I’ve been making loads of progress with my counsellor Tina over the last couple of months. We work in a number of ways – just sit and talk, draw, write things, do mind maps [which I find really helpful] and also do other dynamic stuff such as sitting in different chairs communicating in all sorts of ways with my child parts and also other people in my life who cause me problems. Tina and I have very powerful though gentle sessions. Each week we have a Russian doll which we use to represent some of my child parts so they feel fully part of what goes on in the room.
Tina was a rock during my recent benefit crisis, enabling me to express my anger, hurt and frustration instead of bottling it all up and self-harming as a result of bottling it up and internalising it all. One day I was so angry that she suggested I bash a pillow. I felt really silly to start with and deep within expected my expression of anger to be belittled, instead it was honoured and given space to come out and as I beat the pillow more I felt less and less silly and ended up kicking it in the air and stamping on it.
Another week I was exploring how I see myself in relation to what my abusers said I was. I wrote a long list of all the negative and terrible things my abusers made me to believe I was. To try and get past the brain-washing she suggested writing list of words I would use to describe myself. I really struggled to write a positive list of words. Tina then said what about other people you know I trust. I suggested her and she wrote a long list. After that she asked “who else?” I looked blankly at her and she suggested writing down what my prominent child part sees you. I went blank at that point so she suggested I choose a cushion to represent the child part and hold it. I chose and held the cushion to me, closed my eyes and focused in on her and out came the most amazing list. Tina then suggested Kathy, my CPN. I chose a different cushion, closed my eyes and focused in on all the positive things she has said to me about me and my character.
At the end of that I had several very long lists which made me take a deep breath, stand back and go ‘wow’. It was incredible to read those amazing lists and realise I am not what and who my abusers said I was and made me to believe I am. The real ‘me’ outside of that toxic situation is very different. For the first time in my life I began to stand outside of how I see myself and get a very different view. To say it was very powerful is a huge understatement.
Last week I was feeling very drained because I’d had an extremely disrupted night’s sleep full of constant waking from bad vivid dreams. There was one specific nightmare which I remembered in finite detail. It is so rare for me to remember the details of my dreams that I knew it was significant and needed to be looked into. During my session with Tina we looked in detail at what happened in the dream and all the characters in it. She had a box of soft toys which I used to represent different characters in the dreams. I then went and sat by each soft toy and explored what was happening from their perspective. In the process we picked the entire nightmare apart and realised it was about the impending changes ahead with my CPN and how that’s making me feel. It was also about the process of change I’ve undergone during the last few months in my ways of thinking, processing, perceiving myself and the world around me, and in how I deal with events that happen.
Two nights later I had another similar night and another very vivid nightmare which I also remembered in detail. Remembering the work I did with Tina two days previously I was able to examine that dream and recognise that the theme was a continuance of the issues and fears around impending changes as well as how I and my life are changing as a result of the work I’ve been putting in to my healing.
I will be seeing Tina again on Tuesday, the day before I travel north for a break, to see friends and visit favourite places. We will discuss my thoughts and fears about the trip as well as remind myself of all the positive reasons why I’m making the trip.
I did a useful piece of work with my Rethink Mental Health Recovery Worker last week in which we wrote down all the positive reasons why I’m going north and all the positive things I intend to do and experience during it. I printed two copies when I typed that list out. I put the copies back to back and laminated it. I did that so that whichever side I pick up first I will see something positive. I will take that with me on my trip and use it keep me grounded in why I’m there and hope it will help keep anxiety and fear at bay.