This week drew a close to the CBT that I have been lucky enough to receive at least fortnightly since January. For almost half a year, I met with my therapist to try and put an end to the horrible OCD thoughts, anxiety and depression by learning new tips and techniques.
I didn’t expect to be ending my therapy when she suggested it. We had talked about it a little, but as new things kept coming up, she wanted to keep seeing me. It was a bit of a whim decision; I sat there thinking that there was nothing new to say and she suggested we stop meeting as she felt I’d made enough progress to continue CBT independently. We reviewed how my feelings had changed and I filled in the same questionnaire that I completed when I first started, feeling a little downhearted and unsure because I knew I had been relying on seeing her when my anxiety was particularly high. However, she showed me the results and even I could see the significant change in my moods and feelings – I had really forgotten how bad things were for me towards the end of last year.
Luckily, she has agreed to give me a call this week to make sure that I am still happy to end the therapy. On one hand I don’t want to end; she was a listening, non-judgemental ear that I knew was always there. On the other hand, however, I know she has helped me as much as possible. The thing with CBT is, your therapist can give you the skills to support you and help with the anxiety (or whatever it is you’re seeing them about) but it is up to you to actually apply it to your life.
She taught me to always find evidence that disapproves my negative thinking. Whilst this was hard for me to do at first, she was so patient with me and encouraged me until it started to become second nature in my life. Whenever the negative thoughts happen now, I try my best to turn them around by thinking of the evidence to show my thinking is irrational. On harder days I have to write it down to physically prove to myself that my thoughts are not correct.
She taught me how to ‘live in the moment’ when my anxiety starts to become unbearable. I often get anxious about upcoming events, so she told me that it is silly to worry about them when you can’t change them, so when it starts to come, she has told me to sit it out and think about what I can see, hear, smell and touch. She taught me how to pay attention to all of the little things around me and focus on experiencing that.
She taught me to challenge myself; whenever my anxiety says NO YOU CAN’T GO THERE or NO DON’T DO THAT, PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU, I have to do it anyway. I have to feel the crippling fear as I do it, but then I realise that actually, nothing bad will happen. I have many social events that I used to put off under my belt now, which adds to my ‘evidence’ bank when my negative thinking crops up. I can prove to myself that despite the terrible feelings, I can do it anyway.
Whilst I am disappointed that my CBT has come to an end, I will continue to apply it to my life because I do truly believe that it has made a big impact on my mental health and the way I deal with it. It is by no means a fix (can mental health ever be fixed?) but it really is something you can use and apply to absolutely any situation. If you think it is something that could help you, you can refer yourself via your local NHS website and you don’t need to see a doctor in order to do this.
I am going to miss having someone to talk to and I am considering seeing a counsellor. My therapist told me that Mind provide counselling through their charity and you have to just pay a small fraction of the cost (she thought this to be around £10 a session, which I don’t think is unreasonable at all). I am also looking into perhaps hypnotherapy or reiki, but going to think on that one for a while.
If you would like any advice regarding CBT, I would be happy to chat to you, just comment below. x