Before heading off to Mexico for my year abroad I was in a particularly bad place, something that I’m still coming to terms with now. The stress and anxiety of even imagining myself living in another country was throwing me off completely; I was working myself up, lashing out at those I love, and dwelling on the negatives. In the past month or so I’ve noticed myself inching closer and closer to this bad place.
It’s always been difficult for me to talk about my feelings to people face-to-face; I feel my eyes welling up, my face reddening, and my heart sinking seeing those I love upset when I try to voice how I’m feeling. (Probably one of the reasons I find it far easier to write a blog post than to call up my parents.) So a few weeks ago I built up the courage and booked myself an appointment with my GP to talk about my options, then went to Enabling Services which was so dishearteningly disappointing. Speaking with my GP was much more helpful and easier, and maybe this was because she, a middle-aged Asian woman, made the correct judgement about our shared culture: there is still a much larger, more prominent stigma in Asian communities about ‘hidden’ illnesses, manifesting the idea that if you can’t physically see or touch the problem then it just doesn’t exist.
Skip forwards a couple of weeks to today and I’m back to therapy. This was a decision I made with my practitioner over the phone, after coming to the conclusion that the one-to-one CBT I had right before my flight to Mexico proved beneficial. It was evident from the call that the NHS are facing huge problems, which has obviously been going on for a while now, but it had never fully occurred to me until my practitioner said I’d have to wait eight weeks for one-to-one CBT. Two whole months! That just did not seem to be an option for me. So instead I’ve opted for CBT workshops that are interactive group sessions – but not group therapy, I should add – held at the church centre just walking distance from my house and campus.
So far we’ve looked at different ways to address those bad habits we all may take to lighten the load, and let us forget about our worries like resorting to alcohol or smoking, binge eating, and withdrawing from social activities completely. Over the remaining seven sessions we’ll be talking about controlling temper, how to address lack of motivation, amongst other topics. I’m feeling pretty positive about the treatment, and I would encourage people to definitely give CBT a go if you haven’t done so already. Although I haven’t had any experience of medication, I would rather steer away from it if I can and focus on my wellbeing in a more natural way. But, it’s always good to keep your options open.