Friday, 25 May 2012

CBT and The Untroubled Mind

I had a session of CBT yesterday.  It was supposed to be my last one - I hadn't been for two months and this was a sort of signing off session.  I have made so much progress in my personal life in the six months or so since the sessions began, and even begun to sow the seeds of a career. 

But a few days ago I realised that I still had one major issue that I hadn't raised in CBT and that if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about it with someone I trusted, it might be hanging over me for ever.  It was not ruining my life - I love my life - but it was worrying me, and making matters permanently seem less than perfect.

Anyway, I plucked up my courage and spoke about what was bothering me right at the beginning of the session, and as usual the therapist was really helpful.  I came out of the session feeling so peaceful, and still feel that way today.  Amazing.

I would really advise everyone who goes for CBT or any other therapy to be totally honest with the therapist.  I have had problems with trust for a long time, so I always held back until now - but no counsellor or therapist can treat you properly unless they are in possession of all the facts. 

So I have one more session booked, and hopefully that really will be the last.  I think the problem that I spoke about yesterday has already gone - but I will just test that out over the next six weeks or so until I see her for - hopefully - the very last time.  I don't think I am clinging on or becoming dependent - I just don't want to have to go back again a few years down the line.  And I thought it would be nice to end the sessions knowing that I am completely healed - plus I want to thank the therapist properly for all that she has done.

CBT - go for it, anyone who has any worries about anything!  Ten or tweleve sessions have made the most incredible difference to my existence.  And I really think that is it now - I have no more worries that I don't think I can cope with now that I have been equipped with the means to do so. 

By coincidence, yesterday afternoon I started reading The Untroubled Mind, by Herbert J Hall.  I had downloaded this free to my Kindle several months ago, but not looked at it yet.  After I saw the counsellor I came home and sat quietly in my garden to eat lunch.  I then decided to do something unprecedented - go to the outside swimming pool of the local club where we have family membership, and read a book, alone, in the sun.

Toddler was at play school, and the others at school, so there was nothing to stop me indulging myself.  I have never done this before - it seemed so decadent - there is always so much to do at home.  But I had just taken the washing in and hung some more out, it really was too hot to hoover or clean much, and I only had an hour before I had to collect Toddler, which I knew would not be enough time to work on my book - I have to spend quite a lot of time recapping the last chapters before I begin the next.

Anyway, I didn't feel as if I needed an excuse.

And this is the magical thing.  I sat by the pool, dangled my legs in the water, and opened The Untroubled Mind on the Kindle.  I had no idea of what  I was going to read - although obviously the title sounded psychotherapeutic.  And then I started to read, and every word seemed to chime with me.  All the things I believe about how to achieve mental health, and the place of God in healing (as a spiritual concept, without the necessity of religion to politicise matters) - all this was written down, expressed in the most elegant language.  It was like a gift.

Hall is so enlightened.  For example, he says, 'I do not even assume that there is a God in the traditional sense... But I do feel vaguely that the laws that compass us, and make our lives possible, point always on - "Beyond the realms of time and space" - toward the existence of a mighty overruling spirit.  If this is a cold and inadequate conception of God, it is at least one that can be held by any man without compromise'.  (To be perfectly honest, towards the end of the book the author says that, having accepted the possibility of the existence of God, it is only one step further to acknowledge the existence of Christ.  But I see this bit as optional, because he makes this so clear earlier in the book, and I think it is important not to try to regulate the nature of anyone's spiritual belief).

He writes of the importance of resting when one has been mentally ill (he calls it nervous exhaustion, a much more humane term).  He also says that we should not over-think, but keep busy to distract ourselves.  So he speaks of therapeutic work, and how it should be carefully managed.  He describes how he arranged for one of his patients who had, 'an illness of the mind and of the nerves, and not of the body, although the body had suffered in its turn' to do some work as a blacksmith while he returned to full health.  'That young man, instead of becoming a nervous invalid as he might have done, is now working steadily in partnership with his father, in business in the city'. 

And he goes on to say (I had to smile here), 'I had found him a very interesting patient, full of originality and not at all the tedious and boresome person he might have become had I listened day after day, week after week, to the recital of his ills'. 

 Anyway, I am in danger of typing out the whole book here, which would  be silly.  SO here is the link:

I have not yet finished reading - it is only a short book, but I want to savour every word.  I have just turned to it again, because I couldn't resist, and immediately found this sentence, 'Most good character has been built upon mistakes and failings'.  And again, 'I know of no bodily ill or handicap which we may not eventually rise above and beyond by means of brave spiritual progress'. Whoops, off I go again... Follow that link!

It is such enlightened writing.  I am so pleased to have found it - and especially at such a serendipitious time.  Lucky me! 

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