I have been in therapy for a long time. I started working with my first therapist during an inpatient stay and I saw her for 18 months. But years later when I found myself relatively stable, I decided that I’d like it to stay that way and that I’d need help to do this and to work through the issues that are behind my mental illness. The NHS had not offered me any therapy at this time and besides, I was in full time employment; so I searched for someone I could see privately. I found a Psychologist local to me and contacted him to see if he thought he may be able to help. He is now the person I trust most in my life.
Not many people know I am in therapy but those who do are often very curious about what it’s like.
Therapy is not what a lot of people imagine and there is nothing about it that is easy. It’s not like having a friend to vent to or ask advice from and there are certainly no quick solutions on offer. It is hard work, a lot of hard work. Sessions can exhaust and confuse me and can leave me in a therapy hangover for days. I have a great relationship with my therapist and I trust him implicity but this has taken time and a lot of patience. He probably knows more about me than anyone including family, friends and lovers but getting to that point has not been easy. Some things have been easier to say than others. Many things I have been so ashamed of that I’ve felt that I might have to sit on my hands to stop myself from running out of the door. Equally I have at times wanted to run from a session that has been more distressing than I ever imagined it could be. Some sessions have been so distressing and made me so angry that I have had to bite my lip to stop myself from screaming at him. At times he has pushed me so hard that I have hated him. Yet he has helped me to stay alive. At a point when I wasn’t getting any support from mental health services and was in crisis I ran to him, the only person I could think of. When he determined I wasn’t safe to leave he did all he could to get my local crisis team to engage but they wouldn’t, so he drove me to the local a&e and waited until I was seen. In recent years when I have tried to cancel appointments because I had plans to end my life, he has seen through this and reached out to me to ensure he was doing what he could to keep me safe, including calling my care coordinator to make her aware of the situation. Just 3 months he probably saved my life. I was barely able to engage during a session, too focussed on killing myself and although I had given him permission to call my care coordinator I had not realised how concerned he was until the crisis team turned up at my door the next morning.
There have been sessions where I thought I would never stop crying, those when I thought I’d never be able to breathe again and yet some where I have laughed, a lot. Some where I have been so angry that I thought I might hurt someone and many, many, many times where I honestly thought he was crazier than me. We disagree a lot and it tends to be about the same things over and over again. For example, he thinks I am intelligent and regularly hands me a list of evening courses I could take, whereas I KNOW he’s wrong about it. I feel it’s better for me to be the only one in pain than saying things that may hurt others I care for and we disagree strongly about this.
As much as I hate to admit it at times, things have changed. I have shared things that I never thought I could tell anybody and he has not been disgusted, laughed at me, dismissed my feelings or walked away. Aside from family, he is a constant in my life and it seems that there is nothing I can do or say that will make him see me in the way that I see myself, no matter how hard I try.
Despite everything, I continue to go and sit in his office every week and I put my faith in him whilst being careful to ensure he doesn’t know how often he is right. And the truth is that he can be wrong, he does not have all the answers and I cannot and should not expect him to. Change has to come from me but that doesn’t mean that I have to do it alone. With his help I have worked through a lot of things and we will continue to work through the rest.