Friday, November 20, 2015

Therapy and Brene Brown

Anxiety and depression are two things that I have battled with since I was young. I didn't know that was what was going on at the time but looking back it made complete sense about some of the phases I went through as a pre-teen and teenager.

When I went to College I was no longer one of the smartest kids in my class and that was a huge wake up call for me. I also had no idea what gorgeous women would be at Carolina....all 70%+ of them. I felt unattractive, unintelligent and unspecial.

I was struggling with some of my classes and went to see a Psychiatrist thinking that I could just get some ritalin. Well after some testing it came back that I had Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). WHAT?! Yep. And with that, I was in a "Major Depressive Episode". I tried Prozac, Wellbutrin and ended up just going off of them when I left school. Most recently I have been on a very low dose of Zoloft to keep my no wire hangers tendencies at bay. That was prescribed by my favorite Dr. here in Charlotte. I came back from a Cruise and told her about my anxiety attacks and she couldn't stop laughing and said "So you wanted to be the Cruise Director and thought you would have done a better job?" Well yes. So zoloft it was.
A few months ago a friend asked if I wanted to go see Brene Brown at an event our Church was hosting. I didn't know who Brene was but she said it was sold out so I figured it must be worth getting dressed up on a school night. To say I was blown away is a total understatement. I cried, I laughed and as cheesy as it sounds I was moved. Moved to do something about what is going on inside my brain.

She immediately won me over with her sarcasm and potty mouth. She admits marriage is hard. She admits kids are hard, that mothering is hard, that being a woman is hard. She says we all tell ourselves a shitty first draft (Our SFD) which is basically a story we make up in our heads about all the things we hate about ourselves and feel others hate about us as well. Via Steve Safigan:

First, Dr. Brown recommends that we identify the story we make up by writing out what she calls a “sh***y first draft” (SFD). She cites research by Dr. James Pennebaker about the value of writing down our thoughts and feelings in order to organize the experience. It’s important that we don’t filter the experience or worry about how our story makes us look. We search for the hidden story we’re telling ourselves about our emotions.
“What do I know objectively?”After we identify the story we’re making up with our SFD, it’s time to probe our assumptions, which are usually self-defeating. Dr. Brown recommends asking ourselves other questions:
  • “What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?”
  • “What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?”
Then we can look for the difference—the delta—between the story we make up and a more objective truth.
She says that if you write about your trauma for 25 minutes a week it helps. You are externalizing it. I am going to force myself to do this. I have mentioned before blogging is therapeutic and even if I don't post it I can save it as a draft. 

Brene also said this and this is where I started crying. She said we are least likely to ask for help when we are drowning. I have been drowning. This blog and my Instagram/Facebook posts about my mother are my cry for help. To me I feel like asking for help is a cry for attention, but in my heart that isn't what it is. I work from home, alone, and this can be incredibly isolating. This past year has put us through the ringer. I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted. And when I get a breather someone gets sick, or we have a setback with Mom and I have been relying on friends to help pick me up. And my friends have come in to help full force. Sarah, you called our hairdresser and had her show up at my house b/c I wouldn't take the time to go get a haircut. Katherine, Cory, Lauren, Sarah, you all dropped off meals. Kathryn, Elisabeth, Elie, you sent cards and flowers. Betsy, Abby, Olivia, Margaret, Holly you all came to walk with me. Mary Katherine you were determined to make little Amelie a birthday cake. Emily, Ashley, Nina, Alicia you have brought me to tears from your comments and messages. BS, Kristen, Allison, Katie and Ashley, your care package basically made me cry for an hour. 

When family has failed me this year (and no not mine) friends have taken the baton and run their hearts out for me. I feel guilty for this. Guilty for needing help and attention and love. Repeating my SFD to myself, Oh that needy Katharine, whining again on social media. What does she want now? Which is where the topic of this post comes in.

Brene says that therapy is life changing. We all need an hour to cry, scream, yell about everything in our lives. I remember the first appointment I ever had at UNC. I felt a huge weight was lifted. So after asking the Mom group here in Charlotte for recs off to Therapy I went. 

After only two appointments (I missed one...completely forgot....begin Alzheimer's paranoia) we have come to one conclusion. I have crippling perfectionism. I want everything to be perfect and wonderful and beat myself up when things aren't. I have an obsession with pictures. I worry too much. My SFD is a book worth of things I hate about myself. And I'm in there laughing and crying and able to look at this and say what in the hell?! 

I want to write more about this but this post has already lost 98% of the 6 readers perusing it today. What I will end with is Therapy is not taboo. It isn't silly or something to be ashamed of. If you have thought about it before go for it. 


  1. I have never read your blog before, but stumbled here from another bloggers feed. I read the entire post. I needed this. As a reminder of where I have been, drowning and where I am, starting to finally tread water. Life is hard. Parenting is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. When you have one child's issue resolved, someone else has an issue or you worry about the child who is not struggling. Kudos to you for knowing and seeking help. I went for one session at the recommendation of my former employer(yes it was that bad) I never went back to take care of myself, because I was helping my son fight for his future. I am now helping my youngest battle a school that does not recognize her learning when do I find the time to help me? Well today. Your post inspired me to call my therapist. To take me back so I can be a better wife, mom, friend, sister. There is nothing wrong with asking for or needing help.
    Thank you again for this post. Good luck to you and God Bless and keep you.

  2. Your honesty is refreshing. Good for you for putting it out there for yourself and for others who needed to hear it.

  3. I love this and all of you. I too, suffer from GAD, ADHD and OCD. Medicated, therapy'd and a host of other things help... but the love of friends. That's the best.


  4. Thank you for being brave and vulnerable! I'm a counselor in Alabama and I stress these same principles to my clients. Therapy can be so helpful! I love your blog!

  5. I think your post is great too- kudos to you for being so honest! I could relate to most everything you said but will limit my comments to one aspect- working at home. Several years ago I went through a similar stressful period (details different, results much the same) & happened to also work at home at the time. I had a very demanding, full-time job that I just happened to do at home. I felt super isolated (every day! all day!) and frankly there are many things about it that I think just feed depression & anxiety (not cause them of course, but sure don't help). I think most people who think working at home is so fabulous have never done it (or maybe have with part-time, more casual jobs). It is HARD.

    XOXO to you- I hope things get better soon.

  6. All I have to say is God bless therapy and prescriptions. They literally have gotten me out of more than one bad place. I think you are kicking ass. Brene Brown is someone I am going to check out. Xx

  7. Well, my lovely precious cousin, your story is the same as mine; from childhood I was like you...anxious, depressed and feeling unworthy.
    My perfectionism always caused me to procrastinate out of fear that whatever it was would'nt be perfect. Horrible .... but therapy
    has literally hauled me out of the depths of despair. You have taken a big step toward being happy with the wonderful person you are. I love you.


  8. Brene Brown is wonderful, and I wish I'd known about the stories we make up and the SFD long, long ago. Bless you in this trying time.

  9. Oh my we should sit and let me tell you my story. What I wish I knew at your age is this!! Hormones, please have your levels checked. I could have killed people around the time of my period. I believe the majority of my problems were fluctating hormones and I didnt realize it. It wasnt until I was premenopausal that I figured it out.
    Having young children is exhausting, your life isnt easy, give your self permission to slow down Good Luck


  10. Brene has some great books--I especially love the Gifts of Imperfection. I struggle with a lot of the things you is really inspiring to hear someone being so open and honest about themselves. I am not able to do this yet very well, and admire your strength. And a therapist is just a friend with an unbiased opinion--really and truly. ALL of us deal with mental issues in one way or another.
    Working from home is really isolating, no matter how "easy" it may seem to others.

    Thank you for writing this.


  11. Long time reader! I went back to therapy for the first time in years last month and felt the same weight lifted! I forgot how comforting it is to unleash my worrisome thoughts on an unbiased person. Kudos to you too- you have been through the ringer and I hope this little bit for yourself helps :)

  12. Your straightforward honesty is refreshing and I appreciate that. I also struggle with depression and anxiety. Like you, perfectionism is my way of dealing with the world around me. When I need to ask for help, the guilt and shame fairly eat me alive. Maybe therapy would also help me too, as it is difficult for me to reach out to others.

    Leonardo @ US Health Works