I am done with this.
Imagine that you have been struggling with your mental health for years and then imagine you have been told by doctors that you will likely be on medication for your lifetime. Then imagine your doctor changes and the new one you haven’t ever met. Imagine she recommends some additional psychological support and puts you on a waiting list for a waiting list. Imagine finally getting to the top of the first waiting list and being assessed as someone who ‘knows too much and needs to forget what she knows about therapy’ in order for it to work.
Imagine the report that landed on next the therapist’s desk when you reach the top of the second waiting list and how it likely mentioned this and also referred to you as someone who 'may not be able to build a therapeutic relationship' .
Imagine that learning about your own mental health and about ways to manage your symptoms of illness like anxiety and depression have been the keys to helping you manage. Imagine that when you do meet the therapist online and engage in this process you are open with them. Imagine telling them, another complete stranger, about your inner most thoughts, feelings, behaviour past and present…no matter how embarrassing, shaming and at times excruciating this feels.
Imagine that it becomes apparent that the although the person is listening they seem to have limited information on why you are sitting in front of them in the first place. Imagine at each stage this means you try to clarify how you can best help yourself and how therapy can support this as you are confused.
Imagine then how their repeated comments about how you seem to be ‘coping well’ and are having ‘normal’ reactions to what are horrific thoughts and memories to you, only makes you feel unheard and more alone with these overwhelming thoughts and feelings which sometimes appear to come out of nowhere. Imagine trying to explain that you feel periodically close to breakdown and often feel hopeless and numb when you are not hurting. Imagine the toll this takes on your husband and kids.
Imagine the guilt you also feel as you know many others are waiting for therapy on similar waiting lists. Imagine how it feels to continually question whether you do in fact deserve support.
Imagine pulling yourself together each week to discuss the most shameful things about yourself and be willing to pick them apart if it helps you find ways to manage intrusive thoughts and memories and your relationships in the future. Imagine being told that of course therapy is difficult. Imagine your frustrations and concerns about lack of progress adding to your image of being ‘difficult’ yourself and that this leaves you feeling like less than nothing.
Imagine being told that this is not in fact intended to be supportive and that you had requested this course of treatment, but that you had no part in this (nor expectation that you could in fact choose). Imagine that when the part of you that knows you are doing your best with this gathers strength to raise concerns, you are told that you are making it hard, that you talk too much for it to be useful.
Imagine trying to home-school whilst recovering from yet another appointment, one which you are told you are experiencing something that is ‘uncomfortable’ and that you are not in fact in their opinion ill. Imagine the mixture of shame, shock and confusion you feel and how you question (yet again) almost everything about yourself and why you had hope in the first place.
Imagine when you are brave enough to express how these conclusions make you feel and you share your frustration that they dominates the discussion. Now imagine, your therapist responds asking if you are able to engage then telling you that you are not because you have the words and language to respond and explain your point of view, and they terminate your course of treatment until further notice.
Not a good day.