So something huge has happened, I have finished my ten sessions of CBT and I actually feel that my anxiety is so much more settled than it was when I started a few months ago at the end of summer.
My therapist actually suggested she sign me off during session nine, as I was so much happier, had been overcoming all my obstacles and the whole process seemed to draw to a close naturally.
However, I decided to go for one last session, just to be sure that my happiness and more carefree attitude wasn’t a fluke.
Session ten was very much a chance to say goodbye to my therapist, who I had become very close to over the past few months.
We were able to properly access my process over the previous nine sessions, look at how far I had come and put a plan of action together for the future if things take another turn for the worse (including being able to refer myself back if I ever need to).
I’ve really enjoyed sharing my journey through this with you all, which I wasnt sure I would when I first started, so I thought I would round things off with a summary of my final three sessions.
Session 7 saw us looking at ‘wonky thoughts’ and how these ’typical’ behavioural traits most common with sufferers of anxiety can hinder your ability to cope on a day to day basis.
It was so interesting to see how many of the patterns I am in a habit of. As we went through the list, I ticked all but two of the thoughts, and it was a bit of an eyeopener.
My therapist was quick to reassure me that a lot of these thought processes are common amongst most people from time to time, and that they don’t need to take over your life, if you can identify them and avoid falling into their traps.
One in particular really resonated with me – ‘time travelling’ where you worry about things yet to happen and live constantly with your future fears. I came away from the session adamant I wanted to work on stopping myself from doing this one. My homework for the session was to try and notice myself falling into the thought patterns.
I was also set a challenge by my therapist to literally switch off, something I find incredibly hard to do especially at night.
I agreed to attempt to turn my phone off from 9pm every night and not switch it back on until 9am the next morning.
Although this didn’t happen (I managed it one night – total fail), I really do want to work on this one and will be looking at charging my phone in another room and investing in an alarm clock for my bedside table to try and help make this work for me.
In session 8 I was in pieces, my stress levels were through the roof and I was feeling very worked up and agitated by something which was due to happen later that day.
Instead of reflecting on my wonky thoughts from the past week, I used this session as a chance to vent in a safe place, and my therapist was excellent at pinpointing where my worries were stemming from and coming up with a plan of action to help me combat my fears.
My therapist mentioned that technically I had been due to have eight sessions, and it would have been my last one but due to the week I had, she suggested I came back for the optional additional two sessions and I readily agreed, I didn’t quite feel confident enough to go it on my own just yet.
Still, I came away from the session feeling much better and prepared for the difficult discussion I needed to have.
It had been a very stressful, awful week for me and I felt so much lighter knowing I had worked through the emotions.
By session 9, as I mentioned at the start of the post, I felt a lot better about everything. Things had been resolved from the week before, and I had also found out I had won a cruise through Tots 100 and MSC cruises, thanks to my post on Blog Camp on Board.
Having just taken over the Bournemouth Bloggers network, I was also feeling a lot more confident about myself and I had so much on with that, my own blog and Christmas preparations that I hadn’t really had the chance to worry about things which didn’t matter.
It was a good feeling, to sit and talk more casually with my therapist and reflect on how far I had come since the beginning.
We agreed to leave a two week gap between sessions 9 and 10, to give myself a chance to come down from the high I had been feeling from things levelling out in my personal life, and set a date for session 10 on 15th December.
I went into Session 10 beaming. I had a Christmas card and gifts for my therapist and we sat and chatted throughout the session about how far I had come since I started.
We looked at each area of my life and reflected on my improvements. I am so much more assertive, confident and generally worrying less than a few months ago, and it was so nice to be able to truthfully say I could see a real improvement in myself. I am really proud of how far I’ve come and really grateful to my therapist for all her help.
We discussed that I still have a little work to do on my perfectionism, which has come from the anxiety. I get worked up if things don’t go to plan, and things have to be just right before I can relax.
We’ve decided that a schedule would be good for me and I’m going to ensure I have one in place for the new year to try and curb this.
I also haven’t quite managed to let go of my phone as much as I want to, so we discussed the possibility of getting the Amazon Dot or the Google Mini to act as an alarm clock as an incentive to keep my phone in another room at night. I’m definitely excited to look into this – I do love gadgets!
I am so happy that I went ahead with the CBT sessions. At the start I was nervous and unsure what I would be able to take away from them but I can see myself how much my anxiety has improved lately, and even during times of deep emotional turmoil I’ve been able to focus on the coping mechanisms and techniques I have learnt during my sessions and I no longer feel worried about the future, as I am intent on living in the moment, and enjoying life as it happens.
I am not naive, and I know there may well be tough times ahead, but I am also confident in my ability to be able to work with any issues I may face, and am determined not to worry about them until they happen.
I would highly recommend CBT to anybody who suffers from depression and/or anxiety like myself as it can really help. I know it doesn’t for everyone, I think largely to do with the relationship you form between yourself and your therapist, but it is worth a shot, especially when it is available on the NHS, something I am hugely grateful for.