I went to therapy last Monday and man, I left feeling really, really, really good. I’ve been feeling like this after each session, but last week was different–I told my therapist that I felt like I was making progress. I told her that the tools she has given me are working and I’m feeling better each day. I don’t feel so exhausted by my thoughts and I don’t feel like I’m in a constant state of anxiety. I do have moments of anxiety, but I’m able to use my tools to work through them. I love it. I love that I can stop myself and put my thoughts in a better place or stop them altogether. It is hard, but I’m working daily and seeing results. So… yay! 🙂
Our session was great. We talked about two things that have been giving me anxiety for a long, long time. The first was past negative memories and the second was being influenced by negative opinions/voices. With the negative memories, I brought up the passing of our child and of my two sisters. I spoke about how I was present when one of my sisters died and how that has been on/off my mind for years. On one hand, I’ve moved on from it (I’m not emotional about it on a regular basis and I’m happy she’s in a better place), but on the other hand, I still think about it to the point that it bring anxiety in my life.
To give a little more background (and sorry if this is a repeat for some of you), my sister died from ovarian cancer in 2010. Ovarian cancer is a very hard cancer to detect and in almost all cases, the cancer has spread by the time a woman has tangible symptoms. My sister had a lot of symptoms that she didn’t go get checked out and it wasn’t until she realized her symptoms weren’t getting better, did she go to a doctor. By then, she was in stage IV. She lived with it a little over a year before she passed.
Soon after her death, I found myself going over those symptoms in my head and tracking anything that resembled it in my body. I didn’t want to miss anything! I did that for a long time after she passed…maybe for about a year. I didn’t want to admit it, but back then, it really traumatized me. At this point, do I think about it daily, weekly, monthly? No. Do I think about it a few times a year? Absolutely. It’s like, if I could give anyone the worst “advice” ever, it would be to never witness someone die. Yes, I know, it’s worthless advice. You can’t control something like that, but that’s how I feel. I wish I was never there. I wish I never saw her that way. But…
I can’t do anything about it…I just have to move forward.
My question for my therapist was, how do I move away from my negative memories? It’s hard to focus on positive memories when my negative ones involve me so heavily. It’s one thing that she had cancer, but it’s another to literally be there the moment she left this Earth (I had to call 911 and everything). The loss of my child is another moment that I was involved in. While I didn’t see her pass, I knew she was going to. [To anyone that said that I was so strong after losing my daughter, let me say that I was not. I was not at all. Only by the grace of God was I able to survive and get through it. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my faith in God.] I was so broken because never in my wildest imagination could I have foreseen that happening in my life. Same as losing my sisters. I knew being the youngest child, that one day, my sisters would go before me in death. But never so soon (they were 40 & 44 years old). In short, all of these past bad memories have affected me for such a long time. I try to remember the good times, but frankly, it’s hard to when my last memories were so intensely awful.
I know…it’s a LOT to take in. But this is real life, my friends. My therapist helped me with this and said some things that, to be honest, I cannot for the life of me remember! 🙂 We discuss so much in my sessions (she talks a little fast at times also), so I do forget a few things. But I do remember her saying that, there will always be some things that we will always remember and that’s ok/normal. She also said that I shouldn’t get upset/sad/frustrated that I have these thoughts about what I experienced. I believe she said–paraphrasing–to let the thoughts come if I can’t stop them, but use the tools she’s given me to help me work through them. It’s one thing to have negative thoughts, but it’s another thing to allow ourselves to dwell in those thoughts. Dwelling in negative thoughts for long periods, as we all know, is never a good thing. We have to process/work through them in order to maintain healthy mindsets and decrease anxiety.
I think that’s the gist of what she said, so we’ll go with that for now. 🙂
Next, we discussed negative opinions/voices. I think I’ve brought this subject up in so many words over the course of these blogs. But in general, there has been negativity (mostly from my mom, but from others) in a variety of forms, that has caused me anxiety. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’ll just say that over time, I’ve taken more things to heart instead of letting stuff roll off my back. Being in a vulnerable state has made it more and more difficult for me to take certain things with a grain of salt. I feel like my brain is processing things like, “Well, everyone is right and I’m wrong because look at where I am. Clearly, my ideas are bad/wrong and I need to listen to everyone’s opinions.”
There are so many problems with me believing these (irrational) thoughts:
- I’m taking what everyone says as fact.
- I’m stifling my own ability to do what *I* want for my life.
When I started realizing this in therapy, I got really mad at myself. And I think I’ve always known this, but hearing my therapist explain points 1 & 2 really made it clear. I’ve definitely prevented myself from even trying to do great things based on what I feel others think/what others (mainly my mom) has said.
I don’t know what else to really say about the negative thoughts stuff except, I need to tune out those voices (real or not) and do what makes me happy. The more I focus on my happiness, the less anxious I feel which is so amazing!!
Alrighty, my next session won’t be until April! I decided to start seeing her once a month. I might even take it down to every other month or something, just to check in. As I said, I’m feeling so much better. Now, it’s all about using the tools and creating new habits to work on decreasing my anxiety over time. yay! 🙂