Conflicted about counselling

My counsellor asked me what I was getting out of our sessions. I didn’t exactly know how to respond, ‘nothing’ seeming partly to be the answer, but not the entire answer, something which I would need to elaborate on, the problem being that I hadn’t felt articulate or eloquent enough when I was explaining simple things in our sessions, let alone unpacking everything behind what I would mean if I answered ‘nothing, but also something’. So I stayed silent. She said that what was happening in our current session wasn’t really therapy, and that she didn’t want me to feel trapped, or feel like I had to keep going if I didn’t feel I needed it. She said maybe it would be best to stop our sessions until I reached the point of feeling like I really needed to see her, or at the very least come back and see her after I’d had my psychiatric assessment on May 19th.

I think the issues here are varied. I think our definitions of therapy do not overlap with one another; if I were to be blunt about it, maybe hers is too narrow? Although on the other hand, what does she see and hear when she sees me? Well, someone who consistently explains things in a calm, measured manner. I can’t help that, it is the way I am. Earlier today I wrote about having made one month of good progress. I described the same things to my counsellor yesterday and I suppose the question is, what is there to provide counsel on when you’re dealing with someone who rationally explains everything. Everything I say to her is true, including how, now that I know it is bipolar that makes my brain spit out thousands of debilitating , conflicting and false thoughts every damn day, I can somewhat control my emotional and physical response.

But you see, the whole truth is complicated. It is utterly, thoroughly exhausting to have to be switched on and mentally vigilant every damn minute of every damn day to stop your mind swinging wildly. Honestly, it requires the kind of mental energy whereby you can actually feel your brain getting hot as you try and force it out of any of the thousands of loops it gets itself into.

Then there is the horrifying daily occurrence where it feels like the floor of your whole world has just given away and you drop into a cauldron of hopelessness and for a while you have to battle the deepest darkest thoughts and emotions that people shouldn’t have to deal with. And then, at the end of many days, you have that same feeling resurface just after you turn out the light and try and sleep, knowing that if you go to bed any later than the time that just works, the knock-on effect will simply not be worth it. Either it will throw you off the depressive deep-end, in which case goodbye productivity and anything getting done as you spend the next day stewing in a thick soup of hopelessness and self-hate. Alternatively, a restless night could buy you an all expenses trip to hyper city, and then it’s goodbye to rationality and any semblance of the mental peace and quiet you sometimes manage to cobble together, which really isn’t peace and quiet but is actually nothing more than being thankful that a) at least I don’t feel like killing myself or b) at least my mind isn’t racing at like a thousand miles a second or have a tune going round and round and round it, or else the feeling that I’m doing this and this and this but actually you’re doing nothing because everything in existence is happening RIGHT NOW in your brain which means you can’t actually do anything or maybe you do actually do something but you do it to excess and really tumble out of control and breathe, and breathe, oh for God’s sake BREATHE. So you resign yourself to the fact the routine trumps any of that stuff, make peace with the fact that sometimes the repetitive nature of the routine sometimes feel like a prison in itself, and go to sleep. And then tomorrow you get to do it all over again. All of this without even mentioning that you wake up a good few times during the night, every night, so you never feel entirely rested.

Now hear this and hear this well, because whilst the above is true – and even within that I’ve just thrown a few choice manifestations of symptoms out there, the joyful reality is that you’re never quite sure which specific symptoms are going to get pulled out of the hat – it is also true about being calm, measured and generally mature in my approach.

I don’t really have any issues with turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Positivity is in me, right down to my core, and along with ambition it drives me. Yes, it gets tainted, even submerged sometimes, but it happens because of an ILLNESS I have, an illness I didn’t know I had so I could never work WITH it and instead spent a decade working AGAINST it and against myself. For ten years I had it, for half a decade I became a victim blamer. I blamed myself and saw myself as weak and a failure. But I’m not. I’m smart, I’m capable, I have a multitude of talents. And now I can actually put things in place to utilise what I have. The biggest problem I had was NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS HAPPENING.

So you see, none of that discounts or displaces all the crazy shit that goes on in my head, but I guess there’s nothing she can do in terms of CBT. Maybe the psychiatrist can, maybe he’ll recommend medication and I’ll cross that bridge and make that decision when I come to it.

And it is here we get back to my point about the definition of therapy. You see, it must surely be beneficial to have a place where I can speak openly and candidly in a way that I cannot with friends. You can be open with friends to a point, and I can quite happily explain that yes, I have suicidal thoughts or yes, there are some rather weird delusions that can strike from time to time. But you simply cannot, every single time someone asks ‘how are you’, reply ‘yeah mate fine, apart from like 10 to 10:15 where shit got real and I thought about chucking myself in front of a bus but oh, that passed pretty quick, now I’m just thinking about what to have for lunch. Sup with you?’

Or maybe, maybe I don’t need any of that kind of open interaction with a therapist. Maybe I just need to keep ploughing forward. It isn’t like I’m hiding anything or repressing anything, it’s here, I’m open about it, I know what I’m dealing with and I know where I’m going.

If you made it this far, thoughts?



  1. My friend, as someone who endured therapy off and on for five years, it sounds like you don’t trust her yet. Perhaps you don’t trust she is competent enough to help you or you feel you are better suited for self-therapy. Therapy is a process and there is a strong push-pull in the first 6 months. You have an outlet, your blogs, to release what is rumbling inside like a night of spoiled Indian food. That’s the first step. The next step is harder, trying to turn what you are feeling and experiencing into something productive and helpful. Outside of or in addition to medication, there are techniques used to help people with manic depression, to help reconfigure the self-created distorted image of life. It takes time. You decide what works best for you and will get your needs met.

    • I thought about the trust point a lot over the last few days, I discussed it with my mum and one of my close friends too. I can see more clearly now that is definitely a bigger part then I would’ve thought. What has come up with my friend is that she has commented it took her a lot longer to get to know me then the other way around. I recognise this as something that is a pattern, as is the fact that despite this pattern people have still always trusted me and time and again I have found people will lean on me, sometimes even too much. Yet I am very reticent to open up to others for a very, very long time (in person, obviously I speak quite freely on here) and it is, although for some reason painful to admit, a definite trust thing. I am very happy to listen to my friends, their issues, their problems and again people find this easy with me, but I cannot reciprocate. I fear giving too much of myself away. I do not want them to have a part of me if we ever part ways.

      And yes I think your point about competence does also come into it.

      Thank you for the comment, it definitely nudged me further along the path of something that I am slowly confronting.

      • Trust is huge. And with no relationship attachment, trusting complete strangers can be a leap of faith. The empathic person you are often leaves no room for others to know you. Sharing your honest self cannot be forced. You have to want to. You have to feel comfortable to be as vulnerable as others are with you. Maybe looking inside yourself and what you are afraid of sharing may shed more light on who you keep locked up tight. In case you think you are strange for being reticent with your trust, I want you to know that despite our 10 year age difference, we are frighteningly similar. I have had friends say the exact same thing friends said to you about not opening up and not feeling reciprocity in the friendship. Keep exploring, keep questioning. I really do believe that an unexamined life is not worth living. Take care.

      • I agree wholeheartedly, I will keep exploring, keep questioning and keep moving forward whenever I come across resistance.

        It is definitely comforting to read your comments as, has so often been the case when we’ve spoke, there is a great deal of common ground.

        Thanks for the continued encouragement to push forward.

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