Discussing The Therapy End
I mentioned already that I was in a therapy since the end of 2014. It’s a therapy for depression and anxiety disorder. I suffered from depression and anxiety disorder but the problems waned over the years as I have read a lot about it and as I developed strategies to reduce the interval of my panic attacks.
However, I contacted a therapist anyway last year as I mentioned, reason was that the problems can still randomly appear at times. Also I do often suffer from extreme sleep problems but they come and go in phases as all the other symptoms. So, I went into the therapy to find out if we could fight the remaining and randomly occurring problems that are still a problem. Also I want to live without meds, which is another reason why I started the therapy, because at the moment I don’t know if I made improvements just because of my meds or not.
I didn’t expect that much as I asked myself what the therapist could teach me that I wouldn’t already know. If you suffer from all this stuff since over 6 years, you do not sit idle, you ask yourself questions like “How could it happen to me?” and “How can I fight it?”. You who reads my post, and me who writes the post, we both are internet folks, I think I don’t have to mention what it means to read about a topic and that for 6 years, you learn a lot.
To be honest, you could basically say I studied psychology and the speciality anxiety diseases and medium depressions. Yes, I go so far and say I could write a blog with 50 posts about the subject without researching. I did read a massive amount about these subjects in this time. It helped me to develop strategies to get some living standard back, even if not to the fullest potential, but it is much more tolerable now as I am not trapped at home anymore, there are other problems now. With that said, I was aware that a therapist could not help me with knowledge about anxiety, because I have read a lot about the biochemical processes earlier on my own.
Whit this in mind, my expectations about the therapy were not pretty huge but I told this my therapist at the beginning and she said she would understand, and she noticed it when she asked me stuff about the biological processes in our body when it comes to anxiety. What I did in the six years was self-recovery, it was for example much worse 4 or 5 years ago. My symptoms became much more subtile now and do appear more random than ever today, that is the problem now. Back then I felt bad 7 days a week, but now the disease is not consistent anymore, but it still comes through at times, but more random and then things can get really difficult as well. But she understood where I am, and that I searched help only for the reason to live without meds, and to fight some of the problems that still occur.
I did participate in 20 of 25 therapy hours and didn’t miss a single one. The therapist was always cool and friendly, she knows her stuff. But to get back to what I mentioned earlier, can you imagine how it feels to listen to someone who tells you stuff you have read again and again over a long period? At some point she started to do this again, although she knew that I know all the stuff. This was a huge problem for me in the therapy. It didn’t take that much time to get the first thoughts to cancel the therapy, I think I had these thoughts after every single hour of the therapy, not because of her, but because I felt that I didn’t learn anything new. I was there to learn something new, I probably did learn a few practical things, but overall I’d say I didn’t learn that much new things.
As said, it was not about the therapist, she was friendly and I am pretty much sure she would have taught me a lot if I didn’t knew all that before I went into the therapy. The one session I mentioned, where she started to explain the biochemical processes of anxiety, basically what is going on in our body while suffering from a panic attack, she noticed very early that I could explain it detailed with medical lingo. This is how we went through the 17 hours with every subject, I got the feeling she was more helpless than me. She’s the expert, but yet she had a patient that is aware of all the information’s, how could she help me?
To be honest, I am usually that guy who says what he thinks, in fact I am one of those guys who acts like he thinks. That means I do tell people how I feel, and I cancel things or retreat from situations I dislike, that’s fine to me. So why didn’t I do this here right in the beginning?
I tested a few therapists in our town earlier and they all were unfriendly and maybe even not capable of working with humans (sounds hard, but that was my impression about some therapists). My recent therapist was different, very friendly and she tried her best. I was curious enough to find out if I can take and use some of her information’s. Apart from that, I disliked the idea to cancel something where a person is friendly to me. But anyway, after a while it was clear to me that the therapy didn’t help me at all, except for some tips about healthy nutrition, that’s indeed something I need to work on. There were some other helpful ideas, but overall I found the therapy pretty annoying.
We did for example went outside, one day I got a panic attack when we did that, another day I did feel great, and she was wondering why. That is something I told her right away, it’s not bound to any situation, the anxiety comes and goes it doesn’t really depend on a certain situation. That makes if difficult to call her exercises helpful, because I go out without help, except for the days I can not. I can’t spontaneously call her and say “Hey! It’s me, today is a great day for those exercises, we need to get out together”. Apart from the fact that I did just that over the last years on my own, I don’t need someone to “hold my hand” while doing this. I went outside even if I felt bad, it’s just difficult then and didn’t make the problems disappear completely. The strategy to go out even if you feel bad is not very new to me, I do this since a long time and it helped, it just didn’t make the problems disappear completely, which is why I went into the therapy.
Next thing, those magic exercises where I had to close my eyes to think of a flowing river, I told her that this doesn’t help me at all. She tried this with me again and again, I thought this is totally silly. Or those attention exercises, I had to take a look at a flower or something else in the room and had to describe the colours and so on. I am still not sure how this should help me when there is a severe anxiety attack where you have no capacity to move your attention to something else than the symptoms.
Anyone who had a severe anxiety attack knows how that feels and that you then fight with other things but not with the colours of a flower. What always helped me more and what I learned before I went into the therapy, is the fact that anxiety can only stay during the adrenaline rush that activates the sympathetic nervous system which triggers several symptoms, but there is the parasympathetic nervous system that will counteract and reverse it. That means, an anxiety attack can only hold on for so long, for a limited time (from minutes to a maximum of few hours). If you know that an anxiety attack is limited in time, and if you learned too that an anxiety attack can not kill you and, you take it much easier than with those attention tricks learned in a therapy.
To be honest, there were quite a lot of things where I thought “Oh my…”, and I wished the therapy hour would end as fast as possible. Around the therapy appointments I usually felt much worse, I think it’s because I didn’t like those situations, I am someone who likes independence, I completely disliked the therapy anyhow. I also disagreed with a lot of strategies, I do not think that anxiety is only a behavioural problem, it’s not only in your head, there are processes in your body, which means knowing about those processes does at least help me much more than any magic behavioural tricks. I am for science, not for magic. It might be that attention tricks help some people to get out faster of an anxiety attack, but I don’t believe it will help anybody and in any case of anxiety attacks.
I told her this and other concerns during the 20th session hour. We both came to the conclusion that it would be better if we stop at this point, I couldn’t agree more. So, now I tell you what I think about those therapies. It’s as if you would have a pair of shoes and if you would expect that those shoes fit anybody, that is what a therapy is to me. It’s not tailored for a single individual, I think that is not even possible. Also it is too much focussed on the idea to adjust your behaviour, as if this would be the main problem causing your anxiety. I do agree that you can make some changes that might help, but then it should be individual approaches. That is why I know my own approach is the only one that really helped me to better my situation over time, even if my therapist thought it happens too slowly. But it improved my situation, that’s my own success and I want to go on with this, I do not think that a therapy helps me at all, that’s what I learned now.
I think I will go on with what really decreased the problems over time, I will do go my own route again. My hobbies for example helped me to prevent to fall into despair, it actually reduced the amount of depressive incidents a lot, even if not disappeared, it’s now much more bearable. I reduced the amount of anxiety attacks just by getting out of my house, I decreased the risk of anxiety attacks over time on my own, even if not disappeared completely, I found my own strategies that help me much more than any tip I got in the therapy. Photography for example gives me a reason to get out in the free time, the reading made me much more aware of the processes in the body during an anxiety attack, which helped me to be less afraid of those attacks. There are several things that helped me more than the therapy.
So, there are not much things I learned in this therapy. I only learned I should continue with what I was doing in the past, considering that it helped me before even if slowly, my situation will probably continue to get better and better over time. Without pressure, while the therapy and the regular questions like “How do you felt this month since the last appointment?” was big pressure, as if someone can not await until you say “Hey, I am healthy now!”. That’s not how it works in my opinion, anxiety is not like a common cold that will disappear after a week. But that is the impression I got in the therapy, that my therapist tried to achieve exactly that. That brings me to my last point, as she asked this more often at the end of the therapy, I was wondering if it’s not about me but about her success quota. Whatever, I am happy that we did end the therapy now, although I could have claimed a few more hours, but I am happy that we mutually finished it earlier.