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11 November 2003

Another therapy

Like most people in this world, I like people to like me. And like most people in this world, I realise you can ontbe friends with everybody so there will always be people who do not like me. Good, no problem, does not freak me out. Then what does freak me out? When people dislike me before they even know me. For some reason it is extremely importantto me that people dislike me after they have come to know me and are therefor able to make an informed decision on liking me or not.

Example: I have ADHD. This means I am frequently very loud, impulsive and busy. I tend to dominate a party. Especially when it is a party with people I do not know. Itmakes me nervous and anxious to make a good impression. However, I get so 'hyped up' by wanting to make a good impression that I frequently end up being hyperactive, leaving the people who do not know me behind with a feeling of 'who the fuck was that?'. This is what I hate: if people end up disliking me because of that impression. Because I am not like that all the time. I am not just loud, impulsive and busy. I am also lots of other things. Social. Friendly. Caring. Loving. Smart. Arrogant. Whatever. And for some reason I want people to weigh ALL the facts before they dislike me. Strange huh........? I don't mind people disliking me. I mind them deciding they don't like me before they really know me. But the problem is that people who don't like you usually don't take the time to get to know you.......problem.

Example: I go to a shop and buy 4 bunches of roses for my girlfriend because I feel that 1 bunch is not enough to show her I love her. So I ask the bloke for 4 bunches. As he is packing them, I realise that I can ill afford 4 bunches of roses; it was impulsive again. What now? If I tell him that I have been impulsive and I would actually only like 1 bunch, he will certainly think I am an idiot. So I buy the 4 bunches, my girlfriend realises I can not actually afford them so she is not all that cheerful about it, and I feel like a fool for having been impulsive again and on top of that, my girlfriend is not as happy with the roses as I had hoped she would be (because she ralises I have been impulsive again and how sad it makes me sometimes that I have been impulsive again and so on.) So instead of a cheerful happy occasion of giving her roses, it turns into a dissapointing moment of me feeling stupid.
If the salesman had known that the impulsive behaviour comes from my ADHD, I would not have had ANY trouble in telling him that I was impulsive and that I really can only a afford 1 bunch so please, put the other 3 back again. But you don't tell total strangers all that. If anything, it would make you look like an even bigger idiot. And after all, it is none of their business. I should just be able to say: Sorry, I was impulsive, I would like only 1 bunch of roses and not 4. And walk away without feeling like an idiot.

Started cognitive behavior therapy today. Interesting concept. Not that I am severely depressed or in dire need of therapy. But The above things piss me off enormously. Like this weekend at Jane's place with her flatmates. I tried not to be impulsive because I wanted them to like me or at least get to see the 'whole' me. So I spent the whole weekend trying to be calm, resulting in my being in fact quite hyperactive and manifesting myself in the house like a whirlwind. They must have thought: what the hell.

ANyway, Cognitive Therapy sounds interesting. And it sort of was. I need to avoid looking at it as a ration thing where I rationalise everything to the extend that the whole AIM of the course flies right over my head because I analyse it to death.

So what is Cognitive Therapy? Well, to quote Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, : "The thing that upsets people is not what happens but what they think it means." Cognitive Therapy tries to make your thought processes clear to you. How certain thoughts influence your emotions and behaviour. Example:

Situation: Friend is late for dinner.

What do you think: "She might have been hurt on the way here."
How do you feel: Worried or anxious
What do you do: Call hospital ERs to find out if she's there


Or maybe:
Think: "She didn't bother to let me know she was delayed."
Feel: Annoyed or angry
Do: Chew her out, or act chilly, when she does show up

Or:
Think:"I needed the time to fix the house up anyway."
Feel: Relieved
Do: Relax and enjoy yourself


Three completely different reactions to the same situation. And how you FEEL about his is based on what you THINK about the situation. So inthe next few weeks, I will be trying to first recognise the thoughtpatterns, and then try to change them. I can see why this could be very effective indeed.

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