I fully understand the value of investing money, time and effort into my Mental Health in order to be healthy, happy and live a life with purpose.
But at first, I just couldn’t get myself to see a traditional counsellor where I had to pay for the months (or years) of therapy I thought I needed. I didn’t think I would be able to cope with seeing anyone face-to-face anyway. I felt like I would basically pay them to watch me cry, and that would have just been wasteful as my husband was already doing it for free. So it narrowed my options a bit.
I considered asking my GP for a referral to an NHS Therapist, but I was afraid that it would taint my medical records forever. I realised that I was being overly sensitive, and that the stigma around Mental Health probably wasn’t as bad as I was making it out in my head, but it was important for me to acknowledge how I was feeling and to find the best possible solution within my boundaries, to give myself the best chance of recovery.
I briefly mentioned to my GP once that I thought I might be losing the plot and she handed me a leaflet for the NHS Ieso Online CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) System and explained that I could refer myself if I ever felt like I needed support.
So after looking into a few other options I dug out the Ieso Online CBT leaflet again and referred myself for therapy.
The process was quick, easy and efficient and I had my initial evaluation session two days later.
It suited me very well, especially since the conversations were typed on an online chat system - similar to Skype - and I never had to physically speak to, or personally face anyone.
I also had a sufficient personal barrier and enough time to order my thoughts before I typed what I needed to say.
Although I express myself reasonably well with written words, I sometimes find it very difficult to communicate over the phone, or face to face, especially when I am stressed or emotional. I often get so anxious that I feel like I want to cry, and other times I just babble a load of nonsense, so I easily feel exasperated and overwhelmed when I speak to strangers. So the personal space and anonymity suited me very well.
During the first session the therapist explained how the process will work and sent me several questionnaires and surveys to complete. My results indicated that I was suffering from severe General Anxiety Disorder, moderately-severe Depression and that it had a moderately-severe functional impairment on my everyday life - particularly socially.
While it was sad to see on black and white, I wasn’t really surprised and it was a relief to have it confirmed. The therapist offered me 6 weeks of CBT, which commenced the following week.
Throughout my counselling I had to complete the mental health questionnaires before every weekly session and it was interesting to see how my mood changed from week to week.
There were no huge psychoanalytic reveals or astonishing turning points for me at this point, but there were many profound moments of affirmation which reminded me, or explained, why I was thinking and feeling the way I did. But, most importantly I discovered some very useful techniques I could apply when I was getting into certain thought, or behavioural patterns.
Although the CBT suited me well and I thoroughly understood the benefits, it wasn’t a magic cure for me.
My mental and emotional state continued to waver and I really struggled to apply some of the advice, even though I knew it would work. The therapist offered 3 more weeks of counselling, after which I slowly started to feel more in control of my emotions and started to understand the following:
There is going to be no magic cure for my Anxiety and Depression, and I will have to accept (and appreciate) that it is an intricate part of who I am.
I'm not always objective or rational, and it’s sometimes better to acknowledge those feelings and let them pass without trying to justify or explain them.
Not everyone will have empathy, understanding or tolerance for who I am or what I’m going through, and that’s okay, I don’t have to explain myself to them.
Some people will have a deep connection with who I am and what I’m going through, and that’s wonderful and I should believe and cherish them.
I want to feel happy, healthy and balanced, so I am prepared to continuously work towards creating a life that fills me with purpose.
So here I am now, en-route to doing just that - finding my purpose and learning how to take care of myself.
Reading and writing are both such ingrained sources of inspiration, reflection and energy for me. But, when I feel down or anxious it is easy to tell myself I need to focus on the practical things like everyday routine, chores and work.
While I know those things are important, something makes me zoom in on all life’s mundane practicalities and shuts down my creative side completely when I’m low, which is the start of a vicious circle for me.
Because while I may appear to be on top of things and our life may seem to be running super efficiently, I am actually punishing myself by not allowing myself the creative outlet and balance that writing and reading gives me. And this is obviously not a very pleasant mindset to have.
So, although I really do want to be a kindred spirit to other people who might feel the same, and I want to offer a place of understanding and empathy, this is also my therapy and place for processing.