I have a number of things printed out and blu-tacked to the back of my home office door. The most recent addition has been a four-point list entitled ‘Rules to live by’.
- Avoidance is rarely the correct option
- Transparency is the best policy
- Perfect is the enemy of done
- Listen to what people actually say
This list came out of the CBT sessions I’ve been attending since last September. A combination of things made me realise I needed some help:
- Death of a good friend
- Stressful situation at work
- Burden of volunteer responsibilities
As I’m sure most people say after going through therapy, it’s something I should have done years ago. Not because I’m weird, broken, or had anything other than a happy childhood. Just because as I approach middle-age, it’s good to be able to jettison some mental baggage and ways of thinking that aren’t helpful.
The list seems simple, but follows some fairly deep excavations into the reasons why I act the way I do, and the causes of anxiety flare-ups. The four points are my response to a prompt by my therapist to think first of all of the implicit rules I’m teaching my kids, and then writing down explicitly the rules I’d want them to live by instead.
My 10th therapy session is on Friday afternoon. After that, we’ll be moving to maintenance sessions every few months. I’m spending my own money on this, because the NHS had too much of a backlog. I realise I’m in a privileged position to be able to spend money on my mental health, but it’s definitely been money very well spent. The sessions have made a tangible (and hopefully long-lasting) effect on my life.
If you’re reading this and dealing with some stuff, I’d highly recommend a course of CBT. That’s especially true if you already think you should have the tools / strength to deal with it by yourself. Therapy has made me a better person.