How CBT has changed my life
Published on: 10th July 2019
I would like to share my experience of CBT, just a little history about me first. I have always worked, pretty much been the happy bubbly lady that looks after everyone and everything and loved that role. I have a degree in childcare, sign language qualifications and twenty years’ experience working with special needs children. I used to be the one in the school staffroom making people laugh. Always helping people, I have always loved music and dancing and socialising. How could I have a mental illness?
Four years ago, my mental illness was triggered by one traumatic experience too many and I had a major meltdown. For the first time in my life I retreated to my bed. For between three and six months I wouldn’t come out of my room unless I had too. I had no self-care, ate and slept either too much or not at all, I cut myself off from all my family and friends and became very withdrawn I lost any reality.
I was just numb, it’s like my brain had just shut down and I didn’t want to be here, I had no interest in anything or anyone, I saw a doctor and was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks and given medication. For me, medication definitely worked to help the depression. The panic attacks just got worse I was having them every time I left the house. So I stayed home in my safe bubble, hiding from the world and I developed a social phobia. I felt worthless pathetic a failure, my safe bubble had become my hell I felt life no longer had a purpose that I wasn’t worthy and everything felt helpless, I was on my own, life didn’t seem worth living and I had real suicidal thoughts.
I recognised I needed to ask for help.
So that’s me six months ago, when I first came to CBT I was a wreck, shaking from head to foot palpitation’s crying uncontrollably it was awful, but my therapist was amazing, she reassured me and explained how CBT worked and its success rate.
I remember asking if there was any hope that I would ever get better, and she gave me hope. I told her I had lost me, I don’t know who I am anymore and asked if I will ever get me back? I remember her saying look on CBT as rebuilding yourself step by step one foot forward maybe one foot back but little steps and you will get there.
For the first time in months, I didn’t feel alone on my horrific journey and it is that journey that has transformed my life beyond my expectations. CBT is retraining your thoughts and changing behaviours.
I cannot stress enough that it does work maybe not for everyone but it certainly has for me. I was given a little easy homework each week, really simple strategies to put in place, things to read, write down my experiences and each week I could see progress and each week I got better and better I now feel alive for the first time in years thanks to CBT.
I won’t pretend it has been easy, it really hasn’t and it would have been easy to give up but I knew if I wanted to get better I had to see it through. With support from my therapist and by being completely honest to her and myself, I learnt to deal with low moods and bad days/weeks and how to accept that it’s ok to have those days. CBT has given me the knowledge, understanding and tools to cope and deal with unwanted thoughts and behaviours and strategies to follow should I be having a bad day or days.
My therapist was right I have found a completely different me, a new me. I have now begun hobbies I left behind, I am busy, I can relax, I want to do things, I enjoy my days either alone or with others.
I go out to the shops on my own I am socialising much more. I am not terrified to go out of the house anymore and I haven’t had a panic attack for months. I am still on my journey but I now have hope, life has new meaning.
Through CBT and the fantastic support of my therapist and my own sheer determination, I learnt to love myself and do things for me and enjoy life. It has been a very emotional journey for me but CBT has pulled me out of an empty void, life is worth living.
Six months ago my world was black, now thanks to CBT, a wonderful supporting therapist and my own hard work to challenge and manage my thoughts and behaviours I can see colours again, I was sceptical about CBT but it all makes sense.
One thing I will say, is don’t give up, you are worthwhile, life is worth living and CBT is proven to help.