The Misophonia Project, Session One.

 My attempted CBT map for misophonia

My attempted CBT map for misophonia

Unless you’ve been hiding, with earplugs in, glaring at anyone who dares to eat or breathe within your auditory radius, you’ve probably heard of misophonia by now. And if you have been hiding, with earplugs in, glaring at anyone who dares to eat or breathe within your auditory radius, keep reading. This probably applies to you. Maybe keep the earplugs in for now.

Reading about misophonia for the first time in 2011 gave me a name for my many years of emotionally explosive experiences: age 10, throwing my brother’s donut in the bin at Disneyland because he refused to eat it quietly; as a teenager, hiding my friend’s ticking alarm clock at a sleepover and waking to muffled beeps and a confused friend rifling through drawers, and who still believes she moved it in her sleep; during my undergrad years, perfecting my Lecture Theatre Glare (less furrowed than my Cinema Glare) at nearby talkers/eaters/pen clickers, and seating myself well away from the front few rows of laptops and whirring of tape recorders (yes, I am from the microgeneration of people who went to university at the only time in history when these two pieces of equipment were used side by side); moving in with my husband after 3 years long-distance, gazing into his eyes and asking, “did you always breathe this loudly?”.

Continue reading here...

I’m not in the Mood, Diary

Here are my top five reasons I might hand you a mood diary at the end of a CBT session.

5. You’re not sure what you’re feeling.

4. I’m not sure you know what you’re feeling.

3. You think your feelings don’t make sense.

2. You think your feelings are stupid.

1. I ran out of time for us to properly plan a task for you to try between sessions and I thought this would probably be helpful and I couldn’t see how it could possibly go wrong.

Continue reading here...

Intrusive images are for life, not just for parenthood

Intrusive images are for life, not just for parenthood

I can see myself biting off a baby’s fingertips one day. I don’t mean that’s my dream retirement plan, I mean I can really clearly see it. Sometimes I don’t even have to close my eyes, it’s just there, transposed over whatever I happen to be looking at in that moment. My teeth. Baby’s fingertips. This recurring intrusive image started popping into my mind when I was about eight years old, after a friend told me that her mother had to bite the fingernails of her new baby brother. I immediately pictured myself tasked with trimming a baby’s fingernails with my teeth, and accidentally trimming the finger instead.

Read More

Is that a rash on your neck or are you just anxious to see me?

Is that a rash on your neck or are you just anxious to see me?

I go red when I’m nervous. And when I’m embarrassed. And frustrated. And amused. In fact, any time I experience the slightest increase in emotion or temperature, you will see it on my skin, clawing its way out of my collar and onto my face.  I discovered this delightful fact about myself in high school, when someone kindly pointed out that they would have presumed I was sunburnt, had I not been so deathly pale everywhere else.  They weren’t the only person to notice, either.  Every time it happened, someone would comment on it. Once the focus was firmly on me and my neck, I would get even more uncomfortable, more red, more comments, more anxious, more red, and the cycle would continue.

Read More

Table For One: The Other Empty Chair Technique

Table For One: The Other Empty Chair Technique

I like to sit in cafes pretending to write a screenplay. Even when I’m in a café writing this blog, I pretend I’m writing a screenplay. This is because I like going to cafes, I often go by myself, and I would rather that people think I am writing a screenplay than that they jump to the conclusion that I have no friends. Or that I have a blog. If I had spent as much time actually writing a screenplay as I have pretending to write a screenplay, I’d probably have written a pretty good one by now. And by “good”, I mean “long”.

Read More

Is Procrastination Worth the Wait?

Is Procrastination Worth the Wait?

It’s rare that I hear procrastination referred to in a positive light.  Perhaps at high school, when some of my esteemed classmates would exhibit their extreme cool by saying they were procrastinating studying for exams.  They didn’t actually mean they were putting off studying, they were implying that they had no intention of studying.  More than that - they were implying that only dickheads cared about school.  Of course, only us dickheads could appreciate the irony of misusing the term procrastinate in a sentence intended to demonstrate the insignificance of a good education.

Read More

Why OCD and Music Festivals Don’t Mix. Yet.

Why OCD and Music Festivals Don’t Mix.  Yet.

After six weeks of trying to write this blog post, I came to the conclusion that I simply could not identify with a fear of contamination.  I couldn’t imagine experiencing a deep feeling of being unclean, an unshakeable physical and emotional belief that something unseen will make me sick and that there are no cleaning products available that can adequately wash away the grime.  There was no way I could relate to having to stay away from anything potentially dirty so as to avoid a two-hour shower ritual, or to reducing my water consumption because every toilet seems like a biological landmine.  And then last week I spent three days camping at a music festival.  Now I get it. 

Read More

Pay it Forehead, or When Did Giant Foreheads Become Socially Acceptable?

Pay it Forehead, or When Did Giant Foreheads Become Socially Acceptable?

I have a huge head, and it’s roughly 40% forehead.  Whenever I casually refer to this fact, most people kindly try to reassure me that it’s really not that big. But it really is. You know that point in the early 90s when bike helmets suddenly got smaller?  Mine didn’t.  My head simply grew like a goldfish to fill the space left by the improvements in helmet technology.  Despite my protestations, every single helmet seller I’ve ever encountered has insisted I try on a size Small or Medium, and subsequently suffered the embarrassment of resting it like a fez upon my crown before mumbling something about children’s sizes and scurrying off to find something more realistic. I’m not imagining it.

Read More

42K to Couch to 5K – The Training Plan That Got Me Running Less

42K to Couch to 5K – The Training Plan That Got Me Running Less

For three weeks, the following visuals triggered a flash of pure rage in me: running shoes, technical fabrics, my Garmin, shorts, the gym, food with “energy” in its name, emails from the charity I’d run for, and anyone who was out running or might have just been running or was possibly just about to go running, or could have run at some point in their life.  And Top Gear, but that may have been unrelated. Most infuriating were those smug, leap-out-of-bed-types bounding across Primrose Hill regardless of the weather, too smitten with running to be even remotely bothered to judge those foolish enough not to have caught on to their miracle remedy for the crushing reality of adult life.  What was their problem?  Who the hell did they think they were?  How on earth could I become one of them?

Read More

Not Much Distance Left to Run - How a Marathon Killed My Love of Running

Not Much Distance Left to Run - How a Marathon Killed My Love of Running

Roughly six weeks ago I decided I hated Running.  In that moment, it seemed like a pointless activity in which the minimal gains were far outweighed by the physical, mental and time investment required.  Running had convinced the world it was accessible to anyone, but when anyone got involved, they were no longer anyone, they were now a Runner.  They cared about wicking, they could convert speed to pace and miles to kilometres, they engaged in the barefoot debate, they used marathons to sort out their brilliant-older-sibling issues, and they couldn't run a phenomenal distance without telling everyone how freaking phenomenal the distance was that they just ran.  Running wasn't a pastime, it was a cult.  I wanted no part of it.

Read More

Why a Bad Night's Sleep Won't Make You Lose Your Job (Probably)

I blame Suede. I wasn't planning on extending my recent sleep experiment to full on sleep deprivation, and then Suede went and played in an inconvenient location on a Saturday night.  By the time I’d got home and caught up on Doctor Who, I was in the midst of an accidental sleep deprivation experiment.  What sort of therapist would I be if I didn't take the opportunity for an additional experiment?  A well-rested one, probably.

Read More

It Costs Sleep to Make Sleep (Sleep Slidin' Away, Part II)

Some strategies seem so simple it’s hard to believe they can make a much of a difference. I have spent a month trying to get insight into what it might be like for my clients with insomnia when I ask them to use CBT to improve their sleep patterns. The plan was to reset my sleep schedule by getting up at the same time everyday, and by not spending time in bed when not sleeping. If you think something that simple shouldn’t work, you’d be right. Because it’s not simple. It’s really, really hard.

Read More

Sleep Slidin' Away... (Part I)

“Let me just check that I’ve understood you correctly. You’re telling me that you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re hitting snooze a lot because you’ve not slept enough, having to drag yourself out of bed because you didn’t get enough sleep, you’re generally late to work, and then once you get there you’re tired most of the time on account of all that sleep you’re not getting? You know what I think you need? Let’s cut back a little on your sleep.”

Read More

The only thing we have to fear is anything remotely frightening. But just until we realise it's not. (Part II)

As a little Easter treat, I planned to spend the weekend finding out what it would be like to terrify myself by watching the scary movies I have avoided for the past 14 years. Before I got started, I put myself through the same process I use when setting up experiments in CBT: making sense of why it is how it is, and reviewing what could be lost and gained from trying something different.

Read More

The only thing we have to fear is anything remotely frightening. And fear itself.

“I think maybe you’re not getting scared enough.” These actual words from this actual psychologist to an actual patient, explaining why they weren’t yet seeing any improvements from CBT. What I wanted to know was what was stopping them from amping up the fear levels. I assume what you want to know is why on earth I was terrorising my patient.

Read More