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Thursday, December 02, 2004

You Gotta Love The Maudsley

Ah, how I'd missed The Centre For Anxiety Disorders and Trauma... It had been a while. My clinical psychologist is back from holiday. As you may remember, the last time I attended the centre, I saw just my psychiatrist. But this time I saw both my psychiatrist and my clinical psychologist. The mental health dudes are a little like Simon and Garfunkel - great individually, but even better together.

Now that the contamination thing appears to be under control, we can move on to some of my other exciting eccentricities. These include worries about my health, worries about social situations and - the biggie - worries about eating in public.

The eating thing is a real pain. It's been around for about fifteen years, ever since I attended the birthday party of a then-friend of mine and found myself unable to eat. I was just too nervous. Felt like I was gonna vomit.

The mother of this friend knew I was a nervous kid, and proceeded to tell me that the reason I couldn't eat was simple cos I was nervous. She then went on to tell me that I would never get anywhere if I was anxious - never go to university, never get a job and so on.

I was ten.

As you can maybe imagine, this wasn't a pleasant experience. And so, ever since then, eating in public has been a problem.

So we're gonna try and tackle this one. My clinical psychologist pointed out that I had to accept the risk of puking in public in order to overcome the problem. Hmmmm... Not pleasant, but I guess I can try.

One of the most interesting ideas that has been raised during therapy is the idea that worry is a conscious process, and a conscious decision. Most of us think it isn't. We think that there's nothing we can do about worrying. The reality is, so my mental health dudes say, somewhat different.

Chances are you think that worry is gonna be productive in some way. If you think through all the possible eventualities, then you can prevent problems. Thing is, you're making a decision to think through all the eventualities. That rumination is a conscious process, even if the original worry - the intrusive thought - was something you can't control.

So the idea - put simply - is to quit worrying. The response to "what if I miss the train and so don't get to my meeting on time" is "maybe I will miss it, maybe I won't. Not gonna get into a debate about it". Rather than what most of us would naturally do, which is to say "well, I'll check my alarm is set so that I'll wake up on time, and I'll get someone to call me to check I'm on the train, and if I miss the first train there's another I can take and still be on time".

Though the theory makes sense, it's not the easiest thing to put into practice. But I'm willing to give it my best shot.


  • At 2:05 PM, Blogger Fizzwhizz said…

    Interesting stuff, I am a natural worrier too and I've never thought of it that way, although I do try to tell myself not to worry about stuff because I've found it doesn't make any difference to the eventual outcome, it just makes the time leading up to the event less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been.
    Changing the way you react to a situation is a big thing in Buddhism, too, and it is possible to change the way you think. Although it's hard. So good luck.


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