An Insight into client therapy
This is a real life honest account of a client that has undergone therapy for help with social anxiety and depression.
The Last 7 Years..
Psychoanalysis and Hypnosis. When you say those words what do you honestly think of? I personally did NOT think it would be my saving grace.
When the suggestion was put to me to write this blog I agreed because I get great satisfaction from helping people – thanks for bringing that to my attention Steve! I thought I was just a pushover.
The last 7 years has been one tremendous journey of depression and therapy and even medication. Whether it is considered a good one or a bad one it has been MY journey and it’s made me who I am today.
If you have ever experienced depression you’ll know what I mean when I say you never really think about what the cause is in that much detail, just the feeling. That black hole, the no one can help me, I’m terrible/awful/disgusting/my life is horrific feeling.
It’s very easy to blame whatever is happening to you or in your life because let’s face it, that is the most plausible, if not the only option for it to all make sense.
Winston Churchill referred to his dark days as the Black Dog and I don’t think anyone has created an analogy quite so effective since.
Let me begin:
When I looked for my own reason for my depression I looked straight at being badly bullied at school that was all it could be because my life was nowhere near terrible. That is when my therapy journey really begun.
I tried a very basic type of therapy where I would go and talk about how I was feeling and what was happening to me but with very little interaction from the other side.
Needless to say that didn’t work for me and my first experience of ‘counselling’ wasn’t a good one. How could I sort out my problems with no advice or guidance?
The bullying made me grow up quickly and it was then that I started hiding behind a facade and not letting people know what I was really thinking or feeling because on a daily basis I HAD to pretend I didn’t care so I could survive and get through. I guess that’s what I’d call a 16 survival instinct!
Fast forward a bit to 19 years old, it was July 2005 that I started on a new therapy track and was referred by a doctor to see a private therapist that would hopefully help me. There was more interaction and less of just me talking at her. She asked me questions but never really challenged me. It lasted on and off for about 3 years but I found over time I didn’t really get as much from it as I had hoped and whilst it had initially worked it wasn’t going to cure me of my black dog days.
I think I learned at that point there isn’t one solution that fits all symptoms.
I was 22 when I went through a really bad time and after an intervention from my parents I went onto antidepressants prescribed by our family doctor. They weren’t particularly strong and were meant to boost my serotonin levels . They did exactly that and miracle of miracles they worked! They cured me and I was over the moon and I felt normal and I could handle life. I stayed on them for 15 months and then took myself off of them. I figured that was long enough for them to sort my brain and hormone levels out.
So this brings me to early 2010 and I am now 24. I spent a few months enjoying the fuzzy after affects of the medicines…..and then I absolutely crashed. With a capital C
I had no idea what was going on if I was coming or going and I was scared. I’d tried counselling, Psychotherapy and anti–depressants. Nothing had worked and I started to think maybe this was it for me. I had no idea what to do for myself and I’ll be honest and tell you suicide did cross my mind on more than one occasion but I had no idea how to really do it properly and I was petrified of the after math if it didn’t work.
November 2010 was when I came across Steve McKeown Psychoanalyst and clinical hypnotist and, as he already knows, I really felt like this was my last try at fixing myself. I’d spent almost every evening crying at my own reflection finding myself hideous and disgusting, my life was a sham and most importantly I truly believed I was an awful person that no one loved or cared about. I didn’t even love me.
When I sat in front of him at our initial consultation he knew more about me than I did without me really saying anything! That both shocked and amazed me and gave me the confidence that Steve would, in effect, save me. I realise just how dramatic that sounds but unless you’ve gone through depression and tried everything you can you don’t know what it feels like and I make no apologies.
Being that low made me realise I could only go up and I had to try at least for myself and my family and who had supported me and put up with absolutely everything. I was a shadow of my former bubbly, outgoing self and they hadn’t turned their back, they could see I was in crisis.
The first time Steve hypnotised me it felt like 10 minutes, 15 at the most and when he said it had been nearly 35 minutes I was absolutely shocked! I was absolutely knackered after that first session.
It has been almost a year since I started going to see Steve though I did have break of almost 4 months from April – July. Up until April my sessions addressed some of what I’d call were the top level issues that I had – the easy to reach stuff. These last few months have dealt with a whole lot more that I did not know existed and I have been broken down and built back up.
Every week has been different with Steve but always exactly what I need and unbelievably effective. No idea how he does it but he can judge how the session needs to go in the first 5 minutes!
After the first couple of sessions I made some changes to my life as it was at that time. He put this confidence back in me that I hadn’t felt in a really long time and I really felt like me again for a few weeks.
The thing I had yet to realise with any therapy, especially psychoanalysis is that it isn’t instantaneous and you do have to do some of the work yourself. When I cracked that I noticed a lot changing in me.
One of the most important tools Steve has given is The FIT Technique as we call it. It’s all about stopping your negative thinking in its tracks and re-programming your brain to think positively. I have to say my negative thinking was like second nature and I didn’t stick to using the technique at first because I thought if it didn’t work first time it just wouldn’t work at all. Perseverance and being told off by Steve more than once has made me use it a lot more and as he promised, it really does work!
Initially, during my actual Hypnosis, Steve had me looking back at past events and experiences and I seemed to gravitate towards the bullying each time or feeling alone or sad or left out and secluded. I think there was something in me at first that couldn’t connect with anything else because that was my source of blame. As far as I was concerned that was all it was! I had never given it much more thought to figure out where my insecurities came from which is odd because I was absolutely riddled with them!
It is not easy to fool Steve I have to say and during one of my sessions Steve dragged something up that I ignored for 10 years, something that a female should never have to go through at the hands of a friend especially at 15 years old. God knows how he had picked up on any of it but he did and for the first time in my life I dealt with it. When I got home I looked in the mirror and realised I wasn’t disgusting or hideous. I had never connected the two things and I’d suffered from a dysmorphic disorder for a really really long time.
I’d buried everything under the umbrella of bullying and didn’t see there was anything else but gradually Steve made me realise there are lots of parts to a personality and lots of experiences that make us who we are.
I stopped seeing Steve in April 2010 as I said before having only dealt with the easy stuff. The stuff I could admit to myself – and being one for hiding behind every tiny wall and barrier possible even the easy stuff made me uncomfortable!
Each week we’d addressed something but not always through hypnosis, there have been times that I’ve just needed to talk and have a therapy session without the hypnosis bit (Life coaching and training). I’d really come a long way and I’d dealt with a lot of pent up stuff that no one really knew about because I wasn’t talking openly to anyone. Steve turned into my confidante and it really was only him that I spoke to. Knowing that you can say absolutely anything to someone and it really will go no further is a huge relief and so important for this kind of environment. Steve became one of the only people I absolutely trusted and respected – which I have never really told him.
I had a lot going on when Steve and I decided to end my sessions because at that time I’d reached the point I needed to.
I think in hindsight all the stuff I had going on was actually just a distraction from me and sorting myself out. I had other things to think about and focus on for a short time and I was probably looking for the easy way out because I so wanted to believe I was all fixed.
I was wrong. Not dramatically, unbelievably, catastrophically wrong, just a bit wrong. So July this year I returned to Steve for what I now think of as a more intense form of therapy with the added bonus of Steve’s coaching.
When I said I had literally been broken down and built back up this is what I was referring to. But I knew in order to do that I had to be 100% honest again and I’d gone back to hiding myself away so to say I’ve been uncomfortable and outside of my safe zone is an understatement! Every week Steve was challenging me and MAKING me challenge myself. There were no ifs or buts, I had to do and I didn’t want to let either of us down.
I started using the technique religiously, I did absolutely everything Steve asked me to and I started to really genuinely feel like I was getting somewhere. FINALLY!
Each week when I go to see Steve his first question is always “how have you been this week” and it’s never really until that point that I reflect back and think of things that have (or haven’t) happened. It’s odd because after a certain point the changes your brain is going through become second nature and permanent and you just don’t realise the transition. I’ll be totally honest here, for the first 2 months of going back to Steve it was up and down and I really was waiting to take the ever so familiar downward spiral again.
Steve once asked me the question where do you want to get to? Who do you want to be? When I told him what I wanted, I thought it seemed a bit far-fetched but essentially it was just to feel normal. Yes I realise I had absolutely no idea what normal felt like in my adult life but I knew I wanted a consistent feeling that wasn’t depression.
I do not know how he does it but he picks up on every little thing and gets me to think about stuff that isn’t necessarily present in my mind when I walk into the room for my session.
He asks the right questions based on my personality and really won’t let me get away with a half answer! I won’t lie here, he has seen more tears than I care to mention but it has all been part of the process.
I’ve learned a lot of things about myself that I just thought were massive defects I couldn’t fix or erase. I have always suffered from social anxiety, always thinking the shift in a room’s atmosphere was because of me and my weirdness. I’ve always worried what people think of me and try and adjust my own personality to please them – I think it’s fair to say that since I have written this for people to actually read I no longer care!
I have created a big wall between me and everything and everyone else so for several years I haven’t let anyone really know who I am. When Steve got this out of me it was one of the biggest aha! moments in my therapy. I just thought I was weird and not wired the same as everyone else so fundamentally no one would ever get me. Through admitting everything to Steve I’ve actually also admitted it to myself which just shows how dishonest I’ve been for the last 7 years!
I have always had difficulty dealing with people and issues because I do not like confrontation. So I wouldn’t day if I was upset or annoyed or just needed to talk about something. People used to get away with anything with me! Every time I have a situation now that I need to deal with and I try to avoid it I actually picture Steve telling me to “just get on and deal with it” – my words not his!
I never used to associate with anything and I’d distance myself from people and situations to avoid getting upset, hurt or disappointed but Steve, in his no nonsense way, has made me stop doing that and made me realise I am a good person and others deserve to see this. Then if they don’t like it at least I’ve been myself and they aren’t worth having in my life. That’s an uncomfortable thought – telling people to do one if they don’t like me. I’ve never done that before! And as yet haven’t had the opportunity to do because it would seem those who I’ve hidden from care and love me just the same as they did before. I’m almost waiting for the opportunity to use this new found confidence if anyone doesn’t like me!
Asking questions has always been a big deal for me as well. I always believed people would think my question was stupid or I sounded stupid mainly because of my lack of confidence and self belief. This probably made me look fairly antisocial and disinterested in other people but it was all down to fear. Steve set me a task: I had to ask at least one question every day of someone or something. First thing I felt was panic! And panic. And a bit more panic. Seriously, who was going to want answer my stupid unimportant questions?! Turns out everyone.
I realise these probably all sounds like very small issues very but I was so inside my own head and not speaking to everyone so everything built up tremendously and it literally became consuming, I was just one big ball of scared.
I have suffered from controlling family relationships in my life and this is something I am currently working on to achieve what I want and not what others want and to re-assert my own independence over those who think they know best for me. This is one of the hardest things to do being as it’s been a force of habit for pretty much all my life. But I am absolutely going to do it because I have a new found confidence and backing from Steve.
I’m also finally talking to other people, letting them in and being honest. None of that has been easy to do let me tell you! And so many times I’ve gone back behind my ‘wall’ as I’ve come to know and describe it. But if I’m going to get anywhere I’m going to have to suck it up and do it, there just isn’t a more pleasant way of putting it! I’ve gone through way too much in therapy and depression to just do what feels safest now. I’m so outside of my comfort zone but one day it will be second nature and I tell you what, when that day comes (without me realising, naturally!) it will be the single biggest achievement in my life.
Now if I didn’t write a little something about Steve McKeown that would be wrong. He is quite possibly the most influential person I have ever met and I owe an awful lot to him and his skills and patience. I meant it when I said he would save me because he absolutely did! This isn’t a long winded testimonial or tribute to Steve, this is me being honest about what I have gone through in the last 7 years and he is an enormous part of that having done more for me than any other therapist or medication!
On my 25th birthday I promised myself I would NOT be that person anymore and when I reached my 26th although I’m not quite there I am a far cry from who I was so every last little drop of my thanks goes to Steve and his support.
In all honesty, I do not like feeling vulnerable and writing all of this makes me feel exactly that and more! But …if you don’t write your experiences down, then no one else can learn and find comfort that there really is someone else out there that has been through a tough time and did actually make it through to the other side.