I Went To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For My Anxiety And Loved It

I Went To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For My Anxiety And Loved It

Mental illness and how you treat it are NOT topics you need to be ashamed of or silent about.
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A couple months ago I wrote an article “Fuck Mental Illness And Stop Acting Like It's Something That Shouldn't Be Talked About." Around this time I had been struggling immensely with anxiety and dysthymia (persistent mild depression) — after three years of being on antidepressants, I decided to go off. Needless to say, it wasn't the best idea, but it did lead me to seek counseling, particularly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, more commonly known as CBT.

After yet another fight with my boyfriend over some trivial issue due to my irritability and a tearful apology from me, bawling over my incompetence of how to solve the issue at hand, he suggested I see a therapist.

I had been in and out of talk therapy for two years when I decided it was not worth my while. My time talking to my therapist back in Colorado was helpful, but for a very specific reason (a story for another time). I realized perhaps my point of view and my therapists did not align quite as well as it should have.

Flash forward a year from that moment and my sorority has "suggested" I see a therapist due to some ~extenuating~ circumstances. Was there a giant penis spray painted on a frat house? Apparently. Was it me? No one will ever know.

While being forced to see a therapist is really conducive to mental health and all, I went once and never went again — first, because I wasn't about to spend 250 dollars a week for the satisfaction of others and second, because my therapist decided to leave the country. Bye Martha.

Anyways, my experience with therapy has been….exhaustive. Does it help? Yes, to some extent. Could everyone benefit from it? I don't think it can hurt. Is every therapy the same? No, and you have to find the one that works best for you.

Back to the discussion with my boyfriend: “Izzy, have you considered seeing a therapist?" Needless to say, this was not met by me with open arms and an angelic grin (claws and my signature “don't-fuck-with-me" face sound more like it).

Regardless, I took his suggestion and, three months later, am really grateful he made the recommendation.

I got off my depressed ass and made myself an appointment with a psychologist at UCLA, who re-diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and dysthymia and gave me the name of a cognitive behavioral therapist in Beverly Hills.

The next week I was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, ready to drop some cash, and have my brain rehabilitated (not really, please don't be upset with me for saying this).

You may ask: "What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?" Well! Let me tell you:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, unlike classic talk-therapy, is intended to be short term. Length of time varies for each patient and from therapist to therapist. Overall, CBT is designed to teach patients how to recognize, manage and hopefully rewire any dysfunctional emotions or thoughts. It gives you the tools to feel better. If you want to learn more about it, I highly recommend this article.

It's really simple actually and exceptionally helpful. I attended five sessions (yes, five) before my therapist and I discussed the possibility that we may be ready to part ways. Truthfully, I was ready for it.

A typical discussion in CBT goes like this:

  • Izzy, give me an instance in recent weeks which gave you anxiety.
  • I was sitting in class, realized I hate school and then started to panic over the fact that I probably won't be able to find a career path I like if I can't find a major or classes I enjoy.
  • How did this make you feel?
  • Nauseous, anxious, on edge.
  • How did you react?
  • I had to leave the classroom to go dry heave into a toilet and cry about my hopeless future.
  • What kind of thinking style are you using?
  • I was jumping to conclusions and over-catastrophizing.
  • Okay, so what may have been more conducive to the situation?
  • I should have taken a deep breath, recognized I was jumping to conclusions and over-catastrophizing, and reminded myself that what I was thinking was not the truth. One boring class does NOT mean I will have an unsuccessful future.

Bingo. A simple discussion which culminates in the patient (myself) being able to recognize 1) where their anxiety stems from and 2) identify that the patient has the power to control how they react and think.

Granted, I'm making it sound easy: therapy and mental illnesses are far more complex. Regardless, CBT is one of the most effective forms of treatment I've found in my four year battle with mental illness.

Mental illness and how you treat it are NOT topics you need to be ashamed or silent about. There is no reason you should ever feel nervous and prevented from speaking out about your emotions or mental illness in general.

Tell someone if you want to. Seek help if you need it. Keep your head up because life has so much to offer if you open yourself to the possibilities.

Cover Image Credit: Isabelle Roshko

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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5 Tips on Rushing a Sorority

How to get through Recruitment at a huge University

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Coming into a huge public university and enduring the stress of Sorority Recruitment was an extremely daunting and stressful experience. But now being on each side of the spectrum there are a lot of tips and tricks I found that may ease the nerves of women who want to rush. The idea of talking to tons of women for days on end is for sure very pressuring but is not how the experience should be. These tips were made to show that the process is a two-way street and not as scary as it may seem.

1. Present yourself in an authentic way

There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to being in a sorority and one of the main ones is that sorority girls are fake. I find this to be quite the opposite. A huge part about being in a sorority is their philanthropy and how it brings all the girls together. The last thing an organization needs is a woman who is not passionate about what they devote so much time to and pretends to be someone they are not. Being yourself and being vulnerable is a very admirable quality and will make you stand out.

  2. They are just as nervous as you.

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Going through Recruitment for the first time can be extremely daunting and overwhelming. A group of girls greet you screaming chants with huge smiles on their face can be intimidating but being on the other side is just as scary. As a member of a sorority it is part of your duty to recruit members that will make a positive and impactful addition to the huge group of girls. You want every girl that comes through your room to feel at home and welcomed and like they can open up and share who they are. As a Potential New Member but also as a Member the pressure is on so you're not alone.

3. Dress comfortably

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As much time as I spent stressing about what I was wearing when I went through Recruitment I suggest avoiding making this your main focus. Presentation and how you appear is important but does not hold a candle to your character and how you present yourself facially. If you are wearing 5-inch stilettos and your feet are killing you it can definitely distract your attention away from the women you are speaking to and onto your discomfort. Sorority Rush is also a very lengthy process where you will be standing for hours on end and want to be dressed for that.

 4. It’s a conversation not an interview

One of the fears I had going into rush was being able to answer the questions thrown at me. But as I actually went through the process I found this to be very much not the case. The point of this experience is to have conversations with the women you meet to gauge if you would get along with women of their caliber. Not to say all the women are the same but value-based conversations can flow very well if the values of the sorority that the women emulate, and your own, match. The interaction should be natural and feel easy, don't rush or try to talk too much or too little.

  5. Your choice should be based on you

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It was very stressed that your decision about which sorority you join should be based off of your experience throughout the rush experience with each sorority. You should not consult other women rushing about your decision because it is strictly a choice that will impact you. At the end of the day, I made my choice based on where I saw myself fitting in the best. I set aside any biased I had about which sorority seemed, "the best," because it was simply about choosing a home where I could be myself.

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