Today was my last therapy session with my current psychologist. It has been an incredible journey, good, bad and really ugly but every cycle must end so something else can begin. Today was/is a day for pride. I'm feeling strong, capable and bright.
I was asked to write a 'Personal Story' for Psychological Therapies for them to publish, use to show the 'bigwigs' how us with mental health problems deal with therapy and to help the general public to gain a better insight in to our 'demi-monde'.
This was what I wrote:
So far, I have come in contact with the Community Mental Health Team, short term therapy, psychology and I am currently being assessed by a psychiatrist.
I have been suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts from an early age, at 21 I was put on Fluoxetine and the dose slowly increased. At that time, I was offered short term therapy which did not help. I bounced from job to job, having more and more time off for the serious bouts of not being able to function. No one could understand why I couldn't 'shake it off' or 'get over it'. I felt weak and like I had failed at life. I got another job, stuck it out for as long as I could but I would always end up in the same position. I medicated with alcohol and anything I could do to just feel a good feeling for a while. When I was around 22, I was diagnosed with M.E and after coping for a while, I began to spiral. The Prozac had made me numb, I couldn't cry, I couldn't feel and I had no release so that was when I began to self harm. I would bleed to feel a release and to just 'feel'. There wasn't many people that knew about this because they already couldn't understand why I was so broken, so I hid it. I drank and I gambled. Finally, in the depths of my breakdown, I ran to West Yorkshire. I changed medication to Citalopram which enabled me to feel again but those feelings immediately turned in to suicidal thoughts. A great portion of my self harming happened at that time, cutting, drinking and promiscuity. Finally, I was referred for long term psychology and had my medication changed for the last time to Mirtazapine. This medication allowed me to cope enough to get to long term psychology, I can honestly say with out it, I wouldn't be here.
The only issue I had with this in-depth psychology was the waiting list, the whole system changed while I was waiting and that seemed to send me to the back of the list again. At the time, I was incredibly angry about it but I have since realised that in my case, it was the best thing that could have happened as when I finally got it, I was ready for it. When I first met my psychologist, Helen, I went in with a lot of anger and unrealistic expectations of her changing my life and fixing me. It took a while for me to realise that it didn't work that way, she helped me understand that the change comes from me, she is just there to help me puzzle things out and see things from a different perspective. There wasn't one definitive moment when I suddenly 'changed' but I can tell you that for me, it got worse before it got better. As my insecurities and perceptions began to change, my body took on the stress and I began to have uncontrollable panic attacks. I began to feel the same feelings of failure and inadequacy again until Helen helped me realise why they were happening. At the beginning of my therapy, I had isolated myself from friends and family, I was self harming in various ways and I was looking to run again. Now I'm coming to the end of my therapy because I am going home to reconnect with my family. I haven't physically self harmed in over 6 months and I haven't had a panic attack in over 2 months.
One of the things that has been constant throughout this whole journey is writing, I wrote everything down, all my emotions (or lack of) and even had a blog about mental illness. Over the course of my therapy, that blog has changed. The tone is less 'Why, God why?' and more 'Let's figure this out' with helpful tips and hints to make it through a tough day. I began to exercise more (as much as a girl with M.E can) and I have even found myself being optimistic, not just about day to day situations but about my future. I am happy to say, I am on the road to recovery (I'm not out of the woods but at least I've found a path!) and I personally think that it is completely down to the psychologist I had and how much she cared about her job and helping me to get to where I am now. She has encouraged me to think about things in completely different ways, to explore myself and who I am and to keep writing about it. With my whole heart, I thank her.