Throughout 2013 I attended about 20 sessions of CBT organised through my local NHS. I think I’m one of the lucky ones as I seem to hear a lot about the NHS letting people down when it comes to treatment such as talking therapies. There is definitely not a enough professionals out there to see everyone, but I also feel you have to keep asking. It took a big dip to get me one to one sessions, but they were what I needed. I learnt a lot over the year and now have a number of tools I can use when I need them and I wanted to share them with you. I use them on and off. the main one I have going at the moment is the positives/evidence journal.
I started out my CBT by Thought Tracking and monitoring the emotions and behaviours that are associated the thoughts. I found this exercise useful and still note down thoughts, usually recurring thoughts, or go backwards and start wight he behaviour to see what is triggering it.
This was the follow on exercise from Thought Tracking and I’ve always found it a bit harder to do. There are certain parts I find extremely helpful and have been using more often out in the moment than any other exercise, such as asking myself if the thought is helpful or not and what would I say to a friend. These help me step outside the thought and see what I’m doing to myself. The other part of this exercise I have found useful is finding the evidence for and against the thought. It is sometimes hard as we all tend to see and hold onto only the evidence that supports something we believe in, rather than anything that disproves it. The hardest part of this exercise for me is creating the alternate thought and making ti something I can believe in.
Urge surfing is something many people with overeating or addiction habits have probably come across and I hate it. I know it’s supposed to be useful, but I find it hard to do at times I actually need it. This is all about riding the urge wave. When an urge suffices I am supposed to find something to do for 10 minutes and rate how it’s changed over time. I should then keep doing this until the urge has passed. I find this extremely difficult and frustrating and is probably something I need to continue working harder at. I am getting better at recognising the different between an urge and actually wanting something, but it is the hardest thing to act well to as a binge eater who uses food for comfort and this goes against everything the food is used for me. This is seen as punishing myself for a feeling and I hate it.
Reframing Thoughts and Rules
This is a newer aspect of my CBT journey and it follows on from the evidence part of the thought challenging, where I collect evidence and use it to help put my thought or rule into a more helpful context. I find this one hard, but I am working on it.
The last one I am going to share is something I am finding extremely useful is have tried a few times in the past. A positives journal or evidence journal is somewhere to collect thoughts from each day that are either positive or dispel a chosen belief. I switch between general positives and evidence for beliefs such as ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not normal’.
I’m also using #100HappyDays to help me focus on the positives in my life by taking a photo of something everyday that I enjoy. Follow me on Instagram.
This month is my last session where I will sit down with my therapist and up with a blueprint for going forward. I’ll share more about that at the end of the month. I want to continue the good work I’ve put in over the last year so this work stream is focusing on helping me to do that using these tools and others I may come across during the project.