A few years ago I was very ill; I was bouncing in and out of the loony bin and generally feeling awful about myself. I was very bothered by some of the psychotic symptoms I had that the medication didn’t really help with. So I was pleased, at the end of 2009 after many years waiting, to be offered a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for psychosis.
CBT is based around the idea of finding new ways to think about problems so they are less problematic – you can change your life by changing your thinking, essentially. These new ways of thinking about problems don’t have to be accurate, objective models of that problem; whatever works, however outlandish, works.
When I started the CBT for psychosis I was an in-patient in the nut house and constantly terrified of the voice I heard and the nasty, dirty, hairy rat-like things I could constantly see running about me. I was convinced they were coming to get me. When I got to the CBT sessions I got out my then top teddy Butter and cuddled him intensely whilst I wept and howled my way through the session.
It was obvious I was very attached to Butter, so the therapist and I ended up working him into the CBT. My new thought was that, because Butter was a big, growly bear he would easily see off the rats before they came to get me. It may sound odd, but the mental trick was to think Butter really was protecting me from the monsters.
It was a brilliant idea! My anxiety about the rats quickly diminished as long as I had Butter with me. I always carried Butter in my backpack so it was no different keeping him with me constantly to protect me from the beasties.
My teddy bear is now Toast, pictured with Butter below, and he also protects me from the rats. I carry him everywhere with me and I’m very happy to. When my anxiety levels increase so do the number of rats, so I appreciate him all the more at such times – not least because it’s just rather nice to cuddle your security object when you’re anxious.
Well done, Butter and Toast!
I hope your New Year has been happy and fun and continues in much the same vein.