Just like a Hollywood star, I met with my therapist on Thursday.
She takes a different approach from the psychologist I visited years ago, who’s first words to me were ” We won’t be talking about why you’re feeling this way, or what’s caused it. What’s important is how you respond, so I’ll be using cognitive behaviour therapy to teach you strategies for managing your depression”
My new therapist is all about they why. She operates on a theory that unresolved trauma in our past will impact on the way we respond to things in the present, creating patterns of behaviour, of thinking and feeling. The way forward is to face up to those things in the past, and deal with the pain so that it stops influencing what happens in the now.
It makes a lot of sense to me. For seven days following what I guess could best be described as a break down, I was plagued by memories. Distressing, painful moments in my past, as fresh as if they were happening to me now. The breakdown itself seems to have been triggered by the memory a past trauma, which for weeks had tugging at the edge of my consciousness, interrupting my thoughts.
But along with these memories was the disturbing realisation that many of my life choices have been in response to trauma. My life has been shaped by it in ways I’m only now starting to recognise. It makes sense that my beliefs and my patterns of thinking and responding could be shaped by it too.
It will be good to deal with it all. Let the past just be the past, and no longer exert such influence over me today. But, I have to admit, I’m terrified. I don’t want to relive those memories.
To her credit, the therapist also wants me to focus on practical strategies – non medical interventions that will help break me out of this depression.
Her first piece of homework for me is that I have to take an hour’s walk every day, straight after breakfast, to help raise the serotonin levels in my brain.
She’s also advised me to take a further two weeks sick leave and wishes to work with me twice a week for that time. There’s a lot to deal with and rooting up the past may well make it harder before it gets easier.