Earlier this year, my Doctor referred me to a Psychotherapist after my anxiety skyrocketed. Whilst I knew I’d been suffering for a while, I’d never openly spoken about it. At the start of the year, it became impossible for me to manage myself, so I went to see my Doctor. I ended up on a waiting list for psychotherapy and on medication.
With two-thirds of my 12-week therapy programme remaining, I feel it’s a good time to pause, reflect and share five things I’ve learned so far.
My five-year-old self was a happy, carefree little girl.
In my first couple of sessions, my therapist made several remarks about feeling like she wanted to hug five-year-old me. It left me feeling confused as I knew five year old me had been a happy, carefree little girl. I kept wondering what I was saying to make her think that five year old me needed a hug.
I know she was probably trying to understand where and when my anxiety had begun. For many people, anxiety is a result of childhood trauma. But I knew that wasn’t the case for me.
Yes, my life was different because I had, and still have, thankfully, a disabled brother, but with just less than two years age gap between us, I didn’t know much different back then. Yes, we often went to various appointments with my brother and parents, or we would be looked after at home by our grandparents while mum and dad took my brother for yet another operation. Yes, he went to a ‘special’ school, and yes, our house was full of special equipment to help him live a better life. But I took it all in my stride.
Aside from his disability, my brother was, and still is, great company. We’ve never seen him as ‘ill’. He has a disability, but that certainly doesn’t make him ill.
We’ve always done stuff as a family and never let my brother’s disability stop us from having a good time. Even when he got his first wheelchair, it didn’t stop us from doing stuff. We always had a summer holiday, albeit we mainly holidayed in the UK. We always had days out during the school holidays and at weekends. I loved family time, and I never felt we were different or stood out from other families. If anything, we stood out for being a tight family unit.
I found myself having to stress to my therapist that any ‘trauma’ I’ve experienced didn’t come from anything that happened to me as a young child.
And although five year old me was a happy, carefree little girl, if I could, I would go back and tell her that life is going to throw many challenges at her, but she is strong enough to overcome anything that comes her way.
Our fears aren’t always our own.
What are you scared of and why?
I’ve always known I’d inherited some of my fears. My mum has long feared getting into lifts after finding herself stuck in one many moons ago. When I was young, Mum’s fear rubbed off on me, and I also became fearful of using them. It wasn’t until I moved to London and found myself using lifts regularly that I detached myself from this fear.
Some of the fears that have come up during my therapy sessions have followed a similar pattern.
Although I now understand that many of my fears aren’t mine, it’s also important to realise that it’s not an opportunity to blame anyone else.
I don’t blame my mum for having a fear of lifts. After getting stuck in one, I’m not surprised she had that fear. But I do believe we’re responsible for whether we keep holding onto those fears or whether we learn to let them go.
Not all of my fears stem from those around me, but I feel ready to challenge them so I can work out which ones are really my own.
My resilience is a strength and a curse.
One of my superpowers is my resilience. Yet sometimes, it feels more like a curse than a superpower.
I’ve long tried to be the strong one. Not just in my personal life but in my work life too.
And quite frankly, it’s exhausting.
Yes, it’s a great superpower to possess in an increasingly challenging world, but I’m tired of always being strong and resilient.
I don’t want people to think I’ll be ok because ‘Becky’s always got this’.
It’s time to show my vulnerable side, however awkward that might be.
My fear of death might actually be a fear of not living.
There were many reasons why my anxiety spiralled at the beginning of this year. Two of those reasons were:
- Concerns over my own health
- A fear of death
Too many people I knew were getting sick or dying.
After my own health scare last year, I began to fear getting an incurable illness, and ultimately I convinced myself that I feared death.
After speaking to my therapist, she posed this question to me:
“Do you fear death, or do you have a fear of not living?”
This question turned out to be my first lightbulb moment.
Whilst there is some truth in my fearing death, I realised my biggest fear is not living. Even when life throws its challenges my way, I love being alive.
There is so much more I want to do in my life – new places to visit, people to meet, foods to try, music to discover.
Maybe this is simply a reminder that our time here is not everlasting and that no matter how old you are, it’s important to live each day as though it’s your last.
Don’t put things off until tomorrow.
Do them today.
Don’t let life pass you by.
I love hugs, yet I find myself drawn to people who don’t.
This week my therapist asked me who I turn to when I need a hug. After thinking about this, it would seem that I only have a small number of huggers in my friendship circle. For some reason, I don’t naturally attract huggers into my life.
My boyfriend would say this is because I don’t give off the ‘I need a hug vibe’. My strength and resilience, it would appear, isn’t just a vibe people get from my personality. It comes down to how I look too. Another resilience curse!
I seem to have a lot of reluctant huggers in my life, i.e. friends who will give the standard hello and goodbye hug, but there aren’t many who would hug me just because I need one.
Yet, I love hugs.
My therapist demonstrated a technique I can use to hug myself when I need one. I’m intrigued to try it, but I’m not sure there’s any comparison to the real deal.
We only touched on this subject towards the end of my last session, and I feel like there’s plenty more to explore in this area.
I don’t have a session for the next two weeks, but hopefully, we can pick this up next time we meet and really dive into why I don’t attract huggers.
Whilst I’m still at the beginning of this particular journey, I feel like I’m beginning to get some really insightful lightbulb moments. The two that have stood out for me so far have been:
1) Am I fearful of death or fearful of not living?
2) Our fears are not always our own
I’m looking forward to some more reflection time over the next couple of weeks to ponder over these some more. Although my brain wants to find solutions, I understand that part of the process is learning to sit with my thoughts and feelings and accepting them for what they are.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with therapy. Why not let me know in the comments section below?
Have a lovely week, and I’ll be back next week with a roundup of the things I’ve been up to in May.