Last week, I was discharged from therapy and it was an intense thing to process. Having the support I was used to getting, being taken away from me was frightening, even though I was ready for that. And perhaps the discussion of relapsing contributed to the nerves I felt, as this fear in my head of going back to that place was confirmed as a possibility.
What is therapy?
There is a huge variety of different approaches to therapy available and the aim of therapy is to treat a psychological disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular forms of therapy and is one of the most effective. It can be used to treat a wide range of problems, such as, anxiety, depression, OCD and bulimia. There is a misconception that you go to the therapist’s office, sit in the chair and cry about your problems but it’s vastly different from that. In CBT, you are focusing on changing your thoughts by recognising the beliefs you hold deep down and you learn to change the way you react. In therapy, you become armed with coping mechanisms, knowledge and self-confidence to face your fears and defeat your disorder(s). There are CBT books available, if you would rather work through this alone or are looking for a cheaper option. Check out this helpful book here.
My Experiences with Therapy
I have tried therapy twice in my life, with the first therapist not being a good fit for me. With therapists you may find that you have to look about until you find one that you are comfortable with and this is completely normal. The second time I tried therapy, I went to a private psychiatric hospital as this was guaranteed to be treatment of a great quality, although this meant it was more expensive.
I began therapy when I was very unwell, my mental health was so poor that I became physically ill, and I ended therapy in a much better place. Therapy has without a doubt been a great contributor to my recovery. If I had never got to the root of why I feel anxious in certain situations, then I could never have reduced – or completely eliminated in some cases – my anxiety. I learnt a great deal about anxiety, depression and coping mechanisms during my time in therapy and I am extremely grateful for that.
The Price of Therapy
Luckily, my private health insurance allows me sessions with me only needing to pay the excess, however, I am limited to the amount of money that can be spent. If money was no object, I would continue with therapy regardless of whether I really needed it because it is so beneficial. But if I did find I was suffering, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for it myself, as you cannot put a price on health. You can get therapy for free on the NHS, if your doctor decides it will be beneficial for you but there is a very long waiting list.
The Possibility of Relapsing
Falling down the deep dark hole of depression again would be heartbreaking, but constantly living in fear of this happening is no way to live. Additionally, excessively worrying will only increase the likelihood of a relapse so as hard as it is, use your coping mechanisms and stop thinking about it. Life brings challenges, highs and lows and maybe one day something will trigger me again. However, if I were to become consumed with depression, this time I will know that it is possible to get out of that state, as I have done it before.
Decreasing the Chance of Relapsing
If you don’t want to relapse you have to stay mentally healthy – even if you think you are cured. For example, if meditating and exercising helped you when you were ill, then don’t quit because you are feeling better momentarily. It can be so easy to slip back into being overworked, stressed and busy but you need to take time for yourself because you will burn out if you don’t. If you have a bad few days, don’t ignore it, respond to it by taking extra good care of yourself because if you don’t it’ll get worse. Listen to your body when it whispers and you won’t have to hear it scream.
Should you return to therapy if you are fine?
I would recommend therapy for everyone! There’s a common misconception that you have to be crazy to spend time exploring your mind but it’s worthwhile for everyone. In fact, my therapist said you get the best results with therapy when you’re in a good mental state and it can prevent relapse. Starting therapy with a healthy mind will also allow you to explore your beliefs, feelings and thoughts without any hesitation to delve into deep-rooted issues. If you start therapy when you are in the midst of mental chaos, it will be obviously useful, but the sessions are spent trying to pull you out of the darkness. As I can get a block of therapy sessions per year, I will return to therapy next year whether I need it (if I’m struggling) or not.
“What are you doing tomorrow?”
Whenever I mentioned therapy in passing, people would be a little taken aback and reply awkwardly but I have never been embarrassed of it. From watching TV and movies, I have always viewed therapy as very interesting and enlightening – something that I would not be opposed to trying, which makes the negative reactions of others seem strange to me. The stigma surrounding therapy is rather harmful; my friend refused to go to a therapist as he didn’t want to “sit and talk about his problems”, even though he would’ve benefited greatly from it. Therapy should not be such a taboo subject – in the UK a more stoic approach to life is preferred but our mental health is more important than saving face.
I hope that you if you previously hadn’t considered therapy, that you are now more open to it. Whilst it is true that most people only try therapy once they go through a tough time, therapy will be helpful for anybody and I’m sure if we took mental health more seriously that everyone would be going. It is a great way to look after yourself and prevent relapse!