Friday, 23 January 2015

What therapy is like

What therapy is like

It's amazing how much better an hour with my therapist can make me feel. I had the amazing news tonight when I saw her that I am going to be discharged and don't need to have any further sessions with her unless I feel like I need them - it's incredible as it makes me realise how far I've come in just over 6 months. Counselling has given me the skills to cope with my low mood whenever I need it, and has made me have a much more positive outlook on life, so I thought I would dedicate this post to what having therapy is like.

I started seeing my counsellor around July last year when I was really suffering with my depression. Since then we have met every few weeks to discuss how I am getting along, and each session she would listen to my concerns and give me advice and tips on how to improve my mood. These skills will be with me for life, which means that if I become more depressed again in the future I will be able to use them to combat it.

In our first sessions we started off by going over my circumstances and the reasons for my depression. She asked me a lot of questions about my social life, family history, childhood and any other personal situations that could have triggered a low mood. Each week after that we would discuss ways to lift my mood, such as challenging negative thoughts and practising meditation, whilst discussing any extra issues I had. 

My therapist decided that I needed talking therapy, to vent about my circumstances and work out any issues and confusions I had in my mind. Last summer was a very difficult time for me, and having a third party with no emotional involvement to talk to really seemed to help. We also did a bit of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps you to challenge any negative thoughts you have and change your way of thinking. In addition we discussed mindfulness, which is the practice of trying to stay in the present as much as possible, whether that is through meditation or focusing intently on something you are doing. She also gave me tips about how to sleep better, such as by imagining I'm on a beach to help me get off to sleep.

When you visit a counsellor they will discuss with you the different forms of therapy and which would be best for you. If you feel like you could benefit from talking to someone, it's worth going to see your GP and discussing it with them - they can give you a number to ring or refer you on to counselling services. It can take 6-8 weeks for an appointment to come through with the NHS, but you can always pay to receive private therapy if you would like, as you would get a session much quicker.

If you want therapy to work for you you have to be prepared to tell your therapist everything, as that is the only way they can help you. They will never judge you and will have heard some shocking stories - plus everything you tell them will be confidential (unless they think you are likely to hurt yourself or others). You will also have to work at helping yourself. Your therapist can only give you advice; they can't do everything for you and if you don't work at what they say you won't get any better. So in this case you need to really feel comfortable with the person you're talking to and be able to feel like you can trust them - you can request a specific gender or swap counsellors if one isn't working for you. They won't be offended!

If you would like to try and do some therapy sessions yourself, you can buy books that talk you through how to do it. I was recommended the Overcoming series; they are easy to read and work through, and can be used whenever you need them. You can get them for loads of different mental health problems, from depression to agoraphobia - check them out on Amazon here. You can just dip into them whenever you feel like you need a bit of a lift.

I hope this helps anyone that feels like they need someone to talk to - I've found that it has really helped me and I have a much more positive outlook because of it. I've learnt not to trust everything my brain tells me, and to stop all-or-nothing thinking (such as 'I will always be depressed' or 'I always think that I am fat' - you should try and stay somewhere in the area between all or nothing as it is unhealthy thinking). I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is struggling slightly; even a couple of sessions may help you out immensely!
When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.
                                    - Diane Von Furstenberg


  1. I saw a really wonderful therapist with my college's counseling program for the first semester of my freshman year and she did talking therapy and hints of CBT with me. I couldn't agree more with you on how crazily important it is to have that 3rd party person help you through all of the insane things going on inside your head. Getting my discharge notice from her was a great day but I do miss her sometimes since she was only a temporary counselor and isn't on campus anymore. Therapy is great. I don't care who disagrees or laughs, it's so helpful! Way to go on getting your discharge notice! <3

    1. I know what you mean - I think I'm going to miss my therapist but it's so amazing that she thinks I'm well enough to be discharged :) Therapy is good for anyone that just needs to get something off their chest or are suffering with their mental health xx

  2. Hi Hannah,

    Thank you so much for replying to my tweet. We all need a bit of support now and again, and sometimes the blogging world can be lonely so I am so happy to be sending out some love to this busy industry.

    First of all let me say congratulations for what you have overcome in the last 6 months - wow! You are an inspiration, and it's so brave to talk about and document your feelings and symptoms in the way you have. Talking about mental health is so important, I am inspired by your blog and so relieved to know that your blog is here, tackling these stigmas head on.

    You have come so far from what I have read, and there is absolutely nothing to stop you going even further. You have the recipe for a inspiring blog; fashion, lifestyle and mental health coupled with friendly, down-to-earth writing and beautiful photography. You should be really proud of your corner of the internet.

    I suffer from anxiety, and have recently experienced my first full-on panic attack. I have been writing a blog post about it for weeks, trying to get it right. You seem to be able to talk about it with ease, expertly and with great knowledge and experience. It really is an inspiration.

    You are a medical student too! I admire you for having the time to commit to the things you love, not everyone can say that they have that.

    I am shocked at the circumstances that led to your blog title, however I am so happy that you took some negative and turned it into something so amazing! Your blog will help so many people, that I am sure of, and you should be incredibly proud of yourself for bringing these very important issues into the spotlight.

    You have a new reader in me :)

    Good luck with everything you do in the future Hannah xxx

    1. Hi Georgi, thank you so much for this lovely comment, it actually brought tears to my eyes! I think it's one of the loveliest things anyone has ever said to me.

      I am sorry to hear that you have been suffering with anxiety, but just know that things will get better if you really want them to - sometimes you have to push through, believe in yourself and keep smiling.

      Again, thank you SO much for this comment - you have made not just my day but my week! I will be smiling until Friday at least now :)

      Hannah xxx