I was quietly apprehensive going into my session with Therapist 2.0 this morning given how tough it was last week and how volatile my mood has been since. The first few minutes were always something I found really challenging with Therapist 1.0, I never knew where to begin, despite the fact that every week of the six years I was with her she opened the session by asking what I would like to talk about. You’d think I would have learned to go in with a plan in mind…….but I didn’t. I found if there was something I specifically wanted to talk about I’d get tongue tied, so it was easier to just wing it and see what happened.
Working with a psychologist is different and far more structured. Every week we review the last session and how I felt afterwards, what my mood has been like for the week (averaged on a scale of 1 – 10), and any risk issues that need addressing. Then if there’s nothing specific I want to add to the agenda, we move on to the topic of the week, in this case, continuing on the theme of compassion and self compassion.
I had mentioned in our first few minutes how hard I had to work on most of the days since I last saw her to bring myself up to functioning – yoga, walking, writing etc. Saturday was different, Saturday was a good day and as I was in good form I
neglected chose not to do any of those things. I was feeling good, I didn’t need to! This brought us back to talking about WRAP, and the concept of recovery. She used a really helpful analogy which I’ll try and explain in a way that makes sense.
Picture a tent beside the sea. It’s a lovely sunny day, there’s no breeze, but there are only two pegs holding the tent down. No bother on that particular day, but what about when the wind picks up, as it inevitably will? Will two pegs be enough to keep the tent secure? And then what if a storm hits? Will the occupants be ready, or will they find themselves out in the dark in the middle of a storm trying to keep the tent from being blown away entirely?
I’m to think of managing my mental health as keeping that tent secure. I already know the things I need to do thanks to WRAP, but unless I actually put them into practice it’s no use to me.
These are the ‘pegs’ that I’ve already identified that I need to keep me on an even keel. Relying on just one or two of them isn’t going to be enough. Similarly focusing too much on one to the detriment of the others won’t be helpful either. Short term, I’m not going to notice these problems – the pegs will be getting a little looser, the tent will be a little less stable, but it won’t fall down. What if a crisis hits though? The fact that I haven’t kept those pegs maintained will make it far more likely that the tent will collapse entirely, and then I have to start all over again.
It’s the level of commitment that’s involved with all of this that I’m having the biggest problem with. There are so many things that need to happen, and it’s significantly easier (short term anyway) to ignore them. Go for a walk and do some yoga or beer and netflix? I know which is the more attractive, but I can’t keep avoiding the long term impact of my decision not to do what I know needs to be done, no matter how much I don’t want to do it. I know there are problems with the WRAP I came up with for myself, in so far as days that the kids are home all day it needs to be amended and scaled back. I think I need to do something about the weekends as well – Hubby very kindly let me have a lie in both days this weekend, which in theory was lovely. In practice, I kept dozing off into really disturbed dreams and finally got up feeling a bit all over the shop. Next weekend, instead of the lie in I need to either walk, or do my yoga. Or both.
Still, this is all progress. There has been no point over the years in people telling me what I need to do, because I wasn’t ready or able to see it, never mind take responsibility for it. Now I can see it, and I have a much better understanding of why I can be the only one to make this right for myself. I might not like it all that much yet, I’m certainly not doing it with the consistency it needs, but the more I know and the more I understand, the easier it will be to take control of these things.