Unfortunately my father in law passed away this week, this has affected my mood. Understandably I am feeling sad. So at the start of the meeting I expressed how this feeling of sadness affected my day, how the things I usually enjoy doing, were a struggle. However I recognised this is a sad time and I know it will pass. Our Rep explained that it is important not to pay too much attention to our mood when we feel low and to realise that our thoughts and behaviour is just responding to our low mood. If we do allow our mood to influence us we may start that a downward spiral.. Although it will be very difficult, as our mood may be very strong, but we must keep on doing the stuff we used to enjoy, it may take a while, but we will make more progress towards a better feeling of well being by doing not stopping.
We also talked about thoughts of self harm, where there is no intent to self harm. If these thoughts come at a particular time of the day, for example just as we wake up in the morning and this has been happening for a while, we may have gotten into the habit of thinking them. Like a well trodden path or a well driven route the brain makes connections, the stronger the connection, or the more times we walk that same path, the more likely we will think the same way. Therefore there is some benefit in doing something different to break the habit. Take a different path, do something to distract yourself. This may just make those thoughts have less of an impact.
Sometimes we try to block these thoughts, this is called "blocking". Perhaps we come from a specific culture or practise a certain religion, where these type of thoughts could be viewed as sinful or wrong, so we try to push these thoughts away. Let's Talk use this example to explain what happens. "For the next 5 minutes I don't want you to imagine that there is a pink elephant sat next to you.", what's the first thing you think of? So the best way to deal with "blocking" is to try and accept these thoughts and live along with them. We have talked about intrusive thoughts at group meetings, repetitive thoughts of self harming can fall into this category as well so accepting them as best you can, can help. Recognise them as just thoughts. Thoughts mean nothing.
We talked a little about how the Let's Talk "process" works. Most of the service uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). It's not a counselling service. They have employed lots of new staff recently so the service is expanding. Let's Talk are there to help individuals by giving them the skills to help manage their own condition, they don't cure people, people can cure them selves. There is a lot of "homework" to be done if you have 1-2-1 sessions, whether this is over the phone or face to face. We have a responsibility for ourselves. If anyone is having therapy, especially over the phone, you need to be honest and say what you think and feel.
Finally I've had positive feed back from both Let's Talk and Depression Alliance regarding the new format for the group in September so looking forward to 1/9/14 when our meetings resume!