I’ve blogged before about the Pain Psychology sessions I am having with Dr B, and today I had my third session. I was asked in my last session to come up with some goals for us to work towards in the sessions and to discuss them today. I won’t share all the goals with you because they are personal and I want to speak to the people in the goals first this said there are a few I want to share with you:
- To accept the new me (be kinder on myself and what value I have)
- Not to blame everything on my disability (accept life happens and people do not necessarily not see me because of my disability)
- To let go of the past and start looking at the future.
Now I know these seem a little vague and open to interpretation but to Dr B and me she knew exactly where I was coming from and which feelings and emotions had prompted me to want these as goals to work towards.
It was tricky today though as so much had happened in between sessions that in order to get some structure towards the goals and aims Dr B had set for the session I needed to explain a few things to her. Now if I told you as little as 18 months ago if someone had suggested to me that I should speak to a psychologist to help me come to terms with things I’d have laughed in their faces. Now being on the journey that I have over the last 14 months I see that there is so much more to deal with than just the physical pain itself, for years I convinced myself I had no hang ups, and other than minor blips on the anniversary of the accident itself and for a number of months an extra 3 miles on road trips to avoid the road it happened on I was fine! Inbetween our last session and today’s it was my LG’s 3rd birthday and I told her about my blog panicking that I wasn’t in any of the photos primarily because I’d been taking them but it looked like I hadn’t been playing with her at all, I had received confirmation from occupational health and work that I was to be retired on the grounds of ill health and it had coincided with the 13th anniversary of the date of my car accident so not much to mash my head really.
In all seriousness I guess I didn’t want to accept the physical damage, and to accept that would inevitably mean major changes in lifestyle. Having surpressed this for so long it has taken it’s toll on me mentally and I’ve sort of forgot how to be, and how to be truthful. I don’t mean I lie all the time but the true British greeting of hi how are you or similar, for me is like the most ridiculous greeting in the world (even though I use it to) if I answered truthfully people would be like oh feck I wish I hadn’t asked, so would start to avoid me (or so my head was telling me) therefore it was far better to just build in a really strong acting skill with the fake smile and the reply of yeah I’m ok, or not too bad whats the use of grumbling it doesn’t change anything or something similar. So I quickly found that I was doing this with my family too, so it meant that my wife didn’t know just how much I was struggling and how painful things had become.
I also didn’t want to be defined by my pain. By this I mean had I say lost an arm the first topic of conversation when meeting up with family and friends would not be how’s the missing arm, or good prosthetic partly because it becomes a bit on an elephant in the room but also because they would look beyond me being pretty ‘armless and still see me. Living in constant debilitating pain however doesn’t stop that, and I get that my friends and family are asking because they care but if I’m not telling them the truth what is the point of the conversation. If we take that one stage further it then means there becomes times when I need help but because I’ve not been honest about the pain I can’t ask for it, or I feel like I can’t ask for it. I don’t expect this to make sense to my family if they read this but it is the way that my brain works, especially when I’m in so much pain and therefore not thinking straight.
Scarily for me though but I guess this is her job, there are things I can say when sat with Dr B that try as I might I have no idea how to start the conversations with my family it’s like I enter a safezone and can just come out with everything that is going on in my head blurting it out and letting her to pluck out the pertinent points. I guess that is her job. There has also been some incidents where I’ve been thinking or doing something and then found myself checking my actions or behaviours as if Dr B is in my head kicking the nerve that makes me rethink how I am behaving. This is a positive thing and it is like in the movies and I have this naughty Neil on one shoulder and on the other is Dr B getting me to rethink and question my responses and from time to time giving me that kick up the backside I need. Now I just need to start writing down the conversations I need to have with those closest to me and hope they understand what I am trying to achieve. I spoke about my “foggy head” and the need for me to be able to explain that to process things I need to sometimes hear things several times or do something to refocus myself and take it in. Trouble is something as simple as this I struggle to find the words and talk about I guess because I see it as another weakness especially when I’ve relied heavily on my mind throughout my career.
Finally we looked at my life compass, in greater detail than we did in the Pain Management Seminars. We took one area of the compass and for me I picked Relationships. Dr B asked if I was outside a room full of my nearest and dearest and they were talking about me what sort of things would I want to hear them say about me. We then looked at what positive actions or steps I could take to work towards the goals or things I wanted to achieve. I was set homework to complete the compass in the other three areas of the compass making the four areas
- Spare time/Leisure
These are adapted from Kelly Wilson’s Valued Living Questionnaire should you wish to read more about it. It is good because not only am I looking at the values and principles that are important to me in each area, I am also reflecting on the steps or goals I can take along the way to uphold that value, for example my ultimate goal #1 at the top is to Accept the new me. So this falls into the Health category and the value there is accepting myself. Part of doing that so the action is asking for and accepting help when it is needed, and if it isn’t needed not flying off the handle but talking and explaining why.
I feel I have waffled a little and this is all a bit disjointed and doesn’t give credit to the benefit I am getting from the sessions. I am starting to feel more confident asking for help, I am finding myself checking and thinking about my actions more and I hope I am starting to get the confidence to speak to those around me. I am hoping that eventually I will be able to share my life compass with my wife and my close family of friends but I cannot make any promises about that at present! Having these psychology sessions has possibly been one of the best things I have ever had, and they have come at the perfect time, I am bit of a believer of Fate and things happening for a reason and certainly this seems to be the case for these sessions.
One final thing we did today was Dr B got me to write my name with my dominant hand, she then asked me to use the other hand and repeat the process. I found that I had to pause and check myself almost as if I was telling my brain how to hold the pen and then how to write. It was obviously much more difficult using my right hand and Dr B said see how unnatural that was, now if you were to practise that over and over it would get better and easier and become second nature, it is the same with my brain and my negative way of thinking it will take time to change it. I cannot do it all at once but hopefully with the support of Dr B, my Wife and Family and my support network, and by bringing into the real world what we talk about in our sessions for the first time in more years than I care to remember that light at the end of the tunnel is shining a little brighter.