This is a post about therapy. This is the first time I’ve had to breathe today. I have been occupied ALL DAY since I woke. My head aches as though a marching band with hearing loss [who therefore play their instruments LOUD] have taken up residence inside my forehead.
I’m overstimulated and overwhelmed so breathing and calming myself is necessary. Blogging allows me to breath and to mentally escape and float above the white noise of my head. Every post is like a hot air balloon ride with no fixed destination.
I know I’ll land in a random field and become fully grounded at some point but blogging represents my mental escapology so to skip this part of my day is akin to skipping the very natural and necessary art of breathing. Writing sustains me and recharges.
Right now my batteries are flat, I’m exhausted, yet aware that I need to summon up the concentration to meander through my emotions and thoughts before I close my eyes, drift off, and start again tomorrow.
Yesterday was very intense. I had therapy, and therapy days are always the hardest day of my week. Yesterday was a tearful session with lots of skimming over the surface of background suicidal ideation. I tell my therapist everything, but yesterday I said there was too much that I felt to articulate using the simple building blocks otherwise known as words.
Sometimes I resent the effortful-ness of therapy. I wish I could just present my head, cut it open, allow her to peer in, make an assessment, know what’s going on, and for me to not have to go to the cognitive effort of describing everything I feel that is difficult or challenging or good or bad or ugly or puzzling or worrying or whatever. [Substitute any emotional adjective here.] Labelling every feeling thought or intention or response in words misses so much of what happens inside my brain. Some experiences cannot be articulated in words.
Face-to-face therapy is tough. I can easily break down and cry on a telephone call to her, but it is so much harder to break down and be seen to be upset, when I am only sat a few feet away and she can observe and feel and sense every bit of anguish I have in me. I still find it hard to be vulnerable with her, and that is nothing at all about her or her not doing therapy well with me or her having the “wrong” personality. There is nothing wrong about her at all. I have a lot of respect for her and really like her style with me and how she communicates and puts things across. She very rarely pisses me off, and that is good going, because in the past I have had therapists or other mental health professionals who have annoyed or provoked me, virtually in every sentence.
She isn’t like that. She’s really nice!
I really like her. I know we’d get on like a house on fire if only I wasn’t ill! But if I wasn’t ill I wouldn’t be seeing her for therapy (!) so the logic of that is utterly pointless. I do often think therapy would be far easier if I wasn’t poorly, but what a nonsensical thing that is to focus on LOL.
Being properly vulnerable with someone is still tough. I try and cover up my awkwardness by being as articulate and effective at describing my feelings as I possibly can in a rational sense, then the concentration of doing that removes some of the emotional sting of having to feel the actual feelings.
I’ll do anything to avoid the feelings. I’ll make a quip or some flippant light hearted one liner, I’ll be suddenly fascinated with the patterning of the carpet so I can avert my eyes from her. I’ll ask her a pointless question. Anything to detract from the uncomfortableness of the moment where I am sat there and I am hurting very very VERY badly.
I still get suicidal thoughts, even though I am ‘better’/recovering. They are a symptom of unbearable emotion. Suicidal feelings are an automatic response. It hurts too much. But don’t worry, you always have the option of suicide (even though in reality I don’t). I NEVER intend to carry out suicidal actions, but the feelings of desiring suicide linger on.
My ITV news interview went out yesterday. I talked about my first suicide attempt in that. I glossed over the other ones. I was filmed with my family on the beach talking about surviving suicide. I therefore can never ever die of suicide. I have made it so everyone in my community knows my history. Here is the link if you missed it…the full report is the end clip…
I took a ‘no suicide pact’ out with myself the year before last. Suicide is NOT an option. But suicidal feelings are not optional for me, and they are very different to suicidal plans or actions. Suicidal feelings are part of my psyche. They are there because of the damaged bits of me. I cannot remove the damaged bits, so the suicidal ideation lingers on and infiltrates some therapy discussions.
Yesterday was one of those despairing sessions where everything seems wrong and nothing seems right.
But today I see how many things there are that are right, as well as the things that are wrong. I have balance and perspective today.
I had two valuable conversations today with friends on the phone, nurturing people I care about, showing concern and offering up advice and space for them to vent it all out. That makes me feel useful. I felt useful too when I received fantastic messages of support from people who had seen the telly interview and wanted to congratulate me on my bravery. I felt useful when I exercised my dogs on the beach and threw balls to them. I felt useful when I spent time cuddling with and chatting to my kids. I felt useful when I attended the high school parent’s evening and arranged things to ease her transition to her new school environment. I felt useful when national Mind asked me to write something to go in a policy document to be read by politicians and key policy makers.
I do need to feel useful. Feeling useful gives meaning to my life. Contributing to society with my media volunteering and writing makes me feel useful. Being a good friend to my mates makes me feel useful. Being the best parent I can be makes me feel useful.
But when I’m sat in the therapy chair a few feet across from my therapist recounting my feelings and reactions to everything that has been going on lately I feel nothing but undiluted DESPAIR and PANIC that life is as fucking hard as it is.
Today I have balance. I can appreciate life is both fucking hard and fucking beautiful. Life is struggle and triumph, despair and hope, drudgery and escapism, therapy and non-therapy, feeling useful and also simultaneously useless. Life is inspiring and being inspired. It is give and take. It is push and pull – jostling yet also at times wanting to stay exactly where you are. Life is the relief of sinking into the arms of your loved one or hearing your child giggle when they tell a joke. When I am in therapy sometimes I am unable to see or feel anything good, but at home I can enjoy the warmth of a sleeping dog curled up on my lap. I can appreciate coffee and a slab of my favourite chocolate. I can feel alive through the exertion of running 5k in the heat of the sun like I did this morning. I can get a message from a friend and it light up my heart. Life is fucking hard sometimes, there’s no doubt about that, but it is rescued by the kindness of strangers and friends. It is made good by the close family unit who share a home with you and also their hearts. And it is made good by the therapist who sits a few feet across from you and allows you the space to feel uncomfortable with them. For a therapist, uncomfortable is good. Uncomfortable means you are working hard against something you are resisting. They are prepared to sit in the discomfort with you and metaphorically hold you there, telling you what you’re feeling is ok and that they aren’t going to leave or abandon you because you feel what you feel, and that is why I appreciate therapy so much….. I can walk and talk the way through my internal damage, and I can breathe my way through it until the discomfort becomes comfort. I express discomfort. She comforts. It makes the discomfort ok so I can tolerate it a few moments more. We just stay there, and together we breathe, and that is what I’m doing now. I’m breathing, and that is what ensures my survival in all senses of the word.
Blogging is breathing solo, and therapy is breathing with someone sat across from you who is breathing the exact same language. No words are necessary. Therapist and client just learn to breathe together.
[Too tired to edit or proof-read tonight, just clicking publish. My head hurts]