I write this post filled with apprehension, fear, hope and a whole lot of gratitude. Also in there is a huge amount of appreciation for my therapist who pushed back against my local hospital’s administration and provided me with one-on-one therapy. And there’s pride too.
This past Wednesday, I ended a months-long period of Mindfulness-Integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MiCBT). Beginning in mid-March, I’ve spent a minimum of thirty minutes, twice daily, meditating and subsequently reading and applying the lessons my reading has taught me. I’ve done all the homework, completed the daily practices, and prepared everything I can to ready myself for the days, months and years to come.
As I spoke to my therapist, we talked about the need for therapy to be tailored to the needs of the patient. That while groups are economical, they aren’t always the best fit. At the end of the day, the needs of the patient (or client) have to come first. Because my therapist sees this truth she took a lot of flak for meeting my need.
We spoke of the good fortune I created for myself by not taking no for an answer. When I approached the mental health service that provided the MiCBT therapy, I’d already been turned down by two other agencies. They did this, in large part, because of my illness. It’s been suggested to me that my illness, bipolar II disorder, isn’t one of the “easy” mental illnesses. It’s treatment can take longer and, as such, it “skews the numbers” negatively. I think this is probably correct.
Please don’t misunderstand me. All mental illnesses are serious. None are “easy”. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that some illnesses are perceived as more treatable than others. Or at least that’s the way some agencies and governments seem to think. Consequently, an imbalance exists in the allocation of resources to treat mental illnesses.
My solution to this? Look for a service that explicitly mentioned that it treated my illness! Through my persistence, I found it.
My therapist and I explored the questionnaires I completed throughout my therapy. The answers give proof of the growth I’ve undergone these past months. At the pre-screening stage, my questionnaire scores were all in clinical ranges for depression, anxiety, stress and quality of life. Each of those scores has improved so much that I’m now well within non-clinical ranges across the board.
Still, apprehension and fear exist. These past months, elements of each day have been structured around the MiCBT practice, the readings, and the other homework. Additionally, I’ve had weekly therapy sessions with my therapist who’s been there to lend support whenever I stumbled. Now, that structure and support are at an end. I must ask myself: am I prepared for what life will bring? Am I ready?
The answer is, I firmly believe, yes. These past weeks and months have helped me to gain better confidence in myself, improved trust in myself. I’ve learned to discern the difference between self-confidence borne out of accomplishment, in this case, months of hard work, and self-confidence borne out of hypomania. And, through this discernment, I no longer fear myself. It’s ok to be proud of an accomplishment, and this pride is not hypomania.
Pride gives way to hope. The self-assurance I currently feel will likely subside. A lifetime of mood fluctuation suggests this. Hope will remain. The hope that I’ll use the tools from this therapy to benefit myself in the future. For this reason, I’ve asked my therapist to send to me a complete set of blank worksheets. I can use those, the text, and the audio tools, as the need arises to benefit my ongoing mental health. In so doing, I can take comfort in the fact that these resources helped me once, and they can help me again.
Apart from the hard work, I’m proud of myself for my self-advocacy. I stepped up. I recognized my self-worth and I pushed and pushed, and kept on pushing until I was heard. I found the service that might benefit me, and I insisted that my psychiatrist refer me to it. The benefits that I’ve gained from this are huge, and they tell me, in the clearest possible way, that my persistence was the right thing to do.
I say these things because viewing myself as worthy isn’t something I do all that easily. Far too often, I’ve belittled myself, beat myself down, loathed myself. This time, I didn’t allow myself to do that. This time I acted in my own best interests. I’m a better person because of it.
I am so grateful for having this opportunity to work to heal myself. And I hold deep, deep gratitude for my therapist. She was transparent about the issues she perceived in the group I initially participated in. She saw it wasn’t working, that I was uncomfortable with the group dynamics. And she was transparent about the flak she received when she decided to extend one-on-one therapy to me. Her actions created an environment that enabled deep healing. For that, for her encouragement, for her kindness, I am profoundly grateful.
And with that, I come to the end of this post. Much like the view outside on this day, the days and years ahead are somewhat foggy, but I’m confident and feel ready for what they may bring. Despite my apprehension and fear, hope and gratitude will prevail. I’m ready!
Image by Sofia Iivarinen from Pixabay