So after my initial diagnosis in January I bought half a dozen books on the subject. Oddly, I didn’t look online for information other than comparing prices on the books (thank you Google Shopping!). I thought maybe I could self-help my way through this.
Some were better than others, some had forms to fill in; which, I would become very familiar with. If anyone has been through CBT on the NHS you’ll probably have seen the GAD7 and PHQ9 form. Incidentally, my scores were high whilst still at work but have been up and down since, but overall lower than at the start and more of a steady line.
Around February time I saw a leaflet at the GP surgery when waiting for my Dad. It was titled something like “Are you OK?”. I took one and later on filled in the form on the website to self-refer myself.
A few weeks later I received a phone call from Health In Mind and after chatting with the lady on the phone I had signed up for the Stress Control Group to be held locally in a few weeks.
I hadn’t been in a room with that many people in probably ten years (hello avoidance!) and I had a panic attack. I didn’t leave but did e-mail Health In Mind and explained. They were very understanding and said I could bring a someone with me for future sessions, so I did.
But, to be honest, my problem wasn’t stress. I was going through two incredibly difficult situations at work that were giving me stress, but I was dealing with that as best I could and I knew those two situations would end by early Summer. So even though the class was good, it wasn’t for my situation. However, I would recommend it if you are dealing with stress.
When the course ended I received a phone call from one of the people who ran it and we talked about my options. She agreed I need further help and so referred me for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). She did say I could wait up to eight weeks for a referral but after about a month I received my first appointment.
Sadly, you only get twelve sessions on the NHS. That’s all they can fund. I have looked at going private, but with my current jobless situation that’s just not an option. Rates are between £60 and £100 per hour.
I have one remaining session with C and the homework he gave me this week was a blueprint for my next steps. It’s been an interesting twelve weeks (I go once per week, we had a couple of breaks because he had a training course and holidays). When I started I was in the middle of the highly toxic and stressful situations at work and about three weeks in that ended.
Every week we’d talk things through, he’d give me homework and here’s a photo of some of the modules on depression. They have quite a bit of information as well as tasks (the homework).
It’s a fair amount of printing all in all and I felt like I needed to plant a tree to offset the paper. There are nine modules for Depression. The info comes from Centre for Clinical Interventions published by the Government of Western Australia. It’s freely available for anyone to view and download, it does work better with a therapist but you can work through on your own.
They have modules on Anxiety, Assertiveness, Bipolar, Body Dysmorphia, Depression, Disordered Eating, Health Anxiety, Panic, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Self-Compassion, Self-Esteem, Sleep, Social Anxiety, Tolerating Distress, Worry and Rumination.
I am going to work through some of the others when I’m done with the Depression one. I’m not in any capacity to give advice other than I’m talking about what I’ve done and what I’m doing. If you’re in the UK, I highly recommend you see if your local GP Surgery has any leaflets or if Health In Mind is in your area. It’s better to do something than nothing.
My initial sessions were about the anxiety and about halfway through we switched to depression. There is no magical cure for either. I was prescribed medication in January but the side effects leaflet scared me so I’ve yet to take them.
One of the best tips I can give anyone, whether you’re going through anxiety, depression, stress or anything else similar is to get yourself a diary and write down three to five positive things that happened that day. A good friend suggested I do this last Autumn, and so I bought a pretty page a day diary from Paperchase (side note, I spend a fortune in this store lol) and almost every night I’ve written at least three things, sometimes less and sometimes more.
As an example last night I wrote 1 – Music, 2 – Cats ♥, 3 – pretty sunset. It really can be as simple as that. Somedays I write down about the birdbath in the garden, I recently bought a solar-powered one, nothing too fancy but it makes a lovely sound when the water is flowing and of course hearing the birds too.
I’m nervous about ending the CBT, mostly because it’s having that person to talk to. I do have three good online friends but most of the time I feel like I’m bothering them so I don’t like to bug them too often. I’ll (try) to keep posting updates as I go, but one of the problems with the depression side of things is that sometimes doing anything is difficult.