"When I let go of what I am I become what I might be." Lao Tzu.
I’ve been going to group therapy twice a week for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy “lessons” I guess you could call them. I can’t say it’s fun because it’s a lot of work facing your inner demons, and tiring as hell, but it is interesting and I’ve met some really nice people. There is some measure of comfort sharing the struggle to feel better. The people there look just like you and me. Depression likes to hide in plain sight. Sneaky bastard.
The first few sessions had a couple of people in my age range. Listening to their personal stories and what they are going through was like listening to a discussion I have every day with my own brain. I recently read a hypothesis that clinical depression may be an auto-immune disorder. I don't know about that but it does seem as if my mind is trying to destroy itself and its host. I'd rather think of depression as a parasite feeding off my anxiety and planting bad-thought seeds so that it can live forever. I can kill a parasite. I need my immune system.
My fellow seniors have now left the group and I am the oldest one there. It feels kind of weird. I remember being the youngest adult in a room of other adults. Now I’m on the other side. I know that anyone in that room that is under the age of thirty might see me as very old, indeed. I used to feel the same way. Once I hit my thirties I could feel the age gap beginning to close. But before that I am ashamed to say that I thought anyone over 30 was pretty much over the hill.
In CBT we are taught how not to make "faulty assumptions". FA's are inaccurate or downright false beliefs about yourself, others and even the world in general. Things like "I must be perfect, otherwise I'm a failure." and "Good relationships have no problems." or my personal favourite (not) "It is easier to avoid life's problems than to face them." When you start to mine your mind for FA's it is amazing and alarming that there can be so many. They will rule your life if you let them. FA's distort everything. Even seemingly good assumptions aren't good at all if they are wrong.
Another thing we are discussing is acceptance and forgiveness. Just when I thought I had that taken care of it turns out I didn't. (see "It's easier to avoid life's problems than to face them.") I am finding though that facing this stuff and fixing it is a lot easier than it was when I was young. A point for the old lady. She finally gets it.
The bottom line for me is that you're never finished working on yourself to become the best person you can be. CBT has helped me replace my "Life's a bitch and then you die." attitude (a faulty assumption) with the more realistic belief that there will always be tough times but I've survived worse and will do so again. The cream always rises to the top, kids.
I'd like to close with a thank you to the people that have reached out to me and those that wanted to but couldn't risk facing their own demons if they did. I felt the love. One of my worst FA's has always been that I am alone. I was wrong and I'm really happy to have cleared that up with myself.