Obvious, but important, things I learned from cognitive-behavioural therapy

After suffering on my own with anxiety and depression for about 5 years, last year I finally got forced to get some professional help. A CBT therapist is what I was handed. Sadly, the sessions did not cure me. But they have helped me to realise when I am being ridiculously irrational, resulting in better quality days.

I felt it was the right thing to do to share what I found most helpful, because most people really do suffer this alone.

  1. most worries are hypothetical
    Whenever you’re worried about something, find the root of the specific thing you’re worried about. Start your thought with “I’m worried that” and see what the answer is. Most of the time it’ll be something in the future that may or may not happen.
    “I’m worried that I’ll fail my exam.” – why waste time worrying about something that could happen? Turn that worry into revising for that exam etc.
    And if your worry IS a current one, make sure you do what you need to do NOW, so no more time is wasted worrying about it.
  2. you’re not the most important thing in everybody else’s life
    This sounds strange at first but it’s very important you realise this. I used to worry about going to the checkout in stores incase I dropped change, or had to ask them to repeat the price etc. etc. I thought they’d scrutinise me, if not with words, with their facial expression.
    But in the real world that person on the till is actually bored out of their tits doing their tedious job. They won’t remember you dropping 50p in 2 minutes time, never mind in 2 years time. Your ‘mistakes’ are no big deal to others, they probably won’t even notice. And they most certainly won’t give a shit.
  3. you have absolutely 0% control over what happens
    Metaphorically and literally, you can’t control the weather. I used to get horrendously agitated if I went out and it started to rain. I’d find myself  blaming myself for going out at that specific time. Fuck sake izzy you should have KNOWN it was gonna rain…
    …Why should I have known that? You never have full control over things, so never beat yourself up about things like that.
  4. if something increases your anxiety levels, FUCKIN’ DO IT
    Yes, another strange one. In therapy I was introduced to the idea of ‘habituation’ – that is, the more frequently you’re exposed to a situation, the quicker your anxiety levels will decrease permanently when doing that activity or whatever it is.
    The more times you walk up to the counter and drop your 50p without sudden death, the sooner you’ll realise sudden death is a ridiculous prediction in the first place.
  5. new things will not kill you (if you try new things within reason)
    If you’re anything like me, the idea of trying new things is the worst thing in the world. I’d avoid it at all cost. Now I only avoid it a bit……
    At the end of the day, if you don’t like the new thing, just stop doing the new thing. You aren’t going to be trapped forever doing cycling or attending a society meeting at uni. Just leave. Walk away. And like your grandparents always said to you, ‘you don’t know until you try.’ (Annoyingly, they were right this time. Unlike when they said wet hair gives you a cold…)

So, with all that in mind. Go out and seize the day/night, little ones. Only you can help you. ♥


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