It would seem that diet change blog is still in the bowls of Word but there you go. Onwards. This week I completed an eight week course in assertion therapy at my hospital. Going into it I had high hopes and a lot of anxiety. The last time I did a course the therapist I generally work with was one of the teachers so I had that comfort blanket. This time I just had to turn up and hope I knew some faces. Luckily I knew a couple of patients from another class but it was still pretty intimidating. I know I glossed on my progress in a previous blog but I think going over it all would be beneficial and therapeutic to me I might add. I feel like I have made so much progress not just in being an assertive person but as a person in general. I feel far more comfortable in my own skin, more confident and less anxious. Assertiveness was a week’s teaching in the previous Social Anxiety course that I did and the reason I wanted to do this was because I felt from that single week that it was a route I wanted to go down. Books, blogs and other sources often conflict with each other though and given I made a lot of progress in group therapy before I wanted to try this again.
Originally I hoped I would be on a course like this in the Autumn and Winter of last year but it wasn’t to be and I guess I’m glad now. I would have hated to have turned down a place because I was still getting used to my insulin pump. This course came at the right time for me. I was in a right rut with everything at the end of January. I felt stuck. My depression was worse and I struggled to motivate myself to go out so my anxiety got worse and it all stemmed from frustration with my diabetes that really didn’t need to be there. If I had really thought about it a lot of my bgs were because I eat so close together. I’m a right grazer horse. I didn’t see the HBA1C forming until I went to the hospital and it seemed so obvious. Another blog to come. This course pulled me out of that rut and gave me more structure to my week. The awkward bus times I had to deal with meant I had to take lunch with me. To save cash this often meant leaving the house on another day to buy something to take with me. I could have made up a sandwich of course but for the sake of a pound and forcing myself outside, going to get a tub of ‘add hot water porridge’ was a great thing. Plus when I was there it took confidence to go and use the kettle for that purpose and not just a tea or coffee. It sounds like such a small thing but I got so anxious the first time I did it. The kettle is there to be used though. I had a right to use it. I learned to be more assertive each week just doing that.
Asking for things and refusing things were huge problems for me before this course. I didn’t feel I deserved things or had a right to them. I felt I would be causing trouble for someone and often that was when it was part of their job. I couldn’t flag down a waiter in a restaurant to get another drink because I felt a bother even though that is what they are paid to do. If I wasn’t flagging them down it would still be someone else and it was things like that this course taught me to realise. I have a right to things. Hearing other people talk about how people in their lives took advantage of their passive behaviour made it easier for me to identify where people in my own were doing the same. I felt better saying no to things and not having to justify it.
No is a complete sentence.
People are entitled to their own time to read a book, to rest, to scroll through the internet. Me-Time is a right. I learned to see the ‘Are you busy on X day’ is a manipulative trap. If you say no, people think they have you. It is important to demand why before actually answering the question. People should say ‘I am doing X or I need Y on Wednesday, are you free?’ you know? And just because you are free doesn’t mean you need to give a person your time. Because it is just that, yours. Especially when you are chronically ill. Time where you feel able to do anything at all is precious and it is up to you how to choose to spend it. I learned so much about people’s behaviours and how to react to them, especially when people get aggressive. Basically it is important to stay calm, admit to your faults and to defend untruths. A good way to do that is to get someone to explain why they think you are ‘stupid’ or ‘should have done X’ or should take Y’ or whatever. Often their arguments fall apart, their anger drains and you feel a lot better about yourself. I learned that I can only control my own emotions and reactions, not other people’s and I’m not responsible for their feelings. If someone is upset because I have asked them to help around the house more because they don’t do what they say that they will, their anger is not my problem or something I have to carry around with me. I stayed calm when asking. I asked them to do what they said they would. I asked a rational thing.
I find myself being so much more relaxed around the house now knowing I’ve taken care of my business and feeling I have the tools to deal with any upset. I’ve vaguely talked about strategies but this is by no means an instruction post. It has just worked for me. I made a phone call the other day I could never have made before because I felt confident in my rights to what I was asking for. I went out for drinks with a friend and constantly flagged people over to make requests. It feels amazing and I now feel much more capable of taking the steps required to return to education and defeating my social anxiety. It has been amazing and while yes I waited a while for it, I’m really grateful to NHS Scotland for the opportunity to take this course.