Personal Story - November 2009
I started my CBT journey with Karen in August this year having suffered from Depression and Anxiety for many years. I had tried various talking therapies in the past, but I realised I needed something more interactive. I had taken anti-depressant medication for years, and I had tried several times to stop but always ended up taking them again. Without the medication I had difficulty concentrating which was affecting my work, waking up early, anxiety in social situations, and I constantly felt tired. I was asking myself unanswerable questions, I would go over the same ground looking for answers inside the problem. I had a very low opinion of myself, and of other people. Although anti-depressant medication was useful for taking my attention away from negative thinking and could work well in conjunction with CBT, I decided it was time to confront what was at the root of the depression, without any medication, and make some serious changes to my life.
I don’t like talking about the way I feel and in the past I had a hard time finding the words to reflect what I was thinking at times. For the first time I felt able to speak to Karen about childhood issues I had never spoken to anyone about before. Her approach is very professional, and although I was talking about difficult situations from my past I still felt at ease working with her during the sessions and able to carry on.
CBT focused my attention on current thinking and behaviour patterns. I realised since a very young age I had programmed my mind to filter information in the wrong way. Anything positive I was transforming into a negative event in my mind. The therapy allowed me to relate how past experiences have led me to form certain negative beliefs about myself and the people around me. Karen was very supportive in helping me identify my patterns of thinking and develop more healthy ones. I knew what I was supposed to be thinking and feeling but never really did!
In social and work situations I discovered through CBT I was very self-focused and failed to notice what was really going on around me. Karen has taught me to manage my thoughts and re-focus my attention in a positive way. The sessions helped me move away from my problems to defining clear goals focusing on how I will change my way of thinking moving forward. I am now in a position to challenge any faulty thinking which could lead to unhealthy emotional responses such as anger, guilt, and shame which I experienced before. I can use assertion now rather than aggression, and still remain in control of my actions, which I struggled with before!
People around me have commented on changes in my attitude and my behaviour which makes all the hard work worthwhile! I now have the energy to do things I couldn’t do before. As well as CBT sessions I have adjusted my diet, I exercise regularly, and I practise meditation. My confidence is growing day by day and I know this will continue as long as I apply everything I have learned from the CBT sessions.
I could never imagine overcoming my difficulties, but I have, and I am so grateful for all the help and encouragement from Karen along the way as I could not have done this without her help. It really is possible to make long-lasting changes to your way of thinking and I would highly recommend CBT to anyone suffering from depression and anxiety.