I finally feel hopeful.
On the day of my last update, I talked to my friend about how I was feeling, and he asked about whether I’ve talked about this to a counselor. At the university I go to, there is a counseling center. When I did individual counseling, I was limited to 6 sessions for the semester (and if I needed to update her on anything, we scheduled sporadic appointments). After that, my therapist asked if I could join a group. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of group therapy, so I didn’t join last semester. However, after my friend asked me about counseling, I remembered that I could join a group. I was able to sign myself up for a DBT group, so I’m interested to see how that turns out. It’ll be a new experience.
The first week of school went off to a rocky start. I had to get used to the new schedule, which also changed my sleep schedule. As a result, I was very tired, which affected my mood. Things turned around by the end of the week when I signed up for the DBT group. I had this strong feeling that things would be better soon.
I had to do a check in, so I talked to a professional about how I was feeling, and he gave me some helpful advice to get through the church services.
He talked about how I should have ‘cushions’ – certain things I do before and after the service to help get me through. One of his suggestions was to write a list of affirmations and read it before the service. I already had a list of affirmations that I used to read silently in the car on the way to church. Now I read it out loud the day before and silently in the car. I remind myself of the progress I’ve made.
I wrote a list of things I can do during the service when I feel unsettled. It reminds me that I have ways to cope. I’m also reminding myself to think about getting through each week instead of how long I’ll have to keep doing this (because that’s overwhelming).
One of his other suggestions was to have something to look forward to after the service. I’m attempting to make the rest of my Sundays self care days instead of doing homework.
I went to today’s service with these practices in place, and I felt so much better. I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t dissociating. The mantra in my head was, “This is really difficult, but I can get through this.” I thought about the support I have, which helped me get through the rough moments.
I also noticed that I haven’t been blaming myself for what happened to me. I didn’t understand how this happened at first, but now I think I’ve pieced it together. I blamed myself for nearly three years after what happened. Then I found AVFTI and started volunteering. I’ve read – and written – so many comments that remind the storytellers that it wasn’t their fault. It’s ingrained now, and I think extending compassion to others is helping me extend compassion to myself. Even on the bad days when I start blaming myself, I’m able to stop quickly. I’m glad I’ve reached this point, and this organization has been helpful in more ways than I can explain.
The past few months were rough, but I think I’m pulling myself out. I feel hopeful for the future.