I’m a nervous person, I always have been. I get nervous when I have to make a phone call, when post comes through the door, when I hear the email alert sound on my phone, when I check my bank account, sometimes when I have to explain my brain injury to others and often when I share a personal post like this for all the world to see. For some reason though, the nervousness I feel before I go to therapy is different. My heart beats faster, it’s all I can think about and often I don’t sleep well the night before.
I’ve been going back and forth to therapy since my accident, read why here. Yesterday was the first time since June last year.
I woke up already knowing that I would need to nap later. Had breakfast, showered, got dressed and headed out. After this it was all a little stressful, I was waiting at a bus stop and a lady came up to me and told me that the buses don’t pass this stop because of the road works. She pointed out a sign… A sign, by the way that was at the bottom of the timetable. Why wouldn’t they use the sign to cover up the timetable? Anyway, I headed to the next available bus stop feeling frazzled and stressed that I was going to be late to my appointment. The bus came and I read my book, feeling a little calmer but then my chapter stopped so I stopped reading (I don’t like leaving books mid chapter) because I was only a few minutes away from getting off. I thought to myself ‘I’m not ready for this’, ‘What am I even going to say?’
Time to get the next bus, guess what? There’s no longer a bus to Northgate Hospital, I usually walk but there was no time. It was ok though, because I got a taxi. I was making small talk with the driver and finally feeling calm, then as soon as we got into the hospital grounds my voice started to shake and I felt nervous again. He asked which way to turn and I said left, when really I meant right. He recognised this and said “Are you sure?” to which I replied with a nervous awkward joke “Oh I mean right, it makes sense why I’m going to the Head Injuries Services now doesn’t it?” my voice was still shaking I must have looked like a nervous wreck. Looking back, perhaps I wasn’t that bad and I think the handled the whole awkward/not awkwardness situation very well.
I arrived ten minutes before my appointment, my psychiatrist made me a cup of tea and all was calm.
We didn’t go into the usual room, the room we went into was very doctorish… A bed in the corner, a sink and a desk set up like a GP’s office. I preferred the old room, so did he.
First I started off by apologising for just leaving before (in my nervous shaky voice) He said it was ok and that “Sometimes it’s not the right time and sometimes it is, even though you’re at therapy you can change your mind about being here”
He then asked what I was struggling with and what I wanted help with the most. I said “I can be having a conversation and within seconds I can switch to being angry. I’m not even angry at the time but all of a sudden I become angry” to which he responded “Yeeeeah, I can’t really help you with that because it’s cognitive” I felt like a big wall had just been built in front of me, there was a moment of silence but then he said he can help me with mindfulness. Breathing techniques, recognising you have problems but not letting them get to you “Learning to let the problems wash over you” I really hope this works, I hate that I can turn like that. I upset Stephen, I always apologise after and he says “It’s ok you can’t help it”, but I still feel bad. When we’re out in public and this happens I must look like such a bitch.
My nervous shaking voice stopped after about five minutes and I was glad to be back. It was the first time since having therapy where I’ve properly opened up. Usually when we first meet he’ll ask how I am and I’ll say “Oh, I’m fine” with a smile. This time I said “Not great” really seriously (really sadly?) I opened up so much that at some points I felt like I was going to cry, but I didn’t.
I baffled him with one question. At the moment I am overthinking everything that people say to me. I go away from a situation feeling upset about what’s just been said or what’s just happened but I won’t say anything. This is because they might not understand and it’s not like they’ve set out to upset me. If I say that they have they’re just going to think I’m being way too sensitive or whiny? The question I asked was “How do I stop overthinking everything?” at first he was lost for words so I said “If I just explain nicely why they’ve upset me will that help? We can have a conversation about it hopefully they’ll understand?” I don’t want to go my whole life overthinking everything, and especially not standing up for myself. What kind of miserable life is that.
Later, when I was home I was talking with Stephen about this and he said “I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve said to someone ‘that upset me’ and they’ve responded negatively”, it’s a good conversation starter, will make me feel a lot better and hopefully make them understand. This has really being getting me down recently, I’ve been upset for days, even weeks over a few words.
Lots of things came out that I wasn’t really thinking about, that’s the good thing about therapy and talking—Once you start to talk your feelings just flow out of you:
“I’m really struggling to control my emotions at the moment”
“It’s been four years, I thought I’d be over the emotional side of things by now. Four years sounds like such a long time when you say it out loud but it feels like no time at all to me”
“I’m finding it really hard to see the positive side of my brain injury at the moment. Yes, I do wish I hadn’t had it but there’s nothing I can do about that”
“I think not having help until six months after my injury slowed me recovery down”, his response to this was excellent: “I think it made you stronger, you’ve learned how to be alone with it, learned the symptoms by yourself, helped yourself. You handled living with it alone for six months, that’s something to be proud of”
I left feeling really odd. Glad I’d gone but upset about my short fuse being a cognitive problem, I always knew it was but I thought professional help would be able to get rid of it (I know, stupid) I got my headphones out and had a nice 45 minute walk in the sun back to the bus station.