Has anyone done Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and been the better for it? I am bipolar and suffer from anxiety from a lot of trauma, some recent and am ready just to kick this to the curb as much as i can.
I wonder if there are online classes as it would be nice instead of going to try to seek out a qualified therapist in my area?
Yes, CBT is what was used by my outpatient hospital program after my suicide attempt. They were pretty much masters at it. It changed my life. My diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder with OCD.
One problem with CBT is that just about every therapist says they do it, but I’ve yet to find a therapist outside of that hospital who does it well. Even my cousin, who went through an inpatient program at Stanford where it was developed, did not get what I was given.
I highly recommend that you go through the following books by Dr. David Burns. They were required reading for me in order to stay with my outpatient program. That, staying on my meds, daily exercise, and keeping up my spiritual life were all requirements. There were bipolars in my group, too, and we all had a positive outcome.
1. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
2. The Feeling Good Handbook
3. When Panic Attacks
The program teaches you how to analyze what is causing your current mood, how to track that cause to its earliest source, and how to deal with that cause. It also teaches you to quickly identify the false reasoning that is causing your panic or depression, and talk yourself out of that reasoning. It’s a lot of work at first, but well worth it. 10 years later, I don’t have to fill out the Mood Logs that are a huge part of the program. I can basically do it in my head.
That program allowed me to finally deal with my past trauma… the childhood abuse and the abusive fiance. I see what effects those things had on me. And I was able to let them go and finally move forward. I don’t currently use a therapist because of that program.
I pray that you have the same success I did. I was broken and hopeless, but through God’s grace and that program, I am so much stronger than I ever was before.
I mean, I’m not a professional, but I know there was a woman in my group who did not revisit her trauma. She had PTSD from something in her profession, and they advised her to learn to live life past that point.
I revisited my trauma, but that was largely because I honestly hadn’t realized that my two situations were causing my pain. I thought I had put them behind me. In reality, I had never really dealt with them. I did have to face them so that I could move on. It took a lot of digging to even realize that they were my precipitating events. I’d repressed a lot.
I feel like if you already know what your events are, then you can probably say, “Okay, well that emotion was caused by xxxxx, and that’s past me now. So let’s deal with the present.”
That’s what I’m able to do now. I can talk about his rape of me, for instance, or recognize that it’s causing a hang up in my sex life, without blinking an eye. It exists, I know it exists, and I can now easily say, “Oh, I’m acting this way because of that. And that no longer matters, so I’ll just get over it and stop acting this way.” Prior to CBT, I didn’t acknowledge its existence, so I had nothing to pin my emotions on. And that’s crazy-making. It didn’t allow me to heal.
I don’t know if that makes sense to you. It’s hard to explain. I’m trying to say that if you know what event you can pin an emotion on, then you probably don’t need to relive it.
And I wouldn’t recommend reliving that stuff without a professional present, anyway. It was brutal. I needed it, but it sounds like you may not since you already recognize your trauma.
I will add that I was told that belief in a higher power, particularly our God, is a huge factor in the success of recovery. We are protected by His grace. He is our guardian, our healing power that brings us through the darkest valley only to be stronger on the other side. And He will use our recovery to bring glory to Himself and healing to others. I didn’t believe a word of that when it was told to me. What kind of god wants the broken, after all? The answer is, our God. Because He can do amazing things with the broken (see that David thread!) And I’m walking proof of that. You will be, too.
Thank you, DG!
One thing… i hope this isn’t required (and i hope you and others don’t shut me down because of this) but do you need to “revisit” the past, ie., re live it? Because i WILL NOT go back there and relive the childhood sexual abuse nor will i relive the traumatic loss i experience a little over two months ago that almost destabilized my bipolar and put me in one of the worst trials of my life. It was so traumatic that i do not want to go through those memories and AFAIK, i have put the past to rest and dealt with it including forgiveness for the perpetrator. I am just hoping to train my body to LET GO of trauma even though it’s etched in every cell, muscle, nerve, etc.
BTW, looked up When Panic Attacks on Amazon and ordered it since this is the main symptom i want to overcome… 🙂
Well mine was childhood sexual abuse and i know that probably even changed my physiology, the way my nervous system and my brain reacts and bipolar runs in my family so i don’t know if there’s much i can do about any of it besides take meds (and pull down strongholds in my blood line, after all, i do believe we have authority in the Spirit) but i do believe it is time to try some CBT at some point. I do SO MUCH self talk as you probably do also which includes Scripture, prayer, standing on the Word, everything but i also think God may want me to do more and maybe the loss 2 months ago is a catalyst. I view it all as an opportunity for growth, i HAVE. TO. look at it that way so it doesn’t destroy me.
The lastest trauma is responsible for the hell i’m going through now but the reaction is really nothing new, just asking God to hide me from those memories and maybe He wants me to go the route of say… the Fear book you mentioned, maybe it will subconsciously retrain my body/mind/nervous system to behave differently, it’s like i’m looking for a way to reset if possible. I don’t want to pursue more meds, i’m already on enough of them, already pursuing as much spiritually as i possibly can but sometimes healing comes in a variety of ways even though i am expecting some outright healing in this area, i just wish especially my body would start responding differently. In some ways i am stuck and am willing to explore different avenues if they are not overwhelming….
Sounds like you’ve done tremendously for yourself, i am proud of you, i think i know an inkling of how hard it is for those of us….
EDIT: just ordered the 2nd book–hey, why not? 🙂
Your background is similar to mine. My childhood abuse was physical, but it did change my physiology and caused depression, which I was already predisposed to due to family history. It caused a chain reaction of issues that led to that depression being permanent. Meds help, but they are just one part of what has allowed me to keep it at bay.
Winston Churchill called his depression a black dog, always following him. Sometimes close and sometimes far, but ever present. That metaphor describes how I feel. The meds and the exercise keep that dog far most of the time, but my CBT practices and God are there to help me when the dog comes close. It’s a 4-pronged approach.
And I’ve learned that even when my body responds in a way I don’t want it to, it will only be temporary. I’ve learned to alert the people in what I call my Safety Circle that I’m struggling, and I ride it out with their support. And CUT taught me to recognize the early signs of a depressive phase so I can try to cut it off before it gets too bad. I can’t speak for bipolar, but there were bipolar people in my group who used the same strategies to great effect.
Maybe God does want you to do more. I was once told that He loves me so much that he was willing to take me to rock bottom in order to bring me closer to Him. I’ve found that to be true. It’s a journey, and I’ve been a better Christian as a result of my recovery process. And I know my story has helped at least 3 people in my life begin their own recovery. That’s a big Win for Him, to my mind.
I have so much admiration for you for sharing your story. I will pray for you as you continue your journey. You’re right – it is hard. But what waits on the other side is beautiful. And I’m here to support you.
I don’t have any experience with CBT by itself, but my counselor has introduced elements of it into my sessions. The truth is that I had done a lot of work before seeing a counselor, and I had gotten pretty good at linking behaviors to particular triggers, but not so good at managing my emotions even when I could state absolutely where it was rooted.
I would encourage you to re-consider your attitude about re-visiting the past. It may be that you spend a lot more time there than you are aware of. I know I lived in the past much more than I lived in the present. A large part of my counseling has been to get me to go back and see things as they really were. It was important for me to do so, because I had allowed some pretty devastating lies to take root in my heart.
I think the counselor is much more important than any particular methodology. I know mine has used elements of different approaches, to address different issues and we have discarded or set aside things that didn’t seem to be effective from time to time.
Whatever path you choose, give yourself some grace and don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself. Progress is not linear, and it can often feel like you are going backwards. It isn’t easy, so don’t be discouraged in those moments. The healing takes place when you aren’t looking, and one day you will suddenly notice that a thought or a trigger that might have been devastating before suddenly does not have the same power over you.
“ I am just hoping to train my body to LET GO of trauma even though it’s etched in every cell, muscle, nerve, etc.”
You might also want to check into EMDR-Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I have just begun this process, after doing CBT several different (separate) times in the past. I also have begun to feel that I just want to be OVER IT, already, and according to a lot of positive news about EMDR, it can actually bring that about. I had gone through the process of digging out all the poison from the past, dealing with it, packing it away…then later having to do it all over again, because Doug is right, progress is not linear and sometimes the box I stuffed it all in fell off my mental shelf and spilled it all out again. (Each time I sorted and re-packed the box, I was able to let go of more of the baggage, though, so CBT has been helpful.)
When the insurance ran out on my previous round of counseling, I was dissatisfied with how it didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere and I didn’t want to start all over AGAIN, and I was crying out to God to just fix me, and that’s when I learned about EMDR. I ended up doing a little more talking with the therapist before we got started, but after only two sessions I feel like it’s possible my depression might actually eventually just GO AWAY! It is exactly what you say: you train your body to LET GO of trauma.
Read up on it and talk to someone who does it. My practitioner (who also does straight CBT) has experienced it herself and testifies (along with her faith in Christ) to miraculous healing through this process.
I officially sound like a hawker now, but honestly, I know exactly what you mean about wanting to put it behind you and for the first time I see a finite process with success at the end instead of endless “management of the condition”.
I’ll pray for you too!