An open letter to my therapist..

Today I had my last therapy with my current therapist. I won’t say what kind of therapy it is I’ve had – as knowing this would have put me off at the start and I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone, because it is worth it – but you are asked to write a letter to your therapist in the final session – and they write one to you too.. you can write anything – even just one line – but we all know I’m a writer…!

I was scared because you read the letters to each other (unless you really just can’t, somehow, through tears I managed it!) the writing wasn’t an issue, as usual. 

As I was writing it though, I thought about how it wasn’t necessarily just personal to him. A lot of it just makes sense. The Time to Change campaign are running a “what do you wish people knew about your mental health problem?” And whilst writing, re-writing, reading, and re-reading what I’d written to my therapist, I thought it fit in quite well.. so here it is.. my own words, to my therapist (with a couple of little bits just added)… but what I want you all to know..

Dear Richard,
Well, as per, I have no idea where to start, or end, or what to say full stop! If I’d have known this was coming I probably would have run a mile (or 26… did I mention I ran a marathon?!) 7 sessions ago! Even my husband came out with the understatement of the year in saying it sounded “scary”!
Writing isn’t really a problem for me… I can – and do – go on for hours! It’s more the speaking/saying it out loud. I don’t know if it’s even that I’m just scared/don’t want to/don’t like to – I just feel quite terrified.. but also perplexed – because at school I quite often wrote and did readings – sometimes with a friend, but also sometimes alone. I had forgotten I had ever even done this until going through boxes of my old school “stuff” recently. It highlighted to me, that at some point I must have had an element of self confidence within me, I guess, to have been able to do that.
I have enjoyed our sessions – and this therapy process in itself.

I don’t know whether “you therapists” (Rachael was the same!) “mimic” your patients – as such – but I always found it amusing/calming/warming how we would find the same things funny and despite my crazy mind we could still share a giggle over how much constant holiday you {never me 😉😂!} get!! It’s the daft little things I guess!!
I am surprised at myself too, because as I got utterly desperate for help in the months prior to me being offered therapy with you – I eliminated male therapists from my search. I am a real girly, girl’s girl and I was convinced I needed a female therapist again. They didn’t tell me when I was initially offered the appointment over the phone that my therapist would be male – it was only when I got the letter that I realised (panicked!) but I then figured that I may as well give you a chance! I am glad I did – proud of myself, if you like! – you gave me an unexpected, different and somewhat calming approach.. despite being male!! However, you, or I, should really write down my “homework” as I often forgot on my return home!
I like {this} therapy. I think it makes sense – I just think the time isn’t enough (or maybe I am just extra complex – I suspect so!) especially just 8 sessions on the NHS, although I appreciate the constraints! I kept meaning to ask you if you worked privately so I could at least get the longer (infinite!!) time I felt/feel I need(ed), but, I don’t think you do. I feel, perhaps, like I have wasted our sessions: they’ve gone so fast and yet I don’t feel like I’ve progressed. That’s not through fault of you though! I don’t know if it’s my “never good enough” talking, or because time has gone so fast, or even just from where I don’t feel as “high” at the moment. I seem to struggle to concentrate, take things in and remember anything whatsoever when my mind strays into that black hole of… literal emptiness!! I’ve felt the same from my CBT sessions – again, not through therapist fault, but just because my mind is a mess, I guess. 
I wasn’t consciously aware of being upset in our second to last session because I knew therapy was coming to an end – but perhaps subconsciously it was playing on my mind more than I realised. I’ve found myself thinking in the last couple of weeks that I just can’t do this “on my own” despite being surrounded by family and friends who love me unconditionally and just wish they could wave a magic wand to “fix” me.
I write down a tonne of thoughts and head to bed, yet everytime I put my head on the pillow, my mind starts spinning with more. It is never ending. How do I break that cycle? I can, sometimes – or at least “after” – identify rational and irrational thoughts. What is ridiculous and what is stupid. I know hurting myself in any way won’t help, and that, despite the feeling of being in control from doing so, that that couldn’t actually be any further from the truth: that by doing so I am letting my negative, irrational mind win. But I just can’t stop the thoughts or stop myself from “playing up to them”.
It feels impossible to change those age old habits – they are older than I am an adult. They feel like me – even though I am also conscious – to an extent – of not wanting to be like this. I feel like a child. I feel constantly like I have regressed. I feel like I need regular (an improvement from constant!) support and help to crack this. I guess I just feel I need a bit of aid and encouragement to get the old brain cogs working!

And I am scared, but, I think, most of all I am scared of how much this all, still, controls me – what I do and who I am, yet I cannot give it up. It is obsessive and a compulsion, and I am petrified of the “what if’s”!! After all – who am I outside of this crazy mind? Who is Karen underneath all these many years and layers of anxiety with depression? Without compulsively under-eating and overexercising, without having something I can “control”? I know what my friends and family – particularly my Mum and Dad – will say. They will say I am kind and caring, loving and loveable, a worshipper of the sun and warmer weather, a girl who lives and loves to travel and explore the world! They’d say I am a fighter and have been since day 1; be it fighting for myself, or for others who I feel have been subject to injustice. 

But what if I am not? What if this kindness and caring and excessive love I give off is actually a result of anxiety and depression? Of how I have been treated? A result of my many layers; because I know. I know what it feels to not be treated kindly, or be cared about or loved; even if my experience of that has come from someone (some people) who really, is (are) nothing to me. And what if I can’t keep fighting?
I feel like a hypocrite, as, just the other week, in light of all the terror attacks, I wrote a brief post about how we cannot and will not lock ourselves away “just in case” of the “what if’s” – and yet, really, here I am, locked away inside my own compulsive little (nasty!) habits, inside of my own head. Ruled by a negative mind.

I stole the quote “what if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?” yet, despite finding myself regularly suggesting/helping/being there for others struggling with their own [mental] health, I cannot completely help myself. And worst of all, I worry. I worry that what if I don’t really want to help myself? What if I don’t really – can’t – loose this controlled/controlling part of me? In which case, why am I even doing any of this?!
It’s *almost* funny- but if someone says something self depreciating/negative/I don’t like/feel is true about me, I won’t stand for it, I’ll fight it and be fuming – and yet I’m negative about and towards myself consistently! Nothing anyone ever says or does or writes to me resonates for long enough to remind myself that I am enough. And even as I read you this letter, and you waited for me to finish, you remembered – somehow – even what I had said right at the start in order to respond. Even I couldn’t have remembered what I had said – and I wrote it – yet I know you responded in a way in which to remind me once more that I am enough, but already I cannot remember how or what you said….
And now, I don’t know where, or how to end this. As appears to be my forte – I’ve gone on for quite a while. I’ve been writing this on and off for the last two weeks, the main bulk of it done immediately after our seventh session so I didn’t forget! I’m not sure if I have said everything I want or need to say, or, as usual, if it is “good enough”, but with less than an hour until our final session, I guess I need to end somewhere.. Although I do have a couple of unexpected pages left, so I expect I will have a “P.S” or two somewhere!!

I’m also unsure how to “sign off”. A “sincerely” feels too formal, and I am also used to signing cards and letters to friends and family with outpourings of “lots of love” etc, but that feels even weirder! So instead, the only option feels to me to be a great big thank you, for your understanding and help, and for making me less “wary” or whatever it is I’ve previously thought or felt towards male therapists.
Karen x

There was, in the end, no P.S. I think I said everything I had to say for now. The only thing I’d like to add to Richard now (though it unlikely he’d ever see it!), is how funny I found it when he accidentally let an “f-bomb” slip.. I can’t even remember what context he used it in – it was definitely appropriate, but beyond unexpected, but being that I constantly feel like I’m swearing unnecessarily (and I hate it!) it certainly made me feel better, and giggle. ☺️😂

x

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