Monday, 22 February 2016

First Sessions of CBT

I have been trying to articulate my feelings towards my first introductory sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for the last few weeks, however my mind is a bit of a mess and spinning like a washing machine, so forgive me now if this post end ups becoming a poorly structured essay. 

This post follows on one of my last posts. If you haven't already read, it's here

Before my initial session I had spoken on the phone to the practitioner I was due to meet. We planned an early appointment, although I am twenty and an adult my mum came along with me which probably stopped me from having some kind of nervous breakdown in the waiting room. Before our meeting, I had been sent some documents to fill in detailing my feelings over the last two weeks and now every session I do the same questionnaire to track how my weeks have been - which I find helpful and positive to see some minor change in how I'm feeling although I'm worried for my next session because there has been no progression. (Too many pessimistic feelings at the moment, sorry sorry sorry!) 

Recalling something my practitioner said, I think we'll name him now because saying practitioner is already frustrating - Tom. Okay so in my last session we spoke about this experience of mental health as a learning curve.
Nothing will be a straight line. I may feel good one day or have a good, positive few weeks but I might crash down 10x harder the next week and he reassured me that it is completely okay to fall back down. 

Funny that, since my last session I have crashed back down but through recognising my triggers using models such as the Hot Cross Bun or ABC model which makes you think about what triggers your feelings, my body sensations when I'm feeling those emotions, how I coped or more, how I didn't cope with those feelings and my thoughts during the situation.

Our sessions are 25 minutes long, or rather they seem short and at first I thought perhaps pointless. I mean, how much could you talk about in 25 minutes? I was being pessimistic about the sessions because I was nervous, and worried that they wouldn't be of any use. I have had three sessions now and I am learning a lot about how my mind processes my feelings and how my body reacts to my feelings. Our sessions are currently working on changing my behaviours towards my low moods.

To help combat my moods Tom gave me a workbook to fill in first creating a hierarchy in my daily activities, this includes the tasks I do routinely (Going to college, cooking for myself etc) then tasks that I find pleasurable (Gym, cinema and reading) and last but not least tasks that are necessary (Administrating diabetes medication, paying bills and attending doctors appointments). With the list of tasks I then categorised them into what is the most difficult ones to complete, through medium to easy.

A massive part of my depression and anxiety for me is losing routine. I am normally a very structured person, probably obsessed with control in my life. I like getting up early, having breakfast at around 8am, lunch around 12pm and dinner around 5pm and a bath around 6pm, however depression prevents me from having the energy to do anything. My sleeping pattern gets out of control, not sleeping at night leading me to sleeping all day therefore not eating nor going to college or doing any of my daily responsibilites. I have learned it's a vicious cycle that I'm constantly feeding.

My sessions have been helpful in teaching me how to break the cycle. Tom gave me planners to pre-plan my upcoming weeks to start re-gaining control over my life. Just your typical planner from Monday to Sunday with morning/afternoon/evening slots. Having control and structure is important to me so having these plans as guidance has been beneficial to me; it's helped me attend more social events because I have them written down in front of me and anxiety can't stop me backing out, however it can be difficult because last minute plans throw me off.  Just in general, getting my life back on track, mostly. Simply noting down the days and times of what I need to do, sessions to the gym, revision time etc etc. It all sounds straightforward and something a lot of people do, I mean organise your friggin' life gurl, but depression steals all my energy and motivation to do anything - to the point that going to the toilet is too much of a task. Hahaha.

I'm looking forward to my next session. I come out of the building feeling light, having spoken to someone about everything and anything feels so good.

I kept quiet about how I felt for far too long so now to be able to talk to someone, and not feel guilty or ashamed feels amazing and it's also allowed me to open up to more people about my problems. My friends are more aware, as are my tutors at college who are probably the most helpful in pushing deadlines for me and sending me any missed work.

To end this post somewhat positively I'm going to list/set myself some little goals to aid my life getting back on track and back to normality.


  1. Go for more walks because the fresh air clears your mind and your dog will probably be grateful for a run through the mud.
  2. Read one book a week.
  3. Cook dinner every night (I have been living on porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner lol)
  4. Talk to somebody when you're feeling down instead of shutting everyone out.
  5. Get off social media, other than #TheGirlGang ;) 

A post full of rambles and hopefully some useful information if you're considering getting help from professionals or are in therapy sessions already.