Today’s Happy Note: Someone who is very important to me reached out and expressed how much she cares about me. The love and concern of family and friends lately has been almost overwhelming. I love people and people love me!
I am still in awe over how many emails, phone calls, deliveries, etc. that I have had in the past week. Today, my oldest friend’s family sent me Godiva (we met in fourth grade)! It is a gigantic box. Chocolate overdose. Hey, sometimes that’s a good thing. I actually just bought myself a few good bars of dark chocolate and a block of Belgian milk chocolate two days ago. Right now, I probably have enough to last me until….September.
I just had a few of the “classic Belgian chocolates.” I love how they’re so rich that you really only want a little bit. Major noms, Godiva. Major noms.
When I was a kid, I used to hang out at the Godiva store at the mall. No joke. I liked Gap and Limited Too, but I knew deep down even then that I was a foodie. More specifically, a chocolate connoisseur. My friend and I would hang out and try to get free samples. We were on the mailing list and everything. For Easter, I would get a chocolate bunny, creme eggs, and a box of Godiva. I would only eat one each day!
So today was…a lot. I almost don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with how I feel now, which is good. Not joyful, but good. This has to do with several things, not all related to therapy (my mother being here to take care of me, feeling close to friends, relaxing and reading a lot, all my wonderful chocolate).
The funny thing about today was that I worked myself up into a total frenzy; I became very overwhelmed and panicked during the hour. But. Somehow L talked me down from this terror, and in doing so, she helped me uncover some very valuable tools that I can use in the future when I am anxious.
I’ll start from the beginning of the hour. I told L about the Pulmonary Emboli and the hospitalization first. For the first time ever, she seemed visibly shaken. I could tell that she was trying to keep calm and compose herself but it seemed like she was having a certain sadness and anxiety for me underneath that. This was reassuring to me (although I did not want her to be suffering) — it illustrated how much she cares about me. She also verbalized this at one point. I actually sort of wished she could have come to see me in the hospital — maybe in the ER or the next morning when I was still scared. I know she is my therapist and not my friend, but regardless, she is an important person in my life and a major source of comfort, and I wanted her there, but felt like I shouldn’t call. She sort of said (today) that I can call her anytime. This was sweet of her. If I have any more hospitalizations (God forbid), I might take her up on that offer.
After we got over the initial details of all this, we talked about how I felt and what I was thinking about. There were a few things: worry (what if I die in my sleep? What if I end up back in the ER alone again?), food (not sure how much to eat right now; afraid of gaining weight), and a general anxiety/fear/sadness. This last thing is the big one. I feel terribly anxious right now. The hospitalization sort of brought up a lot of little things: friends, relationships, health/eating, my spirit, work/school, writing, exercise, and future plans. So now, in addition to the general anxiety, thoughts about all these things are floating around in my head.
At some point in the session, L brought up the whole “feeling things in your body” idea again. I immediately became very upset and angry at her. I said, “I don’t know why or what’s wrong with me, but that strategy is very upsetting to me (not to mention stupid) and it really agitates me.” She said that was fine and we could take a different approach. I responded by saying “obviously it’s not fine or you wouldn’t be bringing it up over and over again. I am obviously wrong and I suck at managing my feelings.” L then made it clear that I am not wrong or bad and that maybe this just isn’t something that will work for me, and she was sorry she had brought it up and made me upset. I was grateful for her apology but by this point I was just too worked up. I told her this and explained that now there would be no going back. I said “I am meant to be upset right now — once I am here, in this frenzied, overwhelmed state, I cannot leave. I cannot try to leave. I cannot soothe myself or think about letting it pass. These things are not allowed. That’s how it has always been. I am sad and anxious and semi-hysterical and there is nothing that I can (or should) do about that.”
So I was kind of hysterical. I don’t know why, but when I get into that kind of state, I lock myself in there.
But. I did something wonderful at this point. I let L into my panic. I told her what was happening and told her that it is very hard for me when this happens in therapy. And then she did something wonderful: over the fifteen minutes we had left, she talked me down. She brought me back from the frenzy precipice. Or rather, we brought me back. As far as I can recall, this has only ever happened once before: my dearest friend in HS once talked me out of a panic attack, somehow. I was very close with her (and still am). I have always been afraid that I could never share that same closeness with any other friend/lover/person again. So to have that happen with L is a very beautiful and powerful thing to happen right now.
In talking me down form my panic, L (and I) looked at the script that was playing in my head. We talked about how it is okay to consciously shut-off the script or change it. It sounds stupid (and obvious), but I totally did not realize this was “allowed.” We sort of practiced a few things that I could say to myself when I get into this anxious, panicked state, like “this shall pass and I will come out alive” or “I don’t have to think about this. I can think about something that makes me happy instead, like my favorite books.” I was especially proud of the last thing I thought up and told her about: I am sick. I am exhausted and emotionally drained and my life is not easy right now. I am going to give myself a break. I am going to be kind to myself.
So simple. Yet huge. When I said this to her, out loud, it was like something clicked inside me and I actually believed what I was saying. I do have the ability to be kind to myself. I deserve a break. I deserve to be loving and caring towards myself.
These are all things I have thought of before but I have never truly felt them or believed them until today. I am very proud of myself for that. And I am proud of myself for letting L in to help me get to this place.