Day: June 25, 2015

Everyone Has A Story

BeautyBeyondBones

As you may know, I’m not in NYC right now. I’m filming a project out of the city, and am so grateful to be able to pursue my dreams. (I’m an actor)

The show I’m working on has a good sized cast. And if you haven’t worked in the entertainment industry, people get close — fast. You bond. Become fast friends. You literally spend 12+ hours on set together every day: working, rehearsing, hanging out when you’re not on, eating together, getting ready together – they’re not kidding when they say you become a family.

So you get to know everyone.

And here’s what I’ve come to find:

Everyone has a story.

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Every single person has had some event in their past that has shaped their life: Cancer. The death of a sibling or parent. Being adopted. Homelessness. Abuse. A life altering diagnosis. An eating disorder.

Every single person that you meet…

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Adventures in CBT

Attending CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been challenging—which is a good thing. My therapist is really helping me face my anxieties—anxieties that I have dusted and kept under a rug for many, many years. I never tried to face them, because dealing with my present anxieties already overwhelm me. So far, my therapist has used the empty chair and sitting in silence exercises. And I found them both excruciating.

In the sitting in silence exercise, my therapist had me sit in silence for 3…whole…minutes. Not even 60 seconds. 3 minutes! Ugh! Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post about mindfulness, regardless of the type of mindfulness exercise the point is to get you to live in the moment. But I didn’t like this type of mindfulness activity. I prefer the one—the same post I mentioned here—where you’d stare at a subject and describe it. I don’t just want to do nothing! I’m use to always doing something or thinking of something, whether it’s organizing and/or shredding my papers or balancing my budget (which I hate doing) or studying or journaling. Here I was sitting with my therapist in the silent room, except for the muffled conversations behind the closed door and the loud blare of the train’s siren seeping through the wall. The worse part of it was hearing all the thoughts roaming in my head. All the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” thoughts. I try to keep those thoughts preoccupied by being busy. Well anyway, the 3 dreaded minutes were up and my therapist told me the exercise was to help my body relax and bring the chemicals that are responsible for elevating my anxiety, down. As much as I hated this exercise, it helped me relax… a little bit.

In the empty chair activity, you imagine your problem or your problem person on a chair and confront it or them. Now doing this may seem stupid or childish. You may have not talked to an imaginary friend since you were a child. Trust me, this is not that. Nor is it stupid. When I went through with it, I felt like I was putting my thoughts, fears and anxieties on the chair and confronting it. When I first did this exercise, I found really challenging for me. I found myself shaking—in my body, my hands, my feet—I was really scared of what I was confronting. However, the more I continued with the activity, I slowly stopped shaking in my hands and feet. I was only left shaking in my chest.

“What are you now?”

“A shaky 5.” I replied.

“Well that’s good,” he said. “Before you said you were a 7.”

I was surprised. How was a shaky 5 good? I always thought a 5 should be just a 5. You know a strong 5. Yet here I was shaky…a shaky 5.

“Wait,” I said astonished. “A shaky 5 is okay?”

“A shaky five, a strong five…a five is still a five.” He told me. “What this goes to show you is you have more control over your anxiety than you think.”

Hmm…maybe I do. Maybe I do.

Psychotherapy

What is psychotherapy? Talk Therapy.

What is CBT? And what does it stand for? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form Psychotherapy. Basically your therapist tries to understand your thoughts, feeling and behavior and help you develop healthier ones. My psychologist recommended this form of therapy for me, but this therapy is effective for all types of mental illness. However, there are other types of psychotherapy:

  • Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT)
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Therapy Pets

Talk to your therapist and/or psychologist to see which one is right for you.

NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Health) has great information on the various forms of therapy that I mentioned here. Click on the link below for more information:

Psychotherapy

What is psychotherapy and how it will work for you

Want to know more about what psychotherapy is? Do you want to know which therapy is right for you? And how to find the right therapist for you? The American Psychological Association (APA) has an article called, “Understanding psychotherapy and how it works.” It doesn’t just go into detail in psychotherapy, but provide tips for example on:

  • Finding a psychologist
  • Selecting a psychologist
  • Undergoing psychotherapy
  • Assessing psychotherapy’s effectiveness
  • Knowing when you’re done with psychotherapy

Click the link on the bottom for more information:

Understanding Psychotherapy