I realised how much I would miss being part of something like this. It was really good for me, meeting others who have MS, and being able to go through the therapy process together was supportive and reassuring. There's nothing quite like someone piping up and saying 'oh, I know exactly how you feel!' and you being able to believe them!
We became a support for each other, and I'm really going to miss having that weekly session.
But what has the course done for me?
Well, for starters I think it's helped my anxiety. I learnt lots of tools through the ACT and CBT systems that have helped me to rein in that feeling of dread and the other symptoms I was having. There were a couple of weeks where I felt too anxious to go, but I made myself which deserves a theoretical 'pat on the back'. I was proud of myself that I conquered it...but knowing I was going to a safe supportive place really helped the process.
I also learnt some really good mindfulness techniques. My favourite, because it was so simple, was just taking time to look at your hand. When you stop and concentrate on all the lines, textures and variations of colour, it's really very relaxing. Also it seemed like the best one I could do when stressed and out and about.
There were a few really good analogies that we were taught in our CBT lessons that I will take with me and use. One in particular, was imagining that we live our lives on a boat. We try and head in one direction, but sometimes things happen that alter our path. Sometimes there are stormy seas, and sometimes the other passengers (such as negative feelings) on the boat are altering our path also. Sometimes in life you just have to moor up on an island and take a break, which is something that really resonates with me having had periods with the bipolar and MS when life just gets too much.
Another thing that I found effective in the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) side of things was to reassess the goals and values I have. There were goals that I have never achieved (such as working in television, but I have always stuck by my values (such as being a good Mum to the children). Sometimes goals and values conflict, but that part of the course helped me reassess what was more important to me, which of course is being there for the kids, my husband and living a happy and healthy (as much as possible anyway!) life.
As for anything else...that's all I can remember!! Luckily they gave out handouts! 😀
Ironically, the week discussing cognitive issues in MS, was an overload of information and a lot of it didn't sink in. I do remember being told how problems with memory (which I kind of knew) can be affected by tiredness and fatigue - which makes sense. There are certain levels of cognitive ability, and if you're tired it basically all goes to shit! So that explains a lot! At least it's reassuring to think that it's not my MS getting worse, just the fact that I rarely get a good nights sleep.
Anyway, if any of you with MS or anxiety/depression ever get a chance to do an ACT or CBT course, I say go for it! It's really helped and I've met lovely people. I'm determined to continue practising mindfulness on those bad days - though with Christmas coming up it's hard to practice because I'm so busy. On the other hand, at least I'm distracted!!
No stormy seas at the moment!