I have experienced anxiety and depression since my diagnosis. Although I realize this is normal after receiving a life-changing diagnosis, I have been researching – could Cognitive Behavioral Therapy i.e. CBT help CVID patients like me?
What would prompt me to do this you might wonder.
Well, after my CVID diagnosis in October 2017, I thought I was ok. I haven’t been great but I thought I was dealing.
Then, I found out my younger son Jace (9) has Subclass IgG Disorder, my older son Jack (13) has full blown CVID, I have basal cell carcinoma, and there were some irregularities on my right breast mammogram that have to be reviewed and possibly looked at via ultrasound.
Consequently, this was my reaction-I had a total break down in my appointment with Dr. K (my immunologist). In front of Jack. In front of the nurses. In front of Dr. K’s scribe.
To Dr. K’s credit he talked me down. He’s big on me living a good life-the best life I possibly can. He makes me promise him to live happy. I’m trying, but you see why it’s hard for me right? (I totally know I’m whining here ok!)
So, back to my question –
Could CBT Help CVID Patients Like Me With Depression?
Apparently, there are thoughts called scripts in my head that aren’t the thoughts of my authentic self at all. They are thoughts I adopted to survive in an alcoholic household.
For example, “just stuff down those emotions Susan because I don’t want to cause any more trouble for my parents’ marriage” and “you’re fat Susan and you can’t feel good or look good fat especially as a dancer.”
Numerous emotions. All at the same time.
I’m an adult and I’m supposed to know how to deal, right?
However, all of this seems new to me. I am realizing that the old me (my 20 & 30 something self pre-illness and pre-diagnosis) didn’t deal with emotions.
Here’s a Little Background
I remember my grandfather telling me after I gave my grandmother’s eulogy at her funeral service that I was going to have to learn to control my emotions. (WHAT?!!!!) Yes, I admit it, I cried and totally lost it while speaking. Isn’t that normal? (To explain, he was an old German white male who was very controlling and opinionated.)
So, after that I tried to do what I was told. I denied my emotions. All of them. The joyous ones, the happy ones, the sad ones…ALL OF THEM.
Well, a fine fix that got me into. Now, when it seems like everything in my life concerning my health is going to hell in a hand basket, I’m an emotional wreck.
I also don’t like to burden my friends with my emotions. I mean they have stuff going on too and unloading on them sounds like whining to me.
Here’s an excellent read on CBT and the false or incorrect thinking patterns I have via The Positive Psychology website.
Did you read it? Do you get it? Is anyone else like this or is it just me? I honestly don’t know.
I recently learned I can STOP these thoughts.
- Recognize when these thoughts happen. Often, at the moment when you feel compelled to do something self-destructive. This takes practice, you’ll get better at it.
- STOP, and realize that they are just thoughts. At first, the self-destructive reactions feel automatic- they aren’t, you do have total control. Just like seeing a TV commercial does not make you need to buy something, having a thought does not make you need to do something.
- Acknowledge that they are not your thoughts. Say it out loud if it helps, “That’s not my thought…”
Over time, you’ll start to notice that the same voices say the same things, and you’ll know who is speaking in your head. Soon, those voices may get names of people you know (sometimes more than one!).
What I Have Realized After My Research
Especially due to my CVID diagnosis, I’ve been practicing self-destructive behavior. Yeah for me! Way to go! No wonder I can’t “adult” most days because these thoughts are totally debilitating.
So, I’m going to try CBT. Maybe I’ll even be able to find a therapist who specializes in CBT with chronically ill people like me.
I’ll start with self-acceptance, well at least in regards to CVID.
I am a Zebra.
I also love two little Zebras.
I also know all three of us Zebras have people out there that love us too.
Thank God for that.
Stay strong my Zebra friends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Though DIVA as she may be, her path to success was not easy and is always evolving. Go here to read about her journey in “Becoming the CVIDiva.” If you want to send Susan Alynne a quick message, then visit her contact page here.