Thursday, October 09, 2008

Consciously Challenge My Thoughts

My appt with Dr. X, was okay today. I didn't want to go, which is unusual. I'm so tired and feel so beaten down and dejected that it feels embarrassing to share how lame I am with him.
He challenged me on that one when I told him I was lame.

Dr. X: Why do you say that?
Me: Because I do nothing. I think I should be working.
Dr. X: You are working.
Me: (feeling annoyed) I volunteer for 5 hours a week. That's not working. That's lame.

At this point I recognized the pointlessness of continuing the conversation, because I know he's never going to agree I am lame, even if he believes it to be the case. He is going to continue to say I am working, that it is valuable work, and it is work to be proud of. I'm right the conversation keeps heading in that direction. I don't believe him anymore than I did at the beginning.

However, we begin to talk about my setting up a schedule, a formalized structure to help me actually complete some of the tasks I want to do, but cannot seem to actually do...a structure to become less "lame".

This seems to me like a good plan...but only if he makes me accountable in our next session. I need some "work like" formal structure to get things done. I need deadlines and expectations. I really, really need some external motivation.
He agrees to ask me about my activities completed to plan in our next session. I know, if there is no follow through I will let this whole plan disappear. I cannot keep it up without feedback and accountability. That is me. I work well when there are people expecting things from me.

So Dr X and I set up an action plan for this week. We also discussed how my negative thoughts get in the way of me doing things, and that I need to prepare for them before I do the activity.

I came home and I set up the schedule we discussed on a more formal paper that I can stick on the wall or fridge, or somewhere prominent. I also created a worksheet to write out the tasks I find difficult, why and to actively challenge them. I also added a couple questions about "perceived" difficulty/fear/enjoyment before the task, and then the same questions rated after I complete the scheduled task.

The whole exercise of setting up a formalized action plan to address my symptoms feels reassuring. It is a concrete way for me to address my amotivation and fatigue. I feel scared that I won't be able to stick to the plan, but I feel much more hopeful that there is something I can do to try to change my life.
Here is my schedule for this week and a copy of one of my "Thought Challenge" worksheets. Maybe they will be useful to someone else: (click on the documents to enlarge) I will fill in "Thought Challenge" worksheets about my grocery shopping fears, my teaching classes, cleaning the house, cooking dinner and especially challenges for my automatic thoughts when I try to sleep or nap. This seems to be when the deluge of negative thoughts about myself happen the most.
I will fill in the sheets later, because right now his is cutting into my scheduled: "Puppy Time"
Thanks Dr. X.


Anonymous said...

Thats a grrrreat idea. I reckon you'll feel much more empowered when you start to get more structure to your days. You come across as someone who (when not down) is quite motivated, so it must be a double blow to feel like you are not getting as much done as you'd like. Just make sure you aren't too hard on yourself IF you dont do everything!
I hope it starts to help a bit
Lola x

Tamara said...

I do much better when I have structure to my days. I sure understand though how hard it can be to make yourself do the activities even when you know you will feel better afterwards.

Good luck and I hope this helps with your negative thoughts. I agree, don't be too hard on yourself. You are making huge efforts to heal and get your life back. Way to go!


Aqua said...

lola snow: Thanks for your feedback. You are right when not depressed I can do the work of two people plus. (p.s. I visited your site and I love the way you write. Your style and topics are both incredibly captivating.)

tamara: Thank you so much for supporting me. It really means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

Aww shucks ***Blushes**
Thank you Aqua, that means ALOT. And I do have to say, I enjoy reading your blog very much indeed. Even if it is sometimes just to realise that other people have the same thoughts as me when low. Definitely helps me to feel less alone.
Lola x

Polar Bear said...

What a great idea! And it looks like its working!

Keep it up!

I know how hard it must be, though.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good plan. Bits and pieces I may work into my routine. Let me ask often and for how long have you met with Dr. X?

I ask because I've been seeing my counselor weekly since beginning of January. And it's not that I "want" to stop; actually I'm a bit fearful because it's become a's in my routine. But I've been apprehensive lately that a change in that routine is coming. Does that sound weird?!?

Take careof yoruself...