Sunday, 21 October 2012

A second first blog post

Right, my spectacular failure to follow through on the previous post is quite embarrassing, but here goes for a second attempt at a blog.

My biggest problem seems to be deciding what to write about, and trying not to descend into some angst ridden post that would be better suited to a My Chemical Romance forum.  However, I'm determined to start writing both to improve my writing and to help me understand my thought processes.  Also, in the words of a good friend, it will hopefully prove to be a nice place to store some "random mad thoughts".

Having said this the first one has turned out to be quite heavy, but it's what's frequently on my mind at the moment for better or worse....

Anyway, I'm having a better weekend than expected.  Last week I picked up some horrid throat/sinus infection which has now spread down into my chest.  Hence I've been eating crap all week and generally feeling rubbish.  It's also meant that this weekend's plans of exercise and lunch with family have had to be cancelled.  So all in all it seemed likely this would be a weekend to write off...

But, in actually fact it's been ok.  Forcing myself to relax and chill has left me feeling quite well in spite of a hacking cough.  I've started re-reading Questionable Content once again, which is always fun, and is quite good for my general mood, mixed in with actually listening to a whole load of music (as opposed to just having something on in the car while driving), which I just don't feel like I've had time for recently.

This is both pleasing and surprising.  As some of you are aware I've been seeing a counsellor for nearly a year to try and resolve long standing mental health issues.  Having now scraped away at the detritus floating around in my head fora while it appears I have issues with both Anxiety and Dysthymia (chronic depression).  To combat this I'm going to counselling and also trying Cognitive Therapy, which is about understanding how I think, and how my thoughts impact and frame my moods.

The pleasing and surprising thing therefore about this weekend is how I'm framing it in my mind.  Previously, old Chris would have seen this as a wasted weekend, probably done very little of any consequence (personal or otherwise), and gone into next week feeling depressed at what would feel like yet another wasted weekend.  Instead, I've managed to frame the weekend as something useful and constructive, and therefore feel much happier about it, and I'm in a frame of mind which should allow the week ahead to be constructive.

This is all part of the Cognitive Therapy.  The idea behind CT is that:

1.  Things happen in the world that you're affected by - both positive and negative things, as well as neutral things.
2.  You interpret these events with your thoughts, generating an "internal dialogue"
3.  From this internal dialogue flows the feelings that make up your mood.

Mental health issues occur when you consistently interpret the events in the world inaccurately leading to an "abnormal" internal dialogue. This isn't to say that something is broken, rather that the calibration is wrong, like a poorly tuned radio that constantly crackles.  The aim of CT is to retune the radio to eliminate the crackling. (My source for this is the excellent "Feeling Good" by David Burns).

The aim therefore is not to build a Panglossian thought process, but rather one that generates appropriate thoughts (and by extension moods) depending on the stimuli.  Trust me when I say this is easier said than done, especially after years of not thinking appropriately, and trying to convince yourself that it's just a case of being weak minded, and if you could only pull up your socks and stop being pathetic that everything would be ok.

Why talk about this now?   Firstly, it's something that is frequently on my mind, and therefore it feels good to share it, and put it out there in the open.  Secondly, hearing people like Alistair Campbell talk about his own mental health issues has been an incredible help in the last 18 months, as I've come to realise I need and then sought out, treatment.  Now that I can see something that might be a light at the end of this particular tunnel, I believe it's important that I tell my own tale, just in case it helps someone else.

I suspect this won't be the last I have to say about the matter, as it's highly unlikely to resolve itself overnight, and hopefully as I travel along this path, I'll have more to say on the matter (as well as developing an opinion as to whether CT actually works!).

I think that's enough for now though.  Please do comment if the mood takes you, and try to remember that life ain't so bad (myself included).


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