Thursday, 22 November 2012

My first trip to a therapists office

I first decided to try therapy a few years ago. At the time I was working an extremely stressful job, was married and had a couple of tricky things going in in my life. I found myself feeling a sense of sadness that I had not felt before. And although I'm a cryer through and through and I don't find melancholy uncomfortable this sadness was just a bit different. I cried much more often than usual and one quiet Saturday afternoon during a particularly protracted cry my then husband very gently suggested that maybe it would help if I could speak to someone about the tricky stuff going on in my life.

The extremely stressful job came with free therapy sessions - 3 per year and more if 'needed' (if that's not a disclaimer to becoming a lawyer, good luck to you) - and so I rang the confidential service to arrange an appointment.

My first ever therapy session was hilarious, in retrospect. I cried from the moment I walked in until around three-quarters of the way through the session. I walked in, sat down, and the lovely psyhologist gave me an intro into what the sessions were all about. Confidential, safe to say anything I needed to, could talk about work or personal stuff etc etc. He then said, "what has brought you here today, and what would you like to achieve with our sessions?"

I started to explain that I had this huge well of sadness inside of me but tears prevented me from explaining and all I could get out in between tears was "I'm just really sad".

"What is making you sad?", he asked.

We sat in silence a moment (apart from the teary noises on my side of the room) as I tried to compose myself enough to speak. He gently nudged over a conveniently placed box of tissues, poured me a glass of water and waited patiently with me while the wave of sadness passed.

"I wrote a list." (More sniffles).

He looked impressed that I'd prepared for the session.

Not even bothering to try and read aloud I handed him the list. While he read the list aloud, to make sure he was reading all of the items on it correctly, I cried softly and nodded.

We went through that list together. Issue by issue, focusing more on some and less on others. It was brilliant. I saw him for the 3 full sessions and by the 3rd session it felt like more of a chat than a therapy session. Those sessions saw me through for a good while.

I still felt sad but was much more okay with it and not worried that the sadness meant something else.

I remember speaking with one of my aunties afterward about my experience with therapy. She was very kind and gentle with me and said that sometimes our lives get really tangled like a ball of wool and it's helpful to have an objective person help us untangle our tangled mess.

I love that analogy and for me it resonates deeply. Sometimes I find if I pick impatiently at a piece of tangled mess my own emotional attachment to everything can result in those pesky little tangles becoming huge knots that are impossible to undo. But a therapist, someone who cares but is objective and at arms legnth, has a much better ability to stand back, assess the tangle, and go in carefully to tug here and there until it's a bit looser and far more manageable.

I love that.

I was so lucky to have stumbled across such a wonderful and gentle therapist with whom I had a great connection - on my very first time. And although I still see a therapist (though not the same one, I've since moved, my current therapist is also wonderful) I'm extremely grateful to both for all their assistance over the years.

My ball of wool is still a bit tangled, but less so now, and actually I've quite fallen in love with some of the messiness in my life.

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