Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ending therapy. Alternatively titled: Can I do this without professional help?

Over the years I have had many different therapists who have each approached me in different ways, using various and sometimes contradictory methods.

One thing that has always been the same though, no matter who I was seeing at the time, is that on leaving a session, I've always felt worse. Without fail. Because talking about shitty things sucks big hairy balls sometimes. I would always be left with a sense that I was a complete basket case (which may be true, but let’s not rub that in) who would never ever not need help. Until I met this latest guy; let's call him Brad, because that's his name.

I've only worked with Brad for about nine months after the original therapist I was seeing through the maternity hospital reached the end of her contract. I hate changing therapists. The whole rehashing of why you’re so fucked up is painful. Old wounds that were just starting to scab over are picked at. Fresh blood drops breaking the surface, and I’m right back there when it all happened. But other than the first session, where we were both getting to know how each other operated, I’ve always left feeling OK. Not necessarily like I could take on the world, but that everything would be alright. Even after sessions that were heavy. For the first time ever I found a sense of hope.

We worked on all number of issues, but no matter what, I felt I could be myself. Which might sound stupid because, duh, aren’t you always meant to be yourself with your therapist? See, you are, but I, err, haven’t always been. Because HELPFUL. I know, I know, I’m an idiot. Previously I’ve lied to avoid the conversations I didn’t feel ready to have. Very helpful, Glow, very helpful.

Working through my all-encompassing guilt and shame after forgetting Bobbin, I was more truthful than I thought I could be, and I didn’t feel judged. I know that’s his job, but I’ve seen so many therapists that just aren’t good at it, so to have a good one at a time when I really needed it was great.

My sessions at the hospital were to last up until one year post-partum… with Bobbin turning one last month I knew our time was going to be up sooner rather than later. They don’t toss you out on the kerb if you’re in need of care, but because my sessions were maintenance and skill building for the most part rather than crisis management, it would be time to say goodbye.

Our final session was bittersweet. We decided it would be ending now, and I was happy with that, feeling that I had been part of the decision making process, that this was the right time for it to conclude. But then I started to cry just a little.

It was an uneasy feeling and I wasn’t entirely sure why I was crying. Was it because my safety net would be gone? Or that I’d miss the “debrief” that therapy allows? Would I miss Brad and this lopsided relationship we had going on where I knew nothing about him and he knew so much about how screwed up I feel sometimes yet never made me feel like a freak? The answer is probably a combination of all of that and then some.

We joked I was now sane and that he should really invest in a stamp ala The Simpsons so I could prove it to my friends. We summed up the three most important people in my life, my rocks, my happy place; I laughed that the things that make Bobbin (who came to the majority of sessions) full on now, are the exact things I love about her because they'll make her an awesome woman; marveled at Tricky's massive increase in confidence in the last six months; and swooned over MapGuy, who we always called Mr Perfect in our fortnightly meetings.

The session was much shorter than usual, or at least it felt that way. He said he’d enjoyed our time together, that he’d see my name on his calendar and smile, and I believed him. Because we always had great conversations (combined with a somewhat similar sense of humour) that would seem to go in all sorts of directions but always with an underlying theme of “Glow isn’t as crazy as she thinks she is” with a side of “Glow needs to chill out a bit”. I shook his hand and thanked him most ineloquently for everything he had done for me. The words didn’t seem enough, so, announcing it was probably breaking some rule, I gave him the quickest of hugs and walked out without looking back. Because if I’d look back I’d probably start proper, ugly crying. How do you adequately thank someone for returning a sense of hope to your life?

I don’t think I’ll be getting a new therapist any time soon, instead I'll fly solo for a while. The idea of rehashing my past isn’t attractive, and I feel like I’m in a good place right now, and if those introductory sessions aren’t handled well, it can cause a spiral down with the “I’m more fucked up than I thought, I’m going to be insane forever” thing. But don't panic, I'm still medicated for your convenience.

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