Sleeping through the night has become a bit problematic for me. I find myself deep in thinking and having hang-ups on certain portions of my life. My mind makes certain assumptions which leads to panic. When I was first diagnosed, my beginning psychotherapy included cognitive behavioral therapy to help me get a grasp on my thoughts. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works for thoughts not caused by external sources. I get these ideas which have the capability to freak me out, from nowhere but my own mind. For example, today I start thinking my life will never change. My thinking went something like this: “I will always get depressed during the holidays and dread them like a case of the flu. Misery will accompany me and there is a probability I may never feel happy for any extended period of time.” Left untouched this thinking becomes a part of my belief system. It spirals me through the panic, anxiety, mania, depression cycle. My first therapist helped me to change my thinking: even if my current situation never changed. The CBT involved work. I had to work at changing the negative thoughts. I am not and never will be one of those who believe in the so called “power of positive thinking.” The change I used, stemmed from reality to reality in a continual process. Here’s how I learned to deal with some of my thoughts, like, “You should be ashamed of what you came from. Even if you did not do the things your family members did, you are still a part of the most awful people in the world.” “You are disgusting.” I would feel those lousy feelings then tell myself “I can’t control what my family did.” “Their behavior was disgusting, but I was not a part of that.” “The truth is I am in control of my now and my future.” “My history will always be painful, but it is does not determine my future.” I mentally separate myself from the behaviors of others and the feelings they open up. It leads me out of the shame. With the panic attacks, I could tell myself, “This is scary. I am so frightened. It will not last forever. Very soon the feelings will go away and I will feel calm.” It would not take the attack away. but it helped me through it.
My best work was done through accountability. I selected friends to help me during the tough times. They would tell me to “stop!” I would then begin to tell myself to “stop!” If I had to say it out loud I would. Writing was another way to work through the thinking. I would allow myself a rant in my journal. I would re-read and write in the margins the truth. Sometimes I did not do it right away. I wallowed in my feelings for a time. Othertimes, I could quickly relieve the feelings with better thought choices. It was work and it got easier. I have gotten away from the behavior management. My current therapists uses more “talk therapy” she leads me to come around to the answers I need on my own. It has been what I have needed. Now, I can add some behavior modifications and get some better results.
You, know I may never know true joy, true happiness, and true love. My life doesn’t have to be empty and I can navigate it to calmness and peace. See? I am aware and slowly I can get there.