I believe talking therapy saved my life
Posted Thursday 16 August 2012
Heather isn’t my best friend, my mum, my sister or even my aunt. Heather is my therapist.
After going through family separation, bereavement, sexual abuse and getting my dad diagnosed with Dementia, I sunk into depression. Struggling to cope with the intensity of my emotional pain I turned to self-harm. Eventually I broke down and attempted suicide. I was referred to Heather by my GP, there was no waiting list and I would get 6 weekly sessions.
50 Minutes a week, once a week, for 6 weeks.
That was just 5 hours, that’s not even equivalent to a workday!
I remember sitting in the doctor’s examination room and wondering if this would be enough, if there was even any point in me having the therapy.
I sat in the chair, tears in my eyes, sleeves rolled up, bearing all to my doctor and the only thing I could think about was what happens after the 6 weeks, what happens when the therapy is over? 6 weeks… Why even bother?
Luckily I knew that something had to change, I knew I had to try this.
As it turned out, 6 weeks wasn’t enough and my 6 weeks were extended to 12, which still wasn’t enough time. Yes I was able to interact and respond with Heather, but for the first few weeks I spent our sessions just talking and crying. Getting everything out. The end of my 12 weeks came and I was dreading it.
Thankfully I was working in a reasonably well paid job and had financial support from my family and so could continue private sessions with Heather after our allotted time. I continued to see her for another 12 months and although I still occasionally self-harm to cope, I have changed my life for the better.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not ‘cured’ and there is still a long climb ahead, but Heather and the therapy boosted me to the first check point.
I don't begrudge a single penny that I spent on my therapy... It was absolutely worth it. In fact I know if it hadn’t been for my doctor referring me to Heather, I would most likely not be here today.
Even so, I never considered myself a lucky person until I saw the statistics on the Mind website. 1 in 5 people wait over a year for talking therapies. A year! It also made me think about how the majority of other people might not be able to afford private therapy after their 6 weeks. I wonder how many of them think ‘why bother?’
Talking Therapies may not suit everybody but the option needs to be there. We need to demolish waiting lists – if there is one thing mental illness needs, it’s fast action. We also need to ensure that therapy is not given an allotted time. How can we possibly have a time limit for recovery?
I can’t bear to think of anyone losing their fight because of a waiting list, so I’m writing this in support of the We Need to Talk campaign, which champions access to talking therapies for everyone who needs it, within 28 days.
Follow Gemma on Twitter: @LittleSisterGem
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