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.

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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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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How To Avoid Getting Sick Your  Freshman Year

It's going to take a little more than an apple a day.


College is the prime time and place to catch a cold... or worse. Although, somehow I managed to crack the code to health and not get sick my whole first year of college. This is surprising considering I was living in the close (and very unsanitary) quarters of a dorm room.

1. Keep your diet somewhat healthy


I know how hard it is to eat healthy in college, especially on a low budget. But with the dining hall foods, you can at least include some vegetables and fruits into your everyday consumption. The vitamins in these foods will help keep your immune system up and it will be worth the effort.

2. Try to exercise a few times per week


Even if you're just getting out of the dorm for a thirty minute walk, it will benefit your body. If you decide to up your routine from that, even better! The more endorphins, the more you will feel better inside and out.

3. Cut back on the drinking if you feel a cold coming on


Surprisingly, many college students don't seem to know that alcohol lowers your immune system. Of course, for some people theres no way of avoiding drinking. But if you can at least give your body rest days, it will be extremely beneficial.

4. Invest in a dehumidifier for your dorm room


I believe this was a very big player in helping me not get sick. The dehumidifier helps reduce dust and other particles in the air. This will help not agitate your allergies and you will feel more clear headed.

5. Try not to share personal products


Sharing things like towels, makeup, unwashed cups, etc. can all be causes of a sickness being passed around you and your friends. Of course sharing is caring, just make sure it's sanitary.

6. Be conscientious of who you kiss!


Make sure that your girlfriend, boyfriend, or "its complicated" person is not sick before you're getting cozy with them.

7. Drink lots of green tea!


Personally, I credit green tea and its anti-oxidants for keeping the flu away and even getting rid of bugs that might be forming in your system. So if you feel like you might be developing a cold, chug that tea!

I know how annoying these tips may be. But I promise, if you implement at least a few it could reduce your chances of feeling horrible during midterms in the winter, and sneezing all over your finals in the fall.

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