When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, my GP told me to speak to my health visitor and ask for some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This was in 2006, and I’d never heard of CBT, but I asked anyway because I would have done anything to get better.
‘Sorry,’ said the health visitor, ‘we used to offer CBT, but since our funding was cut we can’t anymore.’
I remember thinking ‘Typical!’ but at the time I wasn’t all that bothered; I was just relieved that my doctor had put me on antidepressants. Six months later, I was off the medication and feeling a lot better, but it’s been a long and bumpy journey back to good mental health.
Moving on to 2014 …
Not long ago, when my daughter developed some school-related worries, I bought What to Do When You Worry Too Much – A Kids’ Guide to Overcoming Anxieties, and it was only once I read it myself that I realised I’d unintentionally been giving myself CBT over the last few years. The book’s advice on how to beat your worries amounts to the following:
- Think of your worries as plants. If you nurture them, they will grow. If you ignore them, they will die.
- Lock up your worries in a mental strong box and only air them at an agreed Worry Time.
- Use logic. Think about what is really true rather than what you’re afraid might happen. Remind yourself that bad things don’t happen very often, but if they do, you’ll survive.
- Imagine your worries as a bully who sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear. Tell him to ‘Buzz off!’ Tell him he’s lying. Flick him off your shoulder and stamp on him!
- Get active. Burn off your worry energy by moving your body.
- Breathe deeply and relax with a favourite memory.
- Remind yourself of all the things you’re good at and do them.
My worries revolve around sleep. It was lack of sleep and an obsession with my baby’s sleep that triggered my depression and anxiety in the first place, and if I have trouble sleeping now, those old feelings come creeping back, but by unwittingly doing my own version of the above, I have armed myself with weapons to use against them. I only wish I’d learned about them sooner.
- Mind, the Mental Health Charity
- Stress, Anxiety and Depression, NHS Choices
- CBT, NHS Choices
- YoungMinds, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much – A Kids’ Guide to Overcoming Anxieties
An explanation of my AtoZChallenge theme can be found at Me and My Mental Health – It’s Time to Talk.
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