So, at last, here I am, sitting in the Therapy Centres waiting room, ready to face the final review for Mentalization Based Therapy, which is a 2-year programme for people living with Personality Disorder. I have worked hard towards this day and trundled through some very difficult terrain to get here.
Three years have passed since the initial application. I recently finished the 9-week introductory training course. That part of the programme is mainly educational, but there is still an element of on-going assessment. It’s unlikely, but they could still decide against my suitability. The significance of today is certainly not lost on me.
The waiting room window looks out onto vast beautiful hospital grounds, surrounded by large and extremely old trees. Despite being less than 5 miles from central London, it does feel like a part of the countryside. I can even hear birds singing. Contrary to its pleasant appearance, it always feels like a bit of a sleeping monster to me.
This is a safe haven where people recover from mental illness, voluntary and under Sections. There are also secure wards that imprison dangerous psychotic murderers. They are held here as part of their prison sentence. From time to time, some even escape. Only last month, there were public warnings about an escaped prisoner from one of these wards.
Inside the therapy department, the quiet peacefulness and smell of polish always reminds me of an old Nunnery I used to visit many years ago. This also feels like a sacred space, a place where people come to bear their souls, seeking discovery and healing. There are notices everywhere, “Silence, therapy in progress”.
The small waiting room must serve as an arrival or departure lounge for many, each on their own personal journey of discovery. I suppose it is the portal to ultimate healing, but I imagine it is also the gateway to some of the worst memories, hidden in the dark recesses of our minds.
The head Psychiatrist, Dr J, finally greets me with genuine warmth, immediately dissipating some paranoid misconceptions that she doesn’t like me, or maybe doesn’t approve of my joining the programme. She is tall and slender, nicely put together and probably in her early 40’s. Her professionalism always appears to be at peace within herself with a softly spoken voice that oozes empathy and care. She’s quite funky looking with her hair usually dyed nice bright colours, like red or orange. Today, it is a mellow-rusty-shade, which highlights her big empathic brown eyes.
Dr J leads the way to her therapy room where Paul, one of the MBT Therapists, is already waiting. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I imagine if I’m being accepted onto the programme, he might be my therapist. I usually prefer female therapists, but there is something very appealing about Paul and, weirdly, it feels a plus that I don’t find him attractive in any way. We are of similar age. He stands, we shake hands and immediately I feel at ease.
Paul has an aura of calmness. I can feel him reaching out to me already, keen to show his compassion, something I’ve never experienced from other Therapists in the past. In that moment, I have a deep sense of safety and know in my heart that this man will play a vital role in my recovery.
I look towards Dr J, searching for those words of acceptance onto the programme.