Hey again folks, last post for today I promise!
This one will deal with moving forward and dealing with setbacks! Probably the most important post of the course!
We find that writing things down, helps the process of recovery. I’ve definitely found keeping my blog has helped my recovery. It builds like an action plan to move forward, so you’re able to plan ahead for those times when those pesky negative thoughts creep back and become problematic again.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) helps you to become your own therapist. Through this course, you will have developed an understanding of some of the reasons behind your distressing thoughts and emotions, and begun to practice techniques to overcome them.
Dealing with setbacks
Fluctuations, plateaus and setbacks are very normal and an important part of progress; as such, they need to be expected and prepared for. In this way, it is less likely that you will catastrophise if and when they occur.
Dealing with a setback can actually help towards making further progress. I’ve encountered a lot of setbacks this past year; but each time I’ve come back stronger than the time before. It’s amazing how many times a setback can actually be a blessing in disguise.
An idea that I picked up at CBT, was developing a “coping card” or “crisis box”. I have a crisis box for times of struggle. In it I have a letter written to myself, reinforcing that everything will be okay and that the pain is temporary. Also, I have a list of positive quotes, my positives book, my feather and anchor painting (with the words “I refuse to sink, instead I’ll learn to fly”) and some little gifts from friends. It acts as a way of reassurance, and if I’m struggling, it can put things back into perspective for me.
It’s also important to remember the following things:
- At the very earliest stage, in which the mood starts to spiral downwards, it is not the mood that does the damage, but the way we react to it.
- Out habitual efforts to free ourselves, far from freeing us, actually keep us locked in the pain we are trying to escape.
- Trying to “fix” and get rid of the problem of depression can serve to dig us deeper, like struggling in quick sand.
So sometimes, it’s about acceptance, mindfulness, compassionate understanding, noticing and letting go.
Make a wellness plan; prevention is better than cure. Spend some time considering what makes you more vulnerable (triggers), and what you might notice if you start to feel depressed again (early warning signs). Writing down what has helped as instructions for your future self, will help to build confidence that if the depression kicks off again – you know what you can do to help yourself.
Old habits do die hard! Your negative core beliefs and the negative thinking and behaviours which go with them, may re-emerge, particularly at times when you are feeling stressed, low or unwell.
The important thing is, don’t worry. We expect this and you now have the skills to break the vicious cycle. It’s simply a case of going back over what you already know and putting it into practice again. Anticipating and planning ahead can help ensure the changes you have made will last the distance. Forewarned = Forearmed.
Identify your triggers. These might include lack of sleep, excessive stress or physical illness. A setback can be frustrating, trust me I know! But being aware of the situations that can lead to it, can help you to cope better. Early warning signs can be physical symptoms, emotions, an increase in certain thoughts, or changes to behaviour patterns. Make a note of what changes you may notice, that will tell you that your mood is dropping.
Please remember, that altering the way we feel about ourselves does take time. It doesn’t happen over night. There may be ups and downs on the path ahead, but what is important is that you now have the tools to deal with these. Lasting change will require an ongoing commitment to all the changes you have made and the things that you have learnt.
It’s been really useful refreshing my memory of CBT techniques, and I’ve definitely been using some of them this past couple weeks. It’s amazing what your brain retains really, as I think I’ve been doing CBT without even realising it!!
Anyway, that’s all from me for now, I think I’ve earned a rest after my epic posting today!! I hope it’s been useful and will help you with your recovery. I would suggest seeing your GP to see if you can get referred for CBT, it really does help a lot.
Thank you for reading as always, and hope you all have a fantastic Christmas!!
Until next time…..