Today represented my penultimate therapy session and the end of (yet) another long road in trying to overcome this bastard Black Dog. If I was a rich and famous TV presenter I doubt that I would have been on an NHS waiting list at all, never mind for this long, but I am not bitter, oh no. Angry at the loss of the best part of a whole year (although not as angry as I am at the people who were so influential in taking me down), I am relieved that this therapist knew her stuff. I’ve been through the dark parts of my life and I am going to have try to make sure I never get dragged down again.
The emerging diagnosis appears to suggest I am suffering merely from clinical depression with added anxiety and not severe clinical depression as was the case a few short months ago. That, I can assure you, represents enormous progress.
This week and next week we are discussing what happens when therapy ends, which is next Tuesday. We have talked about managing the end of therapy and avoiding a cliff-edge because I know how the latter ends and it doesn’t end well. Around 30 years ago, I came out of therapy without the first clue as to what to do next. My therapist at the time had either not suggested how do deal with the end of therapy, or I had not listened. I rather think it was the latter, especially when I plunged straight back into another almighty bout of depression pretty well as I walked out of the door.
We’ve covered everything during our sessions. I have gone back into my deep and sometimes forgotten past, uncovering relatives and friends I had not once thought about in decades. I revisited my very young childhood, or rather the few bits I could remember. Once I was on the boat-train from Liverpool St Station to Harwich/Parkestone Quay which effected huge and strangely moving nostalgia, to the extent that I thought I could actually smell the sea. I went to Rotterdam where my Dutch family lived and died, the lineage all gone except me. I went to Canada a number of times and talked about my dad. All my inglorious professional failure and lack of life achievements took a grim bow, as we rolled back the years. It was utterly exhausting.
You will only know just how exhausting therapy is until you have done it. And it’s especially strange when you have to talk about yourself, which is something I rarely do at work or anywhere else. On numerous occasions, I found myself telling my therapist how I didn’t really like talking about myself, realising instantly how absurd this sounded given that I was the one receiving therapy. She must have thought I was mad. Oh, wait…
Now, it’s onwards and, hopefully, upwards, not that I have the first clue how to do either. This Black Dog malarkey will never go away, which is slightly depressing although bizarrely reassuring at the same time (at least I know where I stand with him). I’m not the best version of me and don’t think I ever will be. It’s more about staying alive, really.