CBT When Those Three Letters Mean Totally Different Things and when it’s just time to Breathe!

It confused me slightly when I first heard the phrase. Compulsory Bike Training was what came to my mind with them as when years before I had learned to ride a Motorcycle this was a legal requirement. I did the training then the throttle jammed I rode the motorbike up a wall and it landed on top of me see  Almost a Biker Lots of physio for several months put pay to me ever getting back on one since then but I still have my bike gear in case I change my mind.

There I go flitting off on a different subject, Oh the butterfly mind again.

CBT -This time we are talking about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 

When I first attended Therapy for PTSD & Trauma following an accident I was sent into a group session for this therapy and to be perfectly honest with you I hated it. I tried really hard to be the positive one and take good experiences from it but dreaded each session, leaving early from home, sitting in the car thinking “I don’t need to go” sometimes getting out and having a talk with myself to pull myself together before getting back in the car and heading off.

At the sessions I could relate to what they were saying. I knew some of this stuff anyway but somewhere along the way had stopped applying it to my everyday thinking, or even when I really needed it. I had felt that sometimes I was unravelling and I really didn’t like the feeling. I did not have confidence, it had gone but I did retain the ability to instil confidence in others which meant that I fooled myself into thinking that I was recovered long before I actually was. As the weeks went by there were a few other people who turned up early and we would sit and talk to each other before the sessions started, some were very open about their reasons for attending, others were a little more reserved.

I do not actually remember her name, but she was post operative transgender who had been placed in a homeless facility. She had been Hospitalised  due to someone taking offence at her and had lost her home and her life as she knew it. The authorities moved her there and she had to share the whole facility with men. Following her ordeal she was wary around them and they saw her as skivvy to them as a woman but did not accept her either because of her sexuality. She was going through hell, but was fighting a battle against abuse substances and alcohol too. There is always someone worse off than you If you can think past yourself, did she but know it she helped me too. She just needed someone to talk to, to hear her since she had tried to commit suicide and felt so alone but before that would happen she, like I had to go through those sessions. We both struggled with the group sessions. I think everyone did but in the end I hope that she found them useful as I have done and found an understanding counsellor.

CBT taught me how to remain calm at least on the outside when the inside is in turmoil. Many talk of fight or flight and I think I was born to fly.  Unless I have a bee in my bonnet and decide to stand my ground which does happen, from time to time when my stubbornness kicks in. It also taught me that not all gut feelings are to be ignored. Yes we sometimes get things wrong and don’t see them the way we should due to paralyzing fear when we are in that fight or flight mode. 

If you look into this type of therapy then CBT is described as a type of talking treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.

It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think) and behaviour therapy (examining the things you do).

It forces you to rethink your first reaction to something in a negative or stressful situation and focus the mind to enable you to calm the body. It is beneficial if you suffer with anxiety or depression.

But if you can’t quite get your head around what is ruling it when you are stressed out…

Then it’s time to breathe. By regulating our breathing we can give our mind the chance at rational thought when flight or fight kicks in. Just a few deep breaths can make the world of difference. Don’t believe me? Just try it next time you are wound up.

Take the deepest breath you can and hold it whilst you count to three, then breathe out from as low down as possible in your stomach, do this three times at least. How do you feel now, a little calmer perhaps? I tried this at night when I was having awful nights with very little sleep. I found it improved that too. It was just too much for me to expect me to clear my thoughts as I did so, but just that small change has helped me.

After these group sessions and before I saw my one to one counsellor, there was a three month wait in between, whilst I tried to put into practice what I had learned and deal with the day to day, rebuilding my self confidence and with it my life.  I thought that I was doing so well I learned to block out my gut feelings for a while. I became mistrusting of them thinking that they should all be ignored as my brain struggled to cope with what life was throwing at me. It was a mistake. 

In certain situations I had a very strong feeling usually about people I met and during that time I did not trust my instincts and I should have. I put my trust in some people who saw weakness and chose to manipulate me and a situation, which left me wide open to their attacks. There I was kidding myself that I had my strength back, after all I was fine on the outside and wasn’t going to let it get me down. I got a new job, I thought I enjoyed it. I got on well with almost everyone there, was eager to please but could do nothing right for my direct manager. I spent a year working with a team where I just didn’t fit in.  Try as I may I could not change that, they had seen me as a usurper, someone who was there to break the little clique they already had.  For 12 months I tried my best, but struggled and felt as though I was drowning.  I had become even more withdrawn, desperate and miserable, when beforehand I was trying and had started to become upbeat and positive again.  Whilst I saw the counsellor with whom I was referred for a totally different reason, to get me through the trauma of an accident I spent the majority of the sessions discussing my job, the situations I was in and how I should cope.

I really felt that I gained a benefit from the one to one sessions. She told me that it wasn’t me, it was them. Where I had been beating myself up, figuratively speaking for months thinking where did I go wrong?  I found that running the situations past her, someone who wasn’t biased like my partner or mother, might help me see more clearly. She advised me to find a new job for my own sanity and get out of there, she could see the damage it had done to me over the short time I had been her client. Furthermore, she said I should also find something which made me happy, to do something for myself at least once a week it would help my recovery.  She suggested that since I was missing my creativity, (it had gone when things started to go downhill for me) that I follow my true nature and get creative again. I began with a simple adult colouring book and it seemed to open the floodgates, just the simple act of adding colour to the pages.

It took a while but I did and began to write poetry again.  After a while there were quite a few poems. I thought about a book, but did not have a clue how to get my work out there or publish it. So I decided to begin the blog so that at last I would be able to have a voice again. I had felt that there were very few who were inclined to listen, however my counsellor reassured me that my voice would be heard.  I am not talking about shouting from the rooftops or getting on my soap box about subjects. I needed to make sense of the things that were in my head. It was part of my therapy and would help me more than I could have ever anticipated.

I am not out of the woods yet, figuratively speaking there are times when thoughts are dark and miserable. There are others when I am extremely happy and there is so much in between.

If you are feeling depressed or suffering, please do not do it alone. Whatever it takes to get your help, speak to someone, if you do not have someone you can trust then call a helpline.

 

 

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Emotional Blackmail, via email or a Lesson to be Learned.

It’s strange how one quick scan through looking at your email can give you the familiar guilty feelings and bring all your worries to the fore.  These are mailing lists which you sign up for, when you are feeling that you need a bit of help, some guidance in your life, or are curious as to whether you are doing any of it right.  Never underestimate the effect that this can have on someone who is depressed.  I have found that reading emails and seeking out self-help guides is a way to reassure yourself, that others are going through it to, there must be help out there, someone may have the answer as to how to fix that and sometimes they will even share it.  (Darn that practical thinking once again!) A quick scroll through however, will sadly reaffirm all your worst fears, that you aren’t doing enough, or doing it right, your body is not slim enough, your mind is not tuned in to what it should be, your business is not working the way it should be, you can re-set your thinking and your whole world will just drop into place again. There are “coaches” who will be behind you every step of the way.

IF ONLY!    Of course if you would just send them some more of your hard earned, or non existent cash.  They would be able to help you achieve more, worry less, be slim, be strong, help others or the very next best thing would be on it’s way to you by some secret or celestial force.

It is very difficult when you are going through a dark place, not to pick up things along the way, which sit in the back of your mind and eat away at your sub-conscious.   Some months ago, I was desperate for help to ease my worried mind.  I wanted so badly for things in my life to change for the better, that for a moment I believed the hype….  That some complete stranger could show me the way out of this mess I was in.  That’s the trouble when your mental health takes a swan dive. Don’t get me wrong, there are some Life Coaches who hit the nail on the head and whom you actually feel can help and there are people who do.  It isn’t all doom and gloom.

At the time though, I received an email, telling me that I had a Guardian Angel, who was watching over me and who could guide me, they might even be able to tell me where I had been going wrong all this time, or how to avoid any future pitfalls.  For a small fee, they would offer help,  a reading or perform some mystical thing which would set me back on track on the original path from which I had clearly deviated.

At the time, I had funds.  So,  what had I got to lose?  I thought, I paid a small fee, for him to work his magic, (Yes I do believe in Magic but that is a subject for another day) he sent me something to download and follow which would bring me celestial assistance. (Or Not)  Someone I could call upon in times of difficulty who would be there.  (Isn’t that what my partner is for?)  Little did I know that I would be bombarded for months with emails which would send me on a huge guilt trip.   It promised that I would come into some money, which when you are broke is always a bit of a carrot to entice you. Furthermore that on a certain date, games of luck would go my way.  It is very easy to hope that someone is right when you are feeling low, it would have been so easy to spend a fortune on Lottery Tickets and this person’s “Help” and where would it have got me? On a couple of occasions I gambled.  Those “special dates in my charts, the stars etc ” came and went and needless to say, there was no change in my finances.  My natural cynicism must have overtaken the good stuff and Lo another date was mentioned.

As a pretty sensitive person, on the other occasions where I did not even have enough money to buy food or pay the bills, I received the emails which told me off for not having parted with yet more funds told me that time was running out, it would all go wrong for me if I did not take this offer up. I felt the guilt, thought about if I could scrape together just a bit more money, it might make the difference…  Of course I didn’t and it didn’t, then having been berated, a few days later despite me not taking the offer up, I would receive another one, with a different name of something that I would surely need in my life and a new date.

Instead having been on the hook for a very short time, so I thought, When things just got steadily worse and worse, I faced facts.  I had given it a go, but accepted that it wasn’t to be. Perhaps this person’s insight had been off-kilter and wasn’t meant for me at all.   At this point it would also have been very easy to think, hang it all that they were right, “there is some dark, evil force hanging over me, which I need to rid myself of”.  Yes, this was actually the content of one of the emails I received.  But instead, a part of the old me re-appeared the stubborn me and I thought, I’ll show them, I will do it.  I will not be beaten.

Last week, I woke up one morning to be met with another such email.  I suddenly decided to cull the email inbox, it was time. I removed myself from this regular onslaught upon my sense of wellbeing and the threat of a cloud lifted almost immediately.  I really should keep going and get rid of some of the other emails too but hey, one step at a time….

Things started to feel better, day to day and the future.  If the days were meant to go well, then they would. I handed my future back to fate pleased that it would be in her hands for a while, that I cannot push in a direction that I may not be able to go.  I can only do what I do, if I do it well, then life will reward me. If I do not, then Karma will give me that kick up the backside, which I will probably deserve.

And that brings me to my #LessonsLearned:

Fate has always served me rather well that along with my intuition, whom I should follow much more carefully in the future. I believe in Magic, it presents itself in so many ways.  I have my very own Guardian Angel looking out for me all along, he is living, breathing and beside me every day.

The Daily Post – Underestimate