I like to think I write reasonably coherently, I like having the time to consider what I am writing. Writing things down means I can concentrate my response to something without having 101 things flying through my head at once, I make more sense on paper than in person. If someone tries to say too much to me at once I lose track halfway through, this is frustrating in work, for example, when being given instructions – I have to write them down. I also find that if something pops into my head that I need to say I am so busy trying not forget it that I am not fully listening to what the other person is saying. At the moment I keep messing up face to face communications with people. I do have skills which I have been taught to make me a better communicator, but sometimes it’s hard to follow those when I am feeling unwell. I often mentally beat myself up after a poor communication with someone, I blame myself for it going wrong. I want so badly to have the innate skill of just being able to connect with other people, without it feeling full of confusion and having to ‘act’ the part.
Today started well, I had a good one to one meeting at home with my manager to discuss my return to work. I didn’t cry (unlike me, as I always do when overwhelmed). I said what I wanted to say, felt I’d been listened to and we had a clear written plan with some good strategies. I was able to continue with that good feeling to attend a wellbeing art group, I’d planned on attending it since leaving hospital but when I tried to go previously I’d not understood I needed to bring my own supplies and freaked out, unable to stay because of the unexpected requirements. I communicated well with the group, feeling so comfortable I shared my photo album with them which I was painting a cover for. I’d made the album of photos taken during my time in hospital and am planning on giving it to the hospital to have in one of their patient areas.
I’d made notes about each photo in the album sharing what I found helpful about photography and the grounds. I don’t normally seek out praise and it did feel good to be told positive things about something I had done. As a group we noted it was much easier to talk when focused on a task.
The last thing I had to do today was attend a last minute medical appointment to review my treatment for my eating disorder. I’d read about how to communicate more effectively in my DBT skills book which I’ve just started to work through. I’d practiced the techniques in another appointment and felt that they worked well. I’d made notes of things I wanted to mention. I felt well prepared and was even able to practice small talk on our way in despite it never feeling like a necessary/natural thing for me. I’d been expecting the person to confirm something to me and as soon as it came up that they couldn’t confirm it things well downhill from there. I tend to repeat the same things when I am upset and I find it very difficult to move on when I feel like someone hasn’t followed through with what they have said. Perhaps it goes back to not being able to communicate my needs fully, at times I can be assertive, but other times I become too scared to ask for something or to keep asking for something when it doesn’t happen. I’d intended to bus it home to keep to my agreement of not exercising too much, but in an emotional blur I had to just walk to calm down, I did manage to keep it to a slow pace and went straight home, so at least that is one positive to take away.
When I got home I applied more distraction techniques, self soothing by having a bath in warm water is one of the few things that does calm me. I then finished my picture for the photo album despite feeling really angry and upset. I was determined to not let the experience take my evening and made myself go to the singing group which is a couple of doors down from my house. I’d only managed to go once since it started as I’ve felt too unwell. I found it all too much though, there were too many people, too much noise, sharing sheets put people too close to me, I really didn’t like one of the songs, so when it was sung twice it was like pins being stuck into me. I became so self conscious of feeling irritable and not fitting in I left the group in tears. Why can’t I just function at a consistent normal? So it was a day of two halves, two pieces of evidence which show I can communicate in the right situation and two utter disasters. It’s quite hard to challenge my core beliefs of being hopeless, useless, unbearable when the same things keep going wrong for me. I am so scared that the help will stop because I can’t communicate in the way which fits the service or their plans for me. I don’t know how much longer I can keep trying to improve myself. I wish they could see the kind, caring, helpful person I can be and not just the obsessive,difficult, awkward one which comes out when things aren’t clear to me.