Just over five years ago I was feeling very emotional and recalling many things from my childhood that I was really struggling to deal with. I mentioned these issues when I went to visit my consultant at an outpatient appointment. He felt that I may benefit from some therapy. As I was worried my low mood would turn to depression, I agreed to this.
At first my appointment I felt as though I had so much to offload and so many issues that I hoped I would learn to deal with. After listening to me for quite some time the therapist showed me a drawing of circles that linked together and in each one it showed my feelings and emotions and demonstrated just how I was really feeling. She explained to me how we would be looking at ways in which we could change this diagram.
"I needed to stop being a perfectionist and my therapist helped me to realise that no one is perfect."
I never thought much about that drawing after that as I just wanted to talk through everything I had been through. I suppose I just had an overwhelming desire to get everything out there. From that first visit I felt a wave of relief that someone was actually there to listen to me, that wasn’t connected to my family and would therefore not be opinionated. My therapist also made a point of mentioning that as I struggled with goodbyes, I needed to be aware that one day my therapy would end.
I found that each week I actually looked forward to my session. The one thing I found that was really holding me back in life was the constant guilt I felt towards my mother. There was absolutely no reason as I was always there for her, but I just felt I had to do things she requested immediately. I also felt a little resentment as I was trying to come to terms with my childhood and the domestic violence that my mum had suffered. There were things I needed to say to my mum in a calm manner and my therapist suggested that I may want to write her a letter. Whenever, I was given a task to do at home I always did this as I knew this was in my best interest and a step forward in my healing.
When I visited my therapist the following week, she was delighted to learn that instead of writing a letter I had actually spoken to my mum and the outcome had been so positive. This was a real breakthrough for me.
Learning that 'good' is just fine
As the weeks went by, I could see so many changes in myself. I was becoming more accepting of me and my life. I needed to stop being a perfectionist and my therapist helped me to realise that no one is perfect and to remind myself that ‘good enough’ is acceptable. I still remind myself of that today and it has made such a huge impact in my life.
- See also: Acceptance and commitment therapy: ‘How to find – and live – your personal values’
- See also: NHS trials art, dance, and music therapy for largest study of its kind
I found that the weeks flew by and all too soon it was the last session. I was quite taken aback when my therapist asked about the guilt I carried regarding my mum. I honestly could not even remember saying that. It was time to reflect and I was quite shocked to see that this had been my biggest issue on day one. I could not believe how far I had come. We looked again at the diagram drawn on that first day and very soon I realised just how it had literally gone full circle. All those negative thoughts and feelings of having a hard life had been replaced by positivity and I could see very clearly how my wonderful family were there for me and filling the void in my life.
I would say therapy is hard work and you must be prepared to put the effort in. There will be times when you feel as though you are on an emotional rollercoaster, but you will get there. It is important to stick in and work hard on yourself as I did. I recall thanking my therapist for the changes I had made but as she said it was me who had made those changes.
What worked for you? Let us know using #MHTchat. We'll be discussing live on Twitter at 12pm UK time on Wednesday 27 November 2019.