Category Archives: distorted thinking

Dragon Slayer

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My therapist decided that I am doing well enough and run out of things to say, so he will see me as needed. I was feeling down earlier this month and he was able to give me a phone appointment.  I had an epiphany of sorts, maybe obvious to others but it struck me.

Image: Dragon silhouette

I was raised that you were valued for performance/achievements. So, any time I feel I did an inadequate job I think  I am bad/worthless.  So, little things can spiral me into depression.  

I emailed that to my therapist and this is what he wrote back:

       ”  do two things:

first, list the values you would choose to measure your life by then how you see yourself adhering to it…..

second, would you use the same standards that you grew up with to measure your children’s worth or value…..

write this out…..

lastly keep the things you have written out to re read anytime you begin to experience these thoughts….. and shame that comes with it”

There is no time limit since I don’t have another appointment set, but I have started thinking about it.  

I went to a journaling group on zoom last night. Everyone has some kind of illness so I can talk about mental health and it is not weird,

They have different prompts and you choose one and write for 10 minutes, then you can share. I usually share,

The prompt I chose was fighting your metaphorical dragon.

This is it, It is really rough but I like the imagery. 

The dragon in my life is negative core beliefs. I was raised to believe that how you performed was related to your worth. Whenever I think I did an inadequate job, I think I am a failure and worthless, I fall into a pit rapidly.

To fight my dragon, I would face him head on at first. I would yell and stab at him to get my anger out.

Then I would turn away in disbelief.   The dragon is not real, but I am keeping his image alive.  When I stop believing he will get smaller and smaller until he disappears.

I will rejoice and not miss him when he is gone.

Update

Image: Yellow smiley face

My therapist was able to fit me in with a phone appointment on my lunch break Monday. He validated my feelings which helped a lot. Then, he gave me cognitive behavioral therapy homework to find evidence about being worthless, a failure, etc. There is no deadline. I don’t have a scheduled appointment. I will let him know if I need an appointment. He is going to retire soon.

Then, I talked to the assistant to my boss, I don’t know her title, and told her how I have been feeling. She said she has had no complaints from anyone about me. That helped, too. I made sure to document my encounters this week and this month already looks better.

I have a LinkedIn friend, I don’t know if we have met ever, who volunteers in my field. She mentioned she was looking for work. I told her we had an opening, part time and how to apply. She jumped on it and got the job. I think today is her first day. I hope it goes well for her.

I saw my new psychiatrist. He works in the same office as my last one, but he is covered by my insurance. I don’t know what to think of him. He barely spoke to me, just checked boxes while I talked which was off putting. He took a personal call. I am maxed out on the meds I take and he thinks my antipsychotic is too high, so he decreased it and told me how to taper down. No one has wanted to change my meds because they are working. He does not want to see me for 3 months.

I am a little worried I will destabilize in that time. When I made the appointment for August, I asked if they can switch me back to the other doctor when they get the insurance worked out. They put me on a list.

In Our Own Voice Presentation

Yesterday I did a presentation for NAMI Orange County on my recovery.

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/8I-z9RKNONCJ958C7klIYBjCf3ZzCXs_BD743CKZD0QUzGcCtPbtjjVcYygq5hk.nKTSbzmA_Jj3DrvG


Passcode +6$T%coQ

The Abyss

I won’t pretend to know what Nietzsche meant by “the abyss gazes into you”. The quote came to mind as I feel like I am at the edge of an abyss, gazing into the void. I feel empty. I am ashamed of who I am. If people knew who I really am they would turn away in disgust. I want to disappear. 

I spoke of how sad I am. How I feel I have done terrible wrongs and should be banished, at a support group for mood disorders. The moderator talked about dbt and eventually got around to mindfulness. I have been trying that, but there are too many thoughts. It is hard to focus. Then he mentioned that my self-deprecating thoughts could be a symptom of borderline personality disorder.

That would have been fine, if he had a basis to suggest that, but he just pulled it out if thin air. I went home looking at the symptoms and anxious to talk to my therapist. I was a little anxious going in and very agitated by the end of the meeting. I had trouble getting any words in, it felt like a competition to speak.

I texted my therapist this morning and she wondered why he would have suggested that. She said my thoughts could go along with a number of diagnoses, including depression. And, I am depressed.

I usually find the meetings helpful, but lately I have been leaving feeling worse than when I came.

I get up and face my obligations, but I feel like hiding. “Fake it till you make it.” I never really liked that expression, but I am doing it.

If you got this far, thank you

tl:dr Depression makes everything worse

Distorted Thinking and Urges for Alcohol

 

Originally posted in Psych Central

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/05/distorted-thinking-and-urges-for-alcohol/

thinker

I have abstained from drinking alcohol for 6 months. Day to day, I rarely think about it. I go to weekly meetings and have tools. But, occasionally I get tempted. I went to a restaurant where the drinks were flowing and they looked good. But, I just looked.

Then, I got an annual review at work. It was mostly good, but I focused on the negative comments. It upset me and I felt sad. I came home and I had a strong desire to have a drink to numb my emotions. But, I did something else. I distracted myself. My son had a concert and then I kept myself busy until I fell asleep. I made it to another day.

I went to my group and we did a cognitive therapy sheet. In this sheet, you look for the activating event, the belief(s) (distorted, irrational), consequence of that belief. Then you dispute the belief to come up with more effective ways of thinking, and better emotional consequences.

The activating event was the review and the consequence was the urge. I had all kinds of distorted thoughts. The main one I came up with was that it was “all” bad. The members helped me come up with more. Then we disputed the thoughts and came up with something more balanced. I thought the negative comments are things I can work on. Even if I don’t believe the new thought 100%, it helps.. And, I am not as anxious, sad, moody now.

You don’t have to have a mental illness to have distorted thinking. Anyone can. Based on the work of Aaron Beck, David Burns wrote about 10 types of cognitive distortions in his book “Feeling Good- The New Mood Therapy”1

The types of distortions he lists are:

All-or-nothing or black-or-white thinking. This is one thing I was doing where since part of the review was bad, it was all bad
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Overgeneralization- If it happened once it will repeat itself.

Mental filter– This is another thing I was doing, where I was only seeing the negative and not seeing the positive

Disqualifying the positive– dismissing compliments, praise

Jumping to conclusions by Mind Reading or Fortune Telling

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization

Emotional Reasoning– Feelings are not facts

Should Statements

Labeling- Mislabeling or name calling

Personalization– attributing the blame to yourself when it is not all yours

By working through the Activating event, Belief, Consequence, Dispute Belief, effective ways of thinking and better emotional consequence, you can learn to deal with these distorted thoughts. They can help not only with urges but with anxiety, depression and just looking at things in a more balanced fashion.

1 “Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy” by David Burns

2 photo credit

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A pause from automatic thinking

My husband was grumpy and moody over the weekend. I automatically go to being a frightened child thinking I did something wrong and am 100% to blame. That I am guilty and have to fix things.

I started assuming what could be wrong. I thought maybe he was resentful about housework, so I took care of some chores. As time went on, I wondered how to talk with him.

I didn’t want to be confrontational. When I asked if he was mad he would deflect it with a joke.

Finally, when we both had free time in the evening i asked to speak with him. He seemed like he was ready to defend himself. But, I just said “You seem unhappy. Is something bothering you?” I did it! I could talk like an adult and not cower down.

He says he is just a grumpy old man and not unhappy. Nothing is bothering him. He seems sincere.

So, presto, problem solved- I guess. I was worrying about nothing it seems.