This morning I had a Skype session with my wonderful psychologist. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would feel about doing therapy over a video call at first, but it is turning out to be a very welcome alternative to making the 3-hour drive to Edmonton and back every few weeks. I’m thankful for technology and for the fact that this is an option for me.
This morning’s session was extremely emotional. I actually hadn’t done any counselling at all since mid-January, prior to launching Braver Than Before. It’s not that I had intentions of discontinuing my therapy, but rather that I simply wanted to give myself a chance to do some writing and processing on my own until I really felt the need for my next appointment. After writing The Blanket Diaries, I knew the time had come.
In that post, I shared about my history with obsessive compulsive thinking, and the ways that intrusive thoughts continue to plague my daily life. It was a very emotional post for me to write, and the thoughts and feelings I’d been experiencing in the days leading up to it were extremely overwhelming. I knew that it was time to start processing my obsessive thoughts and to open up about this aspect of my mental health.
I didn’t really know where to begin today as we started our session, but my psychologist is awesome and so great at asking the right questions. Eventually we got into some really significant stuff and talked about some of the events that may have instigated my downward spiral into what I believe to be some form of “Scrupulosity” (religious/moral obsessions and compulsions).
This was overwhelmingly emotional. I felt like I had been hit by a tank by the end of it all. Our hour ended much too quickly, and I was left sitting there sifting through my thoughts and feelings, wondering what happens next.
But a few things that my psychologist said really stuck out to me, and I would like to share them with you.
- She wondered if we could find a way to look at the positive aspects of my obsessive nature. How has it helped me in life? In what ways has it benefited me? What have I learned from it? I’m really looking forward to putting some more thoughts into these questions, and will be sure to share some of my findings in a future post.
- We talked about how I have two very different ways of viewing God. On one hand, I see Him as someone who is constantly mad at me and whom I will never truly be able to please. On the other hand, I see Him as an amazingly loving Father who has compassion on me and has brought about miraculous healing and restoration in my life. We talked about significant events and relationships that have impacted these views, and I am looking forward to investigating these further. I also recognize that I need to ask God to heal my broken view of Him.
- We talked about a “containment” exercise that I can do when I am feeling too overwhelmed by my intrusive thoughts. The idea is that you imagine some kind of box or container that has a lid you can close. When you are in an overwhelming situation, you choose to only deal with 10% of whatever is triggering your anxiety. You mentally put the remaining 90% of the issues in the box, close the lid, and then decide that you will address them later on, when you are ready. I’ve heard of this trick before, but I’ve never really utilized it. I want to give it a chance though, as I think it might be a helpful way for me to navigate the some of the overwhelming emotions that arise for me when I start processing my obsessions.
All in all, I am very thankful for my Skype counselling session this morning. It was hard, but it was good. And that about sums up what recovery is like, day in and day out. It is painful; it is raw; it is scary. It is not for the faint of heart.
So you know what? If you are in the midst of a recovery journey like me, be encouraged today. Take heart. Because it turns our that you are braver than you think. You are conquering a monster that wants to destroy your life. And every little step you take is bringing you closer to TOTAL victory!