February 11, 2016

Sometimes you can’t see the woods for the trees – you know the sun is shining out there, but you feel as though you’re living in a bubble, completely removed from everyday reality, and the warmth of the sun just can’t quite penetrate the bubble. You may smile and go through all the right motions, but it doesn’t feel quite real (been there).

There may be the odd occasion, or two, where you’d like to run for the hills and leave it all behind (yep been there as well); parenthood, the school run, juggling work and family time with general every day domestics, let alone trying to maintain a relationship with your spouse or partner. I’m tired just thinking about it!!

The majority of us go to the dentist, we get our cars serviced and MOT’d annually and go to the doctors when we need to. We may even go to the gym, osteopath or physiotherapists fairly regularly. What’s so different about going to see someone to talk to, someone impartial to offload all our daily “stuff” to? Someone who is there solely for us?

As The One Show said on Thursday 4th February 2016, just talking to someone can make all the difference…. Mental health problems account for 1 in 5 visits to GP surgeries. Knowing there is someone approachable you can offload to, knowing you’re not alone is so important. Stress in any form, changes so many things within our bodies, let alone our minds. It’s a brave person to acknowledge they need help.

So I ask again…. what makes going to see a therapist who works with what’s going on in our minds (which is after all only a muscle) any different from going to the gym, seeing your GP or having your car serviced?

Stigma…. We ask ourselves what other people would think of us if they knew we were seeing a therapist for our “mental health”. I even thought that myself when I began my psychotherapy training, because it’s compulsory for me to see my therapist weekly for a minimum of forty sessions a year. I remember when I first started going to see my therapist how it made me feel uncomfortable. I have on more than one occasion, whilst driving to my sessions, thought “what am I going to talk about?” but it’s amazing how just opening my mouth and talking to someone impartial, who’s totally unassociated with my life, has been much easier than I thought it would be. Now I look forward to going.

I have to confess that I didn’t tell anyone initially, but then I realised all the good it was doing me, because I could see the small beneficial changes in myself and how I was in my daily life. How it was actually helping me to make sense of certain things in my life and certain behaviour patterns that I had.

Having that one-hour a week where I can blurt out whatever is on my mind or bugging me; having my therapist’s non-judgmental full and undivided attention, to work with me straightening things out that I may not be able to fathom properly myself, or where I just need an impartial person to unload to about things that have happened during the course of the week, is liberating if I’m honest. It’s great and helpful, sometimes we laugh and sometimes it’s sad and I cry as well, and it can be hard work, but it is also cathartic and has been for me, life changing.

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