This is the second post about my learning outcomes and how I’ve changed following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression. When I finished the program I was asked what I LEARNED. And I wrote this out because I find writing the best way to express my ideas in the most coherent way for me.
CBT FOR DEPRESSION: What I’ve Learned
June 23, 2015
I call this program, Train the Brain because I believe that’s exactly what it does. I believe that a combination of the new medication I’m on, and the learning and daily documenting of positives in my life, that were part of this program, resulted in these positive outcomes:
I have changed my thinking patterns and coping strategies to deal with depression. This has also helped me control my anxiety.
Look for the positive, but more importantly I now WANT to focus on the positive. I had the tools to do this before, but didn’t allow myself to do it. In part, this had to do with feeling guilty that Bob was dead and a belief that I should somehow suffer to make his memory a blessing.
I am the only one who can take control of my life and my mind. I have been given the tools to do this but without the will there is no way this will happen.
It’s not all about me. There were several quotes posted in the room where the group therapy took place. My favorite was:
“What others think of me is none of my business.”
If something went wrong, someone was mad or unhappy, I felt like I did something wrong. The truth is that it’s not all about me, it’s about them. It’s so hard to learn this and even harder to believe it, but if you do it frees you.
The true meaning of living in the moment and mindfulness. This came to me in the last two weeks of the program. It was like a light switched on and that amazing “ah ha” moment came to me.
- I can’t control what happened in the past. To ruminate over all the bad or sad things won’t make it better. By brooding over past mistakes I can never move forward.
- I don’t have control over future. Bad things will happen, but good things will happen too. Focusing on “What if?” isn’t going to change the future. In fact, this creates anxiety.
- In the moment means being PRESENT AT THAT MOMENT. Yes, we are busy. Our mind often moves back to the past, or goes forward to the future, but if we are really, truly aware that the present is where we are, then by focusing on that present moment we make the most of our lives. We don’t rush through every moment and miss it.
- We can only do our best at any given moment, and maybe by doing this we have less regrets. No more: “should have, would have, could have.”
Good enough is good enough: I recently read a book about not trying to be a perfectionist because we can never do anything perfectly. I’ve spent my entire life trying to live up impossible expectations, set by me for me. I believe I was trying to be perfect but, of course, could never achieve it. Good enough is good enough.
I am not alone in my struggle with depression. Through my hospitalization and hospital therapies, including the CBT class, I found people who really understand how I’ve been feeling. They have dragged the ball and chain of depression around themselves. These are everyday people you would say ‘hi’ to on the street. They are not “crazy,” in fact most are more sane than some people who won’t admit they are plagued by anxiety and depression and don’t take the time to figure out how to be the best they can be.
Taking time for oneself isn’t a sin but rather a gift we can give ourselves. We don’t need to work 24/7 or always have the cleanest house or the biggest or the best this or that, or work long hours at work to be better. Do you really want your headstone to say “Hard Worker?” instead of “Loving Daughter, Wife, Mother, Friend…?”
I have family, friends and even acquaintances who care about me. I have met people in hospital and through therapies who are kindred spirits. I have friends all over Canada and the US who saved me the night I almost took my life. Through social media, after I posted my concern about finding someone to take care of the cats I had just brought into my life, they sprang into action and contacted friends and family here who came to help.
I am starting to believe that I am capable. I’m still plagued by anxiety (to a lesser degree) and low self esteem (and, to some degree, imposter syndrome). But almost every day someone tells me how I’ve inspired them. I am starting to believe that I am capable of inspiring people and, most importantly I deserve to be happy.
Next post: How I’ve Changed.