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.

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Do I Need CBT?

Depression: The Curse of the Strong (Review)

Quite a few months ago I came across a book called Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong by Dr. Tim Cantopher*. Naturally, any book that wants to tell me I’m strong has to be worth a read so I clicked that oh-too-simple-to-spend-my-money 1-click-purchase button. The book then lived idly on my Kindle for several months while my money lived actively in the Amazon bank account. I should probably work on my impulse buying! However, I did eventually get around to reading it and I figured I should share some of my thoughts with you all in a review of sorts. So here goes.

I finished this book in about 3 evenings. It’s really simple to read and does quite a good job of explaining without being patronising (about 90% of the time – in some places I think the author went a little overboard with the “you’re so strong” message). This book has divided me. On the one hand, I think those of us suffering from depression could do with a nice dose of positive energy and reassurance that we do indeed suffer from a physical illness. On the other hand I’m not quite sure that the author has carried through on his attention-grabbing title – I found that I closed the book with a little bit more self-love and a sense of strength but no practical ideas for maintaining that state. The suggestions are the usual: rest, relax, ask your boss to reduce your hours, don’t watch TV before bed….nothing I hadn’t heard before. Perhaps I’m looking for a miracle cure but if you author a book for the Type A personality you can’t really expect them to start spontaneously meditating. In fact, I would argue that we are the very people who should be given activities and exercises instead…something to DO! That’s just how we work.

The best chapter in the book is probably the first chapter: “What is depressive illness”. The author does a good job of explaining some fairly complex biological and psychological concepts. Of course, a neuroscientist would probably criticise the simplified diagrams and “electric circuit” analogies but lets face it, if you have depression any explanation of the brain that contains words with more than 3 syllables just isn’t going to work. Some days I have to read the microwave instructions on my soup twice! If it piques your interest my advice would be to pick up a first year university textbook on neuro-psychology for further reading.

The rest of the chapters were disappointing, however if this is the first book you are reading on depression then you’ll probably find them excellent. The author offers a good review of the history of depression (including some fun “ye old treatments” info) and an overview of the main schools of thought on the ever-present “why do I have depression” question. As a first-time reader I think you could do a lot worse than Dr. Cantopher as your guide. As somebody with a background in the field and who has read extensively on the topic I didn’t find anything new here. I did enjoy the author’s style however and I wish I had found this book when I was first starting out on my journey. In chapter 4 the author does introduce some interesting perspectives on positive thinking and introduced me to the concept of being able to “fail well”, i.e. failing, forgiving yourself & learning from it. This is something that I am particularly bad at therefore it was a section of the book that resonated with me and has led me down a path of further reading. I hope to share my thoughts and findings as I go.

I believe that the key to this book might be in what you are looking to get from it. For me, it was refreshing to read a book based entirely on the premise that I am a strong individual, instead of focusing on my negative traits. Unlike self-help books that encourage you to work on your negative traits with the aim of minimising them, this book focuses on your strengths and understanding how they may have contributed to your illness. Dr Cantopher by no means suggests that we should desire to be weaker, only that we recognise what we are doing to ourselves and quite simply: give ourselves a break! I think that is something that all Type A personalities could do with.

Overall, this is a great book for those new to the topic and an interesting read for those of us already possessing knowledge. Within the pages I found a signpost for further explorations, I hope you will too.

Note: Probably one key thing to mention about this book is that it is based on stress-induced depression and is not aimed at those suffering from Bipolar, postnatal depression, SAD, etc. So if you have one of these disorders this probably isn’t the book for you. This work is aimed at us Type A over-achievers who, in a way, have “stressed” ourselves into depression.

* This is an associate link to Amazon. I’m not looking to monetise this blog, it’s never been my intention. I’m just very technologically inquisitive (I’m learning PHP in my spare time) and wondering how this whole affiliate thing works. If you abhor these practices I apologise for this and if you’ve already clicked the link please clear your cache. If you haven’t clicked yet, you can just go to Amazon and search for the title instead of going through this site. Thanks.

Depression: The Curse of the Strong (Review)

I’m Normal…Maybe!

Recent Daily Prompt is: Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?


Normal? Who knows what that is! We all claim to know – average, acceptable, some even say boring. Mental illness, theft, homosexuality, bird watching….every activity in life is deemed normal or abnormal depending on who’s doing the judging.

Me, I prefer cold hard facts to feelings. Show me the numbers. Abnormality can be defined as statistical infrequency, i.e. the issue in question is enjoyed / suffered / done by a statistically insignificant amount of the population.

So far so good.

However, with WHO estimating that 350 million people suffer from depression globally, some doubt is cast on its position in the abnormal pile. The same with mental health “issues” and the widely quoted 1-in-4 statistic. So, when does the abnormal become normal? And are we confusing normal with desirable?

While statistics suggest that it just might become “normal” to suffer from a mental illness it’s certainly not suddenly about to become desirable or en vogue just because “everyone’s doing it”. So, when faced with an abnormality, perhaps we shouldn’t be asking “is this normal”, perhaps instead we should be asking “are these circumstances that seem desirable to me”…

I’m Normal…Maybe!