I talk a lot about my subjective experiences with my mental illnesses, but I don’t talk enough about the therapy and treatment I am getting and how that is helping me battle my demons. My therapist focuses on using cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, to treat the negative and harmful thought patterns I have that stem from my mental illnesses.
It starts with mindfulness. After all, I can’t change negative thought patterns if I can’t first identify them for what they are. And sometimes I slip in my mindfulness and allow myself to fall back into the negative thought patterns of anxiety and depression.
But when I do identify them, I focus not on the lies whispered by my mental illness, but on objective facts that challenge those lies. I look for positive reinforcement of the healthy thought patterns. And little by little, it gets better. I get better.
Some thought patterns are harder than others to tackle. For example, in the midst of a truly difficult depression, like the one I fought through at the end of this past weekend and into the beginning of this week, I am so disconnected from the world around me that it is hard to be mindful of anything. And even if I am mindful of it, I don’t have the energy to change it. All I can tell myself is that my demons are lying to me and that this will pass in time.
Yet some anxieties have gotten easier to handle thanks to the CBT. And with each positive step that I take, my demons weigh me down a little less. Maybe someday I will be free of my demons. Maybe I will always have to fight them. But at least with CBT I have a tool, a weapon I can use in that fight.