Thursday, 20 June 2019

The CBT Diaries Week Eight

This image is a photograph of a painting which I took at the Saatchi Gallery Kaleidoscope Exhibition the day after this session. It stood out to me as it was a gorgeous blooming plant in the midst of grey & multicolours. 

This week I have news. It's regarding my scores. Drum roll per - lease! 
Anxiety - 3 
Depression - 4 

A three and a four. My counsellor actually looked at me, with a huge smile, and was like 'Really?' - it was like was I the same person that three weeks ago my depression was a 15, and in week two scored a 17 and 19?  She went on to point out that this was the first time I'd ever been in the green zone for both. Why the sudden change right?

My week had not been perfect. Very far from it actually. If you read last week's post, you'll know I had a test result meaning a cyst had grown and I was pretty freaked about it. I decided, after a few teary chats that I was going to contact the hospital and explain my fears and ask a few questions to clarify things. So I sent a very polite e-mail explaining what I already knew, what my biggest worry was, was there anything to look out for and where can I check for cancellations for a sooner appointment if possible. The response ... don't even get me started. Think rude, unhelpful, didn't check the facts, gave me wrong dates all put together in one e-mail that basically said 'Your GP is the one to tell you this not us'. I responded (politely, not very politely this time, but still wanted to keep some dignity right?) asking for clarification on the incorrect dates, and re-iterated again my worries and that my GP had told me it was their department that had to tell me and that he didn't know. It went around in loops until I cried and gave up. One phone call later, and the matter was sorted (and they admitted getting their information wrong which doesn't help when you want to make sure there aren't any mistakes on the mysterious cyst growing inside of me right?)

That situation had got me down. The difference this week is it had very limited time bothering me. When you fill out the questionnaire you score
Not At All - 0 
Some Days - 1 
Most Days - 2 
Every Day - 3 

I picked four emotions on one side, and three on the other and scored a 1 on them, so I did have some anxious and depressive moments - but on two days, and it didn't last longer than half a day maximum. On one of the days mid- hospital fury, I opted for a three hour nap when I couldn't shake the negative feelings for longer than an hour, and it made me feel tonnes better. 

This week we got to go back to the agenda. 
1. Homework 
2. How to explain to others about anxiety.

We then left the rest of the agenda open. 

Looking through the homework, I compared this week's schedule to the week before. The main difference which literally stood out was this ... I went out. I socialised. And it made the world of difference. I went and spent time with friends, went up to London and spent time with family. And it was really nice. I've felt for quite a while that if I'm ill then I should be 'resting' or in bed and not being seen or heard - that really isn't the case and actually hinders recovery if you shut yourself off. 

I also exercised a couple of times, and researched some things for my future. I did say that I still felt I lacked a proper structure to my day at the minute but I'd begun getting up at the same time, and getting dressed by 8am which had helped start the routine. 

Now I'm being very Positive Polly and don't want to turn straight into Negative Nancy but I did say, I get that this week could be a fluke. It could all change within minutes. And that is the right way to think of it. Things could dip up and down and it's how long the negative moods take over for. We agreed to keep the schedule as homework for the next few weeks to try and fine tune my routine as best as I can which I felt was a good idea. 

Onto agenda point two - how to explain anxiety to others. This boiled down a little bit to my hospital issue and just how badly I coped with it - we discussed it but it pretty much boiled down to, who's business is my anxiety anyway? And even if I had a little anxiety badge to wear loud and proud - who would take notice? Would it make people change their actions and words - can't guarantee it. So we went through the basic principle that other people's problems aren't my problems. Also, from an IVF / TTC point of view, we discussed the benefits of the NHS alongside the downsides of relying on the NHS for trying for a baby. My counsellor did put the situation to me that what I've already experienced (mainly a misdiagnosis and multiple missed communications) could happen every time I go for an appointment or get results and am I willing to either accept that could happen time and time again or is it time to look at another avenue. I didn't have to answer there or then; it did get me thinking though. 

After this, I asked about my next options in therapy as I was worried about life after therapy. The bad news was at the time of my session (could be different now as this is written in advance so check the Mind website for up to date details) was that low cost counselling had been stopped indefinitely and the waiting list stopped. The very good news was however that Mind are always there to offer counselling and follow up support. My counsellor said that when people are discharged, that a good majority of people are expected to come back within two to three months, and that was a good thing. If I felt that my anxiety or depression was causing me an issue again, that I should get in touch before reaching the really low breaking point, and come back when I notice it starting to take over. This is something that once I'd gone away, I thought how bloomin incredible it is that they offer that service for free and just how valuable that is. 

From this session, my counsellor is on holiday next week which we decided is perfect timing to test whether this good week I'd just had could carry into a two week period. I left set with my agendas feeling very positive for the week's ahead. She also gave me a self - care / routine ideas sheet which normally is given at the end of all the sessions, but she felt would help me whilst constructing my best routine. I think I may actually write a 'model' routine and see how well I can stick to it too! 

Further resources: 
Making Sense of CBT by Mind (I wish I'd read this pre-writing this post!) 
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