Tell me about your mother

Lie down on the couch and tell me about your Mother

Something that has crossed my mind way more than once over the last six months was whether or not I was now bound over to have therapy every week. Therapy has been great for me over the last six months, and it was not what I’d thought it would be like.

I thought recovery from a bipolar diagnosis was going to be all Sigmund Freud “so tell me about your mother…” and the like. Got that wrong.

I had therapy once before, and to be honest I was too ill at the time for it to have been of any benefit. I do remember it having a sniff of psychoanalytic flavour to it, but it was in one ear and out the other so I might be wrong there.

The therapy that I have been having was nothing like that. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is completely different. I have a very logical brain and I like to fix things by taking an almost mechanical approach. CBT allows me to do this. I see things in binary. Things are ones and zeros most of the time, but I also have a strong creative side to my brain. This apparently is a rare thought process to possess. What it does seem to do is make me very good at understanding what is wrong with me. How there is something beyond my control that dictates my behaviour. Once I got to grips with that I was on the start to recovery.

I spend little to no time these days trying to figure out why I am like I am. I am who I am and at the age of 51 there is little to no point in trying to figure out anything more Freudian about myself. What I do know is that sometimes there is a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me think and behave differently and I’m fucked if I can be bothered figuring out why.

These changes in behaviour don’t just happen with immediate effect – there is usually an upwards or downwards curve where I start to feel different. I can now recognise what behavioural traits to look out for when I start to move along one of these paths. As long as I catch myself before the gradient of the curve gets too steep then I can make sure that environmentally I surround myself with the best possible people and situations so as to keep myself as well as I can.

I won’t always get this right and I’ll often need to ask for help which is something that I would never do in the past. In simplifying my illness to “look out for signs and when you see them act on them” I don’t have to understand what is wrong with me, all I have to do is know when I am not well. I take medication to smooth out my life, so the curves are not as steep as they used to be. When I hit a steep gradient I know something is wrong and I tell my wife, and if need be I make an appointment to see the doctor.

But the answer to whether or not I need therapy all my life the answer is yes. But here’s the catch – you don’t need to see a therapist to undergo CBT therapy – you can learn therapy and practice it yourself, not just every week, but every day. It provides tools and you use these tools to keep yourself on the straight and narrow.

So I have a therapist and I have a psychiatrist. My therapist has guided me through a course of CBT over the last six months and my psychiatrist has provided medication to keep the gradient of the curves down.

On Wednesday this week I had my last scheduled therapy appointment which was quite an emotional thing. I have the tools now to help get me through life, but if ever I need a refresher course my therapist is just an appointment away.

I know I have an illness, so I will continue to see my psychiatrist every six months or so to make sure the dosage of my medication is still ok.

It is weird having to live my life like this now, but then again, I am a little weird so I kind of like it.


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