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Therapy: A Tool for Life, Not Just for Crisis


I first stepped foot into a therapist’s office at the tender age of 11, and I’ve had therapy on and off ever since. 


You might wonder, why am I sharing this with you? Isn’t that a bit TMI?*


Well, for a few reasons, truthfully.


I want to normalise talking about the sides of mental health that I believe are still somewhat stigmatised, like therapy and medication.


I believe therapy should be seen as more than a last resort, and sharing my experiences might help change your perspective on this.


I made a decision a few years ago to always be open and honest with you about mental health, and I know that you appreciate this about me.


Yes, this is a business website, but it’s my business and I want to change this idea of having separate professional and personal lives - everything is so much more blended and nuanced than that.


If this blog post helps one person get support to improve their mental health, it’s 100% worth writing. 


So that’s how I found myself baring all, so to speak, in this month’s blog.


This is my honest experience (and view) of therapy as a tool for life, not just for times of crisis. 



My relationship with therapy began when I was a child


At the age of 11, it was like someone had flicked a switch overnight and things just weren’t right for me. I didn’t want to go out or do anything, and everything felt very surreal. It was a truly frightening time.


With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that I was very clearly suffering from depression, but I didn’t know that then, and nor did my parents.


Referred to a psychologist by the GP, I talked through how I was feeling with them and they tried to pinpoint what was making me feel so sad. In all honesty, I don't think we ever got to the bottom of what had caused it, but sharing the lonely experience with another human helped me feel less isolated. It took time, but eventually, I made a full recovery. The entire experience has stayed with me ever since.


I’ve seen therapists throughout my teenage years and my adult life. Not constantly, but for periods of time on an almost cyclical basis. To help with the stress of navigating teenage years at college, the ups and downs of running a business, the post-natal periods after having both of my children.




I’ve had therapy in times of real crisis in my life


In 2018, I went through such a terrible period of OCD that I asked my husband, Stuart, to drive me to A&E at 7am on a sunny August morning.


I was so scared of the intrusive thoughts I was experiencing and I didn’t know which way to turn.


This triggered a referral to my local acute mental health service, which placed me under the care of its home treatment team. This way, they could visit me at home and keep me out of hospital. 


They would come and visit me every day and check-in. Make sure I wasn’t doing anything crazy. I say that flippantly, but in all seriousness, it was an especially bad time in my life and at the point of visiting A&E, I couldn't see a way out.


Along with adjusting the medication I was already taking, I was referred to a therapist to eventually recover from that episode. 


Although it took me a really really long time to see someone due to the increasing NHS waiting times, I was grateful it helped me move out of that crisis point and get better. 



Other times, I’ve had therapy when things have been kind of okay


Six months ago, I started seeing a therapist after a long break.


I wasn’t at a crisis point and I didn’t want to go to the doctor’s, but I knew myself well enough to realise I was having some issues I needed to discuss with someone.


This time, I found someone recommended by a close friend and booked a block of six sessions with a local therapist.


I liked the idea of offloading all that stuff inside my head onto someone independent who didn’t know me or anything about my life. It gave me the headspace to reflect on what was going on and what to do about it, and I’m so glad I did. 


Such a different experience from those times of crisis when I’ve found myself in a therapist’s chair, but still so, so worthwhile.


She helped me at a time when I knew professional support was needed, but by the end of the six-session block, I decided I was probably okay, and didn’t need to go back for now.



Is there still a stigma around therapy?


Yes, I think so. 


Mental health has become talked about so much more in the last few years, but it still feels like a closed subject when it comes to matters like medication (which I’ve spoken openly about in this blog post) and therapy. 


Imagine your best friend told you that she and her partner were going to couples’ counselling: what would you think? 


They were on the brink of a divorce? Someone had cheated?


Maybe that’s presumptuous, but I can’t imagine many of us naturally see it as a standard way to maintain a relationship.


But whether it’s individually or as a couple, therapy can be a great way to nip things in the bud, prevent challenges spiralling into major issues, increase self-awareness, and create a tool box of coping mechanisms for tougher times.


Would you consider therapy as an option? Or would you think “I’m not that depressed”or “My anxiety isn’t that bad”?


How about we start to see it as another form of self-care, rather than waiting until we are at rock bottom in order to feel we deserve it?


It's an option you can explore if you just feel like you need a bit of extra support to navigate life’s challenges, both big and small.


That’s certainly my perspective on it after the varying but overwhelmingly positive experiences I’ve had.


 

Let’s be honest: therapy can be expensive


I wanted to take a moment here to touch on the cost angle, because I’m well aware I’m speaking from a privileged position of being able to afford private therapy, which people often see as a luxury, and I do get it.


The NHS waiting lists are long. Even longer since Covid, and I know from experience how agonising that wait can be to access the support you desperately need. 


If you’re not able to wait and you can afford to pay, private therapy is an option.


Being transparent, I paid £50 for each hour-long session during my most recent block of private therapy. This is expensive. But it’s something I decided to prioritise and it was money well-spent. 


To me, finding the right therapist and having that safe space to talk is worth its weight in gold because I’m in a far better mindset than I was prior to those six sessions.


I see it as an investment in myself, the same way I’d invest in seeing an osteopath for a bad back or a business consultant to grow my company. 




Will I go back to therapy? Probably


Right now, I’m in a good place and I don’t feel the need to see a therapist, but I would absolutely go back into therapy in future if I found myself feeling differently, and I wouldn’t wait until I was in dire straits mentally.


For me, it’s comforting to know the option is there as and when it’s needed.


After all, we’re complex beings, and how we feel is not black and white. We don’t veer from fine-and-dandy to full-blown-crisis: there’s a world of nuance in between the two.


If you’ve never tried therapy and you’re curious about how it could help you reduce your anxiety, improve your relationships, change your perspective on a certain situation, or simply move through life with more ease and confidence, I would highly recommend searching for a therapist who can start that journey with you. 


As always, thank you for reading,


Kate x


*TMI - too much information!

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When I’m not at the bench creating jewellery or sitting at the laptop writing my next blog post for you, I can usually be found cuddling our fluffball of a cat, Kenji, watching Tottenham getting thrashed with my eldest son, or playing table tennis with my youngest at the kitchen table. Oh, and I happen to be married to the most supportive man, who still makes me giggle after all our years together. Yep, I lucked out there didn't I?

 

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