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I know you too well

Comments Off on I know you too well 05 June 2018

I know you too well

I don’t know if anyone in the NHS keeps records on these things but at a guess today’s mental health therapist was somewhere around the twentieth I have seen over a lifetime of mental health issues. In case you’re interested, it seemed to go very well.

The main difference between the therapists of my childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and now in old age (almost) is that they are getting younger. I don’t remember my first head doctor, although it was a man. As I was 12 years old at the time, it is not altogether I don’t remember much else. That could be down to the fact that my dear old mother didn’t actually tell me until many years later that I was actually seeing a psychiatrist at all. Perhaps, she didn’t want to worry me unduly? Either way, it never explained why I spent something like two years chatting to this bloke, punching a punchbag, kicking a ball around his office and painting very bad pictures.

That “cured” me of my night terrors and panic attacks, although it took the best part of a decade to discover that it had not touched the depression and anxiety that, by then, had firmly ingrained itself into my psyche.

The worst time was in my late twenties when I ended up in Southmead, almost but not quite as an inpatient. Mere doctors weren’t enough for me and whilst the funny farm, as my friends kindly described it, might have been more appropriate, Mr Steve X (I am not concealing his surname: I just can’t remember it) gave me extensive psychotherapy over quite a long time and put me on various pills, the first of which meant I could not even get out of bed. I’d mistakenly thought that only depression would confine me to bed, as it did many times, but here were some drugs – tranquillisers was what my GP called them: thanks for that – that made my entire body feel like lead and my brain turn into mush. (No jokes at the back, thank you very much, suggesting things never got better.)

And so it went on. A constant, underlying depression, mixed with various levels of anxiety, followed eventually, after some years, a breakdown of sorts.

Skipping a few more breakdowns and depressive episodes, few of which appeared to have any direct causes or explanations, 2011 came along and my dad died. I had not always been especially close to my dad but in his later life, I discovered who and what he was and finally I had the father I never thought I wanted, now I very much did. And then he died. I had only cried once when my mum died – that was only when I rang her brother who did not give a toss and said as much – and I had not expected to be as desperately upset as I was. It’s often the unexpected that shocks you and this was no different.

When Anthony Johansen took his leave, I was suddenly the last man standing and I descended into depression. More therapy, including CBT, and whilst I wasn’t completely better – I doubt that this will ever happen – I was better enough. Quitting my long time job, financially concerns eased, I did a few jobs until I found my niche at the British Red Cross. And then it went wrong as I was bullied and abused by my line manager and by various other British Red Cross managers in varying amounts. I had a proper breakdown in the spring of last year and it has taken until now to get any kind of therapy. And today it started, at last.

At the end of today’s session, my new therapist asked how I felt. “Exhausted”, was my honest reply. Therapy always makes me feel this way and I even had to stop the car on the way home because I was worried I might fall asleep.

I have had so much therapy and counselling over the years, I’m hoping this doesn’t end the same way as all the rest. This therapist really impressed me, though, cutting through the crap at an early stage, giving me hope that this just might be better. But I’m not getting complacent. This bastard black dog will always try to bite you when you aren’t paying attention. I know him too well.

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