Paul's Story

Paul's Story

What was the problem before therapy started?

I felt unable to relax most of the time, my neck and shoulders would feel tense and I would have a constant sick feeling in my stomach.  I became unable to do the activities I loved due to lack of concentration - for example, watching football and films because my mind would not switch off from worries.

Worries would be triggered from situations at work, situations with friends and around uncertainty.  I would also become concerned if I though I might not have enough sleep and consequently get run down and tired.

I felt the need for certainty ahead of me and would want to plan what was going to happen.  In some areas of my life I felt like I needed to achieve a high standard, otherwise I had failed.  I believed I needed to do very well at certain things otherwise I could not identify what was special/different about me.  In addition, I was very concerned that certain others though that I had done well and had a good impression of me.  I was often preoccupied with not letting certain people down, not causing bother or annoyance.  I felt it a necessity to always be a good friend.

How did it develop?

There is a history of anxiety in my family.  My dad, as far as I can remember, always had a list with him of the things he needed to get done.  I remember my dad saying that he thought he was a failure because he never achieved as much as he wanted.

I never received outward pressure to do anything from my parents, but my dad's pleasure in me doing well in certain things reinforced by need to achieve.

I kept doing well at school, the more I didn't fail at anything the scarier it got that I might.  This got to the point that doing well at University was a relief rather than an enjoyment.

What kept it going?

My anxiety kept going because I would not want to stop and think through what I was worrying about.  To think about the situation in detail was scary and made me panic.  I would want to try and avoid it, rather than problem solve, and think rationally.  Trying to avoid it meant that the anxiety was always lurking in the back of my mind, stomach and muscles, and I became agitated.

I would allow myself to let the worry escalate, the bigger the worry got in my head the more I would worry, the more I worried the less able I was to think clearly.

What's changed since therapy began?

By making a formulation of my worry I was able to identify some of my rules for living which cause me to become anxious in trigger situations.  By understanding some of my rules for living I have been able to adjust them to reduce anxiety which may arise.  New rules for living which I have developed are:

  • I can have an idea about what possible situations may arise, and feel confident with these, but not be definite on an exact plan.
  • It is ok to not always achieve the highest standard, its good enough to do all right.  I have not failed by doing this.
  • It is not necessary for certain others to think I have done well, it is nice to know, but I can be confident in my own ability.
  • I have the right to be assertive in friendships, say when, if and what I want to do.  I am not necessarily a 'bad friend' by acknowledging my own priorities.
  • I would like things to go as I thought they would, but if they don't then I will put the situation into perspective.

During my therapy sessions I have become more assertive in my friendships.  I have appreciated that friendship is a two way process and the onus is not singularly on me.  I have learnt to keep a check on my worries and attempt to put them into perspective.  I have become better able to react in a positive manner and I have been able to calm myself down and think through the problem. 

I have been able to enjoy life more by encouraging myself to concentrate on what I am doing presently rather than always thinking ahead.  I have been practising trying to be mindful to the present moment, if I have a worry come into my head I will try to let it flow down the stream rather than clutching on to it and letting it take over.

I initially was quite cynical about whether therapy would work for me, and therefore did not put so much in to start with.  I now feel much more positive about therapy and know I have gained a lot from the sessions and work I have put in!

How can I build on this and take it forward?

Ensure that I problem solve with as many anxieties as I can.  Don't let my worries built up and be scared to tackle them.  Be my own therapist and try and sit down and work through. 

Stick up in the house a statement to remind myself the rights I have as an individual to encourage myself to act assertively in all areas of life.

Think about positives myself and feel confident in my own ability without reassurance from others.


This page was last updated on 2010-11-18 09:11:52