I’m conscious that this blog could become a place for me to simply record every slump I have, and probably gloss over the good.

So here’s the good, the bad and the naffness…

A bit of good + lots of naffness…

I’ve started the Living Life to the Full computer based modules. I’m not sure they’re really meant for working on at the same time as having face-to-face CBT. But although they use different words to describe things, a lot of the approaches are the same as what Celine has been showing me. In fact, rather than confusing things, it is beneficial to see the same concepts from two different angles, as thinking about it just in one way can make it sound really naff. But when I see the computer thing explain something that Celine has been trying to tell me and vice versa, I can start to see what they’re trying to get at.

The third module on the ‘Little Book’ course (bad me, I haven’t actually bought the books. Just listening to the audio version online) is called ‘Why does everything go wrong?’. Initially I thought that I’ve been trying so hard not to be pessimistic, that how would something with that title actually be helpful? Well actually I did find it to be very relevant to me, though title is definitely Naffness No1. It goes through a five step plan, called the ‘Amazing Bad Though Busting Plan’ or ‘ABTBP’ (Naffness No 2) on with how to deal with the a Bad Thought (cutely drawn as a little gremlin: Naffness No 3). Simple things like 1. Label the thought 2. Leave it 3. Stand up to it 4.Give yourself a break 5. Look at it differently (Naffness 4 through 8). Despite it’s naffness, I think it is what Celine was trying to get at with trying to think through a problem that was making me upset, in a more logical way to find a rational statement about the situation which would upset me less. I like that this gives a step by step way of doing it (I like step by step things).

The fourth module is called ‘I’m not good enough’ (I’ve got used to the condescending titles now. Because in fact they do accurately describe a lot of my thoughts!). Basically it teaches another set of steps to pretend to act confidently. I think this is really applicable to me as over the course of this year, I’ve realised how inconfident I am in a lot of things. It doesn’t help that that confidence is the one thing I hear from prospective employers about what they look for when they interview: they know they can’t except you to know and be good at everything, but they want you to be confident in what you’ve learnt and what you find out. Which has tended to make me feel even less confident about applying for jobs, as I don’t even have confidence in myself! What I like about this module is that it lets you accept that you might not be very confident, and then shows you a way to do something about it.

A bit of bad…

So Monday morning, I was looking forward to testing out the ABTBP with the next bad thought I had, and to pretend to be confident while doing it…except by mid Monday morning I’d already become become upset at some silly little thing: printer only agreeing to print pages miniscule. While standing at the printer watching quarter-sized pages on full A3 sheets come out, I could feel the tears coming (realising I’d miss my uni tutorial because I wouldn’t have any legible notes to discuss = waste of money, paper and time) and felt like an idiot for yet again being so slow with my work that I didn’t have time to print my work properly, which would underline how useless I am at getting work done in time for deadlines or meetings etc. Cue tears and more time wasted being upset.

As I felt the tears coming I was desperately trying to think of what it is you’re meant to think when you have a bad thought. Except by that point I was already too upset to think very logically. I tried asking for some advice on the Living Life website on how to tackle negative thoughts without having to play mind gymnastics – which in all honesty I’m not going to be able to cope with when I’m close to tears! I was in tears again as I was writing that website post just thinking about what an idiot I was to get upset at the printing. It’s only university work! (which makes me more upset to think how on earth am I going to cope in the Real World??).

The only thing I can think of is just making writing out those 5 steps on a little piece of paper to keep in my pocket.  Another member on the support forum also said she uses pocket lists to help her keep her thoughts and actions in check. Though chances are that piece of paper will just end up going through the wash and littering my clothes with white fluff (or am I catastrophising again?!)  Looking back at the list now, I’m not really sure it would have helped. I can do the ‘labelling’, but how do you ‘leave it’ or realistically ‘stand up to it’??

Using Celine’s method, of finding a more rational explanation and objective statement, was equally as impossible to do while starting to feel upset. Even now, when I think about it, I still feel equally frustrated with myself: “I didn’t give myself enough time to experiment with printing. It will cost money to get it right. My portfolio isn’t meant to be perfect yet. That is the idea of a tutorial anyway, to help improve it. He isn’t the one I will be asking for a reference from, and he wouldn’t write a bad reference based on this one lack of tutorial anyway. I am unhappy that I didn’t make as much use of the tutorial as I had hoped/planned. I have a headache now because I didn’t drink enough water the day before. I made sure I had enough sleep last night, so I probably feel less bad about myself than I might otherwise have felt.”

Summary of the bad

I’m starting to identify a pattern in my moods over the week… I tend to have a good weekend, exhaust myself and then when Monday comes realise how much I have to do and what I didn’t get done over the weekend, because of having done fun but apparently unproductive things, and make myself feel upset about myself and frustrated by what I’ve not done, which then frustrates me when I waste more time being upset and underlining that I don’t seem to be able to cope.

Well it’s the second week in a row that Monday has been my wobbliest day (this is a Good Thing in itself, if I can identify a particular day that hasn’t been so good – the wobbles are starting to become the exception rather than the norm…fingers crossed at least). Or else the other pattern is that when I try to print anything, I will get upset. Unfortunately I’m not sure I will always be able to avoid Mondays or printing altogether, or avoid anything else that I might get worked up over. As my doctor says, ‘maybe it’s my personality to get worked up over anything…I’d die a thousand deaths simply trying to boil an egg’ (all his words, not mine!)

The rest  of the good…

So trying to keep it balanced…I want to write about the good things I’ve been doing this week, then things that are evidence that I’m working with my ‘new rule’: ‘try hard to keep and maintain my high standards in career and personal life goals (eg sailing, hockey, friends, family and happiness), and enjoy doing it all’.

My week so far, and plans for the next couple of days:

Friday

  • Finished moving everything out of studio
  • Arranged time to go over portfolio stuff with tutor

Saturday

  • Started work on portfolio

Sunday

  • Walked in Wye Valley
  • Early night (10hrs sleep)

Monday

  • met tutor to go over portfolio
  • Worked on portfolio
  • Skype call with friend
  • Got drinks with friends in evening

Tuesday

  • Hidcote Gardens
  • Went through photos from day
  • worked on portfolio
  • Did food shop

Wednesday

  • Pack up room
  • Sort out paying balance of rent
  • Collect train tickets to Glasgow to meet sailing ship
  • visit Bristol & go to friends for supper

Thursday

  • Finish packing
  • work on portfolio
  • Final session with Celine

Friday

  • Squeeze in tutorial on portfolio
  • Leave university town for good

Summary of the good

I think I’ve managed a fairly balanced week. Nothing totally out of this world, but, after tonight, will have included three trips out of my university town – a record in a week for me! Even Monday, which I thought was a write off because of problems with printing to prepare for tutorial, and being dehydrated from the day before so quite headache-y, I still did other things, saw tutor even if I didn’t have anything to discuss, and did stuff with friends in the evening. I haven’t felt quite so much like I was simply going through the motions either – there were some genuine laughs on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. I hope that’s an improvement that will stay.

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