I think anyone can have success with a therapy assignment the day it has been suggested. You leave the office full of gusto and empowerment thinking "I am going to change for the better" and then you do your assignment and it's successful and then you feel so great. But what good is an assignment if it doesn't stick? A person doesn't go to therapy for a day of feeling successful they go because something is keeping them from being successful and they want to get rid of that interfering thing. Today I realized that I am doing something differently.
I am a woman with big ideas. I have the brains and imagination to create or accomplish great things- but my body fights my brain. I can say "do it! do it! do it!" but if my body doesn't want to act, it wont budge. My cleaning habits were the #1 thing that brought me back to therapy (besides that, at the time, I didn't think I needed much therapy.) Half of my clothes I never wear, I want to get rid of these clothes, but in my head a two hour project like going through my closet seemed equivilent to a triathalon. Now of course if I would just stand up and start doing it I would feel fine within five minutes, but I would be so paralyzed by anxiety that I would just sit on the couch saying "10 minutes more then I will, 10 minutes more, 10 minutes more" while my body pickled in cortisol and adreniline.
Dr. T seemed to see the problem while I was still describing it. She asked if I felt good after I finished a task, and of course the answer was no, I felt worse, because then I had a hundred more things to do. She gave me an assignment to do one thing, and then be done. Reward myself and expect nothing more of myself that day. It went great, and changed the way I thought about accomplishments.
This morning I was sluggish. I didn't want to do anything, at all. What I really wanted was to go back to bed. I had had plenty of rest and cappucino, so physical fatigue wasn't the issue. I went to blockbuster to exchange movies, I got a terrible movie ("O" -only made it through a half hour) so I walked outside to exchange it again. I felt the breeze on my face and was stopped with embarrassment. It is a Saturday, and the weather is AMAZING. What will they think at blockbuster if I come in twice on a day like today? I sat down on my stoop and just watched the scene. I said "I should be out on a bike ride, or call one of my friends." I wondered why I didn't want to, was I depressed?
I sat and watched girls wearing peasant skirts and guys with vintage t-shirts coming and going and knew thats not what I wanted to be doing today. I didn't want to be cute, I didn't want to be productive, I didn't want to have to form sentances. I wasn't depressed, I felt no hopelessness or anxiety, in fact I felt quite calm, I just didn't want to do anything. I eventually went to blockbuster and picked out a mainstream, unchallenging romantic comedy, and it hit the spot.
I had a handful of crisises thrown at me at once this week. One reason I think I am very qualified as a flight attendant is when there is an emergency, something clicks in my brain and I do what needs to be done. The only hitch in this skill is once the crisis is over, I crumble to pieces. This week I came up with a living plan, organized and switched over the utilites, called the landlord, created a rough roommate ad, interviewed and secured a temporary roommate until November, and found closure on the other things. The emergency period is over, and I work tomorrow- so today I allowed myself to crash. I still had to do laundry and dishes- but I didn't put added expectations on myself. Even to go on a bike ride.
The therapy assignment of only doing a number of things does not reduce the amount I accomplish. When I am (was?) hard on myself nothing was getting done anyway, the difference is I was beating up on myself because of it. I got ALOT done in only a day in a half. Instead of punishing myself for accomplishing things by saying I have to do more, I have rewarded myself with a day to be a vegetable. And on this vegetable day I did 3 loads of laundry and the dishes :) I felt something very unfamiliar today...boredom. I know most people hate the feeling of boredom but for me it was such a relief. I am used to quiet moments being full of anxiety about what I need to do next. But today I gave myself a reward- boredom.
mood: lazy -lucky me!