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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Therapy Thursday - Are my Hot Thoughts Killing Me ???

After my momentary "state" last week, my therapist gave me a cognitive exercise to add to my tool kit.  The "Thought Record" is meant to help me focus on reducing my anxiety when I have these panicked and anxious episodes and hopefully keep me grounded.

My assignment was to complete  the worksheet  when I feel "panicked."  On top of job searching, keeping a roof over my head, raising my daughter, I have to keep track of my feelings. Alrighty, then.

The Thought Record worksheet is broken into 7 sections:

  1. Situation - Who are you with? What were you doing? When was it? Where were you?
  2. Moods - Describe your mood and rank it 1-10
  3. Automatic Thoughts (Images) - What was going through your mind just before I started to feel this way? What does this say about me? What this mean about me? my life? my future? What am I afraid might happen? What is the worst that could happen? What does this mean about how others feel/think about me? What images or memories do I have in this situation? 
  4. Evidence that Supports the Hot Thought - Write factual evidence to support this conclusion
  5. Evidence that does not support the Hot Thought - Ask yourself the questions that does not support the hot thought. 
  6. Alternative/Balanced Hot Thoughts - Write an alternative or balanced thoughts. 
  7. Rate your mood Now 
A few days after the session, I had what I would call "a moment" of panic.

1.  Situation - It was 6 am before my daughter woke up and I decided to pay my bills. I was feeling happy until I could not find my Cobra bill in the stack of bills.  I literally sifted (more like rummaging) through every stack of papers in my apartment, TWICE, to no avail.

2. Mood - To say that this sent me into a panicked state is an understatement. My heart was racing, I was sweating and I am sure my blood pressure went up. I am not one to hyperventilate but I could have. On a scale of 1-10 of rating my mood intensity,  I was feeling like a 10.

3. Automatic Thought aka Hot Thought - After much discussion with my therapist, two hot thoughts were agreed upon. I wasn't sure how this worked, since my original  response was I am just disorganized but... the hot thoughts were  1) I feel like I don't have any support from my family and it seems as though there is no one there to help me and 2) I could be homeless, penniless and nobody loves me.  Yep, it sounds bad. But isn't that were the mind goes when you are in a "state." It automatically goes to the negative, the sky is falling, life is bad.

4. Evidence That Supports the Hot Thought - My family never calls, I always call them. Nobody asks if I need financial help in fact no one asks anything about my financial situation. Nobody asks how are you feeling.

5. Evidence That Does Not Support The Hot Thought - My mother calls me, she has sent gifts for my daughter, she has provided support to me, my sister occasionally calls and so does my brother.

6. Alternative/Balanced Thought That Refutes the Hot Thought - Prior to the incident and/or in recent months, my family is always been there for me and if I need their support, I have it. 

7. Rate my Mood - At the time of the incident it was still a 10 and did not decrease until I had paid the bill off.

I thought this was a good exercise and will continue to use it when I have these "episodes." The exercise is meant to help you over time, change the feelings you are experiencing so as not to go to the "hot thought."

Of course,  changing one's feelings during a panic attack does not  happen over night. Wow, don't you wish.

This takes work. I literally have to sit down and write down how I am feeling/thinking for each section.

 The end goal is to be able to go through the exercise in your mind as opposed to putting pen to paper.

We will see.


Nikki @ Blasian Baby said...

I love your therapy thursdays! I learn so much. Like you I have moments where I panic about my future, wonder about being loved and what will happen to my child in case something happens to me. Next time I'm goin to try the steps you wrote about here

bigguysmama said...

Thank you so much for being open & honest! We may have to start paying you to read these. :) I could see myself in each and every point above. I'm a single mom of 4 and don't live near my family, they're states away! They do try and help me and we do talk, but sometimes when I get into that "spot" I feel entirely alone. Blessings on the rest of your week!


Nicole said...

Wow! Big thanks for this post. I suffer from panick attacks, and drama-queeness sometimes. I have one sister that lives in San Francisco, and very little family here in New York. There are plenty of times I feel alone, pissed off, and isolated.

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