Tuesday, November 02, 2010

positive data

One of the things that's happened in the last few months is that I've been having some sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I've found it really helpful for thinking about how I think and changing things, little by little.

The biggest thing it's helped me with is reading. I virtually lost my ability to read when I was depressed in 2008 and though the depression has gone and my concentration had come back a bit, I still found it hard to read anything longer or more involved than a magazine article or blog post. I wanted to return to my MA, but for an English student, not being able to read properly makes studying impossible. I was pretty sure the main blockage was psychological rather than physical. I got my eyes tested in March, just to make sure and all was fine (though I discovered I needed glasses for distance). That left the non-physical barriers - partly I didn't have the stamina for reading that I used to, but more than that reading, especially reading related to studying, made me panic. I avoided books and then was sad because they used to make me happy.

It didn't actually take many sessions of CBT to make that change. My therapist encouraged me to start by sitting down with a book, to look at it, feel it, explore the feeling of holding a book, maybe read it if I felt like it. Somehow, it didn't take long before I was reading again. Small bites at first, then longer chunks, until now I can read at something approaching my old pace and appetite again. It feels good!

The reading problem is cracked and we've moved onto to a few other things now, like tackling how I think about myself as a failure and jump to panic and disaster too quickly. We're coming to the end of our sessions together and we've been working on a toolkit for the future. One of things I've been exploring is a positive data log. I seem to have no trouble remembering the bad things that happen to me, but the good things can get lost. I've been trying to remember them better. I have a book to record good things in, though mostly I forget, but it helps me just to get to the end of the day and go through all the good things in my head, just before I go to sleep. Even if I don't remember them too well the next day (which makes me think I should use the book and write things down more), it relaxes me at the end of the day and helps make a positive feeling when I remember that day. Try it!

1 comment:

Nicola said...

What an interesting post - I have hardly been able to read anything for the last 18 months to two years which coincided with a really bad experience that culminated in me having to drop a Masters course that I was doing at the time. I'd drawn a connection between the two events but not really thought there was anything I could do about it other than wait it out! I hope to return to study in 2011 so it's good to know that there is a therapy that might help if I find I get really stuck! Good luck if you do eventually return to study!