The Story So Far

6 Minutes of Gut Wrenching Bleurgh, A Packet of Mints, The Water Cooler and Having Too Many Thoughts

6 minutes is the drive time from my work to the offices of my psychologist. It’s pretty much a straight line with a bit of turning right at the end.

6 minutes was the time I spent trying to breath in the way that makes it less like I am going to do a sickinmymouth whilst trying to make it up the road in one piece.

6 minutes made me realise that despite my concerns regarding the legitimacy of my issues there is clearly some things that I need to work on.

I am not a confident driver. I didn’t drive at all at home in UK so have only been driving for about 7 years. I’m not a danger on the road but I really like to know where I am going. Driving to a new place to me is terrifying. I had been to the psychologist once before but had been driven by WifeFace. Even though I had studied the route in advance and was using google maps navigation it felt horrible. By the time I reached place I was feeling quite low and sick in the stomach.

When I get anxious sometimes it turns into a kind of sad feeling. I feel alone and isolated and unhappy. One of the ways I try to combat this is to have some kind of human interaction. I was early to my appointment so I went to a shop and bought a packet of mints. I asked the lady how her day was and had just the smallest of exchanges. Nothing with any real depth but it made me feel a little better.

As I waited in the waiting room for my appointment I realised my mouth was dry and I was really thirsty. I spotted a water cooler near the door. Next to it was a pile of plastic cups.

But wait, says my brain, what if that is not for customers? Perhaps it is staff only and they had no where else to put it? What if it is for you but you turn the tap thing on and it won’t turn off. What if when you stand up to get a drink the lady at the counter thinks you are coming to talk to her? Why don’t you ask if it is ok to grab a drink? If you do ask and it is ok you are going to look stupid! If you do get a drink can you take it in with you? Can you see a bin?

I remained thirsty and my appointment began.

It went really well today. I brought up my reaction to the questionnaire from the last session that I felt had shown there was nothing wrong with me but I quickly made the connection to how bad the drive down had felt. We talked about a number of useful things but the real take away for me was the realisation that I have too many thoughts.

Over thinking is a real problem for me (see the water cooler). Today the psychologist really helped me see quite how much of a problem it can be in certain situations. I realised that what is a key technique for technical troubleshooting is a source of anxiety for ‘normal’ thinking. When solving a problem at work I have a rapid succession of thoughts and asses each one until a potential solution arises. I pause to test the solution which either works or I carry on thinking. There is some kind of order to this – starting the process in the most likely area expanding outwards until eventually reaching a conclusion. In a finite closed system like a piece of broadcast or production infrastructure this works. In normal life with infinite possibilities it rapidly becomes less useful and more consuming.

I am going to work on identifying when I am using the wrong type of thinking and try to control it. It was a connection I had never made before and I am looking forward to the potential of a quieter mind.

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