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.
At the beginning of the week, I wrote a post about making your own personal goals. (Read it here.) So, that’s just what I did. I have been off work due to Easter break and this week had to spend it alone, which is something I find difficult to do. So, every day this week, I wrote a list of things that I wanted to get done and also in order, so that I had a structure for my day and something to achieve. Some items on the lists were small and others were larger jobs. I was going to add a photograph of them but I feel it’ll be much neater if I type them out (though I have added an image of them at the end, to show you how I did it)!
Today I woke up and I didn’t want to get out of bed.
I was giving into my compulsions to check, getting more and more anxious each time. (Even as I write this, my anxiety is consuming me, but I do not want to let it win!)
I felt like I was taking a step backwards, which I didn’t want to be doing. I didn’t want to get sucked back into the dark hole where nothing good ever came of anything. After all, I have so much to be thankful for that should stop that from happening.
Recovery is like a rollercoaster. When I posted yesterday about anxiety being like a rollercoaster, it got me thinking how recovery is the same. And remember that rollercoasters keep on going, they don’t stop, they go up, down, round and round, then there is a moment of calm until it goes back around the track all over again. That’s how I feel my life is; one minute I feel okay and content, the next I am low, then I come back up again. Every now and then I feel calm.
The whole point of what I am posting now is to show that it’s completely fine to have ups and downs in your recovery. There is no miracle cure, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and all is right with the world. Today I have curled up a little on the sofa, watched some TV, read other people’s blogs and tried my best not to give into my compulsions. Tomorrow I may have a better day where I get my to-do list done. We’ll see!
Sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to face demons that we don’t want to face. It’s easy to hide away, close the curtains and shut off the entire world. That’s a safe place; trust me, I know. Sometimes I need a day (or week!) in my safe place. But do we ever feel better for it? Does it just make the anxiety about facing reality worse?
Recently, I found myself in a bad place where I didn’t want to be with anyone or leave the house. I wanted to close the curtains and just scour the internet for SOMETHING that would make me feel better about the situation I was in. So, I did just that. I took a whole week to just do nothing because I couldn’t bare to face the world. To everyone else, I was just feeling unwell. I suppose really, I was unwell, but mentally rather than physically.
The journey to a happy and comfortable state of mind may be within touching distance or miles away through a long, dark tunnel. We all have our own personal battles, whether that be mild anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, grief or chronic depression. That being said, it’s important to know that it will not all be okay with a click of the fingers; it takes time and perseverance. Not only this but it may be easier some days than on other days.
For me, I suffer with low confidence and anxiety regarding how I look and how people perceive me. I sunk into a dark depression last year, and ever since, have been doing what I can to try and bring myself back up from the ‘darkness.’ That has included CBT therapy, positive thinking and mindfulness activities. I am no longer in a depressed state of mind, however my self-esteem is still low and my anxiety can still get pretty high leading up to events.
I thought I’d take the time to review the MoodGYM program provided by the charity Mind. You can find it here: https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/moodgym (it took a little while to load each page on my mac, but then sometimes my internet can be super slow).
It starts with a ‘Warpy Thoughts Test’ where you have to tick the statements and whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree… and so on. It took about 10 minutes to complete this part (although in each module, it asks you to complete it again… which is quite tedious).
“How do you know that people are thinking that about you?”
“I just know, by the way they look at me.”
“Have you got any evidence to tell you what they’re thinking?”
This is a conversation I have frequently with my CBT therapist. Whenever I meet friends that I haven’t seen in a while, or even when I pop to the shop, I am bewildered by thoughts of what the people around me must be thinking. “She looks horrible.” “She needs to look in the mirror and sort her hair out.” “She looks cheap.” “What on Earth is that girl wearing!” “She smells bad.” These are just a few of the thoughts I have whenever I see someone looking or I catch somebody’s eye.
This, my therapist told me, is mind reading.