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Entries in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (1)

Monday
Nov212011

Mindfulness

So you’d think a midwife with nearly 30 years experience would have living in the moment down pat, right? Not quite. In fact, I’ve struggled with “meditating” and even “breathing”; as much as I’ve tried, I’ve continuously failed.

Not anymore.

I’m in the throes of a deep clinical depression. When I’m depressed, which has happened far too many times in my life, I sink into a place where I, eventually, am unable to write even short pieces, hence my lack of posts over the last few months.

This depression was a culmination of several difficult experiences including leaving homebirth midwifery and Zack’s coming out transsexual. There are other, more personal, reasons, but those major two are enough for the purpose of discussion.

In my quest to stay out of the hospital, I’m in an Intensive Outpatient Therapy Program (IOP), attending group therapy 3 days a week for several hours each day. I also see my private therapist and psychiatrist, each having a hand in re-creating my sanity.

I’ve been in therapy much of the last 30+ years, but in the last couple, an entirely new method has taken hold and I am benefitting from the immense changes in mental health today.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Psychology began in earnest about 2006 and despite its fancy name, it basically means The Power of Positive Thinking & BEing in the moment. For those that do yoga or who meditate, this is old news to you. I’m sure seeing these methods used in psychology is a big “duh!”, but know that, for the first time, I get it. I can finally see the negative self-talk I’ve done my whole life and see how I ruminate and worry my life out of the present moment. In my IOP group, I am learning skills to keep me in the moment, not as a goal towards success in life, but to help me understand and accept and find peace in what is and to let what isn’t float away like clouds on a breezy day.

This all sounds so woo, doesn’t it? Monks and yoga teachers, Buddhist lessons and Hypnobabies classes all teach how to stay in the moment. Even as a midwife, how many times have I said, “Stay with this one contraction. All the ones past are gone; the ones in front aren’t here yet. Be Here Now.” Yet, I couldn’t even do what I was teaching. I’m using these lessons to not feel like crap about my lack of insight into the advice. (Float away, judgment!) In fact, it sounds so woo, I am shocked this is part of my therapy, the major part of my therapy.

Yet, I do feel better already and I have barely begun to understand what I am learning. A wonderful NetFriend read of my distress when I came out on my Facebook Page and sent me the most amazing book: Mindful Way Through Depression. Normally a very fast reader, this book requires I read it in short stints. It comes with a cd of guided meditations (which I have not listened to yet), but the book is so good, I’ve begun reading it to Zack. I figure if this is a new way of life (and mental health) for me, he should know what I am doing. Long understanding Be Here Now, Zack is thrilled I’m learning the skills he’s used his whole life.

So, here I am, 50-years old, digging my way out of clinical depression with the belief of To Think Is To Create. For the first time in ages, I feel, in the here and now, a great deal of hope.