Earlier this week I had a medical review with my psychiatrist and care coordinator. I was quite nervous about the appointment; this was my first review in almost a year and it felt as though there was an awful lot (too much!) to talk about.
I have been really struggling with my mental health recently. Although I have no schizophrenic symptoms such as delusions and psychosis, my mood is very low at times and I have been having some suicidal thoughts. I wake up each morning with severe anxiety and depression, and I struggle with the onset of panic attacks perhaps once or twice a week.
After explaining all of this to my psychiatrist in the review meeting, he was quick to mention Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and he described this as the first and most effective treatment he would recommend for my symptom profile. I explained that I was sceptical about attempting a talking therapy when my symptoms seemed so physical, but the only other option offered to me was anti-depressants, and I am even more sceptical about those!
I asked to be referred for CBT and was told the waiting list would be around 3 months, which doesn’t seem too bad. I went to my local library and got out a book called ‘Teach Yourself CBT’ which I hoped would serve as a good introduction to the therapy.
Actually, this isn’t my first experience of CBT. I attended a 10 week group CBT course run by Oxfordshire Mind a few years ago. I found that particular course largely unhelpful, but it did serve as a good introduction to the tools and methods of CBT.
As I have been reading the ‘Teach Yourself CBT’ book I have been using some of the methods from the book to challenge my negative thought patterns. For example, yesterday, when I felt the onset of a panic attack after going for a walk in a busy park, I lay on my bed and began to evaluate why I was feeling panicky, whether it was rational, and whether I should really be feeling more calm.
As I reasoned with myself I did feel the panic symptoms ease somewhat. This gives me confidence that the methods of CBT may actually help me with some of the difficult emotions I experience on a daily basis. I am feeling a little more positive now about attending a one-to-one CBT course at my local hospital. And to have a little hope, at a time like this, is a really good thing.
What is your experience of CBT?
Do you have any advice about CBT?