CBT: Seventeenth Session

// T W // Self Harm 

 

Before I go into detail on this post, I would like to just say that I am certainly not bragging about having CBT, some people think I am. It’s like they think I like having therapy. Fun fact – I hate going therapy, I hate telling my therapist what I feel, I would never brag about doing something I fucking hate, I’m never going to stop blogging, it helps me and I’ve been told it helps others have an insight of therapy when they are worried about starting it. Nobody will stop me.

This session was really good, I should have been 6 weeks clean from self-harm on the day of the session but I self-harmed. However, I’m not letting it rule me, It’s one time in 6 weeks, I am so proud of myself for doing so, here’s to longer next time!

I asked my therapist about the assessment she mentioned as my mood swings are getting awful, really awful. But, because I’m in the IAPT system, I’ve got to see my GP first.. and she’s on annual leave, just my luck eh!

She asked me what I wanted to focus on, as all I am doing lately is exposure therapy for my social anxiety, which is actually going surprisingly well! I said I want to focus on BDD and on my mood and having things to get all my anger out, as I tend to snap at my friends and I hate myself for it.

 

Facing BDD is like facing social anxiety, it’s basically exposure therapy but without doing stuff to hide your body. For me, my exposure therapy includes wearing shorts and short sleeves, as I always wear jeans as my legs are a big part of my BDD and I always wear hoodies to hide my stomach and arms. I don’t quite feel ready for it at the moment, but my therapist says that’s okay! I need to still focus on my exposure therapy for my social anxiety as that needs to be a regular thing for me for the time being!

Hopefully, after I’m home from my holiday I’ll be able to see my doctor and get the reason for my horrific mood swings because I really need to get to the bottom of these as they are horrible and I can’t manage them at the moment.

Liam

Why I started blogging #MHAW17

I talked a bit about this in my post this week, social media & mental health. I thought it’d be a good topic to make a stand-alone post for, I’ve wanted to do one for a few weeks, but silly me hasn’t got around to doing it! Pro procrastinator over here.

I started blogging early January this year if I remember correctly, it is the same week I started CBT for the first time. My first post was my introduction to CBT. I started blogging because my therapist mentioned that I should have something where I can just vent, and just write whatever I want. A friend of mine mentioned blogging, I thought it was too late at first because there are many bloggers out there. I then realised I don’t do it for views or whatever I get, I do it for a place to vent, I still do.

I remember spending ages writing my first post and putting it out. It was scary, but it was a good feeling actually writing stuff. It got such a good and lovely response I was honestly shocked. I didn’t expect people to read my posts – I’m not the best writer at all…

I got into blogging real quick, I was doing a post every two days, I had so many things to write about and get off my chest, it really did my mental health good to start blogging and join the community of mental health bloggers. I was writing personal posts just because I wanted to, it was scary, posting about your life on a blog where anyone in the world could see, but it was good to do so, as I said before, it felt good.

I’ve not stopped blogging since I started, and I always tweet, like way too much. I’m so happy I started blogging, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have made so many supportive friends in this community, it really has made me a better person. The community is so positive and supportive and that’s why I love blogging so much, I am happy my friend mentioned blogging to me.

 

CBT: Twelfth session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This post was meant to go up yesterday, but I actually went out and socialised! Shock! I had a great time and challenged my anxiety in multiple ways!As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

I filled out the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 questionnaire. The scores are going down slowly, which is great! We focused the session on what we can do to get the scores down. She mentioned that my depression can go down with doing things, challenging it. Not staying in all day where it’ll get worse and then the self-harm starts again. I’ve only self-harmed once in two weeks! I am beyond happy about this, things are looking so good it’s brilliant I LOVE IT! We also talked about the CBT formula and the cycle of depression, which I am apparently slowly breaking! Woo!

I mentioned how I seem to be so agitated and I tend to just snap at people lately, even my parents and sisters. I seem to snap for some reason. It makes me feel so crap when I just shout at them but I have no reason why I do so. I also explained how I sleep so much and it’s not making me feel any better, so she wants me to set up a schedule, for each week – I had one with my previous therapist but with my relapse of SH and being moved up to higher intensity therapist, I didn’t really stick by it.

The schedule for this week included getting up at 10 am, prevent boredom by doing things I love – reading, blogging, writing, fishing, listening to music etc. Go out with a friend, which I did yesterday and it was the best day for a long time! It also includes me buying a journal which I’ve already done – god I am getting this scheduled one brilliantly!!! I told her about my low self-esteem and how I feel about myself. She then mentioned trying a “positive qualities log” as she explained how people may say nice stuff, but when you’re struggling it just goes over your head and you don’t really take notice. This log should help me with that. I have to write everything people say positive about me, may it be in person, on twitter or anything!

After the schedule idea was explained and it sounded really good, I think it’ll help a lot. We talked more about my irritability, and like my snapping at people. She mentioned a stress ball and asked what I do to chill… I then realised I don’t really do much to chill and that’s where I could be going wrong. I need to chill out more.

I went on to how I feel about my depression getting better, but my anxiety is still really bad. I know that I am going to ask my doctor about propranolol to reduce the physical symptoms but I also need to make my anxiety go down with other things, not just medication. We are hopefully going to look at that soon – if my doctor does give me propranolol that is!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eleventh Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

I went into this session the best I’ve felt in a long time. I only self-harmed once in 7 days. I am so proud of myself for being clean for 7 days. I told my therapist this obviously, and she was so made up and she knew I was going to be so much happier when I start going out more. I went for a meal last Friday, a party on Saturday and wales on Sunday. That is such a big step for me with my social anxiety!

My therapist did say that once I start fighting my anxiety and panic attacks and start going out more, my depression will get slightly better over time and my self-harm should do.. and it is!

We basically just talked about what I did the last week, and what I wanted to. There was no CBT involved really, it was just talking and I love it when the session is like that, it’s ace to get things off my chest! I told her about my blog and volunteering with time to change. I also told her that I’m starting to really have an interest in mental health, however, I’ve not done any a-levels and spent my time in college training to be a chef so my life can only go down one route, but as my therapist said.. there’s always time to change! I can always do a-levels whenever I want to! Or even a counselling course!

She asked me to write a list of things I wanted to do. At first, I listed about 3 things as I was struggling, but we got talked about what I want to do and the list was massive!

The list is:

  • Go out more – challenge my anxiety
  • Start working again
  • Read more – it’s a good distraction for me
  • Going out alone – don’t be afraid to go out by myself
  • Go to London – meet some of my really close friends from twitter!
  • Meetup in July – try and go to a meetup in July.
  • Blog more, and do media for time to change.
  • Host talks – Something I’d love to do, express my passion in mental health and host talks in youth centres, schools etc.

I never realised this until yesterday. It’s good to have a list of goals what you want to do, it keeps me motivated, and whenever I feel low, all I have to do is look at the list to get motivated to feel better.

I’d recommend making a list of things you want to do, I am always adding things to it, it’s not a list of what you need to do as soon as possible, it’s just for motivation purposes and it’s helping me already!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Tenth Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This session was my tenth ever CBT session! Wow!! We went through my depression going worse and my self-harm, and the self-harm cycle. It was a really good session, really eye opening and I learnt so much.

I told her about the last two weeks, how depression and self-harm have gotten worse and about how I hardly went out. She explained that not going out is just feeding the depression and making self-harm worse. It’s time that I really push myself to start going out more. She mentioned propanolol to me and how she thinks it’ll help me a lot going out etc, so I’m going to ask my doctor about it next time I see her!

We had a look at this cycle, called the “self-injury cycle” It includes six steps in the cycle. This just carries on and the self-harm carries on. I need to try and break this cycle by starting to do things, so the depression doesn;t get worse, if I start doing things it should help break the cycle!

  • Mental anguish, the first step. I know, what a weird word?! It just basically means what goes through your head at the time. For example, self-critical thoughts, images etc.  For example, for me, it’s self-critical thoughts mainly.
  • The second step, emotional engulfment another word I didn’t know what it meant. It just means what emotions are you feeling, especially distressing emotions. I feel anger, sadness and upset and I feel disappointed in myself too.
  • Panic stations, the third step in the cycle. What are you feeling, what happened next? feeling out of control, numb etc. Then, the next step in the cycle is action station. In what way you self-injured, how, when where?
  • The next one is action stations. What way did you do it? Why? What reason?
  • Feel better/different, the fifth step. Relief, euphoria etc.  I feel calmer and a sense of relief and release of all my emotions.
  • The last step, grief reaction. When did you feel bad about yourself? self-disgust, self-hate. shame etc.

We went on to discuss this even further, and we both filled it out with the thoughts I think and other things. She said it’s important if I feel the urge, to be around people, as she noticed that I told her I only self-harm when I’m by myself. Funnily enough, I didn’t realise that, eh that’s why I’m in therapy right? To understand my messed up brain, and to learn how to control my mental health!

I came out of this session feeling so confident, happy and just all the good feelings you can feel. She told me to go to the party on Saturday, to enjoy myself and just feel how good it is to not go home because you’ve had a panic attack. Something I have to stop, if I stop that, there will be little to feed the depression, so my self-harm should get better.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Ninth Session

This session, again, was the best session I’ve ever had. It’s making me feel so good how each session is just getting better and better! I’m thinking back to my first few sessions with my previous therapist, I liked the sessions and learned a lot about myself and my mental health, but I just think they didn’t help much as it takes me a while to open up in a session, and I’m so happy I’m having longer sessions now!

I had a mini panic attack out of the blue today just before this session, didn’t really know why up until I had the session, funnily enough, the session was solely about panic attacks and how they work, how they get triggered, and what I can do to stop them/control them!

As usual, it started out with doing a questionnaire. I then told her how bad I felt last weekend, solely because I got invited out for a few drinks but I kept overthinking it and said no, and it made me feel so down and depressed. She then went on to explain how it’s a vicious cycle. Being invited to go out, end up saying no and then feeling low and then the self-inflicting behaviours start, but she reassured me that we can break that vicious cycle.

We talked about the symptoms I get from panic attacks, she wrote them down (legs shake, uncontrollable breathing, churning stomach and light-headedness) She then explained how thinking about those symptoms or panic, can actually cause you to panic, I thought that was pretty unbelievable, so she told me to say those symptoms out loud until I felt those symptoms, it actually happened. Me thinking and saying the symptoms out loud, actually brought on the symptoms, something I’ve never heard of/thought of before. She wants me to try and socialise more, and if I feel a panic attack coming on, don’t leave situations like I normally would, and try to ride the panic attack out and see how good I’d feel then – as I feel awful going home from somewhere early as I had a panic attack.

My therapist also explained about the trigger of panic attacks – fast breathing. If you are able to control your breathing, you can stop the panic happening. She then told me to start breathing really heavy, as I would if I was panicking. I did it, and it caused a panic attack, and she was able to calm me down out of it within minutes. That was just to teach me the trigger of panic attacks and also teach me that they are not dangerous or bad. We went through Diaphragmatic breathing, and she showed me how to do it, I have to practice it every single day now. I have tried doing it before, but when I went bad in terms of mental health, I just stopped as I had no motivation what so ever.

This was my last session for two weeks. I am motivated to do well in between those two weeks. It scares me as whenever I have no CBT for a week, I tend to go downhill a bit, but I am determined to not go down and just keep going up!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eighth Session

I was going into this session with a bag load of nerves, anxiety and panic. I was panicking for this session as I had to tell my therapist something pretty serious which happened within the week of having no CBT. Luckily enough I could actually tell her, sometimes when I want to say things, they just don’t come out, but they did today!

As usual, I filled out a PHQ-9 GAD-7 questionnaire but didn’t get told if my scores were higher, the same or lower. It was hard for me to truly say everything, but I did and it made me feel so much better getting it off my chest. We then spoke about how I went out to Liverpool, and that I panicked when out, and how it stops me from going out again.

We started on this formulation sheet, that spoke about my experience of bullying in high school, which makes me think that everyone is thinking horrible things about me, so anxiety is basically being the bully now. We figured out that my core belief is that people will think I’m “weird” “not normal” and “strange” which I worry about people thinking on a day to day basis, and it makes me panic when I see people staring at me, as I immediately think that they are thinking that.

I also found out my unhelpful thinking habits, I got told to have a read over them within the week without CBT, and I related to “emotional reasoning” “judgments” “mind-reading” “prediction” and “critical self” These are important to find out, as once you’ve found out you can then focus on beating the thinking habits! She also wants me to start exposure therapy again after a few more CBT sessions, but she wants it to be more intense, like in my previous exposure therapy, I just left after doing it for like 5 minutes at a time, she wants me to do it until I have a panic attack, and that panic attack ends. Which is scary!

I got shown a “thought record” which she wants me to fill out, especially when I go out. It has columns of “emotions/moods” “physical sensations” “unhelpful thoughts/images” This will give her a wider view of what I feel like when I go out. Pretty similar to a panic diary, same layout just different columns!

I spoke with her about how I rarely go out because of the chance of anxiety taking over and then making me panic, and therefore going home early. We both know my mental health is ruling my life, but the session was so good and informative, I came out of it with such a big smile on my face, knowing that I have learnt so much about my mental health in one hour session means a lot as it’s stuff I 100% know and I 100% know I can beat!

After that session, I felt the best I have felt in months. It felt so good, to come out of a session not drained, and feeling happy! On to the next one next week!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Seventh Session

I could not help but dread this session, new place to go, new therapist to meet. So much to worry and overthink about. I was worrying that my therapist wouldn’t be as nice as my previous one, or as understanding. Turns out she was just as good!

This session was basically a duplicate of my first ever CBT session really, so this post will probably be very short! We first started off with the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 forms and asked my about my medication, told her that I had side effects but they are slowly easing off, she asked me the questions and I answered, and she asked why and such, just so she could get more details, as she was writing notes on me.

I told her absolutely everything, even things that I didn’t tell my other therapist. I was shocked I was able to! Things like past experiences of bullying in high school, such as comments about my appearance and my speech, which she thinks is a trigger for my MH as I always think back to that, and feel that everyone will say stuff like people did in the past. I also explained to her how I feel on the way I look, and she said she thinks I  have BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) which could be a big part of my anxiety. Finding that out was very overwhelming. I could have cried, I was really close to doing so. She gave me some information on what it was, and a website called www.bddfoundation.org to have a look at.

She then mentioned that it will be a hard road to recovery for me, but it will work! She did mention that it’ll get worse before it gets better and because of my SH, she is going to take things carefully, which I totally appreciate. I was so scared, and I even told her. It was so hard for me to go into a new place and go to a new therapist, and she totally understood! She gave me a sheet of unhelpful thinking habits and wants me to look through them and tell her which ones I feel like I do, such as “mind reading” as I assume people are going to think I look weird because I feel like I’m too thin and look too thin, which links into BDD and such. Also “catastrophizing” as I imagine/believe the worst will happen in every situation,  which I actually went through with my previous therapist!

I haven’t got CBT next week, which might be a bit offputting for me as I’m in a routine now of going to CBT every Wednesday. Coming out of the session I had yesterday, I felt overwhelmed, but after a few hours of trying to get my head around the session and BDD, I can’t feel demotivated. I will beat this mental health, I will learn to manage it.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam