Saturday, 3 October 2009

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - My Experience

In my perusal of the internet ME blogs I have noticed a lot of mixed responses to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I have been through a course of this treatment (out of sheer desperation more than a belief it would help). Like most ME sufferers I get extremely angry by the assumption that it is purely psychological and not a physical condition. I was sceptical about what I would meet with at my first appointment. However I am glad to say that my therapist was very understanding and sympathetic, rather than having therapy to "cure" me of ME it was focused
on helping me to live with it. Over the years I had become very bitter about the lack of treatment or even advice I'd received and after years of struggling alone I had become completely demoralised by my situation. The CBT course helped me to realise that some of the tactics and defence mechanisms I had developed as a young teenager to cope with ME no longer worked for me as an adult so I had to learn to develop new techniques. Also due to being diagnosed at a time where I was young and still growing the negative treatment I had received at the hands of various GP's and other doctors had affected me deeply and made me embarrassed about having ME and ashamed that I could not be self sufficient and function "normally". I was, as a teenager, embarassed by having this "joke" illness, the very first time I looked up ME after being diagnosed I found it listed as "yuppie flu" and scoffed at.

Basically I can say that I would recommend CBT if you are lucky like me and get a therapist who is not trying to convince you that its "all in your head" giving it a try did pay off for me. Although it was sometimes exhausting and emotional over all it has helped me come to terms with the fact that I have an illness and its unlikely to ever go away completely. I did learn some new methods of coping and learnt not to compare myself negatively to "normal" people. Although I still feel angry by the treatment ME sufferers receive and angry that it has had such a dominant role in
my life I have accepted that I can live a good life despite it. My life may just have to be a little different. I am currently in a good position, getting over the last big relapse and able to function well and work part time but I know not to push myself too far. I still have bad weeks but no longer beat myself up about it, if I need to spend a week in bed to have a good month, that's what I'll do as its better than burning out completely. CBT has helped me develop some helpful strategies for living with ME and I would recommend it to other sufferers especially those who are coming out of a bad phase and need to be careful not to do anything that might encourage another set back. Set backs do happen whatever you do but if you know your own limits and accept them it can help to avoid bad relapses.

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