dimanche 1 février 2009

It's Mental Health Awareness Week!

A whole week dedicated to us! Yay! There will be parades! Fireworks! Banquets! Speeches! Keys to the city!




I suppose our various elected representatives will have taken out ads thanking the mental health "care" professionals for whatever it is they allegedly do for us, and that will be it. Nothing about us mentally ill people and our courageous battle against mental illness.

Yeah, that's what I said. People who have cancer always "fight a courageous battle" against cancer, right? Well without taking anything away from the cancer people, we the mentally ill also fight a courageous battle against mental illness, and granted the mortality rate isn't as high, but we still have to do it, and it's rather nice when once in a while somebody takes a second out of their day to say "yo, way to fight a courageous battle against mental illness." Much appreciated. Seriously.

So, in honour of myself and my mentally ill brethren, I'm a' blog about mental health all week. I mean more so than usual. Well, unless I lose interest or something. Hey, it's our week, and y'all supposed to be aware of us. Because The Man says so. Nyah nyah nyah!

I'm even going to include an audience participation component. Because I'm nice like that. So in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, I challenge all y'all who read this blog to identify a distorted cognition. Preferrably one that you are having. It's pretty easy picking at other people's distorted cognitions, but it's a lot more useful looking at yours. And then if you find one, try to replace it with an adaptive cognition. And then you can even try blogging about it! Yes, it will be the First Annual Mental Health Awareness Week Meme.

But of course you, the mentally "healthy", don't know a distorted cognition when you see one, so I'm a' tell you.

One time just before I fired my therapist, she gave me a little wallet card which said this:

  1. Is this cognition based on fact?

  2. Does this cognition make me feel the way I want to feel?

  3. Does this cognition help me achieve my goals?
Example. Suppose I were sitting here thinking to myself "self, we'll never find a job again." I'm not, but let's pretend. Is this cognition based on fact? No. Obviously I'll find a job again. Does this cognition make me feel the way I want to feel? No. If I was having that cognition, I'd be all depressed and miserable. Does this cognition help me achieve my goals? No. My goal is to find a job. How is telling myself I won't gonna help? So yeah, "I'll never find a job again" is a distorted cognition.

This of course is a general method for finding distorted cognitions, but as some distorted cognitions are particularly common, people have taken to classifying them, and now we have lists of "types of distorted cognitions." That makes life easy, especially when you're first starting out in CT, because you can just look at the list and say "hey, calling people names is on the list, I might as well stop doing it." So to get you started, you might want to refer to the Eleven Types of Distorted Cognitions post or the Twenty Cognitive Distortions post.

The hard part of cognitive therapy is admitting you have a problem. Once you get through that, it all flows from there. So away you go, seeking out new distorted cognitions and boldly thinking where you've never thought before.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week!

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