My last session of therapy

September 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm 9 comments

It was my last session of therapy yesterday. It was kind of sad to go, but these last few sessions have been slowly edging towards chat. So it’s the right time to go. I don’t feel like I need it any more and I know my therapist doesn’t. The sessions were limited to a specific number (though this was increased after we got to 8 sessions without getting anywhere) so it kind of worked out well.

With CAT, you write a letter to your therapist and your therapist does the same, as something to remember each other by and to write down any final thoughts and feelings you want to share. To make it into more of a conclusion, I guess. So she wrote me a letter and I wrote her one. I’ll include my letter to her at the end of this post.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember how last year was for me. I’m so much better now and part of that is medication, but a lot of it’s therapy. You’ll also remember how sceptical I was about the idea that therapy could help. But it did help, more than I could ever have imagined.

Sad as it was saying goodbye, there was also a happy side to it. For me, it kind of felt like graduating. My whole life’s ahead of me and with the tools my therapist has helped me develop I can manage my emotions and deal with the difficult situations and feelings that are out there in my future. And I’m a pretty unequivocal success for my therapist. She mentioned that it felt different to the last session with most of her clients. There was no “Are they going to be OK? How much have I helped?” feelings. I guess most people get into the therapy because they want to help people, so it must be awesome to see someone go from closed-off, depressed and unable to function, to confident, relaxed and working towards regaining the rest of his life.

I’m going to miss her.

There’s going to be a 3 month follow-up in 3 months, which she may or may not be at. It would be nice to see her if she’s able to do it. Anyhow, here’s the letter I gave her:

Dear Sonya,

My first appointment with you was way back on January 16th. I’m writing this exactly eight months later, the day before our last appointment. Things have changed so much in that time. Back then I was feeling like this:

“But my experience of life today has been mostly suicidal. Not the big, loud, exciting kind of suicidal, but the quiet “this is all pointless and I want to die” kind, with maybe a shade of “hey, you have a rope here right now so why wait?”. Not so much of that last bit as to make me feel that itโ€™s a realistic possibility in the near future, but enough to make me wonder if cutting would make me feel better.”

It’s kind of weird reading my old blog posts about therapy. After our first session I wrote that: “At the end, we went through a little debriefing session where I was asked how I felt about what weโ€™d talked about. I actually find it hard to imagine how talking about anything would make me feel bad. Itโ€™s just words and memories after all.”

I didn’t know back then that this would become one of the big obstacles we had to get past. Really, it’s central. The only way I knew how to deal with my emotions was to keep them as far away from me as possible. Therapy gave me a safe place where I could edge towards feeling things again and begin to learn how to manage those feelings without being overwhelmed by them. It’s about feeling OK about not feeling OK. I can feel OK about (for example) feeling hurt and betrayed, because I’m much more confident that I can manage those feelings and that they won’t result in terrible things happening. It still, well, hurts, but it’s not scary to feel that way now, or at least it’s a lot less scary.

Therapy didn’t make me better – it gave me the tools and support that I needed to do that for myself. And I am feeling much better now. Looking through my blog I see that recently I’m mostly been talking about things I’m doing and thoughts and behaviours I have used or will use deal with difficult situations and feelings. So I’m writing about going to London to see my neurologist or to get an MRI scan. And I’m writing about feeling in control of my finances and how I’ve set up a budget to keep track of them. I’ve written down my thoughts about how I can cope with being around my father at Christmas. A post from a couple of days ago talks about how I coped with difficult feelings that came up when I was going through some of my old stuff and found some things my ex-girlfriend had given me.

And here I am, thinking about my future. Until a few months ago, I never thought I’d have a future. And now that I can cope with things and manage my feelings, I think I can make it into a pretty great future.

So, thank you. You’ve changed my life. And you’ve given me the ability to change my life into whatever I decide that I want it to be. I’m going to miss you. But I don’t think there could be a better way to move on from therapy than this, with hope, optimism and confidence.

Sincerely,
James.

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Entry filed under: Docs and Shrinks. Tags: .

It’s fun to get yourself an M.R.I. Plans

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rose  |  September 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Congratulations. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 2. experimental chimp  |  September 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 3. Cellar_Door  |  September 18, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like a huge achievement. Bet she will treasure that letter…

  • 4. Gabriel...  |  September 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    “Iโ€™m so much better now and part of that is medication, but a lot of itโ€™s therapy.”

    You’re dry at night mostly because of your roof, but without the foundation you’d be camping.

    I’m really blown away by how far you’ve come with treating the disease… the teeth, the medications, the sleep stuff, the getting out to volunteer, putting yourself into safe social situations, quitting smoking, getting into your finances, the new blog… who’s the Man? Holy crap James, turns out you’re the Man.

    Way to go James. Way. To. Go.

  • 5. aikaterine  |  September 19, 2008 at 12:15 am

    It’s hard work. I am impressed, but not surprised, that you made it through. You have always come across as someone who was strong enough to make his life what he wanted it to be.

    Keep it up.

  • 6. AudaciousAria  |  September 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Well done, Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 7. experimental chimp  |  September 19, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Wow. Thanks everyone!

  • 8. adifferentvoice  |  September 19, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Me, too. Same as everyoine else. Congratulations. Awesome progress. Great letter too, The future is bright … ๐Ÿ™‚

    Margaret

  • 9. Mental Nurse · This Week in Mentalists (47)  |  September 19, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    […] Chimp is finishing therapy. Therapy didnโ€™t make me better – it gave me the tools and support that I needed to do that for […]

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?

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Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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