I don’t think I’ve ever detailed my virulent hatred of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) on the blog, I talk about it a lot on twitter and as some of my poor victims will know, I used to practise it there.
In times of distress I was always available to offer therapy, mainly along the lines of-
WHY ARE YOU DEPRESSED? OTHER PEOPLE ARE FAR WORSE OFF; SOME HAVE DEAD PETS. JUST STOP IT!
YOU ARE EMPLOYING MAGICAL THINKING. JUST STOP IT!
YOU’RE NOT BEING PARANOID. PEOPLE DO HATE YOU- BECAUSE YOU’RE RUBBISH. JUST STOP IT!
I’m in semi-retirement from my CBT practise these days, though rest-assured, should I spot you indulging in a little black and white thinking, mind-reading or catasrophising then I will point it out and insist you desist.
It may surprise you to know that I’m not a trained CBT practitioner, but I am a quick learner and managed to pick-up quite a lot during my own very brief dalliance with the technique. I had three sessions of CBT before I was declared too mental; I don’t remember much, in fact all I remember is
“WHY WOULD YOU MAKE YOURSELF VOMIT? THAT’S JUST STUPID”
Which as you can imagine was enormously helpful for someone who at the time was attempting to ‘regulate their emotions’ by throwing-up every morsel of food she ate. I waited 9 months for some harridan in a maxi-dress (she may have been a psychologist) to berate me for being mental. I’ve never been so glad to be declared ‘un-helpable’ in my life, being discharged was a gift.
CBT was never going to help me; I’m quite capable of berating myself, I don’t deny I sometimes indulge in all the common cognitive distortions but I’m a multiple so I also know when I’m doing it, why and what to do about it. I can administer CBT to myself. It doesn’t make me any better or help at all in any way but I know I should keep doing it or everything will go completely wrong and end in disaster. Furthermore it will all be my fault; I know others will blame me for everything as they all think I’m rubbish anyway.
There is one psychotherapeutic technique with a cognitive basis I don’t despise completely- reframing. I love a good reframe. I often reframe my days in order to make myself feel better; I’m quite the Polyanna and on balance, probably wear my rose-tinted spectacles as often as I wear my shit-tinted ones. At this stage I probably would lose the will to live by 10am most days if I didn’t paint everything with rainbows-
Forget an entire day- it must’ve been rubbish anyway.
Got lost in Tesco- accidentally found the stationery aisle.
Haven’t been out of the house all week- didn’t run away to Paris/Newcastle.
Drank too much wine- didn’t mix with benzos.
It’s a useful technique but there is a danger that a reframe can become a wanky platitude. The two run very closely together, I’ve sketched a graph to illustrate.
I can also spot a reframe a mile away so often feel patronised and invalidated, sometimes this is justified. Back in the day of the frequent dissociative trips that ended in police involvement, MHAs, helicopters, trips to A&E and the bin etc the Fantastic CPN would always comment “but you came back and you’re ok”. I’m not sure what my response at the time was, these ‘trips’ left me confused, terrified and ashamed but the fact I was still alive was supposed to be enough to comfort me when it was quite clear I had completely lost control of my mind and my life. So reframing, whilst useful can also be a tricky balancing act.
The 7 year-old has returned home, earlier than I planned. I’m not entirely sure how this came about but I’m sure there’s a paper-trail somewhere. Today I finally have a man coming to fix the TV- you can’t have a 7 year-old child in the house with no working TV, well you can if you
a) dislike children
b) are happy to provide round-the-clock entertainment
I’ve mentioned before that this kind of situation, where I have to allow a stranger to enter the smallest house in the world is very challenging for me. I don’t imagine for a second that the TV man presents any real threat (other than to the bank balance) but I am crippled by hypervigilance.
I have extremely keen senses- all of them, they are my useless superpowers. I’m always on the lookout for signs of danger, be they real or imagined. I am permanently primed, ready to freeze, flee or have a complete meltdown at the first sign of peril. It’s not a good way to be, physically or emotionally- hypervigilance makes me mental, bonfire night in this house is probably similar in many ways to bonfire night in Battersea Dogs Home. I can’t just stop being hypervigilant and so, at times I hate myself for it.
I clearly needed some sort of reframe, so you can imagine my unbridled delight when I found this article that confirms that I am not only super-human but Spiderman. I have nothing to fear from the TV man, unless of course his name is Norman Osborn…….