During lockdown, Sylvia Edwards completed an online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course which consists of 60 hours of lessons.
The 75-year-old from Worsley decided to undertake this course for her own benefit and, as a result, her understanding of her mental health has vastly improved.
Our reporter, Ruby Fatimilehin, spoke to Sylvia about her experience with cognitive behavioural therapy as part of our new Talking About My Generation mental health series: Mind Yer ‘Ed
Sylvia said: “Not being able to visit my family during lockdown has been very challenging and that’s part of the reason I undertook the cognitive behavioural therapy course.
“There are quite a few people who may have been in a state of depression, and I was one of them, way before this lockdown. When this lockdown came on, it did encourage me to try to do something about the depressions I’d been feeling for years, I saw it as an opportunity.
“I have had OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) for 30 years at least. OCD can be something that lives with people for many, many years. It’s hard to get rid of and it can control you. I did feel at the start of lockdown that it was beginning to control me, and I didn’t want it to, so I had to do something.
“I looked online and found a course by Udemy where you only pay a small amount. I thought ‘why don’t I use this time I’ve been given to do something positive for my mental health,’ and that’s why I did it.
“I would recommend the course to everyone. It has helped to shine a mirror into my own mind. It has helped me understand why I thought as I did because I think differently now. I feel much, much better. CBT is based on helping us to understand ourselves and how our minds operate. You have to challenge a lot of assumptions you have. It’s made me realise we can choose how we think. Thoughts are thoughts, we can’t do anything about them, but we can choose how we react to them.
“Lockdown has made us stop and think and reconsider. Who we are, what we are, and where we are going. CBT is all to do with rewiring our thought patterns. If we have negative thoughts that we have learned, we can unlearn them. It’s all about changing our habits. Becoming conscious of our unconscious thoughts, the ones below the tip of the iceberg.”
Sylvia is also an author of parental guides on how to help children succeed in school.
She said: “I’m writing a book at the moment called ‘My Year of the Virus.’ It’s a book of hope and reflection in prose, poetry, and artwork. I’m hoping to finish that by October. My advice to other people would be to use the extra time in lockdown to really look at your life and see what you want to get out of the future. Have a vision.
“What I have learned will definitely be useful for my life after lockdown, I will use this greater insight into my mind to improve the way I relate to and communicate with other people. I’ve already become a better listener. I hope I can be a better contributor to society after lockdown. We all need to become better contributors. I think being a better contributor and trying to become more caring and compassionate is what we all seek.”
For more information on how you can keep well in both body and mind, visit: https://www.independentage.org/get-advice/health/mental-health