My Experiences with Therapy

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Wow, look at that deep shot. I was waiting to post this for another week, but seems as it's Mental Health Awareness Week I thought it was only fitting to publish this now. 

Like many bloggers I have always been honest with my experiences of mental health because I think it's very important to talk about it and tackle that stigma. That being said I have never actually written a post about my anxiety as a whole and where it came from etc. I don't know why this is, I was planning to do a photoset about it but I think because I am in a pretty good mind-frame with regards to my mental health now, I don't really want to delve back into that rabbit hole to be honest, maybe later. I have written a post about how Christmas effects my anxiety when I was doing Blogmas so you can go give that a read if you want? I just want to add a disclaimer before we begin as well that these are my own, personal experiences with therapy. Mental health is subjective and therefore should be treated differently with each person, that's my personal philosophy anyway I don't think many doctors would agree with me however; yeah, when you're reading this don't apply it to your own mental health and if you think you need therapy don't take my experiences as an example of the experience you will have, yeah? Shall we begin?

I'm going to be talking about two types of therapy I have experienced and how they compare to each other, again just reiterating these are my own experiences and both completely different types of therapy that work in completely different ways. In December 2015 my anxiety reached an all time high, I was miserable, I couldn't go outside much and would only talk to my very close friends and Gareth. I found it very difficult planning things because I just didn't want to leave the house, there were many times I almost didn't go and see Gareth at Uni because the train journeys frightened me so much and when I did have to get on the train I was guaranteed to have a panic attack. During this period I was also having some problems at my Uni house with conflict and things (we won't go into that). Basically I was having a bit of a shit time, I had mild agoraphobia and was terrified of going off my to-do list, I went to a doctor and they told me I needed to be on citalopram and because I studied psychology I new the effects of this drug and what it was used for (it shouldn't have been given to me in my position) good ol' doctors eh! I went home and did some research and found that I would be able to join a long ol' waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in my local area and it would be free, hurrah! 

CBT was interesting, I had been learning about it in Uni for a while so actually experiencing it was quite bizarre but it put me in a good position because I went in knowing what was in store. My therapist was wonderful and they were so supportive with my strange anxious mind. I got 8 sessions, one a week and through those sessions we worked through the route to my anxiety and then began exposure therapy. The thing is with CBT it requires a lot of work, homework for your brain basically, I was given a lot of sheets that I had to work through each session and I actually really enjoyed it because it allowed me to see me grow and the difference in mood and behaviour and from a psych student's point of view that's so interesting to see yourself all laid out like that. Exposure therapy is a specific form of therapy when a person's anxiety revolves around a particular thing. So with me it was trains and public places, so every week I would have to go and sit in the train station for an hour and just 'be'. I wasn't allowed to bring my sketchbook or headphones, I just had to be in the moment and that scared me at first but then I just found it boring. Boring is good, boring is amazing because you're not anxious when you're bored, you are lethargic, relaxed. I would much rather be bored than anxious any day! I also had to go into my Uni canteen and sit on my own for 20 mins every week, which was hell on earth I hated it. But I did it a few times and then we decided to scrap it because it was making me really un-comfortable, see therapists do actually listen to you! I also had to do some other tasks such as; go to the hairdressers, get in a taxi, take the bus to town which I competed eventually. The thing is with CBT is that you're only allowed 8 sessions and these things normally take longer than 8 sessions to get over but in their defence they do give you loads of workbooks and resources to work through afterwards which were really helpful. All in all I had a good experience with CBT and I think it definitely helped me overcome the beginnings of agoraphobia and made me think differently about my anxiety, although it didn't really tackle my generalised anxiety about nothing in particular. A lot of psychologists slate CBT for being counter productive because you are left to your own devices a lot and just having 8 sessions but I think if you're willing to make a difference to your mental health it will work for you, but you do have to put the work in. 

I now attend talking therapy every 2 weeks and this is completely different to CBT. It's a very stereotypical setup, the two chairs facing eachother, the table with the tissues on, the plant in the corner. My therapist's so nice though and we just talk about life really, I found it very difficult at first opening up to them about things but now it kind of comes naturally, there are still a few awkward moments where I really don't want to talk about something but they do quickly change the subject. Talking therapy is very different to CBT because it's kind of all on you, with CBT the therapist tends to tell you about things and how to fill this sheet in and what you're going to do during the week. Talking therapy is more one sided and personal and that can scare some people away but you soon feel comfortable. I also get exercises to do at this therapy which are sooo different to CBT it's un-believable, I love them though because they are so creative. Last week for example I was told to draw something with my left hand and also to sing my chakras every morning, my therapist is a bit of a hippy and I love it! I can't say how much this kind of therapy has helped me yet because I have only had about 4 sessions but I am interested into whether it causes me to become enlightened and have a huge self discovery, we'll just have to see! If it helps me sleep better at night that would be great. 

 So that's my journey with therapy, it's not very big but I think it's enough to talk about and as I said before I think it's very important to talk about these things on a normal level. I have had an all round positive experience with therapy and after my experiences with it I believe that everyone should have therapy, even just giving it a go. Human beans are naturally flawed and anxious and talking to someone you don't know or never will know again about even the most mundane issues is so cathartic, honestly it's bloody great. 

I would love to hear your experiences with therapy if you have had any or just if you are interested about what it entails, I hope this has maybe helped explain it a little more personally. 
Brb just going to sing my chakras. 

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