For the longest time, you’re able to get on and live.
You get through exams, find a job, and get traction on your chosen career.
Life becomes a happy-enough blur of work, paying the rent or mortgage, and keeping in the swing of things. You meet up with friends occasionally. Chat with them on Facebook or WhatsApp. You spend your weekends doing chores, sleeping and getting drunk. Squeeze whatever hobbies or interests you have into your rare times off.
In time, perhaps, you meet someone and get married. Maybe have kids.
Or not, as the case may be. Like, it’s not obligatory these days.
Sure, you get pissed off and stressed out at times. Who doesn’t? But it’s nothing that strong coffee, a good workout, or a gin-fuelled sort-the-world out session with your mates can’t fix.
Life changes or you do
But then something changes and you start to feel different. Life, your job, other people don’t mean the same as they used to.
Perhaps you can pin down this shift in you to something that happened or changed:
- Your once cherished relationship is falling apart or has already done so.
- The person you for a while considered your soul mate has turned into a weirdly behaved bunny boiler.
- Someone you love is dying or has died.
- You, yourself have been diagnosed with a life-threatening or limiting illness.
- The job or business set-up you took for granted to go the distance isn’t cutting it.
- You find yourself working with someone – a boss, client, or powerful colleague – who is harassing you.
Perhaps you just find yourself at the end of something that’s been going on for a very long time:
- You’ve been binge eating for a while and can no longer bear the relentless cycle of physical cravings and inexorable guilt, or
- You’ve been dieting under the radar for so long that your control is slipping and you can just no longer stand how much you hate your body.
- You wake up one Saturday morning with the biggest hangover you ever had and know you just can’t go on pretending that your drinking isn’t a problem.
- You’ve pushed yourself so hard over the years that you’re now giving yourself panic attacks, sleep problems, immune function issues or all of the above.
- Your partner has threatened to leave you if you don’t put your smart phone the fuck down and actually talk to them.
Then again, perhaps it’s just not that clear.
Maybe you began one day to notice that life was feeling way less fun than it used to. That you feel more resentful, constrained, angry than makes any sense.
Perhaps you struggle to get out of bed in the morning. You find that, some days, no amount of super-strong coffee gets you going.
Or conversely, from being able to control your emotions most of the time, you find yourself talking aggressively to someone you really didn’t want to be that horrible to.
Or did or said something that feels so completely out of character that it’s confused the hell out of you.
You don’t understand how you feel
You’re feeling rattled.
Sad, angry, tired, whatever.
You’ve never been here before. Or maybe, if you’re honest, you have but you’ve just pushed past it.
In any case, you go from being the kind of person who can figure how to solve any problem, to having no idea how to turn this around.
You’re worried about what this might mean about you.
Above all, you feel terrified and alone.
You may even have times of wondering if you can really go on.
Starting to make sense of it all
I know family and friends can be a great source of help and encouragement for you, and if you trust them, they can be a super first line of support.
In some businesses, bosses and colleagues are great folks to confide in too.
Sadly, people don’t always feel safe opening up to those closest. Paradoxically they can often feel as much part of the problem as part of the solution.
And, whether you have other support or not, it can be invaluable to invest time and money talking to someone who has no agenda on you and can listen in detail to where you’re at. Someone who can really get your situation.
Working with a skilled psychotherapist can help you make sense of what’s going on for you in a way that enables you to begin to feel better about life again.
How therapy works
Psychotherapy is sometimes referred to as ‘talk therapy’, and that’s not by accident.
The first time we meet, I’ll want to hear what’s lead you to connect with me, and understand what’s going on for you.
Expect me to ask you questions and reflect what I hear back to you to make sure I understand.
Once we’ve decided whether or not to work together, I will usually want to get as full a picture as I can of your history and background. Together we begin to paint a picture about the underlying causes of your symptoms and we roadmap the kind of things we most likely need to look at ongoing in order to allow you a sense of progress and healing.
Therapy isn’t a conceptual thing. We’re not talking about abstract models of how life works or idealised pictures of how things should be. We’re talking about you, your life and your experiences.
Generally, the things that affect you come up in your life in some form week by week. So life itself gives us what we need to look at. Bring what’s on your mind into our sessions.
Meaning, the conversations that you and I have, over time, become the building blocks of profound change.
How long does it take?
Therapy can be a short- or long-term arrangement, depending in part to what you want to give focus, and indeed on the amount of support and attention you want to give yourself and over what kind of period.
It’s something we can talk about when we meet.
Why therapy helps
Just the process of being heard by an interested human being can help you feel better. Beginning to understand more about what’s happening to you can be normalising. These things of themselves can feel initially therapeutic.
I know that, in the beginning, you’re usually sceptical and doubt that things can change.
I get that.
And, it’s my job to let you know that things can change. That you can absolutely feel better than you do today or have done for a while.
If we were to work together, in time I’d generally encourage you to revisit traumas and other difficult experiences you had as a kid or teen; things you may have suffered but packed away in an effort to get on with life. Because often these things, while we’re sure we’re past them, have a way of sneaking back into our adult lives and hijacking us.
Getting in the way of relationships.
Setting up wonky beliefs about ourselves.
Keep us on life trajectories we really wouldn’t otherwise have signed up for.
Acknowledging the traumas and difficulties, and helping ourselves to rewire them, allows us over time to lessen their negative effects.
Well, let’s talk. Just give me your name and phone number below.
I’ll call you back as soon as I can.
That way, we get to have a conversation. You’ll give me a sense of what’s going on for you and, together, we can set up an appointment to meet in person.
Because I’ve been there in spades myself, I get it. And I get that just that one brief conversation itself can allow you to feel more hopeful about your situation than you have for a long time.