Monday 23 October 2017

the locus of control

My current round of physiotherapy is (I think) my fourth stint. Each time I've been signed off previously, I've been full of good intentions. And I've always ended up back there when my walking has worsened, doing the same (or similar) exercises all over again.

So, as I went to my penultimate session at Neurology Outpatient Therapy Services last week, I was feeling all kinds of separation anxiety.

I ended up talking about this with my Physio, who, because some people aren't quite so keen on sharing every aspect of their life online (weird, I know), I'll call H.R. I'd been feeling pretty low - I'd been ill and although I'd been maintaining my exercises I felt that my walking had gone down the pan.

She listened to my bellyaching and started talking about the Locus of Control:
A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything. This concept was brought to light in the 1950's by Julian Rotter.
from the Encyclopedia of Psychology
She said that her role as a physio was simply to give me the tools to keep well. It's like when you pass your driving test, you don't need a driving instructor with you all the time, you just need to keep driving. All the progress I'd made over the last months was down to me - it wasn't down to her, I had done all the heavy lifting.

And I guess it's true - although it feels like we've been in the trenches together, in actual fact I've seen her no more than 10 times (my relapse meant there was a hell of a gap in the middle).

After we had talked, I did some exercises and she watched me walking. And she said that I was moving better than I had been at any point since I'd started seeing her.

So this week I have my last session with H.R. And it feels precarious. So I need to remember that I'm the only one who has the ultimate influence on my ability to be well.

This has been the most traumatic summer of my life. And due to how amazingly supportive she has been, our physiotherapy sessions have at times been heavy on the Therapy, light on the Physio.

[interestingly my therapy session this week was more like Careers Advice, but that's another story]

So I have a job to carry on.

But I'm sorry, H.R.

Regardless of what you say, you are an absolute rock star. Thank you.

Much love,

A Grateful Patient

PS I'll always try keep your inspiring words close to my heart:

Shoulders back
Squeeze the tummy muscles
Lift your bottom

Saturday 21 October 2017

Monday 9 October 2017

well, well, well, you're feeling fine

I am BLOODY LOVING therapy at the moment.

To be honest, last week's session really came along at just the right time. I'd been trapped in a cycle of bad and unhelpful thoughts. And a couple of nights before I'd written the following as a note on my phone. It kind of represents what was going on in my head. It's repeated here, almost exactly as it spewed out:
Applying for jobs
Applying for benefits
Applying for PIP
Worrying about money
Makes health worse
Difficult to prioritise
All are priorities!
Head spinning
Getting one thing out of the way,
Another priority sneaks up

As soon as you think one thing (e.g. Housing Benefit) is sorted, something else (e.g. PIP) rears up. But doing all this stops me engaging with the ESA [i.e. the opportunities that are open to me through my Employment Support Allowance], giving job applications my full attention, doing house work, finding time to do physio and engaging fully with therapy.… which makes me feel worse
So that's where I was at. The bit in the square brackets is the only thing I've added.

Anyway, I gave that lot to my therapist at the start of our session. We talked a lot about how I respond to worries - they tend to be around the big bits (PIP, Housing Benefit, money in general), but I usually just crack on with those when they pop up. However, I DO tend to go at each thing full-pelt, not really prioritising things very well - which is why me head sounds like THAT.

As I've mentioned before, I only tend to lose my shit about little bits and bobs - trying to get The Child ready for school, where my wallet is, etc. She saw this as something to do with my "Intolerance of uncertainty" and need for control.

Next time we'll be talking about a more balanced approach to prioritising - bring that shit on.

I also talked about the fact that frequently, whenever I lose it about any tiny little thing, I have a simultaneous Director's Commentary in my head, saying things like, "wow, that's totally unreasonable of you... yep, you look like a total dick now".

It happened twice that day, once in a heated discussion with Mrs D (she's a very lucky lady, I think we can all agree) and then when I was driving to therapy.

Everyone has that kind of thing in their head, right?