Therapize Me

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Today was therapy day. We started the session talking about rotten eggs.

Apparently there was something in her hot water tap that gave off a strong odor of rotten eggs. When I first went into her office, I went to the restroom, and noticed the smell right off as I was washing my hands. So our session was delayed while my therapist turned the fan on in the restroom, lit a scented candle, and closed the door so we wouldn’t gag on the smell.

So here’s what I’ve managed to accomplish in the last two weeks, without really intending to.

I socialized in person with three friends within a week’s time. Two of those instances were at my suggestion. It’s been weeks since I last socialized with friends.

I drove home from the airport on Friday morning – a trip I’m not intimately familiar with, with a considerable amount of traffic that I was uncomfortable driving in, and managed my panic.

I went out to dinner on Sunday night at a crowded restaurant where there was a wait list. I cannot recall the last time I did this. It’s been at least six or seven years.

I braved the laundry room, a space for which I have a completely irrational panic, long enough to wash and dry a full round of laundry.

I helped my wife through a very rough couple of days without trying to step in and fix the problem – I let her experience what she was going through and supported her through it. (To be fair, we were in different time zones, so I didn’t really have much of a choice but to just be a shoulder; there was literally nothing I could do to fix anything.)

That’s a lot of progress between therapy sessions, at least, for me.

I spent the vast majority of the session explaining all the things that had transpired over the previous two weeks and didn’t really realize I’d done all this stuff and how big it really was for me. (If you’re reading this blog for the first time, I’m on disability, and essentially agoraphobic at this point. We’re trying to break me out of that little by little, so that’s why these things, which seem fairly simple to a lot of people, are such a big deal to me.)

There’s homework that I have to do in future, something that I’ve been asked to add into my regular activities, and I need to talk to my wife about it. But once this starts up, I’ll be tackling one of my panic-inducing situations head on so it hopefully won’t be panic-inducing anymore. Wish me luck.

The Lighting Guy Was Great

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I went to see my therapist today.

I told her about the addition to the family (who, for those keeping track, is now using both legs fairly well!) and about some issues with Mom that I haven’t talked about here. (Nothing serious, just dealing with someone who’s very unhappy about where she is in life and is willing to do almost anything to change it. More on that in a future post.) I also talked about what I’ve been covering in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, a recommendation that she made to me. I told her about my ideal scenario and we discussed that in earnest and detail.

There were a couple of changes that she wanted me to include in there, which I’ve done – those curious can follow the link above to see the edits. But there was an epiphany of sorts in today’s session.

We were talking about the concept of self-generated anxiety, and I told her that I know that I bring some of this on myself, so I asked her how much of this is stuff my own mind is making up and how much of this is a direct result of the experiences that I’ve had in my life.

She said she believes that 90% of it is self-generated. That’s not to say that I’m making it up, but rather my experiences have led me to create the anxiety that I feel in so many situations – but ultimately it was my own reaction to the experiences that caused the anxiety.

Now, at this point of the story, I feel obligated to tell you a little bit about the layout of her office. As you walk in, there’s a large leather couch to the left of the room, and across from it, on the right, is her chair and a side table that she keeps her calendar and phone on. (The phone is important, since she uses Square to take credit card payments.) Facing her chair from the couch, her desk is over to the right in an alcove almost specially designed for the workspace. On the wall on the far side of the room from the door is a window, there’s another window by her chair, and there’s a third over in front of her desk. The blinds are drawn on all three windows, but they’re thin enough to tell when the sun’s out and when it’s cloudy.

As I asked her this question, the sun was behind some clouds, so it was a little dimmer in the room than usual. But when she gave me her answer, and the truth of it dawned on me, the sun came out from behind the cloud cover and it became notably lighter in the room, as if the light over my head had literally come on.

We had a good laugh about it – I complimented her lighting guy and she referred to the little remote that she keeps in her chair for just such an occasion – and that’s when I told her something that I’m proud of. Unless I’m well and truly irrational, my sense of humor is usually right there on the surface, and it helps keep me sane.

We talked about a few other things in the session – she wants me to turn the goals in my ideal situation into SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) so I’ll be working on that in the coming days in a further blog post. She also wants me to do some checking into Mom’s situation – more on that later too.

It was a good session.

Change of Plans

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I met with my therapist today.

We talked about a lot of things, including politics and my frustrations that have arisen because of same, and then I mentioned that I’ve been purposely going out of my way to avoid being political on my page for various reasons.

She wants me to be more authentic with myself (I mentioned that this is just one more step on my path to becoming a hipster) and my political viewpoints and to take the time to write about things that I’m passionate about.

In other words, she wants me to get political.

So in future posts, both here and on Facebook, I’ll be attempting to do just that. It’s not going to come easy, but I’m going to do my best. (I’m eloquent with the written word a lot of the time, but I’m complete pants at writing about anything political.)

Thought you might like to know.

One Of Us! One Of Us!

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I don’t get this Pokémon Go thing.

It’s been out a week, and folks have been going absolutely bonkers over this game. I’ve heard a couple of negative stories, like the threesome that was waiting at a PokéStop to rob people who were stopping by for supplies, or the girl that discovered a dead body floating in a creek while hunting for the little critters. But far and away, the stories I’ve heard have been phenomenal. The story of those who were previously homebound due to anxiety getting out and exploring their neighborhoods and socializing with others. The article from Inc. magazine on how to utilize Pokémon Go as a marketing tool to maximize foot traffic into your place of business. The story of the kids who were traveling as a group, taking turns catching Pokémon, who got beat to a find by an old man walking his dog. The kid on the autistic spectrum who broke out of his routine, engaged strangers in conversations, and occasionally even looked people in the eye during his first outing with the game. The multiple stories of how the game has had an immediate and noticeable effect on players’ mental health.

I went to therapy today and discussed Pokémon Go with my therapist, and told her about these stories and more. I said that my wife had downloaded the game and was having fun with it, and that she’d let me catch a couple for her, and that she noticed that I got excited when I caught them. And my therapist told me that she thought it would be a good idea for me to download it and start playing.

So I did.

I can tell you the game is as fun as my wife made it look. I took advantage of the starter trick – let the three choices (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle) for your first Pokémon spawn, then walk away until they respawn, and keep repeating this process until they respawn with a fourth selection – Pikachu. Since I started playing about an hour and a half ago, I’ve gotten a little exercise, set off an incense from the comfort of my couch, and caught a total of eleven Pokémon while making it over halfway to level four. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of them yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Like I said before, I don’t get this Pokémon Go thing. I hope that I’ll eventually find myself out and about looking for wild Pokémon and strike up conversations with other players. It would be good for me socially, and the walking would do me a lot of good too.

One last thing – my wife’s favorite Pokémon is Snorlax, which means that I’ve grown a little fond of him as well. Neither of us have one, but the closest gym to the house is currently being held by a Snorlax.

Just don’t ask me what team I’m on. I haven’t got a clue which to choose yet.

Difficult Deeds Done

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We continued last session’s line of discussion in therapy today.

Today was difficult to get through. It meant acknowledging some tough truths about my life and beginning the process of coming to grips with them, but I think some good will come out of today’s session. We’re looking forward to long-term goals at this point and that’s a good thing to be doing. There will be baby steps along the way, but today for the first time I felt that I might could handle getting back out and associating with people on a more regular basis – either as a volunteer somewhere or perhaps even a low-stress part-time job. (I’d volunteer first, at least until I understood everything that goes into working while on Social Security disability. I don’t believe that I’m ready to return to work full-time yet and I don’t want to endanger my benefits while I test the waters, something the SSA allows you to do on a limited basis.)

We also talked about my emotional detachment while discussing this, and it’s apparently a normal thing to disassociate one’s self from one’s trauma. People handle trauma differently and it’s not uncommon for people to respond how I have, with emotional indifference, like I’m telling someone else’s story and not mine. I had long questioned how it could affect me as much as it has while I can tell the story of what happened almost clinically, and now I know it’s nothing to fret over.

In addition, over the past few weeks I came to acknowledge my inability to fulfill a pledge that I made some time ago, and today I asked to be released from it. It took me a long time to work up the courage to write that letter, and I hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a negative experience down the road.

Today is show day so I’m about to immerse myself into my radio persona and forget my problems for about three hours or so. This will actually be a good thing for me, I believe.

One Giant Leap

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Back on Sunday I wrote vaguely about my greatest shame, and how it would be a topic of conversation between me and my therapist at some point in the future.

That point was today.

I’ve told the story before, but clinically, never invoking the emotions that I felt during the experience, and so I’ve never really fully told the story to anyone but my wife. It was surprisingly easy to get out once I started. I digressed during the telling of it to tell another, unrelated story from my childhood. While I’m still keeping my shame to myself for now, this part of the story I’ll share with you.


When I was about 17 I took off from home for a couple days to get my head screwed on straight. I wouldn’t call it “running away,” since I had every intention to go back home. I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina at the time and I took an evening drive to Washington, DC, arriving there around three in the morning.

It was something of a different time, and I wasn’t aware that Washington was a town you really shouldn’t be out by yourself at age 17 at three in the morning. But they had installed the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial since my last visit to Washington, and I wanted to see it, so that’s where I found myself.

I wasn’t alone. At that time – they may still be doing this, for all I know – there was a small visitor’s tent set up where the walkway to the Wall intersected with the sidewalk on the street. It was manned, and inside they had a guide to find any name on the Wall, along with solicitations for veterans’ relief funds. I gave a couple dollars, which was a significant part of what I had on me at the time, picked up the guide, and went down to the Wall to pay my respects. I spent maybe thirty minutes at the wall, just taking in what it meant to be face to face with so very many names of those that never made it home.

The walkway ran parallel to the Wall and turned with it, heading back up the hill toward the statue of three soldiers that was opposite the visitor’s tent.

There was a man there, and he was crying.

The part of me that felt like I should at least give the man an ear took over, and I asked him if he was okay, and he told me his story.

He served in Vietnam, lived in Washington state, and had saved for three years to make it out to Washington to find the names of his fallen comrades. He finally made it out and took pictures to have a tangible memory of the place to take home with him.

He set his camera down for a moment at the base of the statue, turned away for a moment … and someone stole his camera.

That was the last straw for this guy. My heart went out to him, and I held him for several minutes while he vented his tears and frustration and what had to be anger onto my shoulder.


When I told this story today in therapy, it brought me to tears, and I couldn’t figure out why spilling my guts about my darkest moments would keep me dry eyed, yet telling this unrelated tale about someone I spent maybe ten minutes with total would make me cry. It was my wife that pointed out the similarities between that situation and mine, and I knew that she was right.

So next session we’re going to touch on the feelings that the story about the veteran brought out and how they relate to my own past, and hopefully start getting to the meat of the matter: the climate that arose in my life after my darkest moments were over.

I know that I’m being vague, and I apologize for that, but some things I may never be 100% ready to discuss in a public forum. Just know that today I took a huge step towards processing the mess my past has gotten me into.

Life Snippets

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We’re going to have a guest in town from Houston tonight – she’s got professional development activities locally tomorrow – and so the second evening of my wife’s new work schedule will involve a great deal of socialization. This is a good thing – this is a dear friend of ours from way back – and I’m looking forward to it.

Nothing really earth shattering in the book today. Lots of laying groundwork for the rest of the book – it’s still the introduction, and I’m not reading for speed, I’m reading to comprehend concepts, which takes me longer than I’d read strictly for entertainment – but still good information.

The last couple of days have been pretty good. No real lows to speak of, no highs either, just …  a couple of days. Nothing to write home about, but that also means that they haven’t been much to write about either.

Tonight we’re having one-pot lo mein. It’s a fairly simple recipe – everything goes in the pot, the pot gets stirred frequently through the process, it simmers down into a sauce, and you serve. It’s a tasty recipe and it’s one we enjoy doing. There will be socialization tonight, along with following basketball and softball scores (championship series for one, championship game for the other) online.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting with our guest in the morning and since it’s show day, most of my afternoon is dedicated to programming and most of the evening is dedicated to broadcasting. I don’t get much done on show days, but I can still keep track of my checklists and get everything done. There’s also hockey to keep an eye on Thursday night, so I’ll be a little distracted. (I don’t watch sports that often – we don’t have cable – but I track scores and progress online. Besides, I couldn’t watch the game during my radio show.)

Friday I think I’m going to start work on my notes from my last therapy session and get some work done on that front.

Saturday is show day, and programming that show takes longer than my Thursday show does, so we’ll be at it for the better part of the day.

Sunday is do-nothing day, and I’m glad for it.

So that’s enough rambling, I suppose. Our guest is here and it’s time to go prep dinner anyway.