6 Dec 2017
It’s been only a week or so since I’ve blogged, and it’s been an overwhelming time since the last entry.
Let’s see. In that time, I have
- Given a presentation at my old workplace about depression.
- Had my mum find out about my depression, and had my parents visit us for a couple of days.
- Set up a new website for my creative blog, my comic, and what was supposed to be my depression blog, and migrated two out of three.
Oh and 4. My CBT has finished. Let’s talk about that.
CBT for me has been really helpful. I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned it elsewhere on this blog, but basically we have automatic reactions to certain stimuli, or events. In depression, these reactions can be more negative than usual, and are usually emotional. The automatic reactions are a result of a short-circuited thought process, which refined over time, make us leap straight from the event to the reaction.
After an event, when we are calmer, analysing and breaking down the thoughts allow us to work out which thought is particularly frustrating or triggering. This “hot thought” is then analysed, with facts for and against laid out for that particular thought, to see if the thought really is valid. If it is, then management of the emotions is an option. If the thought isn’t as valid as it seems to be, then there is space for a more balanced and neutral thought. With practice, the new balanced thought can then replace the old thought pattern. Along the way, unhelpful thought patterns also need to be identified, to see where the thought process has gone haywire.
Just based on CBT alone, I’ve grown a lot less frustrated with my kids, for example. I no longer conflate my own identity as a father with their behaviour. I no longer feel like I’m not able to reach them, or communicate with them, as the facts show that they understand what I’m trying to say, even as I understand what they really are doing. The automatic emotions and reaction clouded up the issue, making me feel like a failure, and painting the kids as acting up on purpose. The new balanced thought is that the kids are just being playful, and forget their limits when they’re playful. My follow up action has been to let them know that I’ll yell less – but that I’ll nag more, and they can’t complain. The boys agreed. I’ve not had to be super frustrated with them for about a week plus now. I’m thankful for that.
I’ve given a presentation at my old workplace, and it went well. IMH was really kind and sent a psychologist together with me to give the presentation, and the feedback was that the session was helpful, and useful. Which is a good thing for me to hear, but as I told my therapist after, I felt guilty about feeling good. We’ll work on that from this week onwards.
We didn’t do much CBT though, for as it turned out, my mum insisted on visiting us this weekend. I’d been hiding my depression pretty well up till this point, but I can’t guarantee that I can remain well for more than a day, in close contact with one of my loved ones! So my dad told my mum, just before I left the house for therapy. I called my mum, and had a chat, apologising in tears for lying to her for so long.
But I felt really unsettled and tense. I didn’t know how my mum would take the news once it’d sunk in. I didn’t know how things would be like when they arrived. I felt distressed and totally out of control. It affected my therapy, and my therapist immediately allowed me to talk about it, and taught me a calming technique. It was to prove useful over the next few days.
That evening, after therapy, I called my parents and gave them a crash course on depression, and also what it has meant for me for the past few months. My mum, for example, had told me that men don’t cry, and not to waste my tears in the earlier call. I explained why that became a source of stress, and that I had to cry to feel better.
They’ve just left today, and they’ve been an amazing source of support. My dad didn’t say much on the topic, leaving most of it to my mum, but they both have been encouraging, financially as well as mentally. I’m thankful for that.
I’m tired now though. It’s been too eventful, and I have therapy tomorrow. I’ve given up on migrating this depression blog until the week after at the earliest, as I feel too drained having to monkey around with settings and themes for the comic. Until then, I’ll still blog on this blog.
So… I’m thankful, but tired. I shall go build something and maybe draw a comic or two… To recuperate from the massive events of the past few days.