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Anxiety and Depression WITHOUT Medication!

Life can be difficult at times. Since I found out I have a kidney disorder five, I’ve suffered terribly with my moods. Anxiety and depression is a reality for so many, but why do so many of us feel ashamed and hide it away? At the same time, why do so many people without anxiety and depression belittle those with it? Despite the anxiety and depression I’ve suffered, I have continued to look after my family and although this has been a huge uphill struggle at times, the one thing I need to remember is I’m winning!

I’m not going to bullshit you, anxiety and depression sucks big time! I’ve had times where I have barely left the house, unless I’ve needed to. I’ve spent many moments crying for no reason. I’ve felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders and not known how I’m going to get from one day to another. Small problems were always magnified! I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone for fear of being judged or laughed at. The list goes on… The daily struggle is real, but it can be overcome!

I’m not going to lie, I do still get my down days and they are really difficult at times, but I’ve come so far and I’m determined not to let it win! So, how did I get to the point where I am now?

The first step, as with any illness (because it *is* an illness), was to go to the doctor. This was particularly difficult for me, because it meant I had to accept that there was something wrong with me mentally. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially as a wife and mum, as you want to be able to keep it together, whatever the world throws at you. But you have to remember, we are just human… We are not perfect and things do take their toll on us. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means that you need some help to keep going.

When I eventually made it to the doctor, I explained how I felt. He was very understanding and explained it wasn’t a surprise, as I had been through years of chronic pain without any kind of explanation. He then proceeded to to tell me about my options. Option one was medication, but I didn’t want to put any more chemicals into my body and having seen how they affected my mum as I was growing up, I really didn’t want to go down that path unless I had to. The second option was to consider CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Now, I didn’t have a clue what that was. It all sounded too hippyish to me, if I’m completely honest. BUT… It wasn’t medication and I had nothing to lose. So I went with option two.

What is CBT?

To quote the NHS Choices website ” Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave”. CBT is a great way to treat depression and anxiety, provided you find a good provider and therapist. I was referred to thinkaction who cover Surrey and Kent. Over the past 2 years they have successfully helped me for my anxiety, depression and my chronic pain. As well as CBT sessions, I attended an eight week Chronic Pain course which was so informative. I can’t help but think that if I had done the Chronic Pain course years ago, I might not have developed my anxiety and depression.

A picture taken from my Facebook entitled “Lunch!”

It’s amazing how powerful the mind is, and just by changing how you think about things, not only can you make yourself mentally better, but it can improve your physical problems too. After doing two pain management courses, one with thinkaction and one with COPE (Centre of Pain Education) in Sutton Hospital, I am now completely medication free. Once upon a time, that just seemed like a pipe dream. No word of a lie, I would take a minimum of seven tablets in the morning five in the afternoon and five at night before bed. I should have rattled! You can see on the picture to the left that this is no exaggeration! These drugs included opiates, pain killers, neuropathic pain medication and medication to treat my gut in order to cope with all of the above! No wonder I was in such a mess!


How do I get help?

Help, believe it or not, couldn’t be easier. You don’t even need to go to your GP to be referred for CBT. However, depending on the severity of your issue, it might be advisable to speak to the GP in order to assure you’re being referred to the right place.

If you are in the Surrey or Kent area you can self refer by contacting your local thinkaction service. There is a wait, but you are contacted and will be assessed via telephone and then proritised depending on your needs.

These people have helped me so much. I have been lucky to connect with an amazing therapist who *really* gets me… In the medical field, I’ve found that extremely rare and I have seen a whole host of professionals over the years. I cannot thank her enough! The other people I’ve spoken to at thinkaction have gone out of their way to make me feel listened to and kept up to date with my application process.

If you’re not in these areas, there will be something local to you that offers the same service. They all have different names and if you contact your doctors surgery, I’m sure they will share the information with you.

I wish you all the best of luck and remember… You *CAN* do this!!!

EDIT: I just wanted to add that it’s completely okay to take medication. In a lot of cases, it’s unavoidable. However, with knowledge and support, many people who rely heavily on medication can successfully cut down and rid their life of those unwanted side effects! Sometimes people suffer from so many side effects from pills, they almost forget what started the problem in the first place. If doctors referred more chronic pain sufferers to these pain workshops, I think they would see a good number of sufferers cutting down on medication and being able to manage their care more efficiently as a result of the knowledge and support they would gain. I know I certainly did and I saw SO many others with worse problems than me cut down and finally take control of their lives!

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  1. Such a brave post to write, CBT is amazing, so glad you have the support and help you deserve, thanks for sharing this, it will help so many x

    • swanny swanny

      Thank you lovely. It was something I felt I needed to write. I’m glad it’s out there and I have a few other ideas too. I really hope someone benefits from this x

  2. Ive suffered myself over the yrs and at the time so wish I’d Cum across this post there really wasn’t alot of help at the time so opted for Meds good or bad they gave me back my personality!!! It’s an awful thing worse than any illness I’ve ever suffered to date? I’ve always said I would like to find a way to help others so I think it’s great uve decided to share ur story.xx

    • swanny swanny

      I’m glad you found it useful 🙂 Wishing you all the best <3

  3. sandra sandra

    My sister in law sent me your post and want to thank you so much for sharing your experience, I am going to have cbt soon for the first time after years of battling depression and hearing how it has helped you has filled me with hope, it is so hard to keep it all together as mothers and working and all sorts so I really do hope cbt helps me to be able to manage a bit better than I have been. I am so glad you are feeling better and on top of your pain well done and wish you continued happiness and well being x

    • swanny swanny

      I’d love to hear how you’re getting on. All the best. I really found it useful. It’s changed my view on so many areas of my life. <3

  4. I suffered a breakdown back in 2012 following a family issue and after trying medication then rejecting it following side effects I went down the CBT route. Luckily my workplace have an excellent OHU which provided me with the therapy I needed to organise my mind and start the recovery process. I’ll never be the same but I recognise when the ‘dark clouds decend’ and can usually cope.

    Good luck with your journey. I hope you are more yourself again soon. x

    • swanny swanny

      That’s great news. I think a lot of people disregard it, especially when things are just SO overwhelming. Thanks for your kind words 🙂 <3

  5. CBT is wonderful. A really useful tool in combating depression and anxiety disorders. I had a breakdown in January 2015 and while my medication helped a huge amount, CBT was the one thing that I knew would make a lasting difference to my mental health. This will be helpful for many. #brillblogposts

    • swanny swanny

      It really is the one thing that has kept me going. I am able to see when I’m starting to feel down and change it. Such a useful life tool. SOrry to hear about your breakdown. <3

  6. […] blog doesn’t have a specific structure as such. One day I might be blogging about something serious and the next I might be doing an unboxing or reviewing something. As much as I like to mix it up, I […]

  7. This is a fab post! I always considered things like CBT a bit “hippy” too until I tried it and it totally worked! The mind is truly an amazing thing, and I think we’re only just beginning to realise what it can do. It’s a shame that mental health still has such a stigma attached to it, but posts like this, where people are open and honest about it, are starting to change perceptions. Well done for writing about such an important subject #BrillBlogPosts

  8. Thank you for this informative post. I tried CBT for a brief period, but I just didn’t feel like it helped me much, but I blame that on my lack on enthusiasm and making lots of excuses. I think If I ever do start up again I’ll probably give it another try, anything is better than being on a pill I think #BrillBlogposts

    • I’d recommend giving it another go, but go in with an open mind. Hopefully it can help, but for some people it may not.

  9. Brilliant blog.
    I have suffered from anxiety since my 30th a few years back. I needed medication just to get me out of the door, but with the help of CBT was able to wean myself off.

    You always have days that you struggle, especially when stress levels are high. But the CBT and the relaxation methods learned usually help to avoid a panic attack.

  10. Great great post.

    I’ve been having a terrible time the past year and I’m just going through CBT now.
    I’m also battling healthcare practitioners who seem genuinely shocked when I say medication is not for me (at least not right now). Tried it and had a severe reaction, it actually made my liver issues worse.

    Malfunctioning, liver, stomach or kidneys can actually induce the symptoms of anxiety and depression since they are responsible for cleaning and regulating the body so I’m not surprised you have been suffering.

    The body and mind can’t be seperated. They are a whole

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