I'm Lisa, I'm a 27 year old final year PhD student and I've been suffering recently from anxiety and mild depression. After reaching a hugely low point, I decided to see a counsellor who recommended CBT. I also went to my GP who agreed with the course of action from my counsellor. I have to say it was a massive relief to talk to someone and to realise my feelings are completely normal and I'm not 'going mad'. I have suffered from depression in the past and have been on antidepressants on two occasions. Both of these times were reactionary. First I reacted to my beloved grandma dying, I was only 17 and had been lucky enough so far in life to not experience death (apart from with pets). It really hit me hard but perhaps I should have been offered bereavement counselling rather than tablets. In any case, I wasn't on them very long, got my A levels, went to university. When I was at uni, my parents split up. The details I feel now aren't really important but suffice to say it was pretty darn messy and the situation actually took a while to hit me and it was about 2 years later I started having panic attacks and had what I would describe as a mild social phobia. Again, I was put on tablets but in this instance I think it was counselling that helped me, although without the tablets I probably wouldn't have built up the courage to ask for counselling. Ths was 4 years ago.
More recently I have been very stressed and anxious, lose my appetite and cannot sleep a lot, project problems forward and imagine worse case scenarios and convince myself this is what will happen and there is no way out. CBT will hopefully help me tackle these issues. So, I decided I wanted to blog my experiences with CBT as I think it will help myself and hopefully others. I've just completed the first of 8 sessions.
Today, I found out I didn't get a job I really wanted. They need someone to start now and I can't start yet. So they're going to carry on looking and if they don't find anyone I'm on their list and they will be back in touch. Usually this would tip me over the edge. And it did. For about an hour. So just the action of knowing I'm doing something positive has helped.
But enough about me, if you are kind enough to read this I want to give some info on CBT too if I am able to.
The first session is probably more of a tutorial and info on what CBT is and how it will help. There is a summary on what is depression and what is anxiety, and what the causes are. The second half of the session explains a little more on how to overcome them.
Depression and anxiety are affected by 2 main factors. What we do and what we think. There's a little cycle, anxiety and depression cause us to have negative and unrealistic thoughts, we only see the bad side of things and so on. These negative thoughts and feelings stop us from doing things we enjoy and can e maybe make us ill or unable to sleep etc. This lack of enjoyment and the physical affects on our bodies make us think even more negatively. So we find ourselves in an ever downward cycle. We lose sight of what is important, focussing on the past or the future instead of the here and now.
The sessions give you weekly tasks to complete which build up into a bigger picture as the sessions go on.
The first task is to write down up to three of the problems that are affecting you. I chose 2. I could have written 3 but my mind still being a little all over the place only remembered 2! I think I get a chance to amend and update these in future sessions. My problems as I see them right now include sleep issues and that I am terrified about my future and finding a job. I've worked so hard and it all seems so pointless right now as nobody wants to employ me! The format of writing down these problems is define the problem, say how often it occurs and then what you are doing when it occurs. The task is to keep a diary for a week of the problems.
The second task is to do something you enjoy! This can be anything, but should be something you find yourself avoiding doing. So I chose reading for pleasure (I read a lot of academic papers, nothing pleasurable about that!!). On tuesday night I have to read for at least an hour as I said I will give up 3-5 hours this week to complete my tasks. After all, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.
My take home message from session one is that it is ok to enjoy yourself. I always think that enjoying yourself was a way of hiding your problems and brushing them to one side, whereas in reality people who have a lot of pleasure in their lives are happier more positive people. And because of that, they have less problems.
Wow, I've gone on a bit haven't I!? If you got this far thank you for reading. If people want me to, I'll blog the rest of the sessions. Hope I haven't bored you too much!