What is CBT?

“All glory comes from daring to begin”- Alexander Bell.

When you say that what does that mean? Does this quote mean that you can be victorious when it comes to your life? In my instance I didn’t want to get one over on my epilepsy I just wanted to accept that I was epileptic. At the beginning I didn’t want to take the chances in order to succeed.

I was afraid of the outcome. Choosing to accept your condition is a lot harder than choosing an outfit to go to work or choosing a meal to eat when you return home. It’s a life long commitment.

I wanted the easy way out i.e I wanted my life to go back to pre-diagnosis when there wasn’t that uncertainity as to when and where I would have a seizure along. Combine that with the fact that I didn’t want to have to take medication any longer to keep me on that straight and narrow.

As mentioned previously I received a letter from neurology telling me that I had been selected to go to see a therapist who specialised in Cognitive Behavrioual therapy (CBT).

I had no understanding as to what this therapy method was, to be ignorant I thought all therapists were the same. I was under the assumption that you went into a quiet room, lay on a sofa and spilled the beans about your life. To a degree I was right however not entirely.

For those who are unaware of what CBT is then I will explain.

The medical profession usually a doctor (or in my case my neurologist) can recommend CBT at any stage of your life where you are needing that additional help. CBT aims to help you change the way you think, feel and behave. CBT is used as a treatment for various mental health and physical problems. You usually find that sufferers can include people with a longlasting condition, anxiety sufferers, people suffering from depression and phobias.

The day came when I had to attend my first appointment and I was anxious.

I checked my handbag a half a dozen times to ensure I had my epilepsy diary, a pen (incase I needed to make notes), my usuals and a travel size bag of tissues incase I got upset. And so I travelled to the other side of the city to see this person. All I knew was that she was female and specialised in therapy.

Prior to my appointment I was asked to complete a questionaire asking various questions about my mental state.

Every question had an erray of numbers beside them ranging from one to ten. One being extremely mild the other being very severe. The questions ranged from how did I feel emotionally, to suicidal tendencies to which I would mark higher in the emotional stakes but lower numbers in the suicidal tendencies.

I knew this questionaire would give me therapist an indicator as to maybe what triggered my anxiety but didn’t actually knew what the numbers meant on the sheet. Was this woman going to tally up my score and draw the conclusion that I wasn’t normal? That was the one thing I didn’t want. I didn’t want this random woman to paint a picture of me that I knew I wasn’t.

So there I toddled into the room waiting to be seen by my good old therapist friend.

She came across as a very calm young lady who wanted to get to the root cause of my problem. I walked into the room to find two chairs, a computer and a table with a box of tissues in the centre. I was prepared.

As soon as I saw that box I could feel my entire body tensing up and the overwhelming dread of telling my story in full to a complete stranger. I could feel that massive lump in your throat before I even opened my mouth, let’s just say it was the worry of not being accepted by her. I had that same feeling all my life. The feelings I was experiencing were the very same ones I had growing up and I didn’t want to be in that position anymore.

Before the session began my therapist asked me a question I never thought she would ask.

“Do you actually want to be here, Everything we discuss is strictly confidential”

What a funny question. Actually it wasn’t funny at all. I was half decided as to whether I wanted to be there. My concious was saying no but my subconcious wanted to be helped. I responded hesitently to the therapists question.

“Yeah I do. Yes please. How are you going to help me?”

My therapist grabbed her enormous notepad and started asking my reasoning for being there. She jotted everything down. She looked me straight in the face and asked what I wanted to achieve from this.

“I want to be a caring person however I want to be carefree with everything else. I know my epilepsy may never disappear but I want to embrace the fact that I am epileptic and that it’s ok to have this condition, I want to be able to accept me for me”

There I said it, the tears started to flow and I couldn’t stop them for love nor money. I had just said the one thing I couldn’t run away from. It would have been rude of me to pick up my belongings and run away from my problems considering my neurologist had gone to all this trouble to get me this appointment. My therapist looked at me and handed me a tissue to dry my puffed eyes.

“If you want this help, then we are going to have to go back to your past, are you ok with that?”

“Do we have to?” I asked.

“Unfortunately we do ” my therapist said.

I looked at my therapist, dried my eyes and acknowledged that if we were going to do this we better do it properly. Let’s go back in time and start from the very beginning..

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