Life can be bloody hard sometimes. It really can feel like an uphill struggle just to get through day to day existence, let alone the added stress of exams, money or relationships.
Recently I started CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This differs from other types of therapy as its not just a chance for you to complain about a million reasons why life is getting you down, but forces you to take control and realise that you yourself are at the driving seat of how you feel and how you live.
Don’t shut down, I’m not trying to insult you. Considering depression and anxiety are such crap things to go through it’s kind of weird how much we defend them. Like someone telling us that we don’t have to hold on to these unhealthy feelings and thoughts somehow insults us and belittles the pain that we are suffering. Not at all, but anyone who tells you there is nothing you can do to feel better is lying to you.
The NHS waiting list for CBT was over 3 months long, and my student waiting list for counselling was over a term. Despite referral for immediate counselling, I’ve been waiting for a placement for a few months now and I don’t even have a start date.
Having had 2 months where I felt flat, tearful and lonely at the beginning of my final year of uni, despite taking medication for a few years which I wanted to ‘fix everything’, I realised it was time to step up. Private sessions can cost a lot of money. I pay £70 an hour, which is by no means ‘expensive’ but neither is the cheapest in this field. My parents are helping me pay for this.
The good news is that CBT is a short-term therapy which aims at building healthier ways to look at the world and people can get huge benefit from just 4-6 sessions. I eventually realised that if I can pay to go on nights out and holidays there is no excuse to avoid paying some money towards my mental health; surely feeling happy is the whole ‘point’ to being on this spinning hunk of rock anyway?
In CBT sessions you realise that it is not reality that make you upset 99% of the time. In the vast majority of cases it is how you react to them.
For example, it’s raining on the day of your graduation.
Person 1 would say ‘This is just my luck, I just wanted one day to go well for once in my life after all this stress and poverty at uni and now it’s all ruined.’ Possibly leading to a spiral of negative thoughts and ruining the day.
Person 2 on the other hand ‘uh oh, oh well.’ or ‘Good job I packed an umbrella!’
The fact it is raining didn’t upset the two people in the same way, the reaction is what caused pain. Of course, if it was this simple I’d not be forking out for more sessions but the basic premise if that if you take some ownership of your thinking patterns you can have a better life, even if you are incapable of changing the people and events around you. The only thing you can change is your attitude, and it can make your life better.
I highly recommend the book ‘Mind Power; Change your thinking, Change your life.’ By James Borg. I promise it’s not as corny as it sounds. Actually, its got some great tips for helping you out with taking control of your happiness if you can’t afford or aren’t ready to seek out CBT. If you’re having problems with emotional ups and downs, depression, anxiety, anger or stress, it’s a gem.
You can read more about my experience and advice for mental health medication here
Click here to read about supporting a loved one with depression.
Or why not try out the article I wrote about meditation as an alternative to therapy? You can read it here.