Using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) For Anxiety
Last week I suffered with some really dark thoughts. They still come and go, but I’m getting better at keeping them at bay. CBT is a great therapy to stop the ‘looping’ cycle by proving the dark thought is not real.
A perfect example of this is when I feel worthless, and my depression says things like “the kids would be better off if I wasn’t their mother.” (definitely note that I have no intention of killing myself- I question my general worth. please don’t misinterpret.) Historically, the thought would pop into my head. “They are better off without you.” I would get anxious and frustrated and try to push the thought away, but it came right back like a boomerang. This time it would be a little louder. “BETTER. OFF. WITHOUT. YOU.” It would be a battle of back and forth, the more I pushed it away the louder it came back. CBT breaks that cycle.
Yesterday was my day #1 of getting back on track. I made good nutrition choices, got outside, and have felt pretty good.. because those are the easy parts of being healthy. The hard part was facing my anxieties when they crept back into my mind. I heard, “You’re useless. The kids would be better off without you as a mother.” I wanted to swat it away and not deal with it, but that wouldn’t be progress in feeling better. I had to break the cycle. Instead I asked the voice “Why? Why would they be better off? What would Jacen, or Anna, or any of the kids say if you asked THEM if they’d be better off without me?” It stopped the voice. I kept going, kept thinking.
What would Jacen say? He would say I protect him. I keep him safe. I’ve gotten him through a lot of his own anxiety attacks, and he trusts that I would never put him in danger. He knows he can come to me when things are wrong, and I’m going to do anything in my power to make it go away. He would say that I taught my boy to read so well, so young that he is now a super star at school. School is easier for him presently because of the days we spent together when he was young.
What would Anna say? That I’ve rescued her from many failed Evel Knievel stunts just in time. It’s a miracle we haven’t had an ER trip, but those mom reflexes tend to kick in. She would say mama is the only one who clips her nails and remembers the fluoride tablets at bedtime.
And Arielle? I hope she would say nice things about me, but that girl is at an age. (Lol) She knows that I don’t always have the same interests in the beginning, like anime and monster shows, but I try my best to learn. I try to listen, support and nurture her interests. I want her to be whatever she feels to be, and do the things she wants. I want to be a part of that, and I think that behind the preteen sass, she probably would admit that she can feel it. She knows how hard I try, and how much I love her. Catch her on a good day and she might even tell you I’m pretty fun to be around.
My shame boomerang must have gotten a little scared, because it hasn’t returned since our “true talk” conversation. Are my kids better off without me as a mom? No. Absolutely not. That was the bully in my brain making me believe something that wasn’t true. CBT helped me sort out my wrong perception and the actual facts, and I saw an immediate lift of my anxiety.
Today was day 2 of kicking my ass back in gear. I got out of bed. I took a shower. I helped Jacen with home school. I put together a gift bag for a friend that I love, and it made me happy to see her reaction. I have befriended a person I never thought would be on my side, and it’s beautiful. Her kind, welcoming behavior seems to be the start of a beautiful friendship. I hope it lasts forever. I kicked my anxiety attack’s ass with my CBT. I spent some much needed down time with my husband instead of rushing into depression sleep.
I still miss my friends. I’m going to hug the crap out of my sister and niece when this thing passes. I’m going to take my nana out for a glorious day on the town. I’ll even go to bingo with her if she invites me. I’m going to let the kids pig pile on their nana and give her all the overdue hugs and kisses. Social distancing is hard. It messes with our minds, especially the minds who struggle with illness every day. Keep fighting back, because you deserve to be happy and healthy, even in a time like this. Get out of bed. Get some sun. Try your jeans on. (Trust me, quarantine snacks.)
Most of all, this too shall pass. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. But I know it will.
Until then fight for your wellness. Fight to keep our sense of community, even from afar. Fight to have good days and good relationships.
Wash your hands.
Don’t touch your face.
And Carole Baskin fed her husband to a tiger.