Describing Anxious Feelings

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Something I used to struggle with immensely during my therapy sessions was finding the words to describe how anxiety made me feel. A big component of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to anxiety and how they interact with each other. I always found it difficult to describe feelings in relation to the anxiety I feel in social situations accurately. I honestly think the English language lacks the vocabulary to fully describe such personal things and my own feelings are more complex than just simple fear or whatever.

I ended up having to leave my CBT therapist because I was so depressed at that time that working on my anxiety with CBT was becoming impossible and he didn’t think it was effective. I wasn’t sure about how well I would get on with it either but lately I’m starting to think that I might benefit from it now even though I am still depressed, it is not quite so all-encompassing as it was in 2009/10. One thing that springs to mind is the cascade of horrible thoughts and feelings that overcomes me whenever I have to look at job listings. I tried to put it into words but some of the things are just too hard for me to verbalise.

The main thing that fills my mind is how I am almost the exact opposite of how people need to be to be successful. I am so inadequate in almost every way when it comes to work. I don’t feel confident at all in my own abilities and I can say with 100% honesty that I cannot see why anyone would want to hire me over anyone else who happened to apply for the same position.

I am immediately taken back to my first job where I could not cope at all with the demands of working there and I dread (and I really do mean dread) having to be in that position again. I would end each day completely mentally exhausted and not have the mental strength to do anything else once I had finished work. I hate being there so much, before I left in the morning I would have to fight myself from thinking too much about it because I would uncontrollably get tears in my eyes. I am not someone who cries a lot but there were several times I had to hide in the toilets when I was working there and fight back tears and there is nothing I fear more than being stuck like this.

I won’t have to opportunity to leave like I did when I was working there. At some point I will have to support myself and that would simply not be an option. I couldn’t handle being trapped like that and I don’t know what I’d do (or rather, I fear I know too well what I would do) if I was stuck in that situation.

All of this and more comes to me in a flood of sickening anxiety. Needless to say this makes job hunting quite a daunting task. I am already feeling extremely guilty because of how long I have been unemployed despite having good qualifications on paper, this just adds to my worries.

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Failed Treatments

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It’s been a while since I last updated, apologies. I didn’t get around to giving my therapist that letter but I did manage to express most of the thoughts in it.

Quite a lot has happened with him since I last posted. As I expected, after the awkwardness of previous sessions he explained (in a careful and considered way) that he doesn’t think that CBT is right for me at this time and that he felt like the sessions were “tortuous” for me because of the many questions that I have to answer about my thoughts and feelings (which despite how frequently I complain on this site, are hard for me to express verbally). In a way he is right, I do find it hard and I don’t think I really made any progress in the CBT sessions I had. To be completely honest, and this is not depression talking, I think my problems are far more complex and deep seated than the examples I have read about when it comes to treating social anxiety. My chronic depression makes things a hundred times harder because I cannot even answer the basic question “How do you want to be different?” or “What do you want to change?”. I simply cannot visualise myself as any different because I have been this way for so long, and the only memories I have from before I was so bad that it could be considered a mental health problem rather than just extreme shyness and sadness are from when I was a child. I have never experienced being an adult without depression, crippling low self esteem and self loathing. I have been suicidal in varying degrees for the past 6 years, I don’t know if I can ever shake that.

However much I could possibly change, even in this “magic wand” scenario they seem fond of presenting, presumably in order to give them some idea of what I should work towards being/doing, I can’t change the past and how much of a complete mess I have made of it and how much time I have wasted and pain caused to others. There is no part of me that feels like I would be better off alive than dead, it’s only the anguish that my family would suffer and lack of a quick method that is keeping me here and even those things are tenuous.

The result of all this is that he recommended that I would be better off having someone who I could meet with informally to discuss things with but I don’t honestly think that it would be any easier than talking to him in a therapy setting. I probably painted an unfair picture of him in my previous entry, in truth he is the only mental health professional that I have been able to speak to truthfully. I don’t trust any of the others any more. I can’t tell them about my constant suicidal thoughts, I don’t want the stupid useless crisis team on my back again. To be completely honest, seeing anyone for an hour a week (and that is the most frequent as it could get) is never going to change anything for a severely messed up person like me, it’s pretty hopeless.

A couple of weeks ago I went for the assessment (another one, yay!) at the city where I go to university and the people who “interrogated” me were quite unpleasant. I find it very unsettling when they go from acting like your friend one minute and then asking if you hear and see things that aren’t there and baffling questions about whether you think people have taken ideas out of your head the next minute. In addition to this, the fact that I just can’t answer any questions about myself as a person (what do you like to do? what kind of music do you like?) it made for an extremely uncomfortable hour. I left feeling more downhearted and disillusioned than ever about the mental health services. I don’t think this is a failing on their part entirely, I am just too much of a weird case and I don’t think they are equipped to deal with someone who is messed up in such a bizarre way.

Letter to my therapist

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I can never answer honestly when he asks “How are you?” and I assume this is one of the rare occasions where an honest answer would actually be appreciated so I finally decided to write something down. I am tired and can’t really think of everything I want to say but I think this captures the essence of it. It should be a fun hour tomorrow 😦

I feel very depressed every day. I don’t look forward to anything, it seems like there is always something to dread about the future, I’m always worrying about something that’s coming up. Life seems pointless, I can’t even do the most basic things like be in the same room as people. I’m scared of being around most people but I don’t know why. I haven’t made a proper meal at my house for the last two weeks, I’m too afraid that I will be trapped in the kitchen when there are people there and I don’t know what to say or how to act and I’m scared of them thinking I’m weird and saying things about me. It makes me feel even more worthless.

I can’t stop thinking about how I want to die. There is no other reason I can think of other than guilt about causing my family pain why I want to live. It occupies my mind for hours each day, I feel terribly guilty that I feel this way but I wish that I had died when I tried to kill myself.

Frustration

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The last few days have been overwhelmed by frustration. I went for my CBT appointment on Thursday and my therapist seemed much more impatient than usual. I know it must be difficult to deal with me and I have apologised before for being such an awkward patient (which he of course denied I was), it takes me a long time to vocalise my thoughts or explain things which I find embarrassing. A lot of the time I sit in silence and he rattles off suggestions of how I might have felt until he says the right one and Β I nod. It’s a slow process indeed.

This time however, he just seemed to be out of patience. He set me the task of asking a stranger for the time and asked how that would make me feel. I knew it made me feel scared, but I couldn’t put into words exactly why and what I was afraid of. Having had some time to think about it; I guess what I’d be worried about is the person wondering why I’m talking to them. Why did I choose them to ask? They might think I’m coming on to them or trying to distract them while someone pickpockets them or something. Another more likely thing is that they’d just ignore me and walk past, because nobody wants to be stopped and hassled by a weirdo like me. I don’t know, it’s hard to express these thoughts aloud when they are so embarrassing. Even though I realise that none of these things would be harmful, I’d still be scared to do it anyway.

Assuming the best case scenario, I manage to do this tiny activity and report back next week, I’d probably be given something larger to do and so forth. But how long would it take building from being a functional retard like I am now to becoming something resembling a normal human being? It will be in the order of years even in the best case. I don’t know if I can handle being such a loathsome wreck of a person for that long. I’ve already wasted almost a quarter of a century, some of the times in a persons life when major personal development happens and, by and large people find to be an enjoyable time.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I think I’ve gone past a point of no return regarding suicide. Once you get it into your head that it is not only a viable escape from the pain, but the best and most immediate one, then it’s hard to take your mind off it and stop your thinking from going there automatically. I don’t know if it’s possible to stop doing that. They’ve tried using guilt on me, but there will be a point (in fact there already was a point) when the pain is too much for that to hold me back. What can I do? Become a permanent inpatient and doom myself to a life of being constantly sedated and under lock and key until I die alone? What a great life to look forward to.

Failure

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I saw the CBT guy again yesterday, we went through the standard stuff that I’ve read a million times about how thoughts and behaviour influence emotions etc and he gave me a mood diary to fill in once an hour for a week. Unfortunately it only has one square for 12pm-6am which is when most of my low mood occurs… Β He also informed me that I have a psychiatrist appointment at Lincoln on Friday, I never got a letter about this so had to ask for the day off work on extremely short notice which started the afternoon off with me feeling anxious. Also my therapist is going on leave for 3 weeks so I’m on my own again (with the crisis team to call in case of emergencies, ugh). It seems like I never, ever get any kind of continuity. I hardly even get to see the same person twice. I’ve literally had over 6 GPs in the past 2 years, 5 different psychiatrists, 2 therapists, about 10 million crisis team busybodies. I hate to make excuses but having the condition that I do makes it very hard to explain everything to people. Every single time I have felt like I’ve adequately got my points across I get shunted off to someone else and have to start from the beginning again 😦

My mum and her boyfriend (they both work in schools) have finished for the summer holidays now and they’re going away for a week starting this weekend. I’ve been constantly overcome by thoughts of how this would be the ideal opportunity to get things over with without the chance of being discovered. I am a complete failure. No matter what people say to me, I still can’t find comfort in anything except wanting and planning my own death. I’m worthless even by the standards of mental people. I had to fill in a questionnaire and circle which statements I agreed with most. It said things like “I enjoy spending time with people” “I don’t enjoy spending time with people as much as I used to” well I never spend time with anyone because I don’t know anyone, and I haven’t since I was about 11. There was one about sex πŸ™„ how can I answer that when the idea of anyone ever finding me attractive is completely ludicrous, I’m 24 and it’s pretty obvious if that has never happened so far then it’s not going to. It asked something about whether you fell worse about your appearance than you used to; I’ve never felt anything but completely ugly. I don’t know how these tests can determine anything about your mental health or level of depression if you actually are a complete failure like me. Sure, I feel like crap and if I’m constantly obsessed with thoughts of suicide then it’s a pretty safe bet to say I am depressed, but this thing was obviously designed for normal people who are affected by depression, not utter fuck ups like me.

The diary thing makes you list your activities each hour and he wants me to rate my mood from 0-10. The handout says that people rarely do “nothing” even though it feels like it and are probably more active than they think which is why it’s important to have a record of it. Well mine makes depressing reading so far, I really do “do nothing” for most of the day. Half my waking hours are spent lying sleepless in bed or mindlessly browsing the internet. I don’t have any friends or anywhere to go, I don’t have any hobbies or activities and there is nothing around where I live except houses and a school. Nothing gives me any pleasure or enjoyment, all that takes away the pain is thinking about how it could soon all be over.

Anxiety and CBT

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I’m absolutely tired out but I wanted to write a post, so forgive me if it’s even more haphazard and depressing than usual. I got up early to get the two buses I needed to arrive at my CBT appointment first thing this morning. After meeting the therapist last time and my relatively good week I was in quite a positive mood but she then explained to me that having spoken with her manager and the crisis team at Lincoln, they found out I have been referred for CBT there instead and so I can’t see her any more 😦

After I bared my darkest fears and thoughts, I’ve yet again been shunted along to someone else. It seems that every time I have any form of appointment I have to start explaining things from scratch and by the time any kind of connection is made I’m moved on. In one year I had 4 different GPs at home and one at uni, seen 4 different psychiatrists and 6 different crisis team people. It’s beginning to get rather tiring and disheartening.

Later on I started feeling incredibly anxious, not in an obvious shaky-hands way like when I’m forced into a dreaded social situation but it was bubbling beneath the surface. I felt like I had to keep moving, keep thinking and acting quickly. If you know the feeling you get when you know that you have to leave the house or you will miss a train or whatever but you can’t find your keys, it was like that. I’ve managed to calm myself a bit now, feeling the venlafaxine withdrawals kicking in though as it’s more than 24 hours since my last dose. It’s an odd sensation, your brain craving serotonin or whatever it is.

Had a meeting with the psych last Friday and managed to convince him to slow the withdrawal down a bit so I’m on 150mg for another week at least. He wants me to move down to 75mg after that if I can, but I don’t know if I can do it. At least he didn’t talk to me about sex this time. One thing he did say was “It sounds like this crisis you were in is over” and I understand what he means but I don’t think it explains the whole picture.

Like most things, it is not a black or white situation. I may have felt in an acute crisis at that time but not now, but that doesn’t mean everything is fine. I should throw the pills away but I can’t. I still want to buy more, more components of a lethal cocktail.

No medication can change my situation, the psychologist who I could’ve had for CBT said that today and I can’t agree more. When the possibility of me going back there after I finish university was mentioned, it dawned on me that I may be like this forever. Of course I have thought that many times, but no-one has ever said it to me implicitly like that before. I don’t want to think about being 30 or 40 and still having the social capabilities of a child. That fear will always be there in my mind and that is what keeps me planning my escape.

Good day

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Stayed at uni last night and didn’t really accomplish much (including eating 😦 ) but I went out this afternoon to meet a friend from a social anxiety forum who lives a few miles away. We’d only met once before but we went to see a film and had a fairly long chat in Starbucks afterwards. It was really nice to see her again and I think we got on quite well. I managed to talk quite a lot by my standards and I don’t think she was too bored.

Back home now in preparation for my CBT on Monday, but I’m annoyed because I forgot both my phone and my meds 😦 I found one 150mg tablet here but that’s going to have to last me 2 days.

Things have certainly improved since this time last week when I was probably at my lowest point for 6 months. I’m going to try and stay positive and keep working at CBT and aim to spend a bit more time with my flatmates (though I have a creeping feeling that I am starting to annoy them when I am around more, like they can’t really enjoy themselves if I’m in the room).