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CBT: Session One – Who Am I?

on January 20, 2016

Last year, I went through a pretty rough time. I’d already consulted my health visitor about needing to speak to someone regarding how I was feeling. It was getting worse, week on week, or maybe month on month and I was waiting for the appointment when we went on a family holiday. The final day of the holiday I could not stop myself from crying because I desperately did not want to go home. I was walking back to the lodge in the dark (it was dark by 7pm) after the dinner and the entertainment show, with Elvis. My OH and Robin had gone a different way with the pushchair. We were walking past the bird enclosure and all I could think was that I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to run away with Elvis. Sod, my husband, sod the baby, sod the boring everyday routine that I hated. I didn’t want to go back to the real world. I didn’t want to go back to my life. I wanted to run away.

And I just kept crying.

I could barely sleep that night.

Two months later and my therapy sessions started.

Apparently Cognitive Behaviour Therapy works really well for mothers with any post natal depression and/or anxiety, and it works even better if it’s coupled with group sessions. And that’s what runs in the city I live. All provided by the NHS and funding, a seven week course (6 of therapy, 1 just to get to know each other), creche provided for under 1s and an activity each week along with food and hot drinks. We’re pretty lucky were I live.

The first thing I noticed was that I felt as if I was there for completely opposite reasons to everyone else. I have the oldest child and I was the one who, first time, just handed my child over and walked off. She’d fed, I hoped she’d last the 4-5 hours (she did), and I just wanted to be away from her. Something one of the therapists had said when assessing me for the course was that PND can have people feeling that they have lost their identity. I can remember blogging about not knowing who I was over a year ago, way before Robin was ever born. So I had no real anxiety about leaving her. Maybe because I have Elvis. Maybe because I desperately wanted to be me. Or maybe because I just want to be alone.

I cam away from the first session really thinking about my lack of identity. I realised that I’ve spent almost 3 years being a parent and nothing more. Family and friends, I felt, only saw my child. No one cared about me anymore. I was not my own person. I had no social life once mummies started going back to work, and that social life i had was with mums and children. I never questioned it, but who even was I? I liked to go swimming but I did nothing else. By the time I went back to work, I was already pregnant so anyone who did choose to talk to me, it was about my children. I still wasn’t me.

And yet, I’d always wanted to be a parent, but when I found it tough in those few months I actually had someone say to me “You wanted this so badly, don’t complain.”

Which I took to heart. Completely.

So, 3 years I’ve been Mum, nothing else, and I haven’t enjoyed it, but I can’t complain about it because I wanted to be Mum. But, who am I?

What about before I had children?

Well, as my blog will be able to prove, for 3 years before IUI gave me my son, I was unable to conceive. I labelled myself, I identified myself as Infertile.

So, am I the Infertile Mum? Well, given how we conceived Robin naturally, I’d say no. And, anyway, surely I’m more than Mum?

I want to be more than Mum.

I need to be more than Mum.

Session one of therapy and we learn about triggers and the Five Areas, how something happens and it triggers a thought. This thought affects your behaviour, your emotions, your physical reactions, it all continues in an awful circle, around and around and around. I was also asked, along with completing the 5 areas when needed, to keep an activity diary and track my mood in relation to what I was or had been doing. Incredibly eager (because I freaking hate how I feel), I sat down that very first night and started making A4 sheets of what I already thought were some triggering moments (like when Robin gets needy and just wants me, when she’s happy until she sees me and then goes into full on meltdown) and worked through the 5 areas. I think I focussed on the thoughts mainly. For me, seeing how the thoughts spiral out and out of control was incredibly cathartic, I guess. It was shocking and a revelation. It hurt a lot, too. For example, on one of them the trigger is seeing a particular friend who I always feel like is the Perfect Mum and I always feel so inadequate. To see how that relatively simple thought of “I’m inadequate” spirals was quite fantastic. And I quickly noticed from my activity diary that a huge trigger for me was when I was alone during a meal with both children.

It might sound really obvious – realise what upsets/angers you and find a solution, but it’s difficult to realise that’s what you have to do. Or it was for me. Now, I don’t eat with them if I’m on my own. When it’s a breakfast and Hubby’s gone to work early, I have porridge as it stays warm during the whole event that is trying to get two other people to eat and not just throw/drop it everywhere.

I didn’t feel like we’d really got anywhere though. Whilst I was able to process my own thoughts more and make rational and logical solutions to problems, I didn’t feel any happier. I didn’t feel half as bad though.

I was still no closer to being alone or being happy about not being alone. And I still didn’t have the answer – Who Am I?

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2 responses to “CBT: Session One – Who Am I?

  1. […] no closer to figuring out who I was, session two actually sent me plummeting into a deep giant cavern that was possibly worse than […]

  2. […] that note, I have been blogging about my 6 therapy sessions (first, second and third) and I do think that maybe my PND is more PNA and it is far more manageable. I […]

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