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.
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!