Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dealing With PTSD Symptoms

This was asked of me recently, how to handle it now that I’ve got it. To keep the monster at bay, as it were. During the worst of it I have ended up on the phone with my therapists crying uncontrollably as she walks me through breathing exercises. Okay, that happened once. Maybe twice that same weekend, the weekend before I decided to start the blog.

This blog actually does help because it has me going through the thought processes I need to practice and is part of the CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Not that I told my therapist I’m doing this online, although she knows I write every day.

What CBT entails, as is my understanding, is kind of rethinking the way I think. For example, When something unexpected happens my mind can immediately become fatalist and think a. I did something wrong (as I always do) b. This cannot end well but only in disaster. So when that thought pops in my head that I did do ‘something wrong’ I rethink the situation. Maybe a real world example is in order.

The other day I had to deliver some letters to a bigwig in the company and was given detailed instructions for his secretary. I had forgotten to write down his office number, so went by memory. When I get to the office I think is his it’s a little dark, and there’s no sign on the door. I peak my head in and see no secretary, so I look around but per my memory, it has to me his office. So I walk in again and see another open door and an older gentleman sitting there. He asks me what I want, I ask if this is so and so’s office, he says yes. Then I ask if I am speaking with so and so, he says yes. So I give him the documents to sign, he tells me he has a meeting but he’ll call me when he’s signed them.

My first thoughts were that I did something wrong, that he’s going to call my boss and tell her he was offended in some way because I didn’t know who he was. I immediately go to this whole scenario where she’s mad at me because I made the department look bad. So using CBT I have to really walk myself through the situation again: I have never met him, so how am I supposed to know what he looks like? I was respectful the entire time and completed my task. There was nothing that I did wrong. But, because the secretary wasn’t there and the plan had the slight deviation, my first thought is of doom.

This is what I’m practicing until it becomes second nature. As the first thought is doom and failure I have to walk my way through the thought process and realize that nothing bad happened and see the other options that are there for me. But first this means paying close attention to those initial thoughts as they creep into my mind.


dawn said...

It's a very interesting thought process. I hope it works for you. Yesterday was crazy, we the nomads of Queens had a hard time getting home, the smartest thing I did was leave early and take a 3:30 express bus. I made it home in 45 minutes. Hope you got home easily. Have a great day!!

Amel's Realm said...

Ahhhh...yeah, I agree with dawn. Interesting indeed.

Yeah, that's true, by practising, it'll soon be a second nature for you to think of counter-doom scenarios. Maybe in a way it's like when I started staving off my negative, cynical thoughts...over the years it's getting A HELL LOT easier to think of positive thoughts instead of negative, cynical ones. ;-D


thewishfulwriter said...

CBT is a really, really great tool.

April actually just got back from taking a course on it Philly and she was telling me about it (I too can be a bit of a fatalistic thinker - my perfectionism (in work) can get the best of me and I truly have to talk myself down).

you gave a great example of how to do it.


david mcmahon said...

Hi Victorya,

We're all here to support you.



Victorya said...

Amel - I think it is along of what you did, just retraining myself to see the positive instead of negative as I do.

Dawn - yeah, I got home okay, but I didn't leave until well after 9 pm so things were much better by then.

Nice to see you wishful!

and thanks David, thank you. Always nice to see you here :)