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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

CBT helps Christine manage her anxiety

Published: 26/09/2014

Christine, who lives in Sutton Coldfield, is a widow and mother to three sons. One of her sons had mental health problems but felt unable to admit to his difficulty. This eventually led to him committing suicide in 1999. Christine is a volunteer advisor at a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, has an active social life and sees herself as a very normal and ordinary person. 

“I’ve always been anxious, especially around health issues. As a child one of my early memories is of being terrified I wouldn’t be able to breathe after swallowing a small amount of cat hair. I tended to imagine the worst when someone became ill or I felt ill and I became anxious about my family’s health. This got worse after my son and husband passed away.

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“It’s something I never really shared with anyone. I realised that I needed to get some help when it started to affect my life. I had many avoidance strategies such as avoiding looking in the mirror and I would go out of my way to avoid certain situations.

“I met with our family GP who was very understanding and supportive. She referred me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is how I came into contact with Birmingham Healthy Minds.

“Although I was apprehensive, I attended a 12-week CBT course run by Birmingham Healthy Minds and have made great progress. I learned a number of techniques to help me cope when I was feeling anxious. Some of these are very simple but have really worked for me. One of the exercises I find particularly useful is giving myself five minutes of real worry time where I can imagine the worst and then after that I get rid of all of the bad thoughts.

“I’ve also found that writing down my thoughts has helped and I’ve learned some great breathing techniques to help calm me down. Now I can work through periods of anxiety and I have a better understanding of why I’m feeling anxious.”

“Taking the first step to get help is hard. I would tell my friends that I’d got high blood pressure but I wouldn’t want to share with them that I’d had CBT. You almost need to ‘come out’ and admit you have a problem.

“I would definitely recommend the service to others and I want to let people know how easy it is to get help. Everyone I came across at Birmingham Healthy Minds was extremely kind and very understanding. They treated me with respect.”

Click here to find out how Birmingham Health Minds is raising awareness of how the “talking therapies” service can help people with common mental health problems that can affect anyone including stress and anxiety.