Last year the BBC did a brilliant documentary series called Mind over Marathon where people with various mental health struggles are challenged to train for and run the London Marathon. As someone who knows how much running helps with a brain that’s a bit exhausting and confusing, I found the series hugely emotional and hugely inspirational.
It was also one of the first times I’ve heard the English royals, Prince Harry and Prince William in this case, talk at length about something that wasn’t a rehearsed speech. Those boys did pretty good. Prince William still sounded a bit posh and superior but Prince Harry came across as a totally normal, caring, nice guy. I guess there are benefits to being a bit lower down the chain of in-line-for-throne.
Fast forward several months to just a few months ago.
After I had binge watched all of Jane the Virgin on Netflix, I saw a screenshot for Suits and thought “Hmmm… Meghan Markle… Prince Harry… He’s a nice guy… She’s not a bad actress… I did always like Suits… Let’s catch up…”
I watched seasons 5-6 and remembered that I do like that show. Also, what hit me this time was how successful people where seeing therapists, and how those therapists were cool, and how talking about stuff helped was cool.
So I decided that I wanted a therapist.
I’ve been off Citalopram for 4 months and I can’t deny that I’m a bit more anxious and jumpy, but I feel like the Citalopram was/is just masking something for me. In fact I’ve realised lately that I’m doing more and more things in my life to mask something. To cope with something. I decided that I needed to try to get to the bottom of it.
But how hard is it to find a good therapist that you click with and actually want to talk to? It’s hard! It’s super hard. The people I’ve been referred to in the past by GPs have not worked out at all.
Exhibit a) Clinical psychiatrist. Male. 65+ years old. Should have spotted PTSD but didn’t. Saw me once, put me on Citalopram for “just postnatal depression”.
Exhibit b) Psychologist. Female. 65+ years old. Rented a sterile office in the city that really didn’t make me feel comfortable. Put me on Citalopram again and never dug any deeper than “still postnatal depression”.
Exhibit c) CBT practitioner. Male. 50+ years old. A total jerk. I felt humiliated and belittled after the first session. He did spot trauma but said “You need to get that taken care of. I don’t do trauma.”
This time I knew I had to find someone who was female (males are great no-nonsense kinds of people but lack the full spectrum of empathy just by design), wasn’t too young or too old and had an office nearby (if I have to go to the city somewhere I will not go on a regular basis, I’ve got a lot of things going on).
And so I Googled and came across a website like this one. I put in my post code and found a lady in my area that was just the right age, had the right location, qualifications and availability. We sent a few text messages back and forth, and a week later I found myself on a very comfy sofa just a 5 min walk from my house.
First sessions are hard. Same me again, telling the same story. Over and over and over again. Since 1995, but with a nice long break from 1999 to 2008. Most of that happy-brain time I lived in Australia. Why I’m still not back there again, I do not know.
But I digress. I’ve had two sessions with the therapist now and she has made me feel not too much of a basket case, although every time I hear myself talk about what goes on in my head it’s like I’m listening to myself as a third person and my lawd, I totally sound like a basket case. But I digress again, AND I judge myself, which I’m being told I’m not to do from now on…
The main thing is that it’s really nice to be able to talk to somebody without feeling like you’re dumping all your emotional baggage on them. I think my husband will appreciate a bit of relief. A trained professional will help you sort things out objectively and not have any emotions connected to what you are saying. They also are great at not making you fee like “you actually have nothing to complain about because your life is good” – no matter how supportive friends or family members are, they are usually not able to understand that one can have mental health problems without actually having any “proper” hardships in life like illness, death, poverty, abuse, etc.
This, by the way, is not the ‘super personal’ post I talked about on Instagram last week. That post is not to be published right now because it doesn’t have to be. I am so on board with being open about mental health issues and talking bout them, but I no longer believe that that means sharing every single detail. The details are not important. The details involve other people and go back a long time. I am not being a bad mental health ambassador if I don’t go into the details.
My details are my details, your details are yours.
What matters, I think, is that we recognise that we all have details but that it’s OK to keep some things off the Internet.
I’m going to discuss things with my therapist instead.
(and I totally feel like a cool Suits character while I’m doing it ;)
P.S. And Prince Harry’s ok. I hope the thing with Meghan works out in the long run.