Ending therapy. Three reasons i am afraid, four ways to overcome my fear.

I have been honest with Chris that I am nervous about ending therapy. But to date I have failed to articulate with any decent effect what it is I am afraid of. After a lovely night chatting with a wonderful friend I think I have cracked what the fear is and as knowledge is power I intend to use this new found knowledge to help spur me on to get through therapy and out the other side with the usual level of gusto I tackle anything in life.

Decide a course and do it! If you doubt your path once you have decided it’s direction you are wasting energy.

So what it is I am afraid of…

Going backwards…

This time last year and in many of the periods before if you had asked me how I was doing I would have said great. And on the surface that was true, life was great, I was blessed with a wonderful little family, a lovely home, a job I loved. I was getting promotions and awards, studying and working hard.

In reality I was doing terribly, every day was a battle that I fort unseen, never getting easier, a constant fight to function and play my part in life. I was becoming a master of well-being techniques, trying meditation, mindfulness, gratitude boards, journaling, exercise. I would throw tool after tool to try and fix something which I knew was broken and all it ever really gave me was a focus beyond the pain. Nothing really changed, sometimes short term they made me feel better, but the fight never faded.

As hard as it was I had just come to see that as the norm. I believed that was as good as life would get. And life was good, I just didn’t enjoy it the way I should. Managing to have the life I did was a gift, i constantly schooled myself that I just had to be grateful to live it, even with its challenges. As long as I managed to crack on with my life, keep all my plates spinning and make everyone happy then why would I define it as anything other than great. I did so value the stark contrast between my life and the childhood I had escaped. I was grateful and happy in many ways, at many times. At least what I thought was happy, I never really got to know the full breadth of what happiness can be like.

Now I have had a taste of what happiness really is. I know just how good life can be. I sleep well (most of the time), I am emerged in an array of emotions all of which are more colourful and consuming. I have these peaceful moments, or pure contentment, or joy like I had never know before.

But this new way of living makes me so afraid of going backwards. I fear I couldn’t operate as well in the place I lived for so long.

If I never knew how good life could be I would never miss it when I lost it. Now I have more to loose. I know how wonderful it is to sleep well through the night, not to be afraid to shut my eyes. I don’t find myself fighting overwhelming feelings as often and when I do, I find I can work through them and try to understand them. Frankly I just never experienced life in this way and I love it!

Becoming Dependant…

I also worry that I will become dependant on therapy. Chris asked what that meant or what the worst case scenario was. I couldn’t really answer. Having reflected on it I don’t really know what being dependant on someone or something is like. I don’t recall a time I was truly dependant on anyone. So guessing what it is like when you loose something you are dependant on is hard. I know dependence is not a good thing.

Perhaps that should be reassurance enough that it’s not going to happen. That be it 9 sessions or 90 I am unlikely to ever get to the end and find myself with the rug pulled out from under me. It’s only a rug right, I just use my legs to jump off! One of my favourite quotes is a great example of not worrying about what is there, but trusting yourself… A bird never depends upon the branch she stands, she depends upon on her wings.

If I really pushed myself to think what dependancy looks like from a therapy perspective, perhaps people feel unable to make decisions alone, maybe they grow anxious about the fact they won’t have that contact, to the point the anxiety impacts their day to day, maybe their symptoms get worse not because the underlying cause is unmanaged but because a support was removed. Ultimately the worst case for me is I go backwards. (I always had a thing about not going backwards).

Taking off the stabilisers…

This was the genius of my friend. “You are just nervous about someone letting go of the back of the bike. Every kid fears that but they do fine.” (Note: I can’t actually ride a bike!)

One of the key acknowledgments I have made is when I have longer breaks between sessions my symptoms creep back up on me. It is like if I don’t have that scheduled release the pressure starts to build again. So I must find a way to keep the pressure off.

For me it is like I am testing letting go of the bike and what I know is eventually I fall. What I need to acknowledge though is I never fall as hard as did in the past and my recovery is much quicker.

So what can I do about it?

Find a release…

Finding that release feels hard, I know I write to you my wonderful little community who pick through my mindless ramblings and always hold a kind ear. Some how though I need something else. I think there are two things I get in therapy which I fail to find here between these words. One is a focused effort to tackle the hard stuff. I think I could recreate that. I could even push myself beyond the limits of my therapy. It wouldn’t be easy but I could schedule subjects for review or consideration.

I think the other is that sense of acknowledgement. Having another human being look you in the eye and recognise the path you have walked for all its spiky muddy turns.

That later part I struggle with more. I know my loved ones and friends don’t want to hear it. And I understand why. Honestly a great part of me still doesn’t want to share it, the words still feel awkward, shameful and stuck at times. I mean when I am out enjoying a few beers I don’t want to drag anyone to that dark place.

I do speak more to Stephen now but that is often within the structure of therapy, we sort of review the sessions and I sign post homework. Perhaps I could start to talk to him more fluidly.

Solidify my learnings…

I think there is something I can do to try and bed in my learnings. I am thinking of trying to pull together all of the blogs I have written into a single source and capture the key learnings to take forward. Perhaps I will even use it as a trail of self publishing. Reviewing and condensing the logic but also acknowledging the journey feels like a beneficial move.

Accept going backwards won’t be the end of the world…

I need to accept that at some point I will likely slip backwards a little. Nothing in life is as easy as a smooth upward trend. With so many aspects of life the saying two steps forward one step back is true.

I need to accept that things at some point may get a little ropey. If they do I am sure I can put in place the measures and tools to drive myself forward again.

Audit

Part of the worry is that I won’t notice a decline. I accepted my reality so willingly previously and I know gradual change is harder to recognise. My solution a monthly audit. I will try and shape a regular assessment of my well being. Some initial thoughts for measures below. I might even ask Chris for a copy of those dreaded assessments I avoid doing with him to see if there are any obvious questions which are relevant and worth taking forward.

  • Have you slept through the night more in the last month than been woken up by nightmares or anxiety?
  • Have you found yourself afraid to sleep in the last month?
  • Are you jumpy when people walk in the room?
  • Has there been a run of consecutive bad nights sleep 3+?
  • How have you been eating?
  • Have you thought about self harm?
  • Have you sustained your hobbies?
  • Have you meet up with a friend?
  • Have you felt comfortable with Stephen?
  • Have you held your boundaries?

So am I really that worried…

Probably not. I know logically worrying does not help. What helps is considering the cause, tackling it with clear actions, then you have to let it go. What the world has in store beyond the limits of your control, is out of your control. And that space deserves little focus.

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