My GP wants me to have CBT again but I really don't think it helps, I feel like my mind is too broken to be fixed by "positive thinking"

I have been depressed for 5 years, it started as PND after the birth of my twins. I took Sertraline and had mother and baby counselling (can't remember the proper name for it sorry) for about a year which did help and I gradually felt better, to the point about a year ago when my GP was ready to take me off the medication. However I suddenly became much worse again. I did have several things going on at the time, family illness, financial problems, relationship problems, which all seemed to happen at once and would have made anyone a bit depressed I think! But I also developed very low iron levels which meant I was, and still am, completely exhausted all the time. My GP didn't test for this at the time though, as he assumed it was the depression causing the tiredness.

My doctor upped my dose of Sertraline again and recommended a course of CBT. I was more than willing to try this. However, at my first appointment I was told it was only 6 sessions, and would focus on changing the way I thought about things, to stop me being so negative. The next few sessions basically involved a very pleasant lady chatting away for 45 minutes about thinking positive, and ignoring the fact that I had very few things to think positive about at the time! None of it seemed of any help at all, and after unavoidably missing 2 sessions, due to me and my children being ill, I decided not to continue.

Since then I just seem to have got worse. My GP has now put me on iron tablets, but my iron is still very low (about half what it should be) so I am still permanently tired, which makes it harder still to cope with day to day life. I can't cope with the housework, consequently the house is in such a state that we can't have any visitors round, and our friends are starting to take offence that we keep making excuses.

I should mention that my partner is not helpful at all, but I'm not surprised really, he's sick of the whole situation. He is no good with emotional stuff, he understands the anaemia but not the depression. He told me 3 months ago that he wanted to be single, and would find somewhere else to live and I could rent the house from him (it's his house), however he hasn't done so, which means I feel like I'm living with someone who doesn't want or like me, which has made me very resentful and sad. On Wednesday we had a huge row in front of the children, which I really didn't want to do, and I ended up in hysterics, clutching on to them both and screaming that I would never leave them and why hadn't he left like he said he would. I also told him that the reason I didn't clean the house was because I was trying to drive him out! I don't know why I said that because it's not really true!

Anyway, last time I saw my GP he told me he wanted me to have CBT again, but I didn't make an appointment as I really didn't think it would help. After Wednesday's row I just felt worse and worse, so decided to try and find some other help, so yesterday (Saturday) I found my local mental health team number and rang them, only to be given a different number and so on and so on, until I spoke to someone who said they would assess me in 2 weeks time. It was only when I got off the phone that I realised it was the CBT team I'd been speaking to!

So basically I don't seem to be able to get any immediate help or advice, all the helplines seem to be closed until office hours, and I honestly feel like I'm falling apart mentally and won't last till then.

I had no intention of writing such a long post and don't really expect anyone to actually read it all. But maybe it will have helped me a bit to write it all down.

I feel as if I have a broken mind, like a broken leg, and don't understand why it can't be fixed with medication, and why everyone seems to think that talking about it will fix it. Nobody would suggest thinking positive to mend a broken leg, so why is this any different?

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  • CBT isn't really about positive thinking, it's about the fact that our brains get into ruts that aren't always helpful and showing us that there are other paths we can follow in the way we think. It is unfortunate if it was painted to you as about being positive and I can understand why you found it unhelpful as a result.

    You might find some mindfulness meditation more helpful - but I would really recommend that you try to find a meditation group to help you with the techniques rather than just trying to go for it on your own as it's likely to lead to the same problem as you had with the CBT. Some areas to offer MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) on the NHS and there is a book (Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world - Mark Williams and Danny Penman) that I found particularly helpful. It's much more obviously about being aware of the ruts that your thinking gets into and gives you some practical alternatives that help you to be much more present in the moment rather than carried away by all the cares and concerns of past and present.

    Have you had your B12 levels checked as well as iron levels? - unfortunately the test that is done on the NHS - and it isn't a routine test - looks at total B12 rather than the form that is active which could be a very small fraction of the total but ...

    The following link is to the symptoms page on the pernicious anaemia web-site

    pernicious-anaemia-society....

    On one level we all say things that we don't mean when we are upset but I know low B12 levels for me can make me quite hysterical.

  • Hi Laura, I can relate to everything your saying except I don't have my own children . But,I was stepmom to my ex partners son for 13 years full time as his birth mother was not on the scene. I think us woman are expected to be super human. You seem to be taking a lot on your shoulders . Your feelings are genuine and should be respected. You have every right to feel the way you do and don't let anyone tell you any different! You went from no children to having 2 and that is not easy for anyone. No wonder your tired! I'm sure before the twins you could keep up with housework ,chores etc. but if your feeling anything like I did you are feeling unappreciated,alone,tired and resentful and you just start to give up. Your husband comes home and expects life to continue the way it did with a clean house ,dinner on the table and you looking fresh and ready for a party. You say your husband is not good with emotional stuff? Relationships are all emotional,good times and bad. Maybe that's his way of not wanting to deal with it. You are not getting what you need which is someone to just listen. It sound like your argument the other night was you trying to hurt him the way he is hurting you. You need his help emotionally and your not getting it even though your sending him clear signals. What we want is for our partner to come home ,give us a hug and ask how are day has been,and really listen . When he sees that you are overwhelmed and going through a slump it wouldn't hurt for him to help clean the house. Him saying he wants to be single is his way of taking the easy road instead of being a man and trying to be part of the solution instead he is part of the problem.You say you can't blame him for being sick of the situation? Well you are sick of him making you feel the way you do. We as woman always blame ourselves and put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone. Take a step back and make a list of all the things that are making you feel the way you do. Write your husband a letter and make details of what your unhappy about .You can show him or just tear it up and throw it away.At least you may feel better writing it down as you will see exactly where the problems are. Can you ask some of you close friends or family to come and help you get caught up on your housework for a day? Just say your feeling a bit run down and could use the help and the company for a day. No one else has to know . Don't be embarrassed as we all need a hand up occasionally. Don't blame yourself too much as there is always a bigger picture you just have to look. I love this saying "If you can't handle me at my worst,you don't deserve me at my best"! I wish you all the best.

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