Friday was a big day for me. In fact it was a day that had me worried all last week. Why? I was being “let loose”. My Clinical Psychologist (CP) got a new job and decided that I was ready to be let loose on my own.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a phased ending, she didn’t just punt me out. We decided a couple of months ago that I would just have three more sessions with her. We’d build up Mood Management Plan and then I’d leave.
Honestly I was terrified about this. I felt like my support network that we had built up was crumbling around me (my best friend is moving away and so are my in-laws so I was having a freak out). I felt like that big safety net that was waiting to catch me was getting threadbare…would it hold my weight?
So I arrived in the room and promptly burst into tears. Once that was over with we started to reflect upon my progress. I was sent to her to deal with my mood and to work on accepting my life with M.E. Had we achieved what we set out to do?
I looked at myself and realised that I am no longer in the horribly dark place I was a year ago. I no longer sleep because of depression, I sleep because of M.E. I can differentiate the two now. I have a better control of my thoughts, and those thoughts in themselves are generally less dark than they were. I am happier than I was a year ago.
I realised that I understand myself more. I understand how my brain works. I realise that I am scared of change, my default reaction to change is to panic. I am more aware of my thoughts and feelings. I’m learning to address those thoughts and feelings, not just shut them out and hope they go away. I have also learned to accept help (that was a big one for me).
Of course none of this has come naturally to me. I’ve had to work on it (which in itself is exhausting), and I imagine I will have to work on it for a long time to come. The thing is I now have the tools to do it. I know that I have to break tasks down into manageable tasks if I want to get anything done…and I can never exceed the 50% rule (think what you want to achieve and then do half of it). This alone has meant that I have managed to achieve things, small things but things that give me a sense of achievement, a sense of meaning, a feeling that I am not entirely useless.
I am less hard on myself now. I take the time to sit and reflect about my problems, figure out what is causing them and how I can fix it. I take the time to process and try not to catastrophise!
I can’t begin to describe how glad I am I went to the CP. She was fantastic and, unlike some medical professionals, understood M.E. She understood what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and she helped me to accept it.
I have to live my life as best as I can…and that it what I am trying to do. Obviously the nature of M.E. means that I am restricted in what I can and can’t do. Some days I can’t get out of bed, but when I can I want to do something, achieve something. No matter how small and insignificant it might seem, it’s these things that help to keep me away from dark thoughts and feeling like my life has value.
There’s absolutely no way I could have done this without my husband though. He is my rock. In fact CP refers to him as her “co-therapist” because he is just so good at helping me through, at understanding and at putting plans in place to help me stay positive. Thank you Jonathon, I love you with all my heart.xx
She will probably never read this but I want to thank my CP too. She has changed my life. When I left I just said “thanks very much for everything, I hope I don’t see you again”. I couldn’t say more or I’d end up an emotional wreck. Mary you have given me back my life. It’s still going to be a battle but with everything you’ve taught me I’m going to get there. I genuinely will miss you, not just in terms of therapy but I will miss our laughs. Good luck in your new job – those kids are very lucky to have you.
So here I am, let loose. I have my Mood Management Plan. I know the warning signs and I know how to deal with them. I’ve come a long way and I’m only just realising that.
I do have an emergency plan in place though. We didn’t manage to tackle my OCD. That wasn’t really what the sessions were about. That said I understand myself more so hopefully hubby and I can tackle to OCD together. If it gets bonkers though I can refer myself back for help with OCD. I’m determined that it wont come to that and we now have two books ready to guide us through beating OCD.
So there it is. The end of part of my life and the beginning of a more positive, happy life. I don’t ever want to go back to the depths of depression of a year ago and that in itself is motivation enough to keep going.
I hope this post has helped you in some way. My CP was fantastic and I know I am lucky with that. If you are struggling, give it some thought. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s not a magical cure, but it’s worth the work.