Thursday, 22 March 2007

First CBT Session

Driving to Chester I wondered if the therapy would do any good. I've tried yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, but I have had to resort to the chemical cosh. The swallowing of a tiny pill takes one second. It's much easier than meditating for hours, but I'm always left with feelings of guilt and failure. I should be able to control my mind. I want to be able to control my mind, but the leg work is sometimes too difficult. When I most need to meditate, I find I can't. I'm not strong enough.

I found the place easily. It was on a large modern business park. Doreen, the therapist is a plump, friendly, blond lady about my age, give or take a year. She told me a bit about how CBT works, and asked me why I'd come.
"I'm a psychology teacher and I've read about CBT, and some of my students have had the therapy very successfully. It sounds like a good alternative to medication."
"Yes, it is."
"I'm on Soroxat. I hate taking pills. I'd really like to give CBT a go. My son, Jon, he's in prison," I said pausing to judge her reaction. There was none."That's part of my problem, him being in prison. He had a brilliant psychiatrist who was into yoga, meditation and CBT. He's been diagnosed bipolar."
"Is he on lithium?"
"No. They did put him on it, but with the help of his psychiatrist he's manging his illness without drugs."
"That's excellent. So, Barbara, where do you think your problems started?"
"I realise now that my depression started long before Jon's incarceration, but the trauma of having a son in prison 5000 miles away triggered a major episode."
It goes much further back. I was adopted. I'll try to get through it as quickly as I can," I said remembering we only had one hour. "My adoptive parents were kind people and I loved them both. The problem was my mother never wanted me to find out. She never told me, and I found out by accident when I was twelve. I was devastated and couldn't forgive my mother for lying to me all those years. She was upset and handled it badly, telling me that my birth mother had had me out of wedlock and didn't want me. She'd put me in a home and I would still be there if she hadn't taken me."
"Oh, she shouldn't have said that."
"She didn't want me to go running off trying to find them. I understand that now, but then I was in a total state of shock. I hated my adoptive parents for their pretense, but couldn't even bring myself to imagine what my birth parents were like. This was the late 1950s and girls who got pregnant before marriage were bad girls, or so I'd heard. So it all went into a black hole. I never asked about it again and I never discussed it with anyone, except my best friend Ruth, and our conversations relating to it were brief. She always wanted to know more but it upset me to talk about it. Just thinking about it brought tears to my eyes, so I shut it out. I didn't even tell my future husband, Dan, until just before we got married. So it lay festering away until I was forty when I decided to try and find my mother."
"Did you find her."
"No, but I found my father. I met him and he told me all about the affair. How they met, fell in love, and how he called the wedding off three days before. He will talk to me for hours if I ring him, but he really doesn't want me in his life. He's too busy, even now at eighty. I have two half sisters I've never met. He said he brought them up strictly and couldn't admit to them that he had an illegitimate child."
"Families eh? Well keeping your feelings about your adoption hidden for all those years would have caused all kinds of problems."
"I'm very lucky though. I have a wonderful husband and daughter, and son, but I've had a lot of difficulty coping with the Jon situation."
"That's understandable."
"I like the idea of CBT because it's pro-active. You're not just sitting talking about your problems. I tried counselling. It helped to a certain extent, but I got sick of talking about myself. I always try to put on a brave face. Everyone has problems and people don't want to be around miserable people. So I always smile and pretend I'm OK."
"You are allowed to show your feelings. You are allowed to be sad. Allow yourself that luxury sometimes. It's a great strain on you trying always to be upbeat."

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

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