It’s been a week

Sometimes it’s not my story to tell, but I can share some of my feelpinions. I know my push for my sister to stay a couple of nights at the hospital may have caused different troubles, but I do believe that the time out and the more pressing need to make changes to how we all work with and around her to support her and her family are good things. It brings things to the surface, out in the open, to be discussed and people can do better.

I’ve learned to really like the assumptions of DBT

1. People are doing the best they can.
All people at any given point in time are doing the best they can.
2. People want to improve.
The common characteristic of all people is that they want to improve their lives and be happy.
3. People need to do better, try harder, and be more motivated to change.
The fact that people are doing the best they can, and want to do even better, does not mean
that these things are enough to solve the problem.
4. People may not have caused all of our own problems, but they have to solve them
People have to change their own behavioural responses and alter their environment for their life to change.
5. New behaviour has to be learned in all relevant contexts. New behavioural skills have to be practiced in the situations where the skills are needed, not just in the situation where the skills are first learned.
6. All behaviours (actions, thoughts, emotions) are caused. There is always a cause or set of causes for our actions, thoughts, and emotions, even if we do not know what the causes are.
7. Figuring out and changing the causes of behaviour work better than judging and blaming.
Judging and blaming are easier, but if we want to create change in the world, we have to
change the chains of events that cause unwanted behaviours and events.

To assume that people are doing the best they can, given their skills, their resources, their background, their experiences. That even if you are hurt or confused by their actions, they did the best they could.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try harder, to learn and grow, to be better at what they do. And I believe that for myself, I know I’ve done wrong by myself and by others in the past and will make mistakes in the future, but everything has a cause even the craziest of “Borderline” moments.

The framing of someone having done their best at any given time is useful when you apply it to, I don’t know, let’s say, your parents and how they parented you. The stuff they did well, the stuff they struggled with. Remembering they too were raised by parents who did things well and struggled with other things. But remembering that very few people are deliberately malicious, and even then we can apply the same framework to think about what skills, personality and resources they bring to the situation. True, they may lack empathy, and intend to hurt you, but there are reasons for that, even if it is that they are truly broken as a person and need to have changes to them or the things around them, or both, to have good outcomes for themselves and those who they might damage with their fucked-up-ness. Yes, there are true predators, and they should be away from those they seek to harm, but how that looks I don’t know. But that’s not most people. And most people are truly trying hard, even if they fall short of their own or our expectations and hopes of them.

I’ve wandered off with my thoughts. I’ve been trying to decide whether to attend my therapy appointment tomorrow. It’s a lot of travel, and I’m tired still from the week that’s been. But it may be good to have that hour to talk with someone external, someone without expectations of how I should have handled the week and the people around me in the week. I don’t know, I’ll decide in the morning. The train ride might be nice, even if I still have to pay full fare because they only resent my Opal card over the weekend.

Bruce made me laugh this morning. I asked him a question, and he replied “I’m just simping for my e-girl”.

less than three xx

Interpersonally Ineffective

Homework sheets.for dbt

I’ve made it to the halfway point of my Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program through the Centre for Psychotherapy in town. Six months, three modules (distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness) plus the ongoing mindfulness skills, across one weekly individual therapy session and one 2.5 skills group. Via Telehealth. With homework. I am so trepedacious about going to face to face from next week, but where have I gotten with it so far?

Well, I’ve only missed one individual session in all that time! There’s been weeks without appointments due to Christmas and Easter, or my psychologist’s leave, but I’ve only cancelled one, and I had covid and was brain-foggy as I think it was a great call. I’ve been to all of the group sessions scheduled too, a couple while I had covid I wasn’t 100% but I still sat in, gave it a go, and did my homework. Advantage of telehealth is the ability to attend even when under the weather, or infectious. That won’t really be an option for the groups at least from here on in. At least not immediately, they do have teleconferencing facilities which the lead therapist mentioned yesterday, but they’re not currently working, and would be an option if you’ve covid, I’m told, but at this stage it might be best to give it a miss?

I’m not sure what their rules are going to be around isolating if you’ve covid or a household contact, now that the regulations are rapidly disappearing? When I had covid I couldn’t go into the Mater for my Antabuse for 14 days but I also don’t know what the rules are there now, for outpatients vs inpatients and the like.

SO. The last module was called “Interpersonal Effectiveness” aka social skills :p A lot of the manual does read like social skills training, making sure you’re polite, not too demanding, use eye contact, and “easy manner” all the things that are “expected” of you, Because they’re expected, they’re effective when interacting with the people.

I have to admit a sense of skepticism about what parts of this I should spend too much energy on. Fortunately for me it seems all my years of masking an fawning have left me over-doing a lot of the “good” skills, if to my own detriment. And the therapists have been encouraging me to stand up for myself more, hold my ground, and “no sorries”, because they are SO automatic and just make me so meek and submissive.

I have to admit, I spent too much energy last session observing the therapists’ manners, their facial expressions, their ways of explaining things. Wondering if that’s what I should aspire to be like, but also feeling like some of it was unnecessary. You know what people use their encouraging smiles? and it gets too much?

First group in person on Thursday. I hope my replacement Opal card comes in time. I lost it on the way home from my last individual session. I’d not taken my wallet, because it’s big and everything is on my phone, except for my opal card, and I thought the card would be safe in my DBT folder, but it slipped out between tapping on at Newcastle interchange and trying to tap off at Fassifern. it’s a concession card, so it has to be ordered, there’s no buying individual, single trip tickets on concession any more. Yup, that makes it difficult for a lot of people.

But I’ve been social lately. Went to the local candidate’s event and chatted with new and prospective members, educated people around Greens’ policies and how preferential voting works. Yeah, I collapsed in a heap the next day, but I use my social spoons and social skills as needed. I even have a phone call booked to talk about going new places and meet even more new people next month, and I’m going to Sydney on Saturday for a customer panel I’m doing with Ausgrid. I can be around people, and turn on the charm as necessary, I just prefer not to unless I think it’s worth it.

Back to face to face therapy – also don’t scare me like that Centrelink!

I did it! Made it into town, did my first face to face psych session in 6 months, first time I’d seen this therapist in person since the assessment 18 months ago, and yeah, did it.

Verrrrrrry zonked this afternoon, but let’s see what I remember of the day and I get going.

Didn’t sleep great, that’s a little expected, got up after waking a few times a bit after 700 and made coffees. Sipped on that, did the breakfast and meds thing. Now I’m wondering whether it was today I made Bruce toast with his second coffee? I think so, the bread was soft. Unless that was last night? Blur I tells ya, there wouldn’t have been coffee though last night, so I think it was this morning.

Drove to the station, walked down the stairs as the earlier train pulled in, so hopped on that.

Two stations in it clicked that I was meant to have a mask on. Whoops.

Made it to Newcastle interchange. Most of the toilets were closed off, but I didn’t actually need to go and the tram was there so I caught it to Crown street to walk through the mall and see how it was going.

Took some pictures of the changes, like to the old David jones building. Bought some cards.

Sat outside the post office, wrote in a card for my old OT whos report I think got me over the line for DSP. Then walked up the hill to the hospital.

Reloaded my vaccination certificate and the service NSW app. My third vax still isn’t on Medicare, I guess I should ask the chemist about that…

Went in, mask on. Receptionist – I said hi and said who I was, she wounded familiar from the phone. Some of the mental health receptionists have the best manner. Very mum-like but businessy enough. Some suck. This one rules. She makes me feel like my calls aren’t annoying . Always good for those of us with rejection issues.

Oh speaking of rejection issues, starting to feel a little like I have to come up with more problems so that my therapist doesn’t think I’m doing too well and says I don’t need to continue with the service. I mean it’s nice not to be crazy erratic, but I do have things to work on and I’m just getting into this doing things again.

So into the session. OMG so sweaty. Glasses fogging up. Had the window and outside door (to the balcony, old hospital all that) open for covid airflow reasons. but I’m this hot mess of SWEAT.

At one point he asked how I was inside, and honestly I wasn’t a mess inside, it was all outside for once. Still masking to high heaven. Wonder if that’s easier with actual masks or not. Time will tell. I don’t really try too hard with my short appointments at the Mater to get my antabuse, they see me as I come that day for that few minutes. And keeping coherent for 5 minutes is easy. But a 50 minute psyc session? Yeah I can do it on the computer. Easy. But I don’t want to. I want to drop the mask and therapy properly. I guess raising masking vs opposite action will be something I bring to the agenda next week. I need to bring more stuff so why not that? Also works into my working up to raising whether I’m autistic. As will telling him about the yellow ladybugs autism and adhd conference in June.

I know I should do it, at least actually get a professional’s input. Especially while have this access. But I’m scared he’ll think I’m so off target or I’m making stuff up or something. I don’t know. I still have to build that trust I guess.

He brought up the reminder that we were going to talk more about work options, I asked if I told him about my DSP approval, he said I hadn’t but he was glad I got it even though his report wasn’t helpful because he’s so set on DBT being amazing and me being a good candidate for change.

Which brings me to Centrelink and them calling me to upset me on the train on the way home.

As I wrote on FB to my sister

I have to provide bruce’s profit and loss statements, but they called me to tell me on the phone on the train on the way home today and it was a shock and I cried and didn’t get all the info and she said to call them back later if I wanted to check, but yeah. I got an answer on twitter though and theree’s a letting in the mail I can wait for

So yeah, have to do his income side of things. When the lady said why she was calling she said she was assessing my DSP claim,, and I was very shocked and very much thinking it was god to go. It took a few times to explain to me it was to approve me eligibility on the income side – ie whether Bruce should be my keeper because partner income and asset test crap. The phone dropped out in the Cardiff tunnel too which didn’t help. And THEN she said to just call back and she’d made a note on the file of what forms to complete and they could tell me again, and so i did after lunch and I wasn’t able to verify my identity with my voice and they weren’t understanding my responses and maybe I wasn’t that coherent by then? but I asked for operator then was told they were busy and to do it online and they hung up.

Thankfully I got an answer to my cries on Twitter. God I love the social media teams on there.

So I’m more than done.

I played Animal crossing and wore my Hello Kitty hat and shoes that came with teh Amiibo cards Yieki gave me. And I made pasta for dinner.

And I’m sooooooo tired.

The year begins proper

January is just a warm up for the rest of the year. People and the services they provide are still off on leave at the start, the come back in over time about a week in, taking days off to share child care for the long summer holidays, and more and more working from home due to covid precautions and generally increasing flexibility for the office worker after two years of realising a lot of things and the busywork of offices really isn’t essential.

I remember working over the summer holidays as a school-age speech pathologist. Planning and photocopying for the year ahead, booking up term one with appointments and workshops and meetings and training days. Seeing the older kids, the high schoolers, the ones that don’t do well being pulled out of school or class for appointments, finalising formal language assessments and reports for the next round of funding.

This month, January 2022, has had some planning for me. Goal setting, remembering where everything was working up to before Xmas and this new Covid rush.

So what are my plans for early 2022, now that I’ve taken most of January to re-establish a routine (yes, down to plotting it out on my calendar) and catch up with my therapists and co-conspirators?

Well, I’ve booked in for Japanese night classes for May and June thanks to a semi-anonymous benefactor named Eric who, after me posting about it on Twitter, sent the $310 needed to my PayPal bright and early one Monday morning, making my day, making my week and month! I was seriously buzzing after that, and it really helped me to focus on getting my other plans in place for this six months in order to get the most out of Eric’s gift. I’d already signed up for a trial of Duolingo as suggested by my psych, which is going along well, my hiragana and katakana is still functional but you should see me make the stupidest mistakes on there. The little broken hearts for mistakes do me in! I need to decide now whether to continue with a paid account so I can “clear” and practice my mistakes (and of course use any other feature on there) or just suck it up or you know, just get it right the first time!

I’ll need to start practicing speaking a writing too, speaking I can apparently do on there since I have a mic, but I’ll have to push myself to do writing, particularly so I can actually recognise and use the more complex kanji. I might get a workbook, or printable worksheets. Not sure yet.

Next up, I’m going to be taking part in a series of focus groups for Ausgrid over the next few months. I get paid $1000 at the end which is pretty sweet, so I’ve popped them into my diary and hope we do get to do some of the sessions down in Sydney as planned, cos I quite like a day out down there on the train and a catered lunch :p

Third thing for the coming months is the Federal Election and being involved in the local Greens campaigns how I can. I might be getting involved in the social media role and the advertising stuff. There’s training tomorrow which will give me more skills and information and also includes anti-bulling and “don’t get sued for defo by Dutton” training, so I’ll figure out if I’m up for the role after that! The election could be up to May 24th, and that time will fly once it’s called.

Fourth, but of course the most important, is continuing with my therapy and other appointments and homework. I might need to see if we can change my individual therapy session so I’m available for more or of the lunchtime campaign meetings, but my psych has already said that would be quite alright given it’s a part of working towards my goals. The group sessions are still 2.5 hours on Thursday afternoons. I really hope they go back to face to face in a month or so when we’re maybe past the worst of Omicron, but no one has any timelines, and we were just about to go back to f2f after Xmas, but then the surge hit and threw all that into disarray. The telehealth format isn’t ideal and I feel like brings up more communication problems. I really hope we’re in f2f by the time we’re doing the interpersonal effectiveness module at least!

We’re doing the Emotion Regulation module of the DBT program at the moment, and I’m struggling a little with whether my pushing through is actually opposite action and thus good, or I’m just sucking it up and masking even more and that’s working against me. I’ve more or less concluded that I’m probably autistic, and people I know and respect agree with my reasoning, so I’m trying to respect that part of me, and incorporate the strategies from DBT for borderline personality disorder into my life while learning more about how I inherently function and building on my sensory toolkit and being compassionate to myself and the little girl that struggled for so long.

I’m also still taking Antabuse tablets daily to assist me in staying sober so I can do all the things. At the moment that involves fortnightly visits to the Mater to get the medications and touch base individually, and fortnightly group sessions online using Teams. The group was only two patients, a nurse and the psychiatrist today, and I’m starting to dread the smaller groups to an extent and hope it’s much bigger next fortnight! Group for DBT last week at one point was me, two psychologists and a psych student, so it was a bit intense. At least they run it like we’re all participants when it’s like that otherwise I’d surely run away!

As far as working goes, I have my mutual obligations exemption til the end of June, so I’ll be working on my goals towards being more articulate and able to participate through my therapy, election work and Japanese classes, and look to pick up with a disability employment service in July. I don’t really know what I want to be doing work wise, I have ideas, but we’ll see. My partner is still running his business, and I’m helping out with that by being available, putting out the washing and feeding him. I still claim to be in Facebook social media manager, though there’s not much going on over there at the moment!

I think that’s plenty for me to be committing to for now!

Bring on the election!