Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laurie's First Counseling Appointment

I was nervous. Really nervous. Like giant bats in the tummy sort of nervous. For me it had little to do with saying or doing something wrong. Rather I was fully prepared for whoever it was to say, "You're fine. Why are you here?"

I was first asked to fill out some papers - I know, it's quite a shocker. Who would have thought a therapist might need to assess his patient? It was interesting, though, to sit down and take a good look at myself: how I handle things, my thoughts regarding myself, my relationships with family and friends.

In just a few statements, wherein I was asked to rate the accuracy or inaccuracy of each one as it applied to me, I began to see a pattern emerging. When it came to any statement involving perceptions of myself, I automatically marked down the worst number it gave me. I thought about that during the few minutes I had to myself before Dr. J came to get me. One thought in particular kept coming to the forefront of my mind: no matter how often those around me tell me how great or sweet or loving I am, I cannot see myself as being worthy of the compliment. There's always this niggling voice in the very back, darkened corner of my mind that asks, "Are you really all that great? Or are they just saying it to be nice?"

As Dr. J and I sat and talked, he began going over some basic questions to see where I stood in my life. After just a few minutes he sat back and said, "Well, Laurie, I'm not quite sure why we're here talking today." Oh no! This really WAS a waste of his time! Luckily he didn't stop there :) He asked what ultimately brought me in and I began to describe to him all that had been happening lately with my depression, my struggles at not being able to fix things for everyone, and how much I wasn't able to handle stress in my life. Then I told him what I hoped to get out of our sessions: when the depression triggers would start and I could tell things might go downhill quickly, I wanted to know the tools to help myself before the depression took over.

After quite a bit of talking he began to tell me about Cogninive Therapy, something he wanted to try with me. He said there were three different areas involved in treating depression. I've already tended to one with medication. The other two involve environment and attitude. All three sections affect each other. They interlock. If one begins to falter, the other two will soon follow. Conversely, if one is in the depths of depression and begins working on just one area, the other two will begin to get better.

I could see some truth in that. I've been on medication for about a year, and while most of the time I'm doing really well, I still struggle. As I listened to Dr. J I realized it's because I've only changed one area without focusing on the other two.

He recommended a book, "Mind Over Mood," by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky. It's a workbook he said had helped so many of his patients, and he felt as though it could help me as well. He gave me an example of how our initial thoughts in any situation can influence our mood.

Think of a man who hears a crash in the middle of the night. If his first thought is, "Someone's breaking into the house!" how is he going to feel? Frightened, anxious, etc. His body will react to these initial thoughts. Now what if this same man hears a crash in the middle of the night and his first thought is, "Darn cat!" what might he feel? Annoyance, irritation, etc. Two very different thoughts creating very different reactions.

Cognitive Therapy is supposed to help me recognize the trouble thoughts and replace them with others that will have a healthier impact on my body and mood.

I just picked the book up today. It cost a bit of money, about $25, but what I really like is all the worksheets they want you to do are recopied into the back of the book in case you need to make copies.

I go in for my next appointment next week. I'm hoping to have gone through the first chapter by then, but I don't want to rush through the book. I want to take this slow enough to really understand what I need to fix so I can be a much happier, healthier wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

4 comments:

Little Messy Missy said...

xoxoxoxo

Team Jensen said...

Miss Laurie, you're worth a million cows, to me. You can do no wrong and just GLOW with goodness. I love you!

Brian and Erin Lewis said...

Sounds like you had a good apt! I'm glad to hear and pray for you always.

Debbie D said...

YES!!!! You really ARE that great! And I'm NOT just saying that to be nice. You are fantastic my darling friend and you deserve every good thing. I LOVE YOU!