So following on from my last post I want to chat about CBT and mindfulness – you hear it banded about all the time, when people are trying their very best not to pass judgment on mental health; trying to sound all cool about it, comfortable with it.
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It’s like if they talk about meditation and mindfulness it lessens the stigma somehow.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is amazing stuff. I don’t care if you’ve a top knot, or a hipster beard, or if you’re just like me; a normal (ish) mother, wife, friend, employee... Call it what you like, to make you feel better about the whole mental health thing. It is actually, for me personally, just a little bit magic.
I’ve always been a bit of a stress head – even before I had kids. I’m quite a performer really – a gobshite, friend to one and all and always up for a good auld catch up. Thing is, inside, I was a quivering wreck and would end up exhausted, from keeping up the front and façade. For the most, I did enjoy all of the above, but what I’m saying is, I was able to make myself engage with people and situations, even when I really couldn’t be arsed - I was still willing to try.
However, after a while that little voice on your shoulder, which constantly criticises you, eventually wins and that’s when the trouble starts. At least that’s what happens with me. That voice get louder and louder until you take notice and start believing the negativity it’s spouting. It’s not an actual voice you understand – I’m not at that point yet... I’m not hearing voices... But you do start to believe the negative thoughts, even though they may only be fleeting, they still leave a footprint. If you have enough of these footprints, after a while they weigh you down, and being able to make yourself ‘perform’ and interact on a normal day-to-day basis becomes almost, impossible.
If you’ve never been dealt a blow of depression or anxiety before, I envy you a little bit. I feel like I’m trying very hard to constantly keep it at bay, looking over my shoulder, waiting for the bloody thing to sneak up on me again. And the one thing that really helps me, apart from the occasional Pinot Grigio and Prozac, is Mindfulness based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MbCBT). In laymen’s terms? I’ve learnt to breath and still my mind in order to calm my stressy arse out! I’m not sat there, cross legged, Ommming. I usually only get the time to chill out once I’ve got into bed.
At first, I couldn’t do it without a guided session on my iPod (You can download some brilliant guided meditations just have a look!). It isn’t until you try to still your mind, that you realise how much shite you have running about up there. I’m not talking crazy thoughts or voices; I’m talking basically just how your brain and your subconscious, works. It’s no wonder so many people are diagnosed with a mental health issue.
We need to take better care of our minds as well as our physical health. If you had a broken leg would you continue to play football, or dance on it? Of course you bloody wouldn’t! So why when our brains are done in with stress and anxiety do we continue to push on to the point we are left literally unable to do anything?!
Mental really – pardon the pun!
So, for example, I’d been to see this amazing therapist, NHS blokey, German, and I wasn’t buying this CBT thing at all. I’d turn up and nod and fill out a questionnaire every week and go home and do none of the tasks I’d been set. After all, antidepressants were the only thing that had worked previously. How was this going to fix me? I actually felt broken though, like a teapot, smashed, irreparable, knackered, fucked.
I’d had my fill.
Every time he spoke all I could think about was Christopher Waltz as Dr King Schultz in Django Unchained. No he wasn’t a bounty hunter, nor did he wear a hat, but he did have a lovely rhythm to his voice and a really nice manner about him. Thankfully the session didn’t end in a shootout either. He asked me to concentrate on a background noise. The office was silent.
But it wasn’t.
He told me to listen carefully, and rightly so I could hear the PC ticking over, the central heating, and the traffic outside. He asked me to concentrate solely on one of those noises for one minute. Piece of cake, right?
It was so hard! Seriously – just try it, your mind wanders and you have to keep pulling in back on track. It’s actually quite a hard thing to do. But each time I did it, I increased the time. I began to concentrate on listening to my breathing, it’s the one thing that was constant and I wouldn’t have to try too hard to listen for haha! I’m owt for an easy life me, the more I practiced, the better I got, the better I got, the better I felt. You know that feeling when you’ve sat and watched a film and got lost in the plot? You’ve read a book and have got to the end and feel almost accomplished because you’ve enjoyed it so much? Or maybe you’ve spent some time listening to your music uninterrupted (hahaha! I know, I know, but just humour me!) and feel relaxed and recharged? That’s what CBT can do for you. It gives your mind and subconscious time to take a breather, take stock, and relax for a while.
Now show me a mother, father or ‘parental guardian’ who doesn’t need a bloody breather? You don’t have to be at breaking point to benefit from MbCBT. It’s about taking care of yourself. Most people exercise, eat properly, bathe, in order to keep their physical health in good shape but I think a lot of us don’t take the time to keep our mental health on track. Basically, what I’m saying is, there’s no point striving to be a perfect 10 or a gym bunny if your head isn’t just as fit. It’d be like having a jumper - roo with one of the straps snapped. Ney use to anyone is it? Don’t be the ride on with a wheel missing.
We all get bogged down in day to day shite, we all snap at the kids and chuck an iPad at them for ease, or just give in and give them that last Freddo, just so you can have 5 minutes peace, without your head about to burst all over the kitchen counter...
Now, don’t make me write a blog like this again. I’ve not sworn anywhere near enough, slagged any of my children off, nor bitched about the lack of wine, or me time hahaha!
Hey this MbCBT must be working eh?
Ommmmmmm ... Always chill your mind and your wine...