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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Thursday night I overcame my fears and proved, once again, that these things can be done; going out in groups, going to college and to group therapy.

Pink flowers from my flower pots

Pink flowers from my flower pots

Growing up, I was never a girl for hanging out in groups, bar a couple of times in junior school. Even then, the only reason I hung out in a group was to try to ‘fit in’ with everyone; even those who did and said things that I didn’t agree with. I even found myself doing things I didn’t agree with in order to fit in.

However, I was taught all kinds of subjects at school in classrooms full of children, I went to work and mixed with large groups of people; all types of personalities, many of which I wouldn’t choose to socialise with, some who became good friends. I was fine with this, and even became supervisor and manager of many in various jobs, until…

My mental illness took over in a negative way.

Without going over that story, I became quite introvert in the past few years, finding myself paranoid, nervous and catastrophising at times at the thought of mixing with people. I cancelled an outing with one of my brothers, missed a school reunion I wanted to go to, and a get together last year of all the ladies on my first counselling college course. It was a shame, but I preferred to hibernate than to mix.

My tattoos of love and strength keep me going too

My tattoos of love and strength keep me going too

However, the fact that I joined and finished the college course, was a big achievement, got me out of the house, gave me a little regularity and I learnt a subject I am very interested in. I even became good at the course and passed the exam.

So, in September last year (2013) I enrolled on the Counselling Skills level 2 course, and two of my friends from the first course were on it. I also began therapy for myself; group analytical psychotherapy. Apart from a few issues which led a short absence from both group activities, I kept going. I knew that if I didn’t, I would never get better. Each day I go to college I don’t want to go and I feel the same about my group therapy, but I still went, knowing that I would be fine when I got there.

And, to top it off, on Thursday, I went out with the ladies from college, to a casino.

Despite having a manicure, pedicure and a head massage which calmed me at the time, I felt really nervous and anxious. We finished the college course a few weeks ago and I keep in touch with some of them (both my best friends from my course in particular who I’ve known two years now) but it was the whole group thing that made me nervous.

My back tattoo with the word 'Individuality' in Japanese as we certainly are all different and that's what makes the world an interesting place!

My back tattoo with the word ‘Individuality’ in Japanese as we certainly are all different and that’s what makes the world an interesting place!

I worried about what to wear, how I would behave, that I might drink too much (still a bit of an issue for me, the alcohol problem), that I might gamble too much (it was a meal at a casino), oh it went on… My group psychotherapy is helping me deal with groups and I knew it would be a great night, but I felt physically sick and stressed the whole day. Chris kindly came round at 4pm, leaving work early, so that I could get ready at his place and he said he would drop me off and pick me up from the casino, bless him!

Calm down, deep breaths…

I phoned one of my friends and arranged to meet her outside the casino so that helped but my poor tummy was doing somersaults as my IBS was triggered by the stress and I was very shaky, even though I knew it would be a good night…

And it was a lovely night. It was wonderful to see everyone – they are very lovely ladies. Only seven of us turned up out of fifteen, so it was a very manageable group for me too! I got into it very easily and had fun, but I was pretty excitable and didn’t eat that much. I knew my fear was all about nothing in my head but as per I couldn’t convince myself at the time. I did have three large glasses of wine and a cocktail which was too much, but I

All my pets, fish, hamster and cat

All my pets, fish, hamster and cat

found myself making people laugh, chatted all night and felt pleased with my personality for a change. I have found myself losing my identity, not really knowing who I am, acting in a way to try to fit in with varying people, but I am beginning to find myself and certainly was ‘just myself’ on Thursday.

I am continuing to get better all the time!

I will definitely draw on memories like those in the future when I need to find the confidence to get out and about. I drew on negative memories to get there Thursday too – those times I didn’t go to our evening out last year and didn’t go to my school reunion, regretting both.

I am so pleased I didn’t do it again this year and continue to prove to myself that I am getting better all the time! 🙂

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