This evening, I just want to write a bit about my experience with the assessment I had this morning, in preparation for a potential course of CBT, funded by the NHS. All I’ll say to summarise is that it was a POSITIVE experience and I’m left feeling that way about the future and my options after this thirty-minute appointment. I haven’t planned the rest of the post from here, which is unusual for me (I usually do this mentally throughout the course of a day) so, here I go, hoping not to miss too much out.
I arrived at the doctor’s surgery on time (early, in fact) and managed to overcome the fear of entering a new building and queuing up behind a dormant line of patients in order to notify the lone receptionist of my arrival. In this particular practice, they also have a touch-screen computer where you can do this yourself by entering your date of birth and initials, I think… I stepped away from the queue briefly to try this out but ended up signing another patient in by mistake! I think we shared the same birthday or something?! It was the first time I’d even seen such an application. As I wasn’t there to see a doctor as such, it’s possible that I may not have been on the system anyway (I did notice my name scribbled on a sheet of paper the receptionist owned, along with several others). As you might expect though; many of the ‘older’ generation were in fear of modern technology and decided to queue and wait for what they knew and felt comfortable with… They really could’ve done with a second person at the desk as well but, I guess that’s down to funding.
Sat in the waiting room (an odd but open L-shape, with two separate corridors for surgeries), it was a good ten-minutes before I was greeted by the worker from Positive Step. My first reaction was that he might even be younger than I am! But then, I think I’d find it easier to trust and work with someone younger than someone twice my age (thinking of my GP’s attitude in the past).
This appointment was basically for an ‘introduction’ to each other. We’d briefly highlight my own issues and reasons for seeking help from this organisation; he would then tell me about their services and options available to me.
Some of this felt a lot like going (again, briefly) over ‘old ground’ that I’d discussed with my previous counsellor and, also, issues and fears I’ve referred to on this blog. That was relatively easy and there was no pressure to go in to great detail at this stage. It was only when he asked about my common thoughts and state of mind when I am depressed, that I felt a little uneasy… He did ask for a little more on my ‘plans’ for such a situation (I was hoping he wouldn’t but, knew it was coming) and so, I cagily revealed two ideas. Two regular trains of thought that I don’t even have the confidence to share on this blog, for fear of ‘triggering’ others… I see it as a positive action though, because I was able to share this with him. What really helped though, was his reaction – erm, there wasn’t one! He didn’t repel in shock or horror; there was no criticism or question of my thinking in such a state; I guess he’s heard and has had to deal with more in the past.
After filling two sides of a sheet of A4 for his reference (as my worker), we moved on to the area of help and what they can do for me. There are basically ‘three steps’ that they recommend and, with my confirmation, we’ve lined up an appointment for the first in a series of group sessions; based around CBT but focussing on the common issues of Anxiety. There are several other courses that I can try later (Self Esteem and Low Mood were two that caught my eye) but this is group therapy without sharing personal details. It is CBT. We’re going to learn and practice combating techniques as a group. It’s not a situation where you have to walk in and share your past or work backwards within a group of strangers. If I do require one-to-one attention at a later date then, that option is available as one of the other two steps.
So, I’m feeling positive about trying this and focusing on my anxiety in social situations. As much as I’d like a ‘bigger label’ sometimes, that is the biggest issue for me personally. I hold back a lot of the time and do struggle to connect and communicate with people. Someone is willing to offer me help, guidance and assistance and I’m not going to walk away from that now.
Although this guy is my ‘worker’, I don’t believe I have direct contact with him, in the same sense that you would a counsellor. For example; if I needed to contact him then I need to do so through the company. If I need to see him and talk then, we need to book an appointment, where you could otherwise simply e-mail or call a counsellor. For me and my situation, this seems okay at the moment. My first scheduled appointment is in about four-week’s time (just before my birthday…). I’ll receive a letter through the post about a fortnight in advance and it is also up to me to phone ahead to confirm that I will be attending. With the number of people they have on their books, they’re not in a position to be chasing up on people. No phone call confirmation means no help. It’s a big step but, thankfully, I’ve had a bit of practice recently! 😉
There were lots of ‘Maybes‘, ‘Kind ofs‘ and ‘I thinks‘ during my appointment today but I’m hoping this new support will enable me to learn to become more assertive. It’s important also to remember that, through CBT, we’re only learning techniques that we must continue to practice in our own time (quite like meditation).
Before I hit publish and sign off for the evening, there are a couple of websites I’d like to share with you.
First, is an Australian page with PDF modules that you can download and study to help combat certain issues:
Another website with free audio resources for guided meditations:
If you do decide to try any of this yourself then, I’d like to echo my worker’s advice not to rush through them all in an instant, as the temptation may be. They’ll have a greater, more positive effect if you take one every so often and, where you’re prompted to write something, write it out, regardless of what you may fear. 🙂
- What could Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tell you about yourself? (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com)
- Try These Cognitive Exercises To Improve Your Mood (lifehacker.com.au)
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (maddsuspicions.wordpress.com)
- Using Mindfulness to Treat Anxiety Disorders (psychcentral.com)
- Don’t hate GP receptionists for being grumpy – they’re under pressure and under qualified, says new report (thisismoney.co.uk)
- What do I fear?… (nicolascanon.wordpress.com)