Not a doctor just my stories…
Today is a new day I forgive myself for yesterday…
I have been in therapy most of my adult life. I started as a teen when I had my first severe depression. I have always liked therapy and liked my therapists. I have never been embarrassed or shy about saying I am in therapy and people always ask me if it “works” I usually say it is up to you and it is not for everybody.
You use words to express things that may be bottled up, you gain understanding, clarity but that does not always lead to action. I have found that words do have power but for me rarely translates to action. The power comes from the calming effect and feeling that “you are not the only one” and that can motivate you.
The more I read and think about mental health issues and explore my own mind and my own life the more I realize how important words are, I still use the word crazy sometimes describing myself and others. I work in a library and a lot of people seem “crazy” but that is a powerful word, a bad word and leaves no room for a proper diagnosis. I am not a diagnostician or a mental health professional and should never use that word.
I recently listened to a therapist on a podcast and she said something very interesting. Don’t use the words “I am” when describing your condition. You would not say I am a head cold, I am flu, I am sinus infection so why would you say I am bipolar. It does not define you, it is not your entire being it is an aspect of your personality.
While I have started to categorize my mood disorders no differently than a physical illness people seeking help or therapy often think there is a cure and then there will no more therapy or no more medication. I thought that for a long time. I did not relax about my issues until I decided my goal was balance.
I am hypothyroid a medical condition and I take a medication to keep my blood levels in a normal range. I will always be taking it. It is no different than my treatment plan for my bipolar disorder. If you stop treatment balance gets thrown off, also some things will never be perfectly balanced.
My husband can look at the positive in any situation, I will always look at the negative. If something scary happens I obsess and dwell on the worst case scenario. I recently sailed through a red light and a car swerved and for the rest of the day I kept thinking I could have died or killed someone over and over again.
How do I balance this–I am trying a new and more proactive kind of therapy. To be honest I got sick of talking about my parents after twenty years with no action. Granted I was living in a haze of anxiety, depression, and undiagnosed bipolar so my primary goal was to feel safe and stem the panic, the heart palpatations. I was not living my life.
When I first used the terms cognitive behaviorial therapy CBT at my library one of the older curmudgeonly librarians said, ” What the hell is that? Do they beat you with sticks?” I actually thought this was pretty funny but I just said I was looking for something more proactive focused on the immediate not exclusively on the past. By the way you can get these elements out of talk therapy but I need structure very badly so I tried CBT.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy stresses the role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. It is based on the belief that thoughts, rather than people or events, cause our negative feelings. The therapist assists the client in identifying, testing the reality of, and correcting dysfunctional beliefs underlying his or her thinking. The therapist then helps the client modify those thoughts and the behaviors that flow from them. Source: Triangle Cognitive Therapy”
There are about fifteen common cognitive distortions and I have been ticking off which ones most apply to me. Catastrophizing is probably my biggest one as well as general anxiety. At the moment I never get gas because I am afraid I will hit one of the posts, or another car. Granted I am crap at parking and my spatial abilities have not improved after five years of driving. I can still get gas though I just need to think about the likelihood of smashing into something, possible but small.
Possible but small could cover pretty much everything I worry about. A headache is a brain tumor (done it) One bee the swarm is coming (done it) One trip I am a clutz I could have broken something (done it) my poodle is dumb (actually this one is most likely true but we never really tried to train him)
Anyway thoughts, change the thought, change the words, accept how you you are if you can’t always do this. Feel powerful not powerless.
Until next time