asked my wife, who attended the session with me, to write down the expectations that she has of me. There was a considerable difference in the two lists. Hers was simple and direct – take meds each day, take time for yourself, accept acknowledgments of tasks and accomplishments, accept supportive praise, don’t give up on yourself, be honest about what’s on your mind. Mine was full of intangibles – do more, earn more, be better, and all delivered as a “should” statement, which if you don’t know is often used as a type of cognitive distortion. (The idea is that a “should” statement goes beyond a simple statement of fact, like “I should have stopped at the dry cleaners on the way home,” to an intangible method of self-abuse, like “I should be doing better.” It’s a very slippery slope for “should” statements to go from constructive to destructive, and a lot of it is the intent behind the statement. If you are using the word “should” as a punishment, then it’s moved beyond statement of fact and into cognitive distortion.)

She also asked me to write a list of the things that I do accomplish, and the list was typically self-deprecating – I clean the kitchen, I sometimes cook, I sometimes help with laundry, I sometimes help with menu planning, I sometimes pay bills, I make the budget and maintain it. (That last one is a weirdness – I like spreadsheets and enjoy manipulating data to get a desired effect, in this case being how we can manage our money to where everything gets paid as close to on time as we can and above all avoid missing anything to be paid out.)

My therapist then asked me to address each one of my expectations realistically, and I came up with a second list to combat the first, irrational one. One a week I dust, a new thing that addresses the need for me to do more around the house. (I dust, just not weekly.) I am allowed some downtime. I get some guilt-free time during the week, either a few hours daily or a day weekly. I understand and accept that earning more money right now is currently out of my control. I would like to – not should – meet the guidelines my wife has written for me to be a better partner, remembering compromise, communication, and assertiveness. Text or call my daughter more often. I will try harder to understand and accept reason when faced with it. I will acknowledge that low periods or days are a part of life, and I will try to be easy on myself when they occur, remembering that “this too will pass.”

All in all, the session took a lot out of me. I came home and immediately went to bed and stayed there for a few hours, getting up to try – and ultimately fail – to do my radio show, at the behest of my wife. She reminded me that today was a low day, and that I need to be easy on myself and not try to put on a brave face for radio.

The self-hatred has passed, though there’s a certain fatigue that’s set in now that it’s gone. Being irrational and having my emotions and logic completely out of control for as long as I have been is an exhausting thing. Like I wrote in my session earlier today, it’s a part of life with mental illness – but this too will pass.

NaBloPoMo Day 29: Old Tricks Aren’t Working

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My brain is a weird place, and sometimes I do not like how it works.

Early yesterday, I realized that on the 27th I broke a two month long streak in logging my vitals. I missed my evening blood pressure, the first time I had failed to log a reading since late September. I brushed that off like it was no big deal – just time to start a new streak.

Last night at about 11:40, I realized that I hadn’t blogged yet, nor had I done my learning exercises. I got the blog post done, I managed to complete my Duolingo, which actually tracks the number of consecutive days you meet your learning goal, but I failed to complete my three exercises in Elevate before midnight, and it reset my progress to start over with two done.

And as midnight started getting closer and closer, I started getting sloppy with my answers, as I was rushing through to meet this self-imposed deadline. When it became obvious I wasn’t going to make it in time, I became furious with myself, yelling and slamming my phone down on the couch (it’s fine). I finally got calmed down after my wife ran through the old centering exercise that I hadn’t needed in weeks. Satisfied, I went to bed.

I’d like to take a moment to stress that the most important parts of these activities were completed. I blogged in time to count for day 28, and my streak on Duolingo is still active.

Now, normally, sleeping will reset my brain and have me waking up thinking about fresh starts and optimism. Not this time.

I woke up furious with myself that I had lost my cool the night before and dove straight into an irrational argument with my wife over anything I could to demonize myself and turn myself into evil incarnate. Finally I got calmed down and we went to go brave the throng of shoppers at Bed Bath and Beyond to go pick up another set of cheap but effective filter cups for our Keurig. (Two of ours have broken through overuse. They’re reusable, but not quite permanent.)

Failure to reset after a night’s rest is a recent and disconcerting trend. used to be, there was nothing more effective at getting me to stop the downward spiral. Now it seems like I’m waking up remembering what an idiot I was the night before and it starts all over again, thoughts of fresh starts completely gone from my mind.

The impetus seems to be the belief that I’m in trouble, despite no one telling me that I am and nothing to outwardly show that I am. “I was such an asshole last night,” my brain seems to be telling me, “so of course I must be in trouble, because who could possibly forgive the outward manifestation of the symptoms of a chronic illness that I sometimes have little to no control over?” Even confirmation by my wife – the one I usually believe I’m in trouble with – that I’ve done nothing wrong doesn’t dissuade me from my errant belief. The more she tries to convince me, the harder and deeper I dig in my heels.

There are times that I really, really dislike having a mental illness. (I’m never crazy about it, but I mean a passionate hatred of my symptoms and how they affect me and those around me.) This morning was one of those times.

I’m doing better now, but even recanting that episode is putting the seeds of doubt in my head, that now that I’m TALKING about what happened, NOW I’ll be in trouble for sure. I’m fighting it as best as I can, but my evening is starting to go south and I’m not sure what I can do about it except go find a distraction.

NaBloPoMo Day 23: Down the Rabbit Hole

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Today’s prevailing mood started last night – I can’t remember when or over what – but this morning I was absolutely determined that I was the worst thing that had ever walked on two legs.

My wife, to her credit, tried to pull me out of it, but as discussions between the two of us go whenever I’m irrational, it turned into a shouting match; me in a desperate attempt to just be right about something by trying to prove everyone else was wrong, regardless of facts, and her in self-defense and growing frustration at my symptoms as they rapidly took over my entire worldview.

And then it faded, just as quickly as it had taken over.

And then it came back in a rush, and left, and came back, and so on, throughout the day. I even started planning self-harm (which in my case, to paraphrase Louis C.K., is to eat until I hate myself).

I must have made four separate and distinct full mood swings today alone.

It is important to remember that even with my meds working perfectly, even with the tools and techniques that I learned in therapy first and foremost in mind, that there are times that nothing whatsoever can prevent this from happening. The meds can help to minimize the intensity of the symptoms, and the therapy can help to diffuse a rapidly deteriorating mindset, but neither of these are guaranteed failsafe.

I’m at the point where I’ve expended so much energy swinging that I don’t have any left to swing anymore. Right now it’s a very subtle swing between “tomorrow’s got to be better” and “well, right now sucks.” I’m emotionally drained and physically exhausted.

I hate days like today. I’m ultra-sensitive to my environment, and I need to remember that during days like today almost anything can trigger a swing. It makes it dangerous to stay informed, as the news can often be triggering, and it makes it dangerous to be around people, as their actions can be triggering as well, even if they don’t intend for it to.

Right now sucks.

But tomorrow’s got to be better.

 

NaBloPoMo Day 17: Cognitive Reality Check

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Every once in a while, I like to check and see how I’m doing with regard to my cognitive distortions. A cognitive distortion is any thought that one’s mind convinces them is true, but really isn’t. Whenever I talk about my irrationality, this is what I really mean: I’m experiencing some form of cognitive distortion. The idea behind a prevailing form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is to teach the patient to identify the cognitive distortions as they occur, then refute them with rational, correct ways of thinking. Over time, with practice, the mind learns to automatically make this correction whenever cognitive distortions occur.

I know this works, because there was a period in my life when I was able to automatically refute the cognitive distortions as they came up. My wife and I were both employed and we were living comfortably (a situation that has occurred rarely in our marriage, unfortunately) and so I wasn’t dealing with a lot of the stress that comes with tight budgets and lack of insurance. For a good six months, I was capable of automatically heading off almost any cognitive distortion that transpired. Then I lost my job, and the stress came back, and I started listening to the distortions again. I haven’t gotten back to that point in my journey since.

There are fifteen common cognitive distortions. It’s not common to deal with all of them, but usually those that suffer from mental illness will experience more than one of these with regularity. Below I’m going to tell you what they are, explain each one, and tell you how I’m doing with regard to fighting each one. The descriptions are from Psych Central’s page 15 Common Cognitive Distortions by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. For more information on what cognitive distortions are and how to fight them, I encourage you to visit their website and learn more.

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1. Filtering.

We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

I do this one fairly regularly. I’ll often find one unpleasant detail and then jump to another one when an external voice refutes the first one. If I catch this one early, I can usually fight it, but if it starts cascading from one to the next, I’m in trouble.

2. Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” Thinking).

In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure — there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

This one I have a lot of trouble with, especially on a bad day. What sets me apart is that it’s often not the result that has to be perfect. Even my distorted thinking knows there’s very often not a perfect result. What I focus on is using the perfect process to get there. Almost all tasks have a “perfect” way of execution in my thinking, and I don’t connect that the perfect process would result in the perfect result, yet I don’t obsess over the result as much as I do the process.

3. Overgeneralization.

In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.

Overgeneralization is perhaps my most common form of cognitive distortion. This one gives me fits, because it’s part of a typical chain of distortions.

4. Jumping to Conclusions.

Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us.

For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.

This is the beginning of the distortion chain for me. It begins with jumping to conclusions, heads into overgeneralization, and then evolves into polarized thinking before moving on.

5. Catastrophizing.

We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).

With practice, you can learn to answer each of these cognitive distortions.

This is the next step in the chain after polarized thinking. By now you seem to understand why fighting this kind of distorted thinking can be so difficult to fight sometimes – it’s a constantly evolving argument my brain tries to make, and keeping up with it is very difficult, especially when I’m having a bad day or I’m low on energy (or both, more commonly).

6. Personalization.

Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc.

A person engaging in personalization may also see themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that they were not responsible for. For example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t have happened.”

While this isn’t part of the distortion chain I describe above, it stands on its own ad a fairly common problem that I have. I try to fight this with the second of The Four Agreements as taught by Don Miguel Ruiz in his book“don’t take anything personally.” I struggle with this one on occasion, but not quite as commonly as the four parts of my distortion chain listed above.

7. Control Fallacies.

If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

I will very often try to take ownership of my wife’s cognitive distortions. My mind incorrectly tells me that if I suffer, she won’t. It never works out that way; in fact, it usually cascades into both of us having a bad time of things when only one was beforehand.

8. Fallacy of Fairness.

We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us when we’re growing up and something doesn’t go our way, “Life isn’t always fair.” People who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it. Because life isn’t “fair” — things will not always work out in your favor, even when you think they should.

Fortunately, this one doesn’t bother me very often, if at all.

9. Blaming.

We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.

Almost every time this one pops up, I’m blaming myself for whatever is happening – again, the mindset is if I suffer enough, no one else will be.

10. Shoulds.

We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. A person may often believe they are trying to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if they have to be punished before they can do anything.

For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” Musts and oughts are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When a person directs should statements toward others, they often feel anger, frustration and resentment.

Oh, if only I had a dollar for every time I’ve used this one. It gets worse if I’m dealing with another type of cognitive distortion, but rarely is a starting point for cognitive dissonance.

11. Emotional Reasoning.

We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect he way things really are — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

“I feel” is often replaced with “I am” whenever I try explaining what I’m experiencing. Again, a stand-alone that tends to crop up with other distortions.

12. Fallacy of Change.

We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to change people because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

This one I honestly don’t deal with. It’s my job to change for other people, always has been. Trying to change other people isn’t something I strive to do even at my most irrational state.

13. Global Labeling.

We generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. These are extreme forms of generalizing, and are also referred to as “labeling” and “mislabeling.” Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves.

For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. When someone else’s behavior rubs a person the wrong way, they may attach an unhealthy label to him, such as “He’s a real jerk.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. For example, instead of saying someone drops her children off at daycare every day, a person who is mislabeling might say that “she abandons her children to strangers.”

I am vastly more prone to self-label than to label others. This goes hand in hand with emotional reasoning for me.

14. Always Being Right.

We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.

So very guilty of this one. This is actually the last part of the common distortion chain. I get so wrapped up in dissonant thinking that it become vital to me to be right, even if what I’m arguing about has no basis whatsoever in fact.

15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.

We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

If I’m guilty of this one,  it’s entirely subconscious. If anything, I often feel like I don’t deserve any reward for any reason.

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So there you go. Many of them apply to me, at one time or another. It’s a lot to continually fight about and against. But if I can learn to fight them now, when things are stressful, think about how much better it will be for me when things are going well.