I started CBT at the start of this year, 4th January to be exact. My sessions are half an hour long, I've had four so far. I've learnt a lot, in terms of why I feel the way I do, why my feelings change so fast, and also found out things I do, are related to my anxiety, which was a surprise, finding out there is so much related to anxiety, and caused by anxiety.
CBT was a big thing for me to start, it took me four years to get the courage up to go to my doctor about my struggles. I had to wait a few months for an assessment, then I got put on the list for therapy, to be honest, I didn't really know what therapy I would have got, CBT was thrown around a bit, but I didn't understand that.
So, then there was the introduction session, the most awkward I have felt ever - talking to a stranger about my problems. I found it hard enough talking to my friend about them, nevermind a total stranger that the only thing I knew about her, was that she was a therapist. Turns out, she was also so kind and understanding and knew what I was feeling, and we both could relate.
Which made me felt at ease. I could have opened up more, though, in my opinion, that is. The next two sessions were solely on finding out my triggers/fears - such as socialising; that makes my anxiety much worse, and most of the time triggers a panic attack.
The two sessions mostly went into detail about panic attacks, and the vicious cycle of them. I also had to write down, every time I had one, into a "panic diary." I thought "why do I write them down, that won't stop them, surely?" It was merely just for my therapist to find anything in relation to all the panic attacks, for example; where they happen most, and how long they are.
Then it all changed. I went into the depths of exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a method in CBT which is particularly good for people who have phobias or OCD. It involves you being gradually exposed to things that make you panic or that give you anxiety, for me that's social situations/going outside. At the end of my second session, she mentioned it and a brief overview of what it was. she didn't go into detail as she didn't want me to get overwhelmed, but I did. I did so much research on exposure therapy, and I was honestly, petrified. I truly felt like it was too much. I started it in the next session, aiming to do it four times in one week - I only managed once. It was such a big step to me, it was overwhelming, to say the least.
I've learned so much from CBT. I may not feel a difference or think it's working, but I've found out what anxiety truly is - there is a limit on how much you can read online about it. I have also found out so much more, I didn't know what a panic attack was before this.
I knew the symptoms I have had, and I knew what it felt like, but I didn't know if it was normal, or if there was something seriously wrong. Turns out, it's the natural fight or flight reaction. I've also found out that self-care is vital with therapy. For it to even work slightly, you need to really focus on self-care outside of therapy.
I truly want CBT to work. I might not feel a difference yet, but it doesn't mean I will not stop trying to. I'm going to try my best at this exposure therapy over the next two weeks.
It truly makes you feel better, knowing that the help is there. I just want to be able to control my anxiety, and panic attacks, if I master that, then I will be super happy.
I also want to get a lot of coping techniques from CBT, which I'm sure I will learn soon. I'm really enjoying CBT, well apart from crying in most sessions. I do enjoy them, it's good to get stuff off my chest. In my opinion, I've not opened up as much as I should have. I feel like I should soon, and in my next session, I'm going to open up a lot more, hopefully. If I can get myself to do so, that is.
I know that when I finish CBT, I won't be fully cured, and I will have to carry on practising and putting the hard work into it. I know I'll still have an anxiety attack or panic attack every now and then, but at the end of the day I know that my time will come, and I know I will beat my mental health problems!
As always, thanks for reading!
Liam blogs at 'LiamAndHisAnxiety' about his mental health journey, how it affects him and his discoveries and experiences in Therapy. You can find Liam on Twitter or check out his blog here