Anxiety Overload and The Observant Art Therapist


Anxiety Overload

I am just kind of skin-crawling with anxiety this morning. I don’t know what set it off…But it started during the night.  Maybe I had a nightmare that I don’t recall?  I do remember having a few dreams about work…or one long dream with a few different parts…The dream wasn’t the most pleasant, but then it wasn’t like a nightmare either. Bits and pieces I remember from the dream/s were that a patient threw up all over the floor and I slipped in it and fell and got soaked to the skin with vomit.  And I didn’t have any extra clothes to change into, so they made me wear a johnny.  And in another part, I was trying to get linens for making a bed (something that I do not actually do at work) and the bed linens were stored in cubbies that were up really high, so they were almost impossible to reach.  I did get what I needed though.

I kept waking up over and over last night…feeling antsy and hypervigilant.  Now, I am over-tired and super cranky and exhaustion-tearful.  Oh..right and I have to pull myself together and get out the door and off to work in an hour.  All I really want to do is to stay home and go back to sleep. We’ll see how the next 45 minutes go…If I can’t/don’t settle down some, I may have to lorazepam before work, because work itself is usually pretty anxiety provoking on it’s own…I think I might implode if I go to work already this triggered.

The Observant Art Therapist

The AT ended our session yesterday by doing all those things that your therapist does when they think you have dissociated.  You know…Asks you to look at the ceiling and describe what you see, asks you to look at the floor and describe what you see…Asks if you are present, etc.  And I was kind of annoyed because I didn’t feel like I had dissociated, though I did only feel sort of half present, which I said to him.  Then he wanted me to stamp my feet on the floor and I was irritated, since I was sure I had not really dissociated…So, I ignored his request.

The problem?  He was right.  I could feel it as I drove home and then after I got home and started thinking about the session…I’ve got big ol’ gaps. <sigh> So, I guess I had gone off somewhere else and not even realized it.  Of course that is part of dissociation…That you don’t necessarily know when you have checked out.  But still…Lots of times I have some awareness…Like the AT will be talking and he starts to feel far away and his voice sounds like it is from far away…..Or sometimes when he speaks, he startles me, which means I had traveled out someplace and he kind of snaps me back into the present.  But must be I dissociate in other ways too.

I wonder what the AT saw that made him realize that I had dissociated….A question for next session, I guess.

We did start to look at the sketchbooks.  It went okay until we hit a page where I had drawn pictures of my flashbacks (the sketchbook was from 2009/2010).  I couldn’t even tolerate the page being open and asked him to turn it.  I pretty much wanted to yell at him to turn it so that he would turn it faster…But I maintained my composure (despite pretty severe panic).  Other than that, we looked at some pages and when we saw ones that were not self-explanatory, I talked about the meaning of the drawing.  I actually remember most of the sketchbook stuff (or so I think anyway) but not much else at all about the session.

It will take us a while to get through the sketchbooks. And I don’t know what he wants to do about the pages that I can’t look at.

And I ended up with some homework….I can’t really remember what the assignments were (ahem…cuz I was dissociated when he gave them to me?), but I wrote them down as soon as I got home…So, I will have to look at it to refresh my memory.

2 thoughts on “Anxiety Overload and The Observant Art Therapist

  1. It’s really awesome that you’re letting AT take you to these dark places to try and help you work through them. As for the pages you can’t look at… I think they’ll be there when you’re ready.. Whenever that is. You’re doing amazing work, Heidi. Sending you so many hugs and support. 💜

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