And here endeth yet another twelve week spell of mental health therapy. The therapist has been well good, because my levels of depression have slipped down from severe clinical depression to mere clinical depression. If I’d been offered this when treatment started, I’d have probably bitten your hand off and if I had done that, to be fair, I’d have found myself sectioned for so doing. But it’s progress, certainly as I know it.
Psychotherapy has come a long way since my career, such as it was, at Brislington School was stunted by two years of therapy for the panic attacks and night terrors which were to lead to everything that followed as life carried on. When I was senior school, things like depression and anxiety simply didn’t exist. A great uncle of mine didn’t suffer from stress and anxiety; he had trouble with his nerves, or simply bad nerves. I had no idea what this meant for many years, until a family member informed me he was was a bit mad. Actually, I had no idea what that meant, either. Not a lot, was the answer. He was tense and anxious.
No one ever told me that I was seeing a child psychiatrist. They certainly didn’t tell me I was mentally ill. If they’d said that, I might’ve gone mad. Instead, I took off every Tuesday afternoon for the best part of two years talking to a very nice man, drawing pictures, kicking a ball about (this is indoors, mind) and ferociously hitting a punchbag. This seemed far more fun than getting equipped with the skills to leave school and get a job.
The panic attacks and night terrors gradually became less and less until one day, around ages 14 or 15, they stopped altogether, forever. If I had known what this stuff meant, I might have celebrated the end of mental ill health. Luckily, I didn’t so premature celebrations were averted.
I’m hoping this series of consultations has a better end result. The last few have all been pretty good in, at the very least, keeping the wolf from the door. The bugger always came back, sometimes years later, but at least there was some respite. When my father died, I underwent bereavement counselling which proved to be more detrimental than helpful. The six weeks of sessions I had referred purely and specifically to the death of my father and nothing else. Now you might ask what the hell I was expecting from bereavement counselling and I would answer much more.
I had been carting around severe depression for years and when my dad died, it got much worse. Quite why I thought that bereavement counselling would make a dent in mental health I have no idea. Instead, after six weeks I went off a metaphorical cliff and returned urgently to ‘proper’ therapy. So the message here is do go to bereavement therapy if you have been bereaved because it works, but if you are already ill, then ask yourself whether you’d be better than seeking out a different kind of treatment.
Anyway, like (seemingly) a million times before, I’m being left now to my own devices. Well, me and a hefty sized pack of anti-depressants. Me, myself and I are attempting once again to find a brighter day. This latest therapy has given me hope that whilst I probably will never get rid of the Black Dog, I’ll be able to manage him better than I have in the past.
I’m coming out of the dark in the next few weeks and months, to try and be more sociable and to try to do more things. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without this round of therapy, nor indeed have realised how isolated and insulated I had become. There is all the potential in the world for this to go wrong again. At least when I am in a relatively good place, sometimes I am able to feel that maybe this time it might go right.
Thanks for reading.