In my last blog post I said I wasn’t feeling great, so with some of the last bits of my sanity I managed to call, get a doctor’s appointment and tell a health professional how I feel.
However, there is a problem I face, whenever I try and tell someone how I genuinely feel when I’m ill, I start crying.
I hate people seeing me cry.
I don’t do it often or lightly but whenever I have to actually confront feeling ill instead of just saying ‘I’m fine’ the tears come out.
Through tears I told a nurse how I was feeling and she booked me a telephone appointment with a doctor.
I cried throughout the telephone appointment the next day and got a number for some therapy and advised that it is quicker to self-refer in this case.
The doctor also offered to sign me off sick if I needed it and is sending a referral to a consultant psychiatrist.
I then cried to a stranger who assesses you and books you a therapist and then finally a week later (which in mental health time-lines is extremely fast) I had my first appointment with a therapist.
Naturally I cried for an hour straight while we discussed what issues I had and how we should tackle them over the next 6 sessions.
Six sessions, that is all you tend to get.
In a strange twist of common sense – something I haven’t experienced a lot of in over ten years of being ill – you can actually have more than six sessions if your therapist decides that you need them.
I feel spoilt: a week turn-around and unlimited therapy sessions.
This is the thing of dreams. This is the way a mental health service should work.
Sadly it is a rarity and often you wait months and months for a referral to any sort of help. My referral to see the consultant, I know, will take months but therapy in the meantime within a week is the stuff of dreams.
My First Therapy Session
In it, as I already have said, I cried for the entire hour. Many snotty tissues later and we had decided that there were three main problems I am facing at the moment.
- My grief and having no time to deal with it
- My anxiety and its impact on my day to day life
- Finding coping mechanisms to deal with the depression side of my bipolar
This seems like a short list to come out with after an hour but believe me it was a tough hour.
Therapy sessions for me are a time where a stranger takes you apart and removes all the defence and coping mechanisms you have been using and gets to the root of the problem.
The problem is that in the process you are left feeling raw, exposed, exhausted and to be honest destroyed.
They really do knock you down and then build you back up.
The problem is the knocking down is mentally painful.
From my past experiences of therapy and from this one this week, therapy is something I hate but recommend highly.
It leaves you exhausted and sad but eventually you begin to get better.
Coping at Work
To be honest I’m not.
One day this week I was lying in bed feeling like the walls were closing in on me and the only thing I had left inside my head was this one prayer.
Please, God, give me the strength to put on my socks.
It’s a throw-back to some CBT sessions I had years ago.
I couldn’t face the enormity of going to work but what I might have been able to do at this instant if some higher deity deemed it time to give me some strength was put on my socks.
My mind felt like it was on fire, but after 45 minutes I managed to put on the socks.
The next task was getting dressed.
The next task was leaving the house.
Then walking to the bus stop.
All the time my mind was in so much pain, my anxiety was going at full pelt and everything was screaming at me to go back to the house and get back in bed and call in sick.
CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) teaches you to break cycles of thought and to learn new coping mechanisms.
I haven’t had a CBT in years but somehow the idea of breaking a bigger impossible task into small chunks stuck with me and slowly and painfully I made it to work that day.
While I was there people noted that I wasn’t myself and I was quieter but I didn’t care. I felt like a warrior. That day I had won. I had won against my own mind and got into work and managed to function in a semi normal way.
I had to count down every minute until it was home time and I had to push myself beyond my normal capacity but I did it.
You could say that that means I should be able to cope every day at work. All I have to do is break it down into small chunks.
However it doesn’t work like that with a mental health problem.
Some days like that day there was a miracle. There is a last sliver of strength to push me through.
Other days I’m not so lucky and I stay in bed with the walls closing in.
What’s the point?
Usually I like to end a post with a message.
I guess I still want to.
My point in this post is that therapy works.
CBT can reach across the years and remind you how to get out of bed
Talking therapies can help you de-tangle a twisted ball of pain.
If you can get it, and sadly it is a major if, then therapy works.
I highly recommend it, but I will say the process itself is horrible.
It’s torture, mentally pulling yourself apart in order to put yourself together again, but in reality it is no different to how body builders or anyone at the gym creates a healthier version of themselves.
You have to pull things apart and get that ache from the process before you become a healthier more balanced version of yourself.