I finally started my CBT, I felt very anxious about my first one as I was worried about needing the toilet while waiting for my name to be called and that I would miss my name or being in the appointment and needing the toilet and not having the courage to say I needed to go. But I had nothing to worry about as the counsellor straight away put me at ease, she said if I needed to leave that was absolutely fine. The first session was mainly just me explaining what had happened to make me attend CBT. Then over the next few weeks (I had 6 appointments in total) we worked through my thoughts and feelings and how these affected my actions. We talked about how I was avoiding certain situations and how this was not helping. I had homework to complete each week, where I had to keep notes on the thoughts that went through my head, the physical changes that happened to my body and then my actions to try and deal with these.
Each week we would set a target together for me, one week it was to go to my parent in laws and have Sunday dinner and not to sit at the end of the table where it was easy to get out. This was really hard for me as I always needed to know I could get to the toilet quickly, and this was a situation where there was 8 of us in the house with only one toilet and I was going to be sitting where I felt trapped in. But I tried really hard and managed to do this but I did feel very anxious while doing it. At my next session the counsellor explained that although I had felt anxious, I had managed it and nothing bad had happened. She said I was to congratulate myself every time I did something like this and got through it. To be honest I felt a bit silly saying well done to myself but in time I realised that I really needed it to help me succeed.
As my counselling was coming to an end I didn’t feel like I was ok but I felt like I was working towards it and she gave me the tools to help myself. She also gave me handouts to remind myself what I needed to do. The day after my last session we were due to fly to Disneyland Paris (somewhere I had never been and I was very excited to be taking my two little girls, who were 5 and 3 at the time). I was very nervous about the drive to the airport, the flight and then being there. I took toilet roll and spare clothes in the car, my husband drove and I sat on a bin bag just to make myself feel better in case I needed the toilet. We listened to a YouTube calming channel the whole way to keep me calm. I managed it, and every little step I did my husband would tell me well done for reaching that part. Before the flight I must have gone to the toilet about 15 times just to make myself feel better, on the plane I quickly identified where the toilets were and watched intently when people used it and made sure I went regularly. Iv got to say although I kept putting things in place for my anxiety and IBS we did have an amazing time. I got to see my daughters faces when they met Cinderella (one of the best experiences of my life) and their thrill on all the rides. I was so proud of myself after that I had got to share in their happiness with them and that I hadn’t ruined it for them.
For now my anxiety was under control – I was still avoiding social situations and I was putting things in place when I did do stuff (checking for toilets, taking toilet roll with me) but I was coping.
Things were to change again though…