I’ve wanted to write this for a while but I think I need to be careful in doing so, so I was a bit cautious. Then, last week’s #TalkMH chat was based on mental health services and made me want to write it even more, so I’m going to do so and try to be as mindful as possible.
I want to stress the importance of finding the right treatment for you and your personal situation. My own experience proves this, I feel. The last thing I want to do is put anyone off seeking help because I can assure you that it’s the best thing I ever did, but only because I found the right treatment. You are not a statistic, you are a person, and your specific needs must be catered for in order to get the most out of it.
When I first sought help I went to see my doctor and he gave me a number to call for NHS therapy. It took me a few weeks but eventually I called and gradually, my first session came around. I was given six weeks of talking therapy.
Now let me be clear. The NHS is a fantastic service that we are incredibly lucky to have and talking therapy works wonders for some. But my personal circumstances were not taken into account, which meant that talking therapy did no good for me, in fact, quite the opposite.
All of my mental health setbacks have been as a result of previous trauma and therefore going into a room and speaking to somebody about various things that had happened to me wasn’t ideal. I’d speak to her (and cry to her) on a Tuesday morning every week, for six weeks. We brought everything up that I’d been supressing for a very, very long time and did nothing with it. It was left, out in the open, for me to think about until next time we met. Until, my sixth session came and, once again, everything was out in the open and I left, never to see that woman again. There wasn’t a ‘next week’ for me to hold onto.
Shortly after this, things got worse. When things went awfully downhill on one particular evening – I may write about that separately but again, I’m not sure, let me know – I forced myself to seek further help. I knew I had two options: get out or get help. I chose to get help. I went to my doctor and I cried and shook and panicked at him and he prescribed me with Sertraline.
There’s a separate post on this so I won’t go into great detail but the long and short of it is that I didn’t get on with Sertraline at all. I was back to square one. I left it like this for months and months. I thought, I’ve tried therapy and it didn’t work, and I’ve tried meds and it didn’t work. What the f*c* do I do now?
My anxiety became worse than ever and I was regularly vomiting and having panic attacks. Eventually, my mum spoke to me and told me that she thinks I need to seek further help. I knew she was right. I lost it at work and became very emotional, I was panicking about a holiday that was coming up. My boss recommended a therapist to me, a private one, and I phoned her on the same day. She told me that she could see me that evening and my sessions started from there. Sure, the money adds up, but those sessions changed my life.
She found the right type of therapy for me – a trauma specific one – and created a safe environment. I had my last session about two weeks ago and I haven’t been sick or had a panic attack in months. In that time I’ve been to London, been on the tube, been on short breaks away, driven long stretches on the motorway, been to the pub, been to a pantomime, been out for lunch and dinner. All of the things I could never do without panic.
The last thing I want to do is put anybody off seeking help. Everybody is different and different things work for different people and that is the exact point I’m trying to make. Meds save lives, talking therapy saves lives, the NHS saves lives. In my case, private EMDR saved mine (amongst other things). Find the right treatment for you and you will start your recovery. If you’re unsure on your options, get in touch!
If you’re curious, you can read about my entire therapy experience here.