When I first went of work with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and associated symptoms, namely depression and anxiety, it became obvious that I was going to have to take a course of anti-depressants to 'recalibrate my brain chemistry'. I was also referred by my doctor to a psychotherapist for a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This was to combat the PTSD induced flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms of trauma with a brilliant therapist. Initially skeptical I credit this CBT to not only helping me to be 'okay' with the residual effects of the traumatic experience of Babyzoid's birth, but also to help rewire some of my particularly destructive thought processes. I hadn't before even considered that the way I was thinking wasn't the way that everybody thought - I just assumed that other people coped better with the introspective negativity that I lived with.
As Jayne of Mum's the Word charmingly wrote in her post this morning A Matter of Perception kids have an amazing way of looking at the world. Everything they see is filled with wonder and they view the mundane or ugly (to our eyes) with an innocent fascination. Jayne has been trying to view things through the eyes of her daughter, which is to some extent similar to what I have been trying to do since I completed my course of therapy. Is it possible to completely rewire ones thought processes? To wipe those neural pathways and start again? While I don't think it is ever possible to return to that virginal state of being, I do know that it is possible to stop yourself in your tracks and consider your reactions. Why am I thinking like this? What does it mean for me? Okay, so I am unhappy about such and such, but does it really have to affect me in a negative way? Can I simply acknowledge that I can't change something I don't like but still say "You know what, I am okay"?
It's not an easy thing to do and it will be a lifetime's work, but over time it becomes easier. I could give the example of being irritated when strangers insist on drawing you into a conversation in public places. I used to hate this and resent the intrusion. Now I find myself happily chatting away to some old dear on a bench in town and not being offended when someone thinks Babyzoid is a boy, in spite of the long hair and pink buttons on her jeans. Indeed, speaking to an elderly gentleman on a bench in town the other day I found out that his grandson had founded his own technology company and sold it to a huge well-known corporation which had made him a millionaire. When I shared my hopes about one day working for myself he told me that he was sure I'd be a success because I had personality. It made my day! And to think that my past instinct would have been to smile politely then cut off the conversation at "aww, your little girl is a cutey".
I recently wrote a post about loving my town, and I have come to realise that one of the great things about where I live is the sense of community. Looking at my town and seeing its strengths rather than it's weaknesses (clothes shops!) has been really quite liberating. And rejoining the library's Wriggly Readers with Babyzoid and going for cake afterwards with the rest of the mum's after an invitation from my new fellow Bliss campaigner, Katherinen has been really good for me. I've come to realise that I am an open, friendly and sociable person, I had just let a few bad experiences make me think otherwise.
Do you think it is possible to change your whole outlook on life? Or do you think that if you force yourself to act against your instincts you will be deluding yourself? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.