Do I Need CBT – Part 2

I don’t think anybody else would consent to discussing their mental health on the street, surrounded by strangers. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these situations. I doubt “I apologise but I’m out shopping, could you possibly call me again later” would be the rudest, most awful thing my NHS mental health liason person could hear on the phone. And yet instead of those words, I found myself standing at the bus stop, agreeing to carry out an assessment, surrounded by both strangers and the strange!

It all started when I visited the GP office for a meds refill. My long term GP wasn’t listed on the surgery’s online booking system, so in true technological-age style, I booked in with a random GP rather than make a phone call to an actual human. For some reason this new GP was obsessed with decreasing my meds, with a view to their eventual cessation. Now, as any of you who rely on your meds to function in the real world will know, this is a terrifying prospect and it immediately brought me out in a cold sweat. I agreed with her, nodding and umm-ing in all the right places, while in my mind resolving not to see her again. I figured I would return to my own GP, who seems less inclined to withhold my shiny, sanity-inducing sweeties. During all of this agreeing though, I somehow found myself referred to the NHS mental health service. I walked out wondering what mind games this woman was trained in!

A couple of days later I received a phone call from a blocked number while walking down the aforementioned street. The gods are definitely in league with this GP against me, because in a very out-of-character move I answered the unknown caller. It was the mental health service: did I have time for a quick chat? Which is the story of I found myself standing beside a woman who I’m pretty sure was a man in a dress, spilling my emotional guts into my phone.

I think the caller expected a quick “tick-the-box” appointment scheduling call as she asked me why I needed CBT and why I would benefit from their service. Instead, she got every one of her questions right back at her. (Serves her right for the “private number” caller ID trick if you ask me!)
Caller: Why do you need CBT?
Me: I don’t know, do I need CBT?
Caller: Do you think CBT or counselling would be more beneficial to you?
Me: I don’t know, do you think CBT or counselling would be more beneficial to me?

You get the idea!

And so, I find myself with a screening call scheduled this month, the day after my holidays in fact, to discuss my options & figure out the answer to the question that’s been on my mind for several months now: do I need CBT?

Do I Need CBT – Part 2

Do I Need CBT?

I hit rock bottom on Saturday. Slammed into rock bottom more like! I didn’t see it coming. I had a pretty lousy Friday that ended in a fight with my boss. Saturday morning I knew I wasn’t right and on opening the door after a massage appointment my hallway presented a very clear choice: right to bed or left to life. I chose bed. And that’s where I stayed.

Poor Mr Moany hasn’t ever seen my rock bottom so I think it came as a bit of a shock to him. It has to be said though, he dealt with it impeccably. I told him “pretend I’m not here” and that’s exactly what he did. I felt no guilt about not partaking in entertainments or chats, because he got on with his weekend and left me to myself.

On Sunday I felt it better, thankfully. It had been a hit & run attack rather than a full blown episode. So much better in fact, that I looked at some CBT online and sourced a therapist. Which brings me, ever so round-about-ly to the title: do I need CBT?

I don’t hate myself. I don’t think I’m a failure or an idiot. I don’t berate myself so much these days for not being perfect. My old therapist and I spent a lot of time working on acceptance of self and I like to think I do okay in that sense. I have learned to cut myself some slack and even on Saturday I allowed myself to just accept the dark clouds and “go under” knowing that I would come out again. I accepted the shitty day knowing it wasn’t forever and didn’t feel weak for not having the ability to turn it around.

I say my boyfriend is a saint to put up with me, but rather than negative-talk that’s realism. On the flip side, I also know I bring a lot of positives to his life. I describe myself as crazy, but in jest. If I lose my sense of humour it really will be time to give up! In fact, I don’t think my illness has anything to do with my crazy. My brand of crazy is more about being kooky than ill.

So I don’t know if I need CBT. But the thing is, I don’t really know where else to go on this journey. If it is a journey and not in fact my destination. Perhaps this is my life. Perhaps there is no “one day”. Perhaps this is as good as it gets. If it is, that’s okay. It’s the what-if that’s the problem.

Do I Need CBT?

Have a Bad Day

Today was a {lower voice to whisper like solemn tone, wrinkle forehead, avoid eye contact} “bad day”. How many of us have uttered those words to a friend, partner or medical professional? I sometimes feel like I should have a reversible door sign “good day/bad day” that I can hang on the front door, to warn my boyfriend what awaits him when he puts his key in the lock. And I’m thoroughly sick of it.

Why? Because all my days are actually good days. And I don’t mean that in some happy-clappy tree-hugging way. I have a wonderful, supportive boyfriend, a loving family, great friends and a progressing career. I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today – professionally, personally and mentally. So to write a day off as “bad”, well that does my journey, the upbringing provided by my mother and the love unconditionally given by my partner a serious injustice.

We are ourselves every day and yes, some days are better and some are worse – but each day is good because we are alive, we are surviving and we always have tomorrow. So instead of saying I’m having a “bad day” I think I’ll try out saying “my illness made me feel like today was a bad day”. I’ll still be communicating that I feel awful, less than my optimum self. But I’m hoping it will be powerful in its underlying suggestion that these feelings have been thrust upon me and may not in fact be entirely accurate. It suggests that tomorrow can be a good day, because in reality today was too – my stupid illness just tried to fool me into thinking otherwise!

It may seem like a small and insignificant thing. But then this illness is one that can be triggered by the smallest of slights (real or imaginary), by a degree of change in the weather, by the inevitability of a certain date rolling around each year, by the movement of a teeny tiny neuron… So perhaps the devil is in the detail and our own small efforts at self management (or survival) can actually be incredibly powerful. Therapy, medication and/or social support are the best weapons of mass destruction for depression but perhaps, some days, just hinting to your broken brain that you’re wise to it’s twisted game will get you through.

Have a Bad Day