ACT or analysis

Quick thoughts on therapy:
My current counsellor has proposed two routes for me to take with regard to fighting the blues. One is Exploratory Psychotherapy (think Freud & Jung but with less sex) and the second is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (think value-oriented mindful action).

The first I apporach with the basic fear of being caught in a blame game and never-ending sessions of attempting to root out a subconscious desire that can’t be proven one way or another. Add to that the basic weirdness of such ‘intimacy’ with a stranger and the horror of opening the broiling wounds of my psyche and the underlying fears and pain that I have spent years learning how to control and it seems a ridiculously frightening and uncomfortable prospect.
On the other hand perhaps some dark recesses would be less shadowy if I faced them, perhaps there is something lurking that a stranger is perfectly positioned to uncover and I would be able to fight my own demons more effectively and just don’t know it yet. Perhaps I secretly yearn to express myself…

The second option has the obvious advantage of a slightly buddhist feel with a smidgen of humanist philosophy and some dialetical language theory thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed mindfulness even if I never had the self discipline to follow through the practice and since ACT can also be used to help manage chronic pain it seems an obvious choice.
What if, however, I am merely throwing another coat of paint over the rust? What if I can’t muster the motivation? What if I don’t put the effort in because I am too comfortable being “ill” even though I’m actually just a malingerer? What if there just isn’t a therapist inside 30 miles?

A huge part of me just wants someone to tell me what to do; to say this is the right thing in your life and you can make it work; to tell me that I’m ok.
Trouble is it doesn’t matter if they do cos I don’t know how to believe them.

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April Notes & Updates

  • Wrote (more than 12 hrs before the panel started) and delivered my conference paper without imploding. Woop!
  • damn damn damn – still haven’t completed my pesky first chapter- ruddy thing
  • Happy Birthday B!  – I’m glad we spent some time away together. Sea air and your arms – thankyou
  • Well done all. A trip home and no public meltdowns. We were very brave.
  • Dear Gods above, what on earth am I going to give my wife for our 3rd anniversary? Excited and delighted but a little perplexed.
  • We have beautiful pear blossom, tiny onions and enthusiastic tomatoes. Even the potato plants are sprouting. Hurrah for rain.
  • Gave my beer talk – didn’t freeze in front of people I have to speak to regularly. Surprised and pleased.
  • Waiting for physio for my knee/ waiting for miraculous improvement – how am I supposed to lose weight without walking?
  • Trying to decide what the next step on my head-fixing plan is – explorative psychotherapy, ACT, drugs or none of the above? Maybe I am shiny? Maybe I am terrified.
  • Beer Festival eek nearly that time again..
  • oooo Holiday planning!

March Already?

So To Do list? Where you at?

Well the good news is mainly garden related. Not only are the raised beds filled but the pear and gooseberry have now found permanent homes (and seem to have survived being moved from the allotment and wintered in pots). We have also planted strawberries and early potatoes – which are being reticent about sending up shoots sadly – and are trying a first round of seedlings. Despite the fact our success rate looks lower than 33% we do have some chives and purple-sprouting basil showing their heads and I am trying to work out how long to leave them inside before transferring them to the uncertain world outside.
Trellising, painting and puppy are still waiting to happen, in part its a financial issue, in part it is due to the distraction of fireplace and in part it is inertia. Nonetheless I’m determined to have trellis and paint finished before my parents visit again, if for no other reason than my father thinks its is faintly amusing that I repeat his pattern of building up jobs and then blitzing them in a panic rather than getting stuff done piece by piece.

I will confess to having completely letting the calorie-counting slide. Partly out of sheer laziness with regard to spending 20mins each day trying to work out how much of each individual foodstuff I have consumed and partly the distraction of working on thesis etc. It is perhaps not surprising then that the scales tells me I still weigh 13st 4 – its less than January but its hardly monumental. The issue is of course exercise – I need to do some. I am proving rubbish at fitting it into my daily schedule and even the sunshine is not forcing me out and about on my feet more. Someone throw me some motivation pretty please.
On the other hand as you will have seen I’m doing that counselling thing. Can’t say I feel better for it (every session begins with dread and ends with a knot and the desire to cry) but its good to force myself to think about things differently rather than sliding back into the comfy-but-damaging patterns. I guess it will be back to drugs after this bout of talking but hey ho I’ve known this was long-haul for a while now.

So what next?
Well by the time I reassess my goals next I will have: given my conference paper (which is not yet written eek); spent a few days away with B; done more planting; put up trellis(?) and lost another 4lbs!

Things Happening

Time for a swift update, in no particular order:

  • Dentist today. Rotten wisdom tooth removed. Ouch!
  • Pub refurb. well under way, paint delivered and sugar soap everywhere. This means 1000s of PumpClips to sort, a sort of weird nostalgia trip for long defunct breweries and a soothing sort of alphabetising
  • The trial of the man who assaulted my sister will take place later this week. I will not be there but my father left for France this morning. I hope that the communication barriers will be easily surmontable and that my sister gets the result that best helps her get on with her life.
  • I have (re-)started therapy. Unlike the last few iterations this is not primarily CBT based which I think is a good thing. I am a little too skilled at CBT..with its emphasis on control of thought and action. This will be (it seems) more classically psychoanalytic and so far has taken a definite slant towards ‘dead mother’ issues which is irksome but unavoidable.
  • I am STILL rewriting chapter 1. My loathing of the whole concept of literature review has reached quite mammoth proportions and I fear I will never move beyond this section.

So thats a quick update of my last couple of weeks. I have some rants stored up for you so be prepared.

Psych. Professionals & Polyamory

Inspired by this blog article.

Its a thorny issue when you are depressed how much you let a professional tell you that there are changes you need to make in your lifestyle/circumstances.
Often when you get to a point to where you want help, one of the things you want help with is where stressors and problems lie and with working out what changes can be made – but there are some things that can’t be compromised.

For example my beloved wife’s smother is a major source of stress and heartache for both of us but my wife is determined to keep her in our lives. I respect that and any therapeutic relationship she has needs to respect that too. For me, I am not prepared to sacrifice my relationships for a therapist and thankfully I have never been asked.

Despite a perfectionist streak about a mile wide and a massive desire to please and to be loved, despite the fact I tend to blame myself for other people’s problems, even at the worst moments, even when we argued – I knew what needed to change was not  having two relationships but how I approached those relationships. I was lucky because I had a counsellor who agreed.

But whilst at no point was I pressured to believe my ‘lifestyle’ was to blame I did have to spend a lot of time explaining myself.

I believe that when I started serious therapy  and first talked about my ‘support network & family situation’ my counsellor thought that having 2 relationships was symptomatic of my low self-esteem, setting myself up to fail and probably more than a little odd, hell I worried about those things, but he never voiced any concerns only questions.
Some were questions about what my relationships were like for me, How was I treated? How did I cope with their feelings and jealousies? What benefits and what problems were there? All things that were about me evaluating my life and being deliberate about my choices, relevant regardless of the number of relationships I had just with a different twist.
But others were more personal or practical; questions that were born out of ignorance and confusion, not malicious or hurtful but difficult because they forced me to explain myself when I had other things on my mind.

Its not easy to manage any relationship when one (or more) party has severe depression and figuring out what you want out from your love life is a pre-requisite for good relationships for everyone so a therapist who can help you work towards a healthier, happier, honest and open  life and relationships is brilliant. But that is easier to do when your therapist isn’t starting on the back foot information-wise