Mental Overload

Yesterday I meant to do another post, but the day just did not go the way I planned it. I had my first session with my new therapist in the morning. The health care provider that I currently use has interns who start in July and their time at the facility ends in June. So my previous therapist left. I’m on therapist number four. It’s a bit of an ordeal, but I’ve found myself adjusting. I’m not becoming dependent on the person who is the therapist.

I have a male therapist, which is interesting. I’ve alternated. I had a female therapist, a male therapist, a female, and now a male again. I’m hoping our temperament matches well. I know that some people don’t handle the opposite sex well. Although some of my PTSD stems from sexual trauma when I was a teenager, I just adjust better to the opposite sex. My best friend is male. I’ve had very limited female friends through my life. I actually have enjoyed my group DBT therapy immensely because I was able to connect to other women with similar mindsets and emotional experiences.

But I digress! Even when you’ve been in therapy for years, the first session with a new therapist can be nerve wracking. I’ve had therapists that ask you to delve into your information, sharing your past, which always leaves me emotionally raw. I can talk about these details much better than I could in the past, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t expose something vulnerable within you. I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case this session. We went over some goals. Talked about how I was doing. And discussed what issues I’d like to tackle with the new therapist’s guidance.

Identifying emotions was the biggest concern. I feel personally that if I know what emotions I’m feeling, I’ll have a better understanding of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. This assists so much in Emotion Regulation. It’s a module of DBT that I always have struggled with since acting on emotions is so easy. It’s hard to pull yourself away from the knee jerk reaction you’re animal mind tends to steer towards.

My first homework assignment is to start journaling. Something I’ve tried to do for years, but never can keep up with daily. I always want to do something fancy like bullet journaling, but my OCD and perfectionist side doesn’t usually allow me to do it. I get frustrated, upset when I mess something up. Etcetera. Allowing for imperfection a fact I’ll have to learn to radically accept. One thing my therapist suggested that pleased me greatly was the time put towards journaling. Five minutes before bed. That’s it. That’s really honestly much easier than anything I’ve attempted in the past. I can do five minutes.

I always feel frantic and rushed when I’m preparing my posts here. They certainly take longer than five minutes to write. Plus, I already tend to think and dwell on things before bed anyhow. Which is another matter we’re going to try to tackle in therapy. Sleep. I tend to get tired in the evening and take a nap, which ruins my sleep schedule. Or even when I avoid napping, my brain doesn’t like to shut down until 2am or later some nights.

Which can ruin your schedule if you have something to do. I always nitpick over things as I’m laying in bed. I think about what I should be doing. What I could be doing. Or how things could be. For now, I’m supposed to use my journaling to record situations and the emotions that I experience from them. Then the thoughts that follow. Eventually you’re supposed to be able to switch that order up.

{Event > Thoughts > Emotions} versus {Events > Emotions > Thought}

Emotional journaling is supposed to help prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. It helps you track day-to-day symptoms and helps you to recognize triggers, then learn to control them. It also gives you a space for positive self-talk and allows you to identify negative thoughts and behaviors. I honestly don’t think I ever got to do that with journals when I was younger. Writing was usually something that I was required to do for classwork. We’d have journals, but you never wrote how you really felt since you knew your teacher would be reading it. I never dared to write any of my darker thoughts in high school. Suicide. Worthlessness. Betrayal. There was no guarantee that privacy would be given.

So journaling goals are:

  • Try to write every day. 5 minutes before bed. Record events/situations and the emotions they created. If possible, add thoughts I had during those emotions. Eventually when I’m ready, I’ll start to learn to turn thoughts thoughts and emotions to something more positive. My therapist suggesting starring some of the stronger emotions so that I’ll remember to bring them up during our next session.
  • Write or draw whatever feels right. Use the journal as I see fit.

Since I’m only really journaling five minutes before bed, I know that I might miss some things throughout the day. Maria from my Therapy Group (and “the Journey” DBT Podcast) uses Daylio, an app that goes on your phone. I actually used to use Daylio in the early days of it’s creation, but let that fall to the wayside. I was pleased to realize that I have a Premium account and redownloaded it to my phone.

It honestly is a bit overwhelming when you first dive into it. But having something so conveniently available at your fingertips is a boon. You can set goals to reach. Record your moods. Set your own moods. Customize the icons for said moods and customize the color of said icons. Daylio even gives you a weekly report so you can see how you’ve been doing. And a monthly graph as well. The gaming aspect of this, with achievements, gives you some incentive to keep at it. There are a number of different groups of activities you can record, sleep, food, chores, and etcetera.

I’d been thinking about starting a food diary, since I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight during COVID. (I’ve also managed to get my blood sugar levels better under control at least.) Ah the struggle! So I think having one application for all these jobs will make my life easier. It isn’t a calorie counter, but I think avoiding that aspect of things right now might be better. Regulating your mood along with regulating your eating habits can be a MONSTER. If you look up hangry in the dictionary, I believe my name will be right next to it.

Eating is something that I could address in an entire post, so I won’t delve into it too far today. I finally did bite the bullet and ordered a copy of “How to Eat” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have a so many of his novels in Audiobook form. I’m hoping that mindfulness will help with diet and weight. Every other diet I’ve attempted in the past has failed spectacularly. We’ll see.

Thanks as always for reading my blog! I’m not sure how you can handle the chaos that’s called my brain, but I appreciate it nonetheless!

Published by Erin Seto

Southern Peach ๐Ÿ‘, in her 30โ€™s - Artist ๐ŸŽจ + Bibliophile ๐Ÿ“š + Geek ๐ŸŽฎ + Nerd ๐Ÿ‘“ + Animal-Lover ๐Ÿพ + Bipolar Disorder ๐Ÿ’ข x Anxiety ๐Ÿ˜จ x PTSD ๐Ÿ’ฃรท DBT Therapy โœจ + Mental Health Matters ๐Ÿง  = ME ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฝ

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