Some of my readers may not know that I have been engaged in mood disorder CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for around 6 months now. The service I am under specialises in CBT for psychosis and bipolar disorder. I have had around 6 sessions so far, so I thought I may as well share some of the things I’ve learnt with you guys about how I can try to stabilise my moods more frequently and easily!
However, please understand that I am NOT a professional and CBT centres around an individual’s own wants and needs based on their own mental illness/disorder. CBT will be different for everyone; these are just some of the skills I have PERSONALLY learnt to help stabilise my OWN mood disorder. So, with that said, here are some skills I have learnt throughout partaking in my mood disorder CBT for the past 6 months or so (I have regularly been doing a weekly session that is an hour long):
What is mood disorder CBT?
Firstly, let’s get to grips with what mood disorder CBT actually is. CBT stands for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ and it centres around exploring how an individual’s thoughts, behaviours and actions all relate to each other. I have a whole post discussing CBT and what it is all about called What is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)? that explains CBT more in length, particularly regarding social anxiety.
In short, an example of our behaviours, thoughts and actions bouncing off each other could be when we feel paranoid or feeling about leaving the house, we start to think thoughts such as ‘everyone is going to look at and judge me’, which can often lead us to stay in the house instead of going outside (this is our ‘behaviours’.) Does that make sense?
Of course, that’s social anxiety CBT and so it is a little different to mood disorder CBT. An example of a thought, behaviour and feeling that me and my therapist recognised in myself is that often, if I am feeling manic (high/elated mood), I will think ‘I have to get all this stuff done’, which will lead me to do lots of things all at once without taking a break. This conveys how my feelings encourage specific thoughts, which then cause specific behaviours.
What has it taught me?
Explaining mood disorder CBT can often be a little complicated, especially considering I am by no means a professional and am still learning all about its benefits myself! As I explained above, if I am manic, I tend to feel elated, meaning I want to get lots of stuff done and then I won’t stop and take a break. The problem with this cycle, however, is that I will continue to be productive until I eventually crash and burn out. This often sends me spiralling into a low, depressive mood.
Once I’m in a low, depressive mood, I will have a thought of ‘I am worthless’, which will make me feel even more depressed, leading me to lie in bed all day and get nothing done and not leave the house. After a few days, weeks, or even months, the depressive episode will come to an end and a manic episode will start, leaving me wanting to do lots of productive activities to make up for lost time during the depressive episode when I did nothing.
After days, weeks or months, this constant manic productivity will burn me out and I will have a severely unproductive depressive episode again. Does this make sense? Basically, mood disorder has taught me that my mania causes me depression and vice versa. So, now we have established the cause of it, what can we do to prevent it or at least lessen the severity of the manic and depressed episodes?
Coping mechanisms mood disorder CBT has taught me:
This is something I am still learning! As I said above, I have only had 6 sessions, so a lot of that time has been spent with my therapist teaching me how feelings, behaviours and thoughts co-exist and relate to each other. However, we have also already done a little work on coping mechanisms and how to lessen my manic/depressive episodes, so they aren’t so severe and/or overwhelming.
The first and, arguably, most important thing that I have learnt throughout my mood disorder CBT sessions is that, when I am manic, I need to try my best to slow down. Whether that be taking breaks between tasks to go for a short walk round the block, or making some food, or even just relaxing and watching TV for an hour or so. I have learnt that constantly being productive and working through my mania is NOT good and WILL end up in a burnout, inevitably resulting in another depressive episode.
Similarly, one of the main points me and my therapist have decided I need to work on in order to prevent my depressive episode getting so severe is having a more stable and established routine. Having this routine will hopefully help my moods become less erratic and will help me feel more productive, but without pushing it too far and burning out. A routine, for me, can be as simple as brushing my teeth and hair, showering, washing my face and getting dressed to start my day. As long as it gets me out bed, it’s doing the job perfectly!
So, I really hope this post helped create an insight into what mood disorder CBT is about, how it has helped me and how it can possibly help you if you have similar issues to me. Have you tried mood disorder CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in general?
I have also done it for social anxiety disorder and found it quite helpful, thankfully! I also have a whole separate blog post discussing and explaining what a day in the life of social anxiety disorder is/was like for me. Anyway, what did you think of CBT? Please do let me know down in the comments.