On Thursday this week, I had my first therapy session.
After finding myself in a vicious cycle of anxiety led thoughts at the beginning of the year, I found myself on a waiting list for psychotherapy.
My appointment date came through a couple of weeks ago, and although I knew the session was looming, it didn’t stir too many emotions in me at the time. That could’ve been because of the medication, or perhaps being preoccupied with other things took my mind off it.
However, as the day drew closer, I started to feel a mixture of emotions:
I felt intrigued and curious by the process.
The closest I’ve ever come to seeing anyone like a counsellor is spending time with a work coach. However, in reality, there is no comparison. Although I suspect the questioning and probing styles may be somewhat similar.
I’ve become more and more interested in health and wellbeing over the last few years. I’ve carried out a lot of writing and research since my wellbeing journey began, which has left me feeling more curious and open to trying different methods to help with my own mental wellbeing.
I felt excited to get the process underway.
Although I don’t have a problem with being on medication for anxiety (and thank goodness the pills are working!), the aim is to find a way of managing life without medication.
I felt excited to start this part of my wellbeing journey because, without sounding like an addict, it feels like the start of my recovery. Perhaps even the start of a new chapter. A new journey. A new beginning.
I felt apprehensive.
Through my work and personal life, I’ve done a lot of research on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. But I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Psychotherapy.
I get nervous about the small details as well as the big ones.
These were some of the questions that kept coming up before my appointment:
- How long would each session last?
- Will I ‘bond’ with my therapist?
- Will my therapist be male or female?
- Should I take a notebook and pen?
- What might get dredged up from my past?
Meeting my therapist
I needn’t have worried about whether I would get on with my therapist. She seems lovely and easy to talk to, and I immediately felt comfortable in her presence.
There are different types of therapists and counsellors. My therapist is a Relational Integrative Psychotherapist.
The relational part focuses on relationships with people. It looks at how people can be the source of our problems. It also focuses on how people can help with healing and growth.
The integrative part draws on different types of therapy and schools of thought to help the individual.
Opening a Treasure Chest
This initial session was more introductory than anything else. It allowed my therapist to get to know me, and she was able to get an overview of who and what might come up over the next 12 weeks.
My therapist continually compared the therapy process to ‘Opening a Treasure Chest‘, which sounds exciting but scary in equal measure!
Being kind to myself
Although I wasn’t sure how I would feel after my first appointment, I knew my brain would feel limited with how much it would be able to focus on afterwards.
I had arranged to meet a friend in London that evening to see a show, which I knew could be risky if I felt emotional or drained.
My initial plan was to head straight into the City from my appointment and work in a cafe for a couple of hours while I waited for my friend to finish work.
Thankfully I had done all of my ‘must-do’ tasks for the day before I went to my appointment, which left me with a relatively free afternoon.
So instead of packing my laptop into my bag, I headed off with my new camera instead.
Getting on a train and losing myself, wandering around London and taking photos was the perfect way to ‘just be’ after my session.
I met with my friend for pre-theatre food a couple of hours later, and I was ready to enjoy the evening ahead.
I’m aware that I may feel very different after each session. Part of the process is giving myself time and space to check in with myself after each appointment. I’ll be blocking out every Thursday afternoon for at least the next couple of weeks to do what feels right for me.
Whatever that looks like, I’m looking forward to giving myself permission to be kind to myself.
I’m also looking forward to throwing myself into this experience, tackling my mind head-on, and giving myself time to heal.