Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 4

I'd be lying if I said I'm not a bit concerned that I'm now halfway through my sessions. I can definitely see an improvement but, my word, it's scary to think I'm going to be thrown out into the world! Hopefully, since I started off with the high intensity treatment, there'll be some sort of weaning-off process.The Forms
These forms stress me out so much! I hate that I can't use what I put the week before so, even though I know this week has been better than the last, my forms sometimes imply that I'm getting worse. That's what happened this week. Even though I gave the week a general grading of a 7, on the basis that nothing particularly good or bad has happened, my low mood rating went up 3 points. This is probably to do with the fact that I've been unwell the past few days but it threw my therapist out. She couldn't understand how I could have had such positive feedback from Ofsted, be so pleased with myself when I told her but then say nothing particularly good has happened. My explanation that I feel good at the time but it's not something that carries on through the week seemed to concern her. 
When I told her I'd had no panic attacks this week, she was even more confused because I still have the maximum grading for anxiety. When I explained that I constantly feel anxious, even if I don't have a panic attack, she asked me to fill in a form which sounded like "pen stick form" but, after Googling this, I can confirm that's not correct!

The Analysis
I filled in this pen stick form (or whatever it was) which required me to rate various feelings 1-5 depending on how true they were. Examples were "When I finish one project, I immediately worry about the next" and "I am always worrying about something" (Newsflash: I just found it online and it's called the Penn State form!) My answers gave me the maximum score which was obviously very worrying and suddenly she announced that we need to be treating me for Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This was news to me as I thought that's what we were treating! By the sounds of it, she was treating me for Panic Disorder but, as I do still have panic attacks, the skills I've learned in the previous sessions are useful nevertheless.
With this in mind, she asked me to write a list of all the things I'd worried about that morning. Considering my appointment was at 10am (and I woke up at 9:20am) my list was pretty extreme:
- I'm tired and this will affect my day
- I'll oversleep and be late
- I won't have time for the bus
- The taxi will leave without me
- The taxi driver will think I'm making up my limp (I have a sore foot at the moment)
- I'm too early and I'll inconvenience people
- I have to make small talk with the receptionist after she complimented my nails
- My therapist will think I'm making up my form responses

I'm sure you can imagine it's exhausting living like this all the time! We then went through the list and decided whether each worry was real or hypothetical. Apart from being early and making small talk, all of my worries were hypothetical. Even the real ones had hypothetical consequences- I didn't inconvenience anyone by being early and my chat with the receptionist wasn't awkward.

At this point, and when talking about the worries I could remember from the day before, it became clear that they generally fall into three categories: Being late, being tired and other people judging me. 

When we reached the final point, I explained that although sometimes I'm severely affected by what other people think, there are other times when I couldn't care less. As an example, I was wearing my super ugly Snoopy jumper at the time and I had absolutely no concerns about what other people thought of it. I also raised the point that sometimes I feel superior to other people in terms of intelligence and my work (planning, teaching etc) which makes me feel really uncomfortable. At this point, my therapist had a revelation for me:

"Is it possible that you are better than most people in these regards?"
"Well, maybe... but that just seems so arrogant"
"If Jessica Ennis stood next to you and said she was a better high jumper than you, would you think she was arrogant?"
"Well, no..."
"Would you think she's just pointing out a fact?"
"I suppose so..."
"So do you really think it's arrogant to accept that you are better than some people in some aspects? Everyone has their strengths. So long as you're not boasting about it, you're not going to be arrogant".

This was a huge turning point for me as I've always felt like I've got some sort of superiority complex and felt guilty for it. It's interesting to note that I find it difficult to accept that maybe there are some things I'm better than others at (even typing that makes me cringe!)

The Homework
This sudden U-turn in treatment took up most of the session so she asked me to keep a worry diary for the week to look over in our next session. She told me to only fill it in three times a day with all the worries I can remember since the last time I wrote in it, otherwise there's a danger I could get obsessed with it (and, if I'm honest, that sounds a lot like something that would happen to me!)


Although it was a bit of an unusual session, I'm very happy with the way it's going. Now that I've developed (and am using) my skills in managing panic attacks, we can address the underlying anxiety disorder and, hopefully, get that under control!

Previous Posts
If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.


  1. Im currently struggling with GAD as well, and I understand how exhausting it is constantly worrying, like I feel like I'm never relaxed. Even when Im doing something relaxing I'm anxious or panicky about the things I should/could be doing or the next day or an event coming up or something. It's so tiring! I've really appreciated reading these posts, I'm going to have a look into CBT both as a session with a therapist and sort of doing it myself with help from books/online etc. Hope the tips and skills you learn will be helpful and you can cope better with your anxiety.

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

  2. I'm very happy to see your progression through your therapy diaries =) I'm glad you're not as disheartened as with your first session. Things will only get better from now on

  3. I find these posts so interesting, as I am impressed with how objective you can be about the sessions. I really wish that when I was in therapy as a teenager, I'd made more use of it. There is a lot of help for teenagers and young people with mental health, but the second you hit 18 it's so hard to find the help. It sucks that you only get 10 sessions, I really believe thats not enough for anyone to get down to the nitty gritty, but I'm really glad that these sessions are helping you realise some things, that's so good! Hope the rest of the sessions are just as helpful, for you.

    Uncia + Tigris

  4. Excellent that it's going so well for you and helping you a good bit. The worry diary is really good, and if she's given you any handouts about what all the different kinds of anxieties and worry-patterns are then I've found it to be really helpful to read these when I'm at my most anxious so that I can sort of look at my worries from outside myself if that makes any sense, and see that these are just my thoughts and my mind jumping to conclusions, not actual proper facts. It's also nice to read those leaflets and realize you're not alone in feeling so worried all the time. And that your worries are important to you. The worst thing was when someone close to me said that I shouldn't be worrying about something because "it's not important". After that, I always felt like every worry in my head was ridiculous - so in essence I was worrying about my worries! It was a huge breakthrough when my therapist told me that every thought in my head was important. Sorry for that rant!

    Also, ASMR videos on Youtube are brilliant (not sure if I mentioned that before!?) for relaxing yourself.

    I'm delighted that its making a difference for you :) xx

    1. That sounds so difficult. You're absolutely right- All your worries are important because they're something that affects you.

  5. You sound very similar to how I was mid-way through my sessions. I was constantly thinking about the way other people think of me and the fact I couldn't do a somersault on the trampoline - my therapist had to ask me if the people doing somersaults in my trampolining club were organising interviews with the Ting Tings and free tickets to Lily Allen gigs like I was doing for my radio station and said I she didn't know why I thought I wasn't a confident person when I was doing the job many professionals struggle with. The best thing for me about CBT was writing things down and seeing how I felt on paper so hopefully you'll really benefit from the worry diary!!
    Megan xx

  6. I've been reading these posts from the beginning and I'm so happy you've decided to share your journey! I can imagine the forms are terrible I would never know what to say. I can understand why it threw your therapist out but human emotions aren't as easy as registering on a piece of paper. Like sometimes I have that feeling where the week has been good but then I can't think of anything good that's happened as well. I've been considering some kind of therapy so I'm happy to get a bit more information on it beforehand! xx

  7. Even though I was having counselling for something different to you I also had eight sessions and worried about afterwards, and straight after I spent a few weeks feeling very depressed, but slightly hopeful. And it was like really suddenly i felt strong and though I still get those low moods, and the occassional panic attack, I feel like I've battled through the worst and now I know i can do it. I've always told people I am positive person, just with a mental illness 'cos I hate being told I'm negative. And now I can see I was right, it's my illness that's been holding me back and I think realising that and realising that it can be treated and that it's not me being a horrible, negative person, makes me feel even stronger and better about myself! Thank you for sharing your experience here :) xo

  8. I don't think I like your therapist. She seems to be incapable of understand a lot of things! Xx


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