So I finally went to my GP and was recommended to self refer to a local "clinic", who made an appointment for me to take part in a telephone assessment in order to suggest a way forward or suitable treatment. The assessment was ok. I found it hard to talk about some of what I am feeling to a complete stranger, partly because it is so personal, and so interconnected - everything is a long story. Also, many of the things talked about are things I have never put into words before. Anyway, it happened, and the very nice lady suggested I might attend a series of group sessions aimed at teaching us to change our thought patterns and consequently behaviours using CBT. If that was not effective then we would look at some one-to-one sessions. A couple of days later I received two self help guides produced by Tyne and Wear NHS about stress and depression.
I suppose I feel good that I have actually made a start, but I feel very conflicted about the whole CBT thing.
I have been through the self help guide on depression, and attempted to fill in the sections where you list your own feelings and analyse your thought processes.
One of the statements that really got me wondering was "It is important to remember that you might still occasionally have some of these sorts of thoughts (gloomy, negative) when you are not depressed. The difference is that you would generally dismiss them from your mind."
Is this just poor use of words, or is the aim of CBT to make you "dismiss" gloomy thoughts and focus on positive things? It strikes me that many of the things that are triggers to my "gloomy" thoughts are not things that can or should be dismissed.
Also, the whole thing about getting out, do some excercise, be sociable etc etc - yes I know it will raise my spirits - but is that the goal I am aiming for?
It all feels a bit like taking a happy pill, so you can choose to ignore the reality of things.
I can sort of see that personal issues - eg debt, aging parents, job, hobbies etc can be looked at in a more positive light, but it's wishful thinking at it's most rose tinted to think that it's all hunky dory..
And how do I look at the disgusting state of our society, and the apalling effect of our species on the planet in a positive light?
I can gain some small comfort from the fact that not everything is a total disaster, but is it right to decide to dismiss the stuff that is dreadful in order to make myself feel a bit better?
I think this feeds in to something that is at the root of my dark moods - our culture seems to be all about the individual, and how important we all are, how we all deserve to be happy and live in a perfect house with a perfect family - regardless of the cost, or who/what is paying it.
It strikes me that this self help guide is saying - everyone deserves to be happy, and the way to acheive that is to look on the sunny side, and get out more.
Is this not exactly the same as saying "buck up, old chap - what you need is to do more sport and stop thinking too much"?
What does anyone think? Have I misunderstood CBT? Is the guide I have - CBT for Dummys? Has anyone really benefitted from CBT? Am I just scared to commit to it?
I have a second phone chat in 10 days to discuss how I feel about going forward with these group sessions, and I need to get my head straight.