And so I came to the end of my therapy sessions. I already miss it. It’s helped me so much. It’s changed me so much. I feel happier again. I like my daughter. I enjoy time with her. I enjoy things in general. And I don’t get half as anxious as I ever did. I still do, it isn’t completely gone, but I am better prepared to deal with the anxiety. I guess the question is, what happens if the anxiety or low mood start to affect me too much again?
That’s where the sixth session came in to play.
First of all there was a section on problem solving. I’ve never really considered trying to solve problems an issue. I guess though, sometimes I do get anxious over something and sit there trying to figure out a solution. Perhaps the steps involved with problem solving might be quite useful. The thing that I took from the problem solving was the final step – reviewing what happened. Did it work? And I was reminded about how I was stuck in a problem at a soft play a few weeks ago. Husband had left Elvis and I there alone as Robin got grumpy. So he drove home and left me with just the change bag. I asked him to take my phone and purse so that if anyone stole the bag all they got were toys and clean nappies. All was fine until Elvis bumped his head and was really badly crying. It might have been soft play, but he hit his head outside of the soft play on the hard floor. Well, he wanted to go in Daddy’s car. He didn’t want to walk home. My mind started whirring. Could I carry him home? Could I get him to my mum’s who lives very slightly closer? Would my mum be in? Should I ring Hubby? What if Robin was asleep, should I get to wake her? Wait, I don’t have my phone. I could ask another mum, a stranger. I don’t know Hubby’s number. I could ring my own phone? It’s on silent, he wouldn’t notice.
This was all going on in my head whilst I was getting his coat on and zipping it up. As it happens, once we walked outside I distracted him with a tree and he found Stickman and we talked about that the whole way home.
What I took from the problem solving was Review. If it had been a proper emergency, what would I have done? Sure, someone would have leant me their phone, but I don’t know hubby’s or the house number. I could ring my mum, I know her number, but she might not have been in. So, how to solve a problem before it could happen – write the emergency phone numbers and put it in the changing bag. Maybe even include a few coins of loose change to give to another mum as a gesture when they let me use their phone. It’s probably a really good idea even if the phone and wallet are in the bag, probably a bit more useful in an emergency should something happen to me when I’m alone with the children.
The rest of the session involved reviewing the previous 5 sessions, but in our handouts there were forms on how to cope with setbacks. I scanned all of the forms first! Haha, then I can change things later and adapt things should I need to without wasting my time making my own version. The first few were about identifying if we were green, amber or red with regards to our moods. What the signs are for each, where support is in any of the colours, how to work on getting back or staying in the green.
Then there was the review day sheet with a suggested review date of three months. These I definitely plan to use and have even written in my diary when the 3 month review is due, except I have a provisional earlier one for once I’m back at work as that could drastically alter things. The first page details what has happened since the last review, what’s gone well or not, what I’ve learnt and putting tools into practice. The second side is the 12 week goals, leading up to the next review. My goals have included:
- Remain calm regarding returning to work, don’t ruminate on it
- Build exercise into the new routine once back at work, use SMART goals to achieve a new routine
- Continue the bath time and relaxing reading even when there is no exercise right before it – SMART goals to make sure I keep these elements
- Make time for my personal social life and for increasing the social life of my children with SMART goals and prioritising. But realise that if Robin’s nap schedule means that afternoons are tricky that I have to think about how to do it to limit any anxiety about having an over tired baby
- Spend quality time with the children, Husband as a family and as a couple by being assertive and using SMART goals
- Accept any social aspect through work. I haven’t been to any since Robin was born as I did not feel comfortable leaving Robin before Christmas. I do know and I won’t let fear stop me.
I think, in a nutshell, it’s primarily about having a balance between work, life, mum, wife. It’s not all one and little of the others. I have to be mum. I have to work. That doesn’t mean that I can forget to be me, to be a partner and wife. They all need to co-exist. Sure there will be times when the balance is a bit skewed because it has to be. Robin’s naps might mean I need to limit social activities for Elvis. One of them being ill might mean that I need to alter work requirements or having my normal me time.
Some of it will be trying to pre-empt things that I know are going to make me anxious. Like the family holiday that we have planned in August and one set of the family that I really, truly would rather not see. It’s just going to be one day though and I’ll have had months to prepare, to use the tools. Or being trapped in the house with both kids when one or both are ill. Yes, I might feel trapped and bored, stuck and so, so tired, but it will pass. That one definitely needs the 5 area treatment! Maybe the in laws one, does too! I might need to interrogate the hot thought on both of those.
Here’s to the first review date!