Autumnal Update

Thanks to those who are still with me, it has been a few months since my last post.  I am holding the fort solo so  this may well take all morning to write.  Rather than summarise the last few months, let’s have a look at what’s happening now and what’s relevant to this blog.

The main difficulty I am having at the moment is with the biggest small.  He started nursery part time in September; and two weeks prior to that he all of sudden decided he wasn’t going to use the potty or toilet anymore.  Fast forward to this week, and despite my plan of revisiting toilet training alas it was not to be, so looks like we’re going to be waiting until Christmas before braving the pants again. Disheartening? Yes.  End of the world? No. He still fits in pull-ups and nappies at night.  I guess I mainly feel disappointed because he was independently taking himself to the toilet over summer and then just regressed 10 weeks ago.

Littlest small is having a bit of a skin flare-up at the moment; he had to be seen in the children’s emergency department earlier in the month because his eczema got really bad and the poor dude ended up on antibiotics and steroid cream.  It’s still something we have to keep an eye on and meanwhile have to cover him in thick ointment twice a day which husband particularly dislikes as he hates the texture!  Can’t say I blame him.

Small people aside, I have noticed how Mindfulness has been effective at helping me cope with balloons and fireworks in social situations recently.  Last weekend I was enjoying a girly night with my lady friends, we were sat in the back garden with a fire blazing and there were firewoeks going off at random times throughout the evening.   They weren’t particularly loud, and the amaretto being consumed may have helped calm to nerves but it felt like a big step. Then the following day, as a family we went with out good friends for lunch at a pub in town and there were balloons all over the place (as decorations, not where people could play with them) and I didn’t bad an eyelid as I walked in and had an anjoyable meal.  I soon forgot about the balloons, and if any burst whilst I was there I certainly didn’t notice.  Since my operation I have neglected my mindfulness studies somewhat so have made a conscious effort recently to get more into it.

One of my short term goals is to get back into diet and exercise; I hve recently purchased a years’ membership to both Slimming World Online and the gym and neither are going very well, a month in.  I have been too lenient with myself when it comes to eating and not exercising so realise i need to incorporate mindfulness and more self disciplne to make this investment work for me, starting, well, today.

I’m trying to make a conscious effort to think before I eat about if I am hungry and if what I am going to be putting in my body is worth it and try and take some steps aorund the house to stay active.  This may prove challenging with a clingy small but will do my best!

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Slaying the Beasts and Receiving but a Scratch

Oh look, here comes another mindfulness/anxiety/CBT metaphor post. Observe!

Today I did some proper adulting. However, it almost didn’t happen because I experienced an anxiety attack just as my child care arrived to enable me to partake in said adulting.  My tasks were simply to go and vote, and get a blood test at the local community hospital just the other side of the city centre.  You may not know this, but I don’t have a phobia as such of blood tests but I dislike them immensely due to the fact that my veins are rubbish and tend to disappear when phlebotomists are present.

Today this decided to manifest as a panicky/anxiety-driven flap in which my poor mother was subject to me deciding whether I was going to go or not, me actually phoning my GP to determine whether the test could wait until I go in for my op (it couldnt), phoning my dad to see if he could give me a lift to at least get me there (he couldn’t) and the whole time she remained calm and patient as a said, occupying the smalls whilst I flapped.  Eventually, I decided I was going to put my big girl pants on and go.

Having rubbish veins and unfortunately several previous blood tests, I am aware of all the hints and tricks such as being warm and hydrated, making a fist etc.  tHEREFORE I took all measures, and, get this, decided to become mindfully aware of my walking and then my breathing as I waited for my number to come up.  You know what?  It worked.  The more I breathed, the more I felt my anxiety dissipating and the more relaxed I became,  I was still slightly apprehensive but it was totally manageable.  The phlebotomist I was was lovely, and listened when I explained about my poor history with blood tests.  Usually the aforementioned tricks of the trade helped a little, but today despite my  power walk to the hospital in my coat (after voting – see adult points earned already) followed by drinking a whole bottle of strawberry flavour water, my veins did not want to play ball so she ended up taking blood from my hand using a very pretty but complicated needle – butterfly tube – plastic thing combo.

It wasn’t pleasant, it sucked when she moved the needle around in my veins to try and strike gold but I felt a lot less stressed than I have previously, focusing on my breath and reminding myself this was as bad as it was going to get.  But it certainly wasn’t the worst experience.

After that, I power walked to M&S and had a delicious lunch and discovered chocolate covered cookie dough bites and chorizo crisps.  I need to go there for random junk food more often.  I feel like the anxiety was akin to a small yet persistent aggressive terrier that once it got hold would not let go until I took it for a walk, and then it got so bored of terrorising me it just left of its own accord.

As a bonus, tonight the biggest small asked to play with balloons.  So I sucked it up, and retrieved a couple of small ballons for him and one for his brother from the “therapy balloon bag” and let them play with them for th elongest time ever.  None of them burst and nobody died.  Today was a good therapy day 🙂

CBT Update: A New (Almost) Comfort Zone

I was writing in my journal this morning (I love my paper and pens. Stationary whore right here.) and one of the things I was reflecting upon was my progress with my CBT.  Or how I felt (as I seem to before every appointment with my therapist) more like my lack of progress.

 

In our last session, we devised a plan where I would expose myself to more environments where there would be balloons e.g. shopping centre, restaurants, events etc and try to manage my distress levels.  Bonus if it involved a toddler with a balloon!  But this has not happened.  I could possibly use the reason that I have returned to work so am still getting my head round my time management, but this would probably just be an excuse.  Trying to avoid avoidance is hard, especially as I feel like I want my therapist to know I am trying and doing my best to make this work for me.  I feel like such a people pleaser at times – like at work I feel like I want to work really hard so I’m doing at least my fair share so that I am seen as an asset and valued for being there.

 

Anyway, I digress.

Progress hadn’t been made in the way I’d hoped, so I had a little word with myself.  I’m at the stage of CBT now where the exposure is getting more and more scary in terms of being unable to tolerate my distress.  I remembered there was a balloon in the crisp box on the top shelf (don’t ask) so I got it down and gave it to toddler to play with.  I still put my hands up to my ears a couple of times, despite trying to remind myself it was just a feeling and I was to observe it from afar.  I managed to let him have it for a few minutes before I burst it myself with a pin.

 

Admittedly, I burst it so it wouldn’t be there and wouldn’t be a threat anymore.  I then blew up and burst 3 more balloons in succession (making a game of it for toddler) and realised that this is the current limit of my comfort zone.

 

When I am doing it myself, I am in control and although the noise still starts me a little bit this is where I’m at and where I feel I need to keep working on it.  Even if it means me standing alone in the kitchen blowing up and bursting balloons, and it’s a sideways diversion from what I was “supposed” to be doing, it’s still progress.

 

I think I’m still in awe that a lifelong phobia is slowly being chipped away at the grand old age of 31.

This willingness malarkey is really helping too; I willingly ran 6k last night and will willingly go and pick up husband from the station later.