Sunday, March 23, 2014

Martina is 11 month old, Oliver is back to tantrums, and we are back from Italy

We had ten days in Italy, it was lovely as usual. We had lots to celebrate, our wedding anniversary (seven years!), my parents anniversary (forty!) and my niece first birthday.
But I have a couple of things to get off my chest, you are warned!

Oliver somewhat regressed to bold behaviour, really pushing buttons with us (you know...mocking us, saying "no!" to anything you tell him to do etc) travelling with him this time was an absolute pain... we had to drag him across the airports, he was shouting as if he was being skinned, we had to find a chair (or his suitcase) to give him timeout a few times. Awful. While in Italy, he took my bamboo stylus for the iPad, broke it and threw it in the bin without us realising anything at all,  only saw it was gone from my iPad. He was so so good for a long time and we are back to this's very very tiring...hopefully it'll pass soon.

My niece's father started getting under my skin too. He is ridiculously anxious about the child (I know I'm anxious, but he beats me hands down), everything is a huge deal (a bit of a teary eye, a sneeze, a little cry...) and he started giving out to Oliver if he thought he was misbehaving. This practice of educating other people's children is really annoying, specially when I'm there too. Just to give you an example; this child must be alone when she eats or, they say, won't touch food. So Oliver had to leave the kitchen (at my parents') and the door had to be closed.
He was also obviously reared with rude language on every day agenda for normal conversation and he would be quite freely talking in that way even when the children are around, oblivious to the fact that that is very rude. Thankfully he left for Paris and we had a few days without the drama.

And now for the nice bits.
I met my junior high school friends after 26 years...I was actually a bit nervous, we have not kept in touch so I was not sure what to expect. Also, our paths are very different which sometimes can make things awkward. But it was a fabulous evening! Lots of fun and laughter, we have now created a whatsapp group and we chat every day! We will meet again in May hopefully, I am so happy I reconnected! In May will also meet my senior high school friends...hopefully it'll be another pleasant event.

Martina is 11 month today which means we have a birthday to celebrate in a month! I don't think we'll do a party or anything, just probably a cake for the four of us. She is doing really well, her sleep has improved so so much I feel like I'm breathing again. She can still wake of course, but sure Oliver can do it too, it is very manageable. So I'm planning to go to the conference I went to two years ago in Boston, and it's no longer an impossible dream! I'm very happy!! Will look this week for flights, I will not be able to stay much longer than the conference and this is unfortunately not in the city but in a quite isolated campus, but do let me know if you are in that neighbourhood from the 6th to the 11th of July!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

I waited a bit to write about this as I wanted to have a couple of sessions done.

I like it a lot, Louise (the psychotherapist) is great, highly qualified and I feel our sessions have been really fruitful. She asks always very focussed questions and there is very little rambling which I appreciate a lot. The first session was pretty much an assessment and of course very quickly she was able to see what was going on with me. She literally said "Do you see what you are doing? You are catastrophising, you are making movies, and you have to learn to STOPP." And STOPP is actually an acronym for which now I have little stickers and cards dotted in various places.
I had some assignments to do, mostly observing, thinking about triggers of my anxiety ecc. She thinks that all this is linked to me being a perfectionist and of course a perfectionist must have everything under control and you cannot control the future, you cannot control what you don't know and there will always be things you don't know. On top of this of course there is the fact that I have a certain medical knowledge which is the final killer. I know a good bit but only enough to worry myself sick rather than reassuring me. She said with my way of being and my training as a scientist, I am a thinker, I need to research, it would be impossible for me not to think, not to make movies, so I have to change what I'm thinking, challenge my catastrophic views (which I want to point out are nearly exclusively self directed, I am the go to person for everyone I know who wants reassurance) with other thoughts, and if I really have to make movies, then they have to be good ones.

So today was my second session, I was all ready to try an work on all things health related that I blow out of proportion and she shifted the gear completely and started focussing on work, for which I have absolutely no anxiety, I feel fairly confident and appreciated. However a schema is a schema in all aspects of your life and we had an initial chat which I thought was nearly part of the greetings but then she suddenly said "I can see you are very practical, this is good, the way you can rationalise and be very matter of fact, we have to use this in your reset process". And so we went on describing how I probably make lists and plans, and there is always a new plan a new item to be added to the list. This is true for work too, the list of things to do is never over, I am efficient, I do get through items quickly I do not procrastinate much (only things I that don't need to be done so urgently) - though apparently perfectionists may feel very overwhelmed by tasks that they never feel ready to do them -  I get very frustrated when I have to deal with colleagues that are last minute types, never get things done and I can't do anything about it. She asked me how Mike would describe living with me. I had to think about it. I think he likes the fact I have things under control (90% of things that concern our family I have them planned) but surely I thinks I am a real pain when I constantly remind him about that 10% that is under his control and he's not doing it the way I would do it. I certainly keep my anxiety very much hidden and in check, I know he just simply does not understand and cannot help and when I feel so bad that I share is never a good conversation for me.
In work, while I have high standards, I have learnt to say things to people (students mostly) in a way that is always constructive rather than destructive, I think my students love I correct their assignments/papers/posters/abstracts almost in real time. I have great feedback from the students (undergrads and post grad) on my teaching and it's a self feeding thing, I love that they appreciate my efforts and I want to do even better the next time. I have to learn that maybe this is already good enough, I don't have to do more, work more, teach more, I can enjoy life, the children, the house, the holidays, because it's ok not to correct 215 home assignments in one week, nobody expects that (specially when that is not the only thing I have to do). I have to work on balance. It's not going to be an easy fix, this is the way I'm wired, since I was small I was brought up not wanting to disappoint when it came to performance (I did write a post a while back on this) and if someone does a job, I do expect it to be done as planned (specially if I'm paying for it!), but I have to work on lowering my expectation of about 25%. I'm really not too sure how to do it, but will try.