Having Counselling or Therapy

Dan’s* Account

I suffered from depression after a prolonged experience of bullying throughout childhood and adolescence which reached a peak in my early twenties when I experienced three psychotic episodes, believing I was a God at times who had saved the whole of mankind from hell and at other times that I was evil having killed my grandparents with everyone around me was conspiring to seek justice in my punishment. It was fair to say that I actively looked for the right answer for me through therapy or different treatments, always looking to the therapist to make my life easier and quickly take my problems away. With the amount of therapies I’d tried it would have been fair to say that by the time I’d had my first episode of psychosis that therapy probably wouldn’t work for me.

However I still believe that some of the therapy I tried in this time was effective, usually the lower my expectations the better the results. I attended a group therapy session in the University of Leeds Counselling Service where I went to university. At this time my depression was intense and isolated from my family in Leeds and drinking heavily, I had a strong desire to kill myself believing that there was no way back from the way I was feeling. Listening to other people’s stories in the group made me realise that I wasn’t alone in my experience; other people had problems and could see a way through to a more meaningful life. This gave me hope that my situation could improve.

After being admitted to hospital and returning home from Leeds, I came under the care of Lancashire Early Intervention Team who offered me Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For the first year of therapy I was utterly convinced that it would not work for me and that I had something medically wrong with me to experience life in the way I did. Despite this my therapist patiently worked with me, cultivating a therapeutic relationship without me even realising. During a second admission in a state of psychotic panic I began to talk about personal experiences I had suppressed for some time with my family, therapist and care coordinator. After receiving a none judgemental response from the team I was able to make sense of the experiences and suddenly could see the point in therapy. I began to actively engage in the relationship and for the first time in my adult life I could see how I was able to move forward to the life I had always wanted and expected. I was able to talk about my problems concisely and re formulate alternative appraisals of experiences and situations in a systematic and structured way. Before this I had fallen in the trap of analysing my experience so much a solution would never come. To me the progress was always slow but looking back it was rapid as I began to appreciate old friends and make new ones. I started my degree again and progressed through to the end. I am now on the verge of completing an MA and have worked in social care roles for a number of years in my spare time. All things I struggled with before. Since having received therapy I have made consistent progress in improving my mental health and with the help of a crisis plan I have been successful in preventing relapse for since I left therapy. Although at times I struggle and have met significant barriers along the way I can say that I am happier and more fulfilled than I ever thought was possible before these therapy relationships.