I thought I’d make an appearance on my blog seen as though I haven’t been very active. We are currently in week 5 of lockdown and the last 5 weeks have been a real mix of emotions. To be fair so have any 5-week period in my life so things are not much different in that respect.
Although most therapists are not as open about their mental health as I am, for example writing such blogs, my Facebook page and also my autobiography ‘King of The World’. But that said I feel my journey to date has made me into the therapist that I am today which sadly isn’t a one size fits all and doesn’t always result in people’s lives changing immediately and intensively as I so desire for them. I’ve tried to make a living from my biggest weakness – my sensitivity.
But putting that to one side for now I’d like to share a little about me and where I am at. I’ve had around 3 days of feeling quite low in mood, I have felt a lot of guilt and regret mainly for the actions in the summer of 2012 when I became seriously manic and hospitalised.
I also critique every thought I have and if there are any which do not put everyone above me and that I have a thought that puts someone down then I tell myself that I’m a bad person. I also looked into the past where I have made a handful of bad choices. Again, my worst fear is that I’m a bad person and when I’m not on good form that’s what I think I am.
In addition to that I feel as though people do not want to be around me and that I’m left out of things with family and friends, that said, with lockdown those feelings haven’t risen as much but over the last 3 days they have been significantly present (people have started to do more). For example, my brother and sister went out walking with their families and I took it really to heart that they had not included me when the reality may have been that they just didn’t think or any other reason which could be the case. And yes, the truth could be that they didn’t want me there.
So why am I moaning on about all these seemingly small things? Some would call them pathetic. Clients come to me and feel as though their concerns are not valid because they’re not suicidal or not in hospital but I just want to make the point that seemingly small things can have a significant impact upon your mental health. My first suicide attempt was built entirely on these small things.
I’ve felt pretty crappy over the last few days but have not spoken about this because people try to make you feel better by saying, “it’s not true, you’re so loved and everyone wants you there.’’ Or “but think of all the good things in your life’’ Sadly that doesn’t work (as much as the person wished it would who said it). Instead what happens is the person withdraws and feels guilty for opening up about their problem. And this is where the problem lies in society and why I believe there are a significant number of suicides. People end up feeling guilty for feeling bad and think “gosh, I’m so lucky and I feel so rubbish. I must be a really bad person.’’ Then they go away with these awful feelings and they become deeper and more consistent.
So, what is the alternative, well that is a very good question. I firstly acknowledge that they have a problem and that the issue they have is warranted and that they are not ungrateful for feeling that way. I try to portray that it’s understandable that they may feel this way in the world and from there look for reasons as to why they may feel that way about themselves. Maybe looking for evidence to suggest that they are unpopular or look for an alternative view to have about themselves. This is incredibly hard at first and takes a lot of time and work depending on how negative they feel. The truth maybe of course that they are unpopular and then that opens up a whole avenue of exploration. Hint, it may not be for the reasons they thought.
From there, in the past, I’ve looked at reasons as to why they may feel like this and where has it come from, were they left out of things at school or not felt part of the group for example. All this amongst other things has the aim of building trust with the client and to make them feel as though they have a voice and that their issue is valid.
All these approaches have the same ambition of the quotes I made earlier about what people say like “but look what you do have”. I too have a great deal of interest and desire in helping this person but it’s just done in a slightly different way and a way which I endeavour does not discredit the client nor make them feel as though they are a drain on my resources. That said there is a real place for feelings of gratitude and when I am well I practice this hourly some days with amazing results but I just want to say that there is a time and a place for this.
All this is only my take on things following my experiences as a client and therapist, below is a diagram of some of my processes;
And now, as I have put one foot out of the small hole I was in that I can see life again, this is the time when I do my writing, when I get the relief that there is a world out there for me and not that I’m just a drain on my friends, family and society.
I can breate the good air again and I can see the truth that
I’m not a bad person and in general people do want me around. Just not all the time (but I can’t blame
them). And when I’m feeling even better I
can sit with that and accept that fact and still feel good – that my friends is
my power coming into play.