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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Going Back To Therapy

Back in October/ November I had a few days where I was really struggling again. I was having occasional dark thoughts, but event when that wasn't happening, I just wasn't particularly happy within myself.

It was properly a combination of the two that made me realise I was not ok.

I have made some good progress; with understanding my depression and managing it better. However, I often look at where I have been to minimise what I am experiencing now. Not always the best thing for me to do, as I am basically using my progress against myself.

One day it got a bit much and I had to call the GP and ask for an appointment that day. Fortunately, they were able to provide me with one in 3 hours time.

I saw a new / different GP this time. He was older, and very old school in his language. But he totally got it. He spoke about his experience treating other males and the similarities there can be in the way we (males) often self treat our illnesses. The short term boost we can (I know I have) seek to help us feel more positive, without actually talking about the issues we are experiencing. He explained this could be drink, drugs, sex, risky behaviour, anything that gets you buzzing or gives you that short term boost or positive feeling really. While that short term boost may feel good at the time, it often makes the issue harder to reach and harder to approach.

Following that appointment, my medication was increased and I was put onto a waiting list for a therapy assessment in January. While that was a little wait, I had a couple of phone check ins during that time and once I had my assessment I was very lucky to be able to start my sessions (one to one, face to face) 2 weeks later.

I am now 5 weeks into my 16 week course of therapy and its going well. I have picked up a couple of tools that I have found useful, as different ways to look at some of my struggles, be that depression or relationships.

Something that I have noticed is that most of my coping strategies are based around being in survival mode and just making it through the day. The thing is, these strategies are not all that great for me when I am not in that 'survival mode'.

I have recently had some amazing experiences and really lovely moments. These in themselves bring a different challenge to my mind, as I struggle with self worth and accepting my happiness. So I am trying to learn new tools to support my attempts at being ok with being happy.

Last week as I left therapy and walked back to the car (I park a 5 minute walk away, so I have time to prep for and/ or unpack the sessions), I just started to cry. The emotion of sadness and loss was, is, so intrenched in my belief structure it's hard to tackle that. A number of my close relationships have had an unexpected and sometimes sudden end to them. It is no surprise surely that this would then be something I struggle with.

I have definitely realised how much I limit myself and the connections I make, in an effort to protect myself against the potential loss I believe is coming.

A very wise person once shared a metaphor with me to explain how a traumatic event can take time to identify and unpack. They described our lives as a beaded necklace or bracelet, with the beads acting as moments in our lives. If one of those beads becomes damaged or needs to be reviewed, you can't just take that one off. You need to review and unpack many beads before you get to the one that maybe causing an issue.

I'm sure they told it better, hahaha. Basically, sometimes, it takes time, theres a process.

Anyway, I guess my point is this is a journey and one I still have much to travel. Importantly, it is not the beginning and I have (despite my unwillingness to recognise my successes) already moved someway along my path. Hopefully in time I will be able to credit myself with that rather than use it to belittle my current struggle.

Therapy has been a huge source of support for me. I have learned some useful techniques to better understand and manage my depression, I have gained confidence in talking about my experience with mental health illness and in recognising what might work for me. It has also helped to teach me that it's ok to ask for help.

I hope... I believe that my current therapy will help to address some of the underlying issues I have, rather than just looking at how to manage them. It has taken time to get here and as I said, I'm still on that journey. But I feel like I am taking steps on a path I have avoided or maybe not seen for some time.

Therapy continues to be a positive experience, but it is hard. It's tackling core beliefs I have held for over 5 years. Recovery is a journey, and everyone's path is different.

Know, you are not alone.

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