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Reach out – it could change your life

10 December 2015 

If you’re feeling down or struggling to cope with stress in your life, reach out because help is at hand.

Central North West London Talking Therapies service can help you.

Read local resident Claire's story of how the service helped her.

Claire's story

Claire Duesbury is from Harrow and started using the Talking Therapies service after a number of events combined to make her feel anxious and depressed.

Originally a teacher, she had to leave her job and decided to change career, follow her passion and do a masters. Money troubles meant she was unable to finish her masters.

Speaking about that time, Claire said: “I don’t think I dealt with the depression from leaving teaching and the fact that I didn’t manage to complete my masters was also pretty depressing. I came back to Harrow in February/March, I turned 40 and the depression just hit a new low.”

Claire’s GP referred her to the local Talking Therapies service and, “they were in touch pretty quickly actually I was quite impressed I think it was within two weeks. I had to fill in quite a comprehensive questionnaire in which I was very very honest and then within a month Kaneez my therapist got in touch with me and set up a regular Tuesday session.”

Kaneez explained how Talking Therapies work and that they would be using techniques to help Claire tackle the anxiety and tackle the depression.

“It was really really good because it was a one on one situation. Kaneez asked me to explain why I was there and what I’d been through which I did and then she started to help me.”

Of particular use to Claire was a set of diagrams to help her take a step back and take, “an observational view of my thoughts…….It was really really helpful, and I took it away with me and I took photos of it on my phone so I could reference it regularly.”

Kaneez gave Claire different strategies each week which have helped her in various situations. For example, like many people, Claire can get into heated debates or arguments or get stressed when driving.

Talking therapies have been really helpful as she can deploy these techniques and so rather than “reacting immediately by shouting or swearing or whatever, I was able to stop for a second – there was a momentary pause and then respond rather than straight off the cuff lose it and get emotional about things. I was able to take a breath and that’s definitely from the CBT.”

Kannez also gave Claire links to various websites to discover more techniques and research things herself – something she really likes doing.

“After about six months it got to the point where the strategies were in place and I felt equipped to watch and monitor my thoughts.

“The anxiety, we dissected that and looked at it for what it was and we worked out some of it was social anxiety so we focused on some strategies to deal with social anxiety which I thought was brilliant. From there, like I say, I felt ready to go forward.”

Looking at the impact Talking Therapies has had on her, Claire is clear: “I think it’s changed my life basically.”

“It has changed my thinking. So when I was depressed, what I used to do – and I thought I was doing the right thing – I allowed myself to feel those feelings. Just allowed myself. If I was feeling down and I didn’t want to get out of bed, I’d just go through it.

“Now I understand that my feelings can be like a runaway train almost and if I don’t just take a moment and take a step back it will descend and I will just sort of like wallow in it.

“The CBT taught me to take a step back and ask myself: what would you say to a friend if a friend was going through this particular situation? It’s about being able to take that step back and look at it objectively, not emotionally. I think it’s changed my life basically.”

If you are thinking about using Talking Therapies, Claire has this message:  “I would definitely recommend it to anybody who is going through depression or anxiety. I think it’s really important to be aware of how your mind works. I also think that CBT strategies should be taught in schools."

For Claire, the best thing about the support from Talking Therapies is what she has found out about herself.

“We had several breakthrough moments for me which I would walk out of the room and it was like a light had been switched on, you know, like a burden had been lifted.”

“Kaneez and I worked out that I’m a worrier. I worry a lot about things and turn things over in my mind. And what I think is that I’m an intellectual person trying to deal with a problem but actually it’s called worrying.

“Honestly this was a lightbulb moment for me. I didn't even realise I was a worrier but after working with Kaneez, going through the CBT, I worked out: I am; it's okay, I can manage it and it's less overwhelming."

“I would totally recommend Talking Therapies because it’s a good way to monitor your thoughts and also to have strategies to be able to deal with the negative side of things when things aren’t going so well.”