CBT. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Man alive the word therapy carries such huge weight behind it, it’s no wonder people hear it and get scared shitless by it. There’s still such a label, such a stigma surrounding therapy of any kind and it’s a shame because that’s what makes people fearful of sharing their experiences around it to help others but more importantly it’s what makes people fearful of reaching out and accessing support in the first place to help themselves. But fuck it, we need to talk about the real-life shit more than ever if it’s going to help at least one other person who’s struggling right?
So, on that note, I don’t mind sharing that I went for a short course of CBT near the start of the year. I had a lot going on and it was triggering the anxiety that I used to struggle with many years before and to be honest the fear of going through that again trumped my fear of attending CBT but I won’t lie to you, I was shitting myself before I went.
It was actually Anne the founder of Chris’s House that suggested I attend after we had a chat about a few life changing things that were going on for me. I had met Anne previously and warmed to her straight away and even although I didn’t know her that well, I trusted her advice completely so when she said to pop along, I hesitated for a second before getting myself signed up.
There were 4 sessions held over 4 weeks carried out by Kim (PG Dip – CBT) a fully qualified practitioner and all-round genuinely lovely lady. They took place in one of the ‘home from home’ rooms in Chris’s House which gave the whole process an air of comfort about it.
Having said that on the first night I went in, I remember people were introducing themselves and all I could think of was how I could leave the room and avoid taking part. I thought about saying I needed the bathroom and then doing a disappearing act, thought about just full on running out the building, crossed my mind to say I didn’t feel well and then there was the whole John McClane style roll out the building scenario that just kept repeating in my mind. Anyway, I took too long to make up my fucking mind about how to escape and before I knew it, I had to introduce myself. It was too late, I was part of this now so I’d better just get used to the high levels of anxiety that had started to creep in.
The CBT sessions are confidential so I can’t share other people’s information or stories (and I wouldn’t ever dream of doing so either) but what I will say is that when I was sat there listening, I doubted myself for being there big time. I compared my life to their lives and felt like such a fucking fraud for attending. I was fortunate not to have experienced what others had experienced or gone through some of the things they had gone through and so I felt like my ‘problems’ were insignificant compared to theirs and that I was taking up the space of someone who probably needed it a lot more than me, someone who perhaps wanted to end their own life and that person wasn’t me, I wasn’t and thankfully have never been suicidal so I wondered what the fuck I was doing there.
Thankfully Kim was on hand to put me straight and remind me that that’s what anxiety does, causes irrational thoughts, slaps you in the face with doubt and increases overwhelming worry. Once I’d put all that to the side, I got on really well. The tasks, strategies and open conversations that took place within the group over the 4 sessions made me realise that I wasn’t powerless to what I was feeling. I felt like fucking wonder woman by the end of it I’m not gona lie, I just felt so capable and ready to tackle everything that was clogging up my head and basically making me feel sad. I still felt sad don’t get me wrong, because without going into detail I went through something that was really shitty and it inevitably made me feel sad, but thanks to CBT it didn’t stop me from seeing the bigger picture, looking to the future and managing fears of the unknown as well as giving me the confidence to recognise what made me feel shitty and reflect on what I could do about it in the future. It's all about prevention and de-escalation.
I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to attend the sessions and work with Kim. What she teaches is life skills, it’s coping mechanisms and the funny thing is, in a much more simplified way I do the same thing with the kids that I work with daily but it’s funny how when you’re out their caring for others you neglect to take time to care for yourself.
If you want to try CBT, I highly recommend it. If you’re not sure and need some more information because obviously I’m not an expert merely a participant, then contact Chris’s House. You’ll never regret trying to help yourself. They also offer a whole host of other sessions, therapies and treatments and are on hand 24 hours a day as a crisis prevention centre for those of us who need immediate help. Reach out if you need to, it’s okay to not be okay and all that and talking about things really does help. Contact details and info for Chris's House appear on my highlights on instagram @yer_awrite
Listen, I get myself worked up into a frenzy about things that never happen, all the worse possible scenarios and things that can go wrong during social situations out with my comfort zone often cross my mind and so if I can drag my arse to something new like CBT and survive the process, I promise you, you can too!