Mental health & wellbeing matters: thoughts on CBT

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In our regular spot where we chat mental health and wellbeing, a few words from someone who’s been undertaking CBT.

If you are a regular reader of this segment, you may remember an article in the not so distant past that discussed the taboo of admitting to an eating disorder, and how the author (myself) was preparing to begin CBT.

Well, I am now about halfway through my therapy course, and I have some thoughts.

The main thing to know is that I do my CBT remotely – Zoom for group sessions and Teams for one-to-one sessions. The group sessions are the main ones, on a weekly basis, and focus on the behaviours and beliefs that make up our eating disorder.

Now, to say I am an introvert is somewhat of an understatement, and the idea of group therapy – even from the comfort of my own home-  was terrifying. Talking to strangers? About one of my greatest shames? Telling them my thoughts and feelings? Where they could hear and see me?

No, thank you.

But the groups are generally rather small, and having people who are suffering the same thing and understand where I am coming from is actually very helpful. And the behaviours and underlying causes are explained in a way that is easy to understand, yet not in any way condescending.

I have become rather fond of the sessions, even if some overwhelm me to the point of tears and headaches, as it is frankly refreshing to be reaching a point where I understand what brought me to this point. And there is no quick fix and no one way to follow the journey to recovery, but I do find hope in the glimmers of understanding.

Like anyone in any form of therapy or treatment, we all hope for the quick results and sometimes I feel I am not progressing fast enough. Yet my therapists, consultant, and dietitian are generally pleased with my progress. My recent review with the service was rather positive and I am starting to feel a bit more capable of actually succeeding in my recovery journey.

But I would be wrong to simply gloss over my earlier comment about the tears and headaches caused by overwhelming topics. I am being made to face up to not only my own treatment and opinions of myself but the specifics surrounding those processes and the fact that I have a mental illness.

I tried CBT about ten years ago for self-esteem and confidence issues, but it was one-to-one and my therapist wasn’t too convinced of my progress. As a result, being advised to undergo another round, albeit for a different reason, was unpromising to say the least. However, if you want to see results for something like an eating disorder you have to try everything. Sometimes twice.

And that is my point. The fact that as hard as it was to attempt something that had already failed me in the past, it has turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in a long time. It is hard information to digest –especially given that it is information I logically already knew.

I’ve heard many people dismiss the idea of CBT, or remote therapy, or group therapy… and until recently, I was one of those people. Yet, the progress I am making in a situation where I am combining all three aspects leaves me hopeful.

If I was to explain it in a simpler manner; I’m going on a bear hunt, and something is in my way. I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it, and I can’t go around it. I have to go through it.

And I will get through it.

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