Monday, November 30, 2015
the wisdom of my therapist
I've been seeing a therapist for a couple of years and, at this point, she knows me really well. I honestly don't know how I would have lived through the last couple of years without her and only wish I had started working with her sooner.
I've been thinking of some of the things that I have learned from her.
Patients who advocate for themselves have better outcomes. My therapist used to work in a hospital and this is something she learned then. I find it very comforting, especially as I make call after call to make sure I get the information I need to know how I am being treated and why. I feel so much better when I know what's happening. It's good to know that studies bear out my gut instinct.
It's almost impossible to have a panic attack if you are breathing. In one of our earliest appointments, she had me stop talking and take the time to breathe deeply. I felt first impatient and then much calmer. I very often forget to breathe when I am stressed, or I breathe very shallowly, and if I remember to breathe slowly and deeply I immediately feel much better.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you. This is especially true if, like me, you tend to live in your head. As with breathing, it's easy to ignore a headache, tense shoulders or anxiety gnawing away at the stomach. I've had to learn that, somewhat counter-intuitively, ignoring these pangs does not make them go away. They need to be noted and even held up to the metaphorical light and examined. As she keeps telling me, the body and the mind are very connected. Not in the sense that you can will yourself better but if you pay attention, your body can be telling you that something is wrong or that you need to slow down and take care of yourself.
Talking about something, even your worst fear, doesn't make it happen. This should be kind of obvious but I think lots of us are guilty of not saying things out loud because we are on some level scared that we will make them happen. Of course this isn't true and talking about a fear openly can make it lose some of it's power.