It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything informative regarding treatment, so I thought I’d give you the lowdown on what’s being going on during Jim and I’s appointments.
To recap, the last time I posted about CBT, it was just starting. I was a naive little thing, who didn’t actually believe that it’d make a difference in the grand scheme of things. But it has, and not in the way I expected.
My appointments have now gone from weekly to fortnightly, which I suppose is a good sign – well, as good as it could get when you’re literally being treated for being a miserable cow. The past few months with Jim have been…bizarre. He’s a strange guy, but they always say that those who study the mind are somewhat mad themselves, don’t they?
The sessions start off the exact same way that they always have, with a session objective and focus point. Jim usually asks me to score my weeks out of 10, and expects a full justification on the score given. For example, last week I said ‘7/8, because nothing bad has happened.’ Jim doesn’t like that. He feels ‘just because nothing bad has happened, doesn’t mean it deserves that score.’ He wants reasons, prompting me to eventually list the positive things in life. Family, friends etc – I think he does this to remind me that there’s good shit going on. I’m not so ill anymore where I don’t know this, but he likes to remind me, I guess.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been studying my perception of things and how it compares to the actual reality. The thing with my condition is that, once you have your first ‘wobbly’ moment, your perspective is almost instantly tarnished. Nothing is completely good, everything MUST have a negative side – or at least a side that you’re unsure of. Paranoia is a better term for it. Usually, Jim asks about my thoughts regarding a situation that’s occurred since last seeing each other. A typical conversation might go like this:
Jim: And how did that make you feel?
Me: Ehhh, a bit shit I suppose. Like I’m a bad person.
Jim: But what do bad people do? In your opinion…
Me: Kill people, steal, cheat…that kind of thing *nervous laugh*
Jim: And do you do those things?
Jim: So are you really that bad a person then?
He probes at everything. He wants to know why you think your thoughts, and where they’ve come from. He will always emphasize the difference between thoughts and reality, which is probably the hardest part for me to accept. I’m a stubborn git, so it’s hard for me to understand that my thoughts aren’t completely right, 100% of the time.
In terms of diagnosis progression, I’ve started to show signs of a bipolar-sort syndrome. One minute I’m in love with everything and everyone, the next I’ll be sliding back in to who I was in December. I’ll admit that I can be passive aggressive, and I go silent with genuine anger sometimes – for no reason at all. It’s easier to shake now, though. And usually I just sleep it off, or go to my mums to feel a bit safer. That sounds morbid, as if I cant be left alone – but once you know what your mind is capable of, you’re better safe than sorry. It rarely happens, but when it does, that’s the jam. Jim approves, and seems chuffed that I’m able to take this protective steps for myself.
I get ‘homework’ now, too. I bought myself a sassy little folder from Paperchase for it.
£2.50 by-the-way. For a sheet of fucking colourful plastic.
It’s full of leaflets, worksheets and appointment cards. If I escape the appointment without some sort of workbook, Jim will mail it to me the next day. There is absolutely no escaping that shit. Anyway, it’s actually an Australian programme that we follow, broken down into units like Worry, Intrusive Thoughts, Repetitive Behaviour and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). Every base is kinda covered. Typically, I need to fill out a few pages for the next session, along with a quiz to keep track of my general mood, regularity of harmful thoughts etc. Which, by-the-way, are very rare and diluted now. Always a funky sign!
The thing that still surprises me about CBT is the level of mindfulness that I’m gaining. Since starting, I’m definitely more aware of my thoughts and their origins. And even though I can’t control them, I understand them a little more. I know what causes me to jump to conclusions, to feel fear or to be comforted.
Prosecco. Pizza. Will & Grace – in that order. FYI.
I think I started therapy assuming that Jim would be some monocle-wearing idiot, questioning me about my childhood and such. But really, all he does is assure me that everything starts somewhere. And it’s his job to find why my depression began, and how to deal with it. In terms of the bipolar symptoms, he’s monitoring those along with my GP. I always thought that a therapist would just try to make you happy and get over shit, but it’s actually the contrary. There’s a lot of confronting yourself, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s all good though, I know that it’ll make a difference in the long run.
Anyway, it’s going okay. I can’t say I enjoy blethering about feelings to a relatively new person, I’m a bottler. It’s a bit tricky for me to start appointments, but once the ball starts rolling, I’m good.
I’ll always endorse the attendance of therapy to anyone who has the option. Private or NHS, these people are pretty good at what they do. As I’ve said before, it’s a mindfuck, but you’ll get there. It’s worth it.