Managing Emotional Distress Part 2: Quick Fixes

I once had a therapist who kept asking me the question, “What are you going to do to support yourself?” I hated that question, but she had a point.

More recently, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of taking proactive steps to support myself, not least because this can prevent a full-blown crisis from taking hold.

Depending on the situation, here are a list of “quick fixes” which I’ve found helpful when I start to feel my mental health deteriorating.

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Managing Emotional distress

Ever since October 2017, I’ve been experiencing attacks of what I can only call extreme emotional distress. I don’t want to get into the details of what happened back then, but basically, a particular “event” seems to have somehow released all the emotional pain that I’d been repressing for about twenty-five years.

This has made my life really difficult. I feel like I can be ambushed at any moment and plunged into a pit of grief, despair and rage. Once I’m in there, it’s very hard to climb out again.

After a few weeks of feeling okay, I had another attack yesterday. I felt awful all day, aching chest and head, depressed, constant intrusive, negative thoughts, and it ended with a full on screaming/crying meltdown in the kitchen.

I’ll give myself yesterday, but I really need to get on top of this. The first thing I think I have to do is accept that these feelings aren’t just going to stop or go away, which is what I’ve been hoping. The gaps between attacks do seem to have got longer, but I think that’s more down to me getting better at avoiding the things that trigger the feelings, then any actual healing. When the feelings do come, they are as a strong and overwhelming as ever.

I know could get more proactive about managing my emotional state on a day-to-day basis, but here are some things that I think I could put into place for those times when I do feel myself being dragged into the “pit of despair”.

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Psychotherapy and Side-Effects

Aeon, Psychotherapy is not harmless: on the side-effects of CBT  

The research cited in this article doesn’t sound all that robust, but it’s an interesting question to think about. Personally, I think therapists of all stripes are well aware that the process has side-effects, but they see it as part of the therapy and I’m not sure they always fully appreciate the potentially negative and unwanted impacts. One of the reasons why I ended my last course of therapy was because I didn’t feel that my therapist was taking my concerns about unwanted effects seriously enough.

Three Essays about the Power of Stories to Save Lives

I’m increasingly interested in how children and young people use stories to create safe places during times of trauma. Here are three powerful perspectives.

Living through death with Harry Potter

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Batwoman saved my life

Extra life: how I was saved by video games

Food Psych Podcast

As part of my commitment to eating disorder recovery, I’ve decided to work my way through Christy Harrison’s podcast, Food Psych.

I started with episode #182, Fitness Culture, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and Why Hleath is Not an Obligation with Cara Harbstreet  

CN: Description of eating disordered thinking

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When is it time to end therapy?

I’ve decided to bring three years of therapy to a close by the end of August. This is difficult because my therapist doesn’t really agree with the decision. She thinks we should continue and explore some of the more painful issues that I’ve largely avoided bringing into the room. She says she’s concerned that I may be “abandoning myself” by stopping therapy right now.

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