I have been participating in psychotherapy for four and a half
years. It is open-ended and I consider myself so fortunate to have
had this sustained opportunity. I have been using adult mental
health services for nearly 30 years and psychotherapy was never put
forward as an option before. Medication, electroconvulsive therapy,
in-patient and community care had all been explored.
The chance to have psychotherapy arose through the child and
family consultation service where my 13-year-old son David has been
receiving care and therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder since he was four. While attending the service with him
one day, I was told psychotherapy was available for me. I entered
into it feeling scared but it has been a most rewarding although
often painful, experience.
Through psychotherapy, I have become aware of my defences,
insecurities, feelings, fears and very low self-esteem that have
patterned and impeded my life. I have faced up to many of my early
life experiences, some of which I had repressed. These include
early childhood to late adolescent sexual, physical and emotional
abuse by my father, and being raped by a stranger in my
mid-twenties. Emotional abuse permeated my life until recently and
I have begun to distance myself from it.
People now say to me I am a very different person. Now I wear my
confident “I can” hat and have learned I am not a total waste of
space or an “all bad” person who bears guilt for everything. Fears
and apprehensions no longer totally control my life.
I have found inner freedom through positive self-development and
the experience of consistent, ongoing support, understanding and
acceptance. My inner and outer world has opened up. For most of my
life, I thought I was empty, devoid of feelings and a failure. I
felt I was entirely blameworthy for my own numbness.
Now I experience a whole range of human feelings and can show
these to others – especially my husband, my son and 17-year-old
daughter. I enjoy my humanity, appreciate my strengths and am able
to identify with the feelings of others. Sometimes I even offer
others support and understanding. I am a whole person with good,
and less good traits, and I accept responsibility for both.
I no longer feel like I’m a victim. I see new
opportunities and feel like an achiever, especially within my
voluntary and paid mental health work. I experience and enjoy all
relationships and especially have found new fulfilment as a wife
and mother. Psychotherapy has encouraged and enabled me to have an
insight into what I can positively offer my children and my
relationships with them are beginning to bear fruit.
I am not the timid, blocked off soul I always was. I can examine
my newly recognised emotions and defences and challenge them.
Instead of always putting a lid on my feelings, I have learned to
look at them first. The quality of my life has been greatly
enhanced by psychotherapy. Special thanks go to Elizabeth, my
Andrea Phillips is a mental health service