Therapy and Healing

I’ve not been writing a lot about therapy lately. My last post about Paul’s absence was actually twoWP_20131116_001 weeks old. I’m not sure what’s going on for me right now. In the days leading up to this therapy programme, I often wondered what healing from trauma might actually feel like and what shape the process might take.

Each one of us have our own route to healing, but my own journey  feels as though I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of reflection and rumination, writing and talking… anger… regret, and many stages of grief.

We learned early in our group how important it is to observe the feelings. There were months when I seemed to exist in a weird trance like state with a whirlwind of emotions circling inside my head. I thought acceptance, healing, and change might never come into focus, but this is beginning to feel much more likely.

The last group I attended was two-weeks ago. I had only just received the bizarre telephone call, which brought news about the death of my long lost friend, Anne.

I’m still trying to grasp how extraordinary that coincidence actually was and the news has been difficult to come to terms with. However, the experience came to mean so much more than synchronicity or grief.

In the days that followed the news, my mind was awash with long forgotten memories of the past. It took a few days to realise that beyond the nostalgia, was a clear view of how I once viewed my existence.

I recalled the enthusiasm and heaps of confidence that would eventually become lost beneath years of mental health problems. I have able to taste what life once meant to me and what I meant to life.

When I first approached a Psychiatrist five years ago, almost begging for help, the distress came from a realisation that I didn’t want to get any better, “not if it means interacting and trusting other people again…” My perception of life had been utterly dismal for so many years, it was easy to lose track of what existed before the days of mental illness.

th0UQOMD3LIt feels as though these long forgotten memories form part of the missing jigsaw and now I can see a lifestyle that is worthwhile aiming for. Of course, everyone changes with time and there is no return to a former self, but I finally envisage what life could look like.

We return to usual sessions next week, but already my time is running out in therapy. We finish group in December and from January until June, I will be on a rapid sliding scale with my Therapist, Paul.

It might sound strange, but my least problematic condition in recent years has been Agoraphobia because it kept me safe and comfortable within an isolated cocoon. At the heart of the debilitating phobia is a fear of venturing into strange places with the prospect of meeting unfamiliar people. This brings me full circle to the very place I started with my Psychiatrist five years ago, only this time, I do want to face those fears and I will ultimately find a new life, but the prospect of change is scary and therein is the next stage of my therapy.

Dr Gerald Stein writes a nice post on avoiding our fears, taking control, and making the best of life here

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55 thoughts on “Therapy and Healing

  1. Priceless Joy

    You have been healing and growing in your therapy by leaps and bounds Cat. I sense self confidence in you now, which I didn’t when I first met you – you seemed to be as afraid of this world as I was. I immediately connected with you. I feel you have a wonderful future in your future. As I see it, all the bells and whistles about you seem to point in that direction. You have gotten rid of a huge albatross (baggage) in your life, your mum (mom in the US).

    I really liked this paragraph: “I recalled the enthusiasm and heaps of confidence that would eventually become lost beneath years of mental health problems. I have able to taste what life once meant to me and what I meant to life.” This tells me a lot about your future, even though you are referring to your past. I look forward to more posts from you my friend because I know they are going to be bright!

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    1. Cat Post author

      I have been shedding a load of baggage from the past and cutting family ties was necessary to give myself the space to think and feel… and heal.

      Thank you, Joy, your encouragement is appreciated

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  2. D. Wallace Peach

    You continue to make me smile with your insights, Cat. Every change entails movement and loss, but grief doesn’t mean movement is wrong or bad. We grieve our dreams and wishes, the people we once were and comfort of happier times. We grieve the life we were cheated of, the cruelty we endured, the choices denied us. Coming to terms with all those feelings integrates them, transforms them into pieces of the jigsaw, versus the whole puzzle. They become the shadows that give the human picture depth and make the light pieces shine. Recently your words hint of sunlight. The curtains seem to have cracked open and you have a new view, not only of what resides on the inside but of a brighter future ahead. I get the sense that you can feel that too. Peace to you on your ongoing transformation.

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    1. Dawn D

      I love this.
      I agree that grief is about much more than people. It’s about our dreams that were crushed, it’s about the world we thought we lived in.
      But accepting grief means that we can move forward. Staying in denial means staying at a stand still.
      Even though you thought you didn’t want to change, when you went to seek help, it’s because the deeper part of you was ready.
      It is scary to think you’re going to be on your own soon. I remember feeling this when my time at the psychiatric hospital was coming to an end and I was due to fly home for the summer. And I don’t mean the house I shared with my husband and children, but the country where I would have to face my father and mother and memories from my childhood that were so painful.
      It is scary, but you will be fine in the end. You are far enough on the journey of recovery that you can see there is hope of a better future.
      Yes, seeing your past, at a time when it was bright (the love and support of the woman who almost married you, through the times when you figured out you didn’t want to marry any woman), this is helpful, reminding you you weren’t always suffering from the depression that numbs you at the moment.
      I hope for you everything continues to pick up. And when darker days come back, remember that you can always seek help. And remember how far you have come.
      A wise friend of mine once asked me (and it came from a place of love, not one of judgment) “Why do you need the depression? Why can’t you live life happily without it? Why do you think it keeps coming back?” I have figured it out. Basically, it had to do with that quote “Before diagnosing yourself as depressive, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes” 😉
      I’m doing much better now. Even if I sometimes have relapses (like last year when I lost my job and my narc ex was making my life harder than necessary). But I know that the future is bright. And it will be for you too, because you are putting in the hard work to make sure it is.
      Sorry for the rant, sorry for taking over Diana’s comment…
      Keep up the faith of a brighter tomorrow. It is possible, I am proof. 🙂
      XO

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      1. Cat Post author

        That moment of grief for the past does seem to be a pivotal moment, Dawn. When I first went for help and confessed, “I don’t want to get any better,” the idiot Psychiatrist took that as low motivation and I hit a brick wall. I used to see that silly man on and off for 12 years, but got absolutely didley-squat until I eventually demanded a change of Doctor… three years later and here I am!

        Viewing a time before mental ill health has been another great moment and I love the quote about depression and assholes.

        Thank you for your comment, Dawn

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        1. Dawn D

          🙂
          I’m sorry you had such a silly man for such a long time. I know how frustrating this can feel. My mom once finally took the step to go see a psychiatrist (she couldn’t afford therapy) and at the end of their first session, she came home desperate because he’d told her that she knew what her problems were, he couldn’t help her. It had taken her more than 25 years to decide to take that step, and the doctor basically turned her away! I was so angry with him! Of course, she never went back, so she’s still pretty much in the same place, hence my dear mother letter the other day 😉
          Though for you, I suspect you may not have been quite ready to go forward, as you didn’t request the change of doctors earlier.
          Anyways, it’s not really important, what’s important is where you are now, and how far you have come!
          And glad you liked the quote 😉
          XO

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            1. Dawn D

              Yes indeed!
              At least he could have said “I don’t think I can help you, but maybe try this person, they may be better able to”. But that’s not what my mom heard nor felt. 😦

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Cat Post author

      And your comment made me smile, thank you. The view does look a little different, actually, quite a lot different. The reality of it feels exhilarating… frightening, but I think I’m ready. Thank you, Diane

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  3. mandy

    Reading your recent posts about your journey really is like watching you come out of that protective cocoon, stretching out those wings , bit by bit. You’re going to fly, Cat. I’m watching it happen–it’s pretty awesome. 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      People have said they’ve noticed changes in the past, but this is the first time I’m actually fully aware of the changes in thinking and feeling and, yes, it does feel pretty awesome….glad you’re sharing that journey, Mandy, thank you

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  4. jamborobyn

    Another great post, Cat. I think you are a great writer, a uniquely interesting person with a very interesting story. What sparks my curiosity the most is how the whole therapy thing works. I have never wanted to be the person that has been proposed to me in therapy and thus I have attended less than 5 sessions about 30 years ago. I couldn’t stand all the crying and feeling sorry for me, referring to me as a victim, etc. It made me so guilty that my life was the cause of so much grief, even to strangers that were being paid to talk about it. I came to the very early conclusion that I would need to trade in or sublimate my strength of spirit, my survival skills, in order to be acceptable to the therapist – so I chose to remain “broken”. Your posts show me an entirely different possibility, how much the mental health arena has grown, how, at least in the UK, there is access to real help. But most of all your posts show the similarities in our journey, yours in treatment, mine completely unassisted. We have reached many similar points over the years, so reading your blog is like a constant reassurance that I have lost nothing by choosing to handle my challenges independently, only that it would be more comfortable and simpler at times to have had the assistance of a good therapist. Either way the journey is the same and all the heavy lifting must be done by ourselves.

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    1. Cat Post author

      You’re spot on, Robyn, the heavy work is completely down to us, and therapy is not the only way. In fact, therapy has only been a tiny winy part of my own therapeutic journey spanning 20 years and more. I’ve spent decades reflecting and in self-therapy and the best of my inner work takes place in front of this computer screen or while I walk the dog. Even if you were in therapy today, I imagine it would be every bit as difficult in between sessions as it would be if you had no therapy at all. Perhaps our sessions are similar to a reference point, like a compass, and the rest of the work happens off screen. Thanks for contributing, Robyn.

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      1. jamborobyn

        I agree with you. Perhaps I should have spoken more plainly. Before following your blog there is no way I would recommend therapy to anyone, based on my experience. After reading your posts it is clear to me that therapy is likely to be a far more efficient approach than going it alone if one has the option.

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        1. Cat Post author

          It feels like the icing on the cake for me, sort of concluded years of searching, but I’m not sure I could have come to the same realisations without it. Thanks Robyn

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  5. Glynis Jolly

    I love what Dr. Stein stated.

    As I read this post, I got the feeling that you’ve come a lot farther than you had anticipated. Is this a good or bad thing?

    You expressed that you had gotten to the point where you didn’t want to deal with others, that interacting and trust were things you just couldn’t take on anymore. Cat, I know what you’re talking about, maybe even exactly although that sounds rather pompous, and I don’t want you taking it that way.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, I seem to have come through an unexpected major shift in the last 2-3 weeks, maybe things are finally clicking into place. It’s a good thing, but a little frightening at the same time.

      Yes, I believe you do understand what it’s like not to wish interaction. It’s a tough one. I’ve always valued my time alone, ever since early childhood, but it has gone to the extreme in recent years.

      Thank you, Glynis

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  6. therabbitholez

    I really appreciated this post, for me it recounts the journey that we take and led us to a point of no return, we think, then it continues to a journey of the person you want to to be, only this time you can you can live without the outside factors not having the same effect.

    By that I mean you are free to shape yourself and not be shaped by others.

    You have worked so hard and overcome some very difficult challenges,I’m seeing the latter part of your journey, but as always it inspires and gives me hope.

    Take care x

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  7. cardamone5

    Dear Cat:

    I am so glad for you that you are beginning to feel hope. So important. What a journey (not one I am sure you want to repeat, but one that makes you the amazing, empathetic person that you are.)

    I am afraid of not sleeping without medication, since this is how my depression manifested when I refused to acknowledge it. I have been able to cut down on meds, but now I am at the point where additional cutdowns will cause me to miss some sleep so I need to be ready for that, and right now, it doesn’t feel like I am. I know from past unsuccessful attempts that mental readiness is imperative.

    Do you take meds for agoraphobia? How will you go about overcoming this fear? Desensitization therapy? Slow cutting down of anxiety meds?

    I do not have comments alert enabled so I will check back to see your reply, or you can e-mail me (cardamonefive@gmail.com.)

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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    1. Cat Post author

      HI Elizabeth,

      Yes, it has been quite a journey, a rather long one, which I just realised the magnitude in therapy today.

      It’s best to wait until we feel ready to reduce any meds. I take too many and have been reducing recently. I take pain med and one for sciatic pain, which is also used for anxiety. I’m reducing my antidepressant and slowly reducing a mood stabiliser.

      At the time, all those meds were my life saver, both for mental and physical pain. I reckon it’s time to let some of that go.

      Thanks Elizabeth

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      1. Dawn D

        I know it may seem crazy to some, but reading this comment made me think of a link I was sent a few days ago by a friend, and of a book I also found again a day ago. So I guess I’ll share the link with you, just so you can have a look, see if anything helps. If you want to go to the point, I would start around page 120 in the book, 140 something in the file I think. I read this last night and it helped me 🙂
        http://realrawfood.com/sites/default/files/book/You%20Can%20Heal%20your%20Life%20-%20Louise%20L.%20Hay.pdf

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        1. Cat Post author

          Oh I just seen it on my PC and realised I actually have this book sitting on my book shelf for many years, just waiting until I was ready to read it and maybe now is the time. Thanks Dawn.

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  8. manyofus1980

    Change can be so difficult. Well done on sticking with it despite everything. You’ve proven you can beat your fears and thrhive! X Private emails always welcome I live with dissociative identity disorder and PTSD. I write a blog chronicling my journey. Visit it at http://manyofus1980.me/ my facebook http://www.facebook.com/shirley.healy1980 Follow me on twitter username is @shirley_healy Please check out my email lists Dissociative talk for people who live with a dissociative disorder dissociativetalk+subscribe@groups.io Blind mental health, for any blind person who also suffers from a mental illness blind-mentalhealth+subscribe@groups.io

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  9. sensuousamberville

    As you finish up this round of therapy it does not mean.. go out into the world and conquer, you have moved through your MBT quite well, you are applying what you have learned admirably Mr. Cat. The changes in you this past year are monumental.

    Is this enough? When this therapy ends? This is when you ask yourself, what is still causing me grief, your agoraphobia as an example can be something you may want to consider a round of CBT for. Now you are applying therapy, and seeing how there are results, you may find you breeze through more of it because now, you have reached the stage where you “want to”.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I think you’re right, Amber. I have been considering CBT next or there is a specialist service for PTSD in London and, as you point out, seeing changes makes future ones much more likely. The service I am with discourages people from going into therapy again within 6mths of finishing this programme. I’m not sure I agree, but maybe need to think of paying privately for a time.

      Cheers Amber 🙂

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  10. New Journey

    You are sounding like your feeling better and your mind is clear….how wonderful….time to take the leap and enjoy, don’t have to leap to far, you can do it from a chair looking out a window……just sit back and let life happen, happy, peaceful and at ease…..it is a wonderful place to be….

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