yes, I’m doing my therapy homework as a blog post

cw: mental health, disordered eating mention

My homework from my therapy session last week (which is due tomorrow, whoops) is to create a list of the five things I’d like to focus on in therapy going forward. I’ve been seeing my therapist every week for almost three years, and we’re doing a checkpoint. When he assigned this to me last week, I told him I suspected that the things I actually need to work on are the things I don’t think are important, so let’s see how thsi list goes. 🙃

  1. Believing that I’m good at things without receiving external validation.
  2. Determining what habits and activities keep my mental health good and how to keep doing them. Conversely, determining what actually hurts my mental health and avoiding it.
  3. Weakening my trauma responses to certain stimuli.
  4. Any kind of noticable breakthrough in my disordered eating. Knowing why I’m like this hasn’t helped. Let’s figure out a measurable goal.
  5. Being able to accurately detect and label emotions like happiness, contentment, and calm; instead of jumping to labeling how I feel as anxious, depressed, or sad.

Idk if that’s the final order, but those are my five.

the (healthy) quantified self

I realize that I only do things like write on my blog and update my personal portfolio site and use healthier social media (like Mastodon) when my mental health is doing good. And then I completely drop off when I’m not doing well, which makes sense I guess. If I’m depressed and hating myself, it’s hard to be creative and think about myself.

The thing I’m trying to understand, though, is if not doing self-reflective creative tasks is the result of depressive episodes, or the cause of it. Do I start getting depressed because I’m not doing affirming creative tasks? I know that skipping those acts of self care that are important to my well-being doesn’t help. Maybe they’re just the first things I skip when I’m low on spoons?

Sure, I could do some quantified self tracking to figure this out. I’ve used Exist off and on for a few years, but it inevitably makes me hyper-focus on activities and correlations I don’t actually give a shit about, and just gives me more anxiety triggers. Maybe I should just create a little spreadsheet and form to self-report:

  • Did I write a blog post today?
  • Did I write for five minutes, self-reflectively and processing my thoughts?
  • Did I post something on Mastodon?
  • Did I make something today?
  • Did I read something that wasn’t Reddit or Twitter today? Bonus points for books.
  • What are some emotion words to describe my mood today?
  • How would I rate my mood today?

Just take a bunch of data, no judgement, and see what happens. Maybe add in some other questions for confounding variables, such as:

  • Did I eat three meals today?
  • Did I drink water today?
  • How much sleep did I get last night?
  • Am I physically sick in some way?
  • Did I leave the house today?
  • Did I socialize with people (not just Adira) today?

The trick is not to ascribe value to any of those tasks, and just record what I’ve observed. As my therapist says, I just need to be curious about myself and my emotions, and not judge.

If I end up whipping up a spreadsheet like this, I’ll letcha know how it goes!

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