“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has three components thoughts, behaviour and emotions arranged in a triangle. These are important factors in personal change. The three sides represent the three aspects of my lives. When one side of the triangle changes the rest also change. When I change my way of thinking, I will act and feel according to my thoughts. When I change my emotions, my actions and thoughts will change. When I change the way I do things, then my thoughts and emotions will alter.
Sounds easy, right? Not really. In order for me to understand the psychology of CBT, I thought of three words that is the driving force of my whole being. These are faith, hope and charity. Drawing the same triangle, I came up with this.
Then I incorporated the whole thing based on what works for me to get better. I called this new and improved diagram the Theology of CBT.
Of course, this is just for me doodling my way through a ten-week CBT course.
When CBT first came out in Vancouver, I was one of the guinea pigs. I volunteered to be one of the subjects. It helped me tremendously as well as the Faculty of Psychiatry. Of course, familiarity breeds contempt. I thought I got it all made and don’t need to carry on with the “experiment” to myself. Soon, I fell out of practice and old habits returned; automatic thoughts.
Automatic thoughts are similar to a movie; a constant rewind of a scenario mostly negative. I counted how many times an automatic thought came up in a given minute. There are 60 seconds in a minute, I must have thought of it 100 times.
I took the course the second time around two years ago and the modules have much improved as well as the therapists. The therapists are better trained, the doctors are well versed with the course and there are more participants. I speak highly of this course for anyone who needs to “get” a hold of their own well-being.
I never called this disease as “mental” disorder. I vehemently argue about this terminology. I know it is a disease of the brain and I waited a long time for someone to speak about this until I heard in TED “Understanding of mental illness.” This is a big relief for me.
Going deeper to doodling, a new diagram arose based on my love for trees and gardening. This keeps me grounded.
Finally with all these knowledge and training, I realize that medication tremendously helps. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication. Insulin is for diabetics to control the disease taken for the rest of their life. No stigma on that. Antidepressants work well for my brain to balance the serotonin level taken for the rest of my life so I may live to the fullest. Nothing wrong with that!