What is holding me back?

I’m lacking faith in myself. That’s the issue. I don’t believe I can live without doing those safety seeking behaviours. I don’t believe I can cope with the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings. I don’t believe I can lose weight and get fit. I don’t believe I will ever have a baby as I don’t believe I will fall pregnant. I don’t believe I know what I’m doing at work. This is not thriving like I should be. I don’t know why I can’t get over this last bit. I guess it’s because every time I try to stop the safety seeking behaviours I feel so uncomfortable that I quite straight away or I don’t even get as far as not washing my hands etc. What is holding me back? Laziness?

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Why do I put so much on myself?

That’s what my husband asked me whilst on holiday and it got me thinking. I want everything to be perfect and don’t like it when it’s not. I’m on holiday and I got really bad stomach ache. Quite like I did when I was sick back at Christmas. It caused a panic attack which hasn’t happened in a while. I realised it’s because I’m on holiday and want it to be perfect. Everything is about being perfect.

I started writing this when I was on holiday but never finished. I am back at work now but yesterday I wasn’t well. On Saturday I ate far too much and my stomach rejected it. I spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning on the loo! I then spent the rest of the day in bed. So today it is Monday and it is my fist time being at my new job whilst not feeling that well. Of course I wanted to stay in bed this morning and not come to work. I wanted to run away from the uncomfortable feeling of the tight stomach, headache, feeling weak and hot and cold. But I didn’t! I know I am lethargic from being in bed all day and I am not going to let it get the better of me. For a minute I started to obsess. I typed into Google ‘lethargy symptoms’ but stopped myself before I began reading it. I don’t need to look it up to make myself feel better. I don’t need to try to work out why I feel ill, I know why. So I stopped that obsessing in it’s tracks and got on with things!

I have to realise that I am putting far too much on myself expecting everything to be perfect and to feel perfect. It just doesn’t work like that. No one is perfect (apart from my cat!).

Trying to conceive!

Trying to conceive (TTC) is an emets nightmare. Or at least a recovering emets nightmare. Not because of the fear that I might get morning sickness. It surprises me but since completing Thrive that doesn’t faze me that much. Today I felt a bit sick and I just told myself to get on with things and I did. Just like a non-emet would. Not it isn’t the feeling but that is the nightmare but the fact that you can’t control anything about it! Not when it happens, not what gender your baby will be, not what effects your hormones are going to have on you. Nothing!

Suddenly I feel like my body is being controlled by my hormones. Yes this is true but I mean like I have no control over anything! My face is covered in spots and it feels like I can’t do anything about it. Obviously I could if I wanted to. I could take the contraceptive pill which would clear my skin right up but I have chosen to come off it so I can have a baby. But that hasn’t happened yet and it has been nine months so far! Yet something else that I can’t control. My husband and I can only do so much (if you know what I mean!) and even that doesn’t guarantee anything. There is something stupid like a 25% chance each month and it decreases with age. I will be 31 soon! I just fail to see how this month or the next will be any different from the nine that have already gone before. What will make those different? I get that it is all down to being in the right time at the right place and the boys and girl growing into a baby but with all the talk about luck and mumbo jumbo of homeopathy around, it is easy to feel down about it without that blanket. I can feel my internal locus of control wavering as I try to understand why it hasn’t happened yet and how I can ‘make’ it happen this month. Once again I searching for a way to control the uncontrollable. Sound familiar? That is exactly what Emet is all about. Trying to control every aspect of your life because the one thing you really want can’t be controlled. I am trying to protect myself from failure and stress by doing everything I can to avoid that which only makes me more stressed which in turn doesn’t help me get pregnant! With an external locus of control and a high desire for control you feel the need to control every single aspect of your life as you try to get control of things that you believe you can’t. I hope that makes sense! Take for example germs on a door handle. My black and white thinking tells me there is definitely germs on the door handle to the library because the public use it. They will all be bad germs and will definitely transfer to my hand when I touch it and I will get sick. I can tell myself that some of the germs on the door handle may be good bacteria but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that there may not be any bad bacteria on the door handle but that won’t make me believe it. I can tell myself that those germs may not transfer to my hand but I won’t believe it. I can tell myself that even if those germs are there and do transfer to my hand, it doesn’t mean I won’t get sick but it still won’t make me believe it. That is black and white thinking and is a particularly bad way of thinking when you have a strong desire for control.

When it comes to trying for a baby I just think that I would have been pregnant by now if I was going to be. There is nothing I can do to change the outcome. The positive mental attitude isn’t there and I struggle to remember that having that will have an impact on whether or not we do conceive. Everyone tells you that it is when you stop thinking about it and relax that it happens and I 100% believe that. If I could just tell my desire for control this and it would make life a lot easier! Lol

Anyway that is a quick rant about trying to conceive when you are an emet or recovering emet. Or a control freak as I have been calling myself! Maybe that isn’t the right terms as freak has many bad connotations to it. I need to think of another term. I wouldn’t call myself an emet anymore as this isn’t about being sick and never was. I wouldn’t say I have OCD either really as the not touching the door handle is all about control. I guess it doesn’t need a label (again another Emet trait, trying to tie everything up in a nice little bow!), but I must stop using the word freak!

I gave my niece a kiss!

So you are thinking, what’s the big deal? All you did was give your niece a kiss. But what if I told you that for the past week she has been throwing up in the mornings for no reason? Again, you might say what’s the big deal but for me it was. It didn’t cross my mind that she has been being sick. I didn’t worry about catching something. I just let her give me a kiss (which to a one year old is basically just putting her open mouth on my face!). 

I’ll admit that the thought that she had been sick crossed my mind after but I just dismissed it like someone else would and thought, ‘well if it get it, I get it. I’ll cope.’  That was such a big deal to me!

Chance, luck or fortune

As part of the Thrive programme there are 30 locus of control questions that show you if you have an internal or external locus of control. You then need to work through the ones that were external and turn them into internal responses. One of the questions involves the belief in luck or fortune.

For me it seemed obvious that some people were lucky and others were not. Surely it had to be luck that meant you would win the lottery or bad luck if you got into an accident? But that was just my human nature trying to explain something that couldn’t be explained. You see luck and fortune are just man-made concepts. We have a need to explain why something happened (this is particularly true of Emets). Everything has to fit nicely in a little box , something can’t simply just happen. But, things just have to go one way or the other. You will either win the lottery or you won’t; you will either fall down the stairs and break your ankle or you won’t. There is no supernatural reason behind it. This is what chance is but you could also think about it in term of probability or odds.  What are the odds that you would fall down the stairs? If you really looked at it there would be many factors affecting the odds but in simple terms, there is a 50% chance that you will fall down the stairs. In other words, you will either fall down or you won’t!

Another way of looking at luck is that it’s something we create for ourselves. ‘Luck is preparation meets opportunity.’ If you believe that you are lucky then you are more likely to go out looking for opportunities that would make you seem lucky. For example, if you believed that you were going to win competitions because you were lucky, then you are going to actively enter competitions believing your ‘luck’ will make you win. But all this is doing is increasing the chances that you will win. If you believe that you are never going to win anything, you won’t enter the competitions. This will mean you won’t win and that will reinforce the idea that you are unlucky.

Your belief in whether you are lucky or not can also affect other people’s reactions to you. So if you believed that you were lucky and would get any job that you had an interview for, you will come across as confident and this will give the interviewer confidence in you. But if you believe that you are unlucky and would need a miracle to get the job then you will come across as confident, you won’t get the job and that will reinforce your idea that you are unlucky.

So, to answer the Thrive question, ‘do I believe in Luck?’  The answer would be no. It is just a matter of how you perceive chance and how you process what happens to you in your life.

A letter to my teenage self

Dear Jen

The first thing I should say to you is don’t worry. Worrying really isn’t worth it and I promise you everything is going to be ok.

I know you are having a hard time at the moment dealing with the anxieties of growing up and being in the real world but you will find your place. You don’t need to worry about getting sick and you don’t have to try and control everything around you. Some things can’t be controlled and that is just part of life. You will be able to cope when those things happen. Believe in yourself. Trust your own judgement. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. You don’t need them to say that you are a good person to know it. You don’t need their approval to be who you want to be. Stop pretending to be someone else and be yourself.

There is no use attempting to be perfect. No one is perfect and it is an impossible task. You don’t need to spend hours on your hair, hours in the bathroom or hours writing a letter. Just do what makes you happy.

The people you think are your friends right now are not your friends. I know you get along with them now but when you start being your true self you will realise that they aren’t the sort of people you want to associate with. Your parents gave you your two best friends, your wonderful sisters. You may argue now but when you are older you will realise that they are two of the most important people in your life and will be there through thick and thin. Don’t argue with your parents. They are doing everything they can for you and you can tell them anything. Trust them.

Don’t worry about being alone. When you are 20 you will meet the sweetest guy ever and will go on to marry him and want his children. He will become your partner, your best friend and the person you trust most in the world. All those other boys are just frogs. Enjoy your time with them but know that the best is yet to come.

Don’t let your anxieties stop you from doing what you want. I am 30 and regret that I have missed out on things as I have been too afraid to do them. I was afraid to go to university  or out clubbing as I didn’t want to be near people being drunk and therefore sick. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have let the silly worry get in my way. You will be able to cope with anything that is thrown your way just like I know now that I will be able to cope with having children. Whilst I am on that subject, you should admit to yourself that you do want children. Don’t let the worry of them being sick stop you from admitting that.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t let people push you around. You are strong willed but spend your whole life wanting to please other people. Sometimes you have to be selfish. You are the most important person in your life. If you don’t look after yourself, then you will be the one to suffer. Speak up. Let your thoughts be heard.

So remember, stop worrying, love yourself, trust yourself and be yourself.

With lots of love

30 year old me x

A test to see if I am thriving

Yesterday was a real test to see if I am thriving or not. During the day I didn’t think I was thriving but looking back on it I think I did very well.

My DH was going out with my BIL to the cinema. It was the day after my DH’s birthday and he was really looking forward to it. That morning my BIL called and told my DH that my SIL had been sick all night and had the stomach flu (which doesn’t exist as the flu is influenza and is a respiratory illness – she had a stomach bug!) and so my SIL wasn’t coming out for the meal in the evening. My DH said he therefore didn’t really want to go so that we both didn’t catch it but my BIL wanted to get out of the house so they went. I didn’t really know how to deal with this information. As an emetophobe I would have gone absolutely crazy and demanded that my DH didn’t go out and risk bringing the dreaded stomach bug into my home. But Thrive would tell me that I could be sitting next to someone on the bus who’s wife or kids had a stomach bug and not even know it. My desire for control was just going crazy. As I said I knew that I could be next to someone on the bus and not know it but in this case I knew that there was a chance my BIL could be ill or carrying the illness and so I wanted to control my risk to it. But I knew I shouldn’t give into the little desire for control birdie that sits on my shoulder.

I put my DH in a really awkward place. Because I was struggling to control my desire for control and struggling not to go back to the habitual emetophobic habits, I was just withdrawn and quiet all day. I felt the easiest thing to do was sleep because then I didn’t have to work out what to do. I really wanted my DH to make the decision himself not to go as he didn’t want to get sick either but he wanted to see the film. I told myself that I will have to tolerate feeling uncomfortable as I didn’t have control of the situation and that we would handle it if we got sick.

Then in the evening my BIL came out for the meal and felt quite sick himself but he takes some strong medication. I think I handled it quite well actually. I had a mini freakout when my DH said he was coming because again this was something that I couldn’t control. My DH kept asking me what I wanted him to do to resolve the situation but there wasn’t anything except demanding that his brother didn’t come and that would be rude and unfair. The only other option was for me to not go but I wasn’t missing out on his birthday meal. I knew it was just that birdie again telling me that I had to do something so I put a sock in its mouth and went anyway. My BIL even came to our flat briefly after and I didn’t freak out at all. Ok so I had a few anxiety moments but only for a few seconds and I told myself that I was creating them so I could stop.

I really need to be working on my black and white thinking as well. In my eyes my BIL was carrying the illness and/or would definitely get ill himself. But that isn’t the case. I need to learn to see the grey areas but I am really struggling with that part of Thrive. I just need to continue to work on it. I was about to write that I didn’t obsess about the situation as I didn’t worry that I was going to be sick but actually I did obsess. I obsessed about how to get control of the situation  when I should have told myself that obsessing does not resolve the issue because it was something that couldn’t be resolved as I said above.

It is in the back of my head now though that we have 72 hours to see if either of us gets sick. I shouldn’t really be having those sorts of thoughts I don’t think but then I am not sitting here worrying about it or avoiding food etc. That is what I would have done before. I would have started eating safe food and washing more to make sure I didn’t get ill.  Maybe it is normal to think in your head about those 72 hours? Or am I just kidding myself? Us emetophobes loves a statistic!

So I may not be thriving 100% yet but I definitely have the framework of the tools in place to handle these situations and I am sure that if I devote my time to doing the exercises etc. more, I will be thriving 100%.