Good week so far. Highly productive, I would say. And I’m feeling a lot better than I did last Friday, when I suffered one of my social mini-crises. The weather has changed this week and it’s clear that spring has finally arrived in England. For the first time it’s occurred to me that spring is my favourite time of year. The sun is shining, it’s warmer than it has been in months, flowers are coming out of the ground and growing on trees; everything is fresh, and new, and alive again. My whole life I never noticed the intensity and the beauty of this time of year until now. Isn’t that amazing?
I’ve started a twelve week course of cognitive behavioural therapy, having been on the waiting list since last July. The guy I’m seeing is young, friendly and very to the point. The thing about CBT is that there is no beating about the bush. Clear, concise problems are identified in the first session and the next eleven sessions are spent working through those problems in a constructive way. So far we have identified the main area in my life where I struggle as being the social situation. For last week’s homework I was asked to draw out a flow diagram describing what happens when I am in a social situation. I had to write out in detail my feelings, thoughts and behaviours in these situations. It’s clear that I have a lot of negative beliefs about myself and other people: I’m convinced that I have nothing interesting or useful to say, and everyone that I meet will dislike me for it.
Despite the great progress that I’ve made in AA during the past 20 months, these negative core beliefs remain under the surface, which is why I am having therapy to address them. Most of the time they don’t really bother me, but on days like Friday they blow up for whatever reason and affect me worse than they ever did. Hopefully if the therapy works I will be able to finally come off the anti-depressants, which I would say have been moderately successful. They’re not the ultimate solution, I’ve always known that, and it would be great to be able to live life without something in my body. I don’t know what the chances are of twelve weeks of therapy actually working for me: it is a short period of time, but it’s all the NHS can afford, and judging by the progress we’ve made in two weeks, I might end up getting a lot more out of it than I initially thought I would.
In my spare time I have continued to be creative, something that is spiritually good for me. I’m also reading a lot, nourishing the creative muscle. I gave up on the idea of a normal 9 – 5 job quite a while ago. If one happens to come along, hey, I’m not going to pass it up. But for now I’m content with what I’m doing. The therapist wants me to go out there and be more socially active – the idea is that my beliefs about myself will change eventually – so that’s what I’m going to try and start doing. I know that last Friday cannot happen again. It was a nightmare. The feelings will come up again, undoubtedly. But I won’t change them by doing nothing. My dream is to be invited to more birthdays, asked out on dates, rang up on the phone everyday – all of those things will happen as side effects of me changing myself from the inside. I can’t just expect them to happen.