As you all know, I vacillate wildly between thinking my over reliance on therapist is keeping me from being fully well, to understanding that it's mostly transference and a normal part of the process in long term therapy. While we were talking about it last week, again trying to decide whether I should continue with her or move on, she showed me two lists - one is what not to say to someone who is depressed, one is what it would be helpful to say. Before giving me this first one, she asked me to read it and at the same time consider how many of these are things I say to myself (hint - most of them):
- You’re crazy.
- This is your fault.
- You’re not trying.
- Everyone has bad times.
- You’ll be okay — there’s no need to worry.
- You’ll never be in a serious romantic relationship.
- What's the matter with you?
- I can’t help you.
- You don’t have to take your moods out on me — I’m getting so tired of this.
Then there's list this, the helpful things:
- This is a medical illness and it is not your fault.
- I am here. We'll make it through this together.
- You and your life are important to me.
- You’re not alone.
- Tell me how I can help.
- I might not know how you feel, but I’m here to support you.
- Whenever you feel like giving up, tell yourself to hold on for another minute, hour, day — whatever you feel you can do.
- Your illness doesn't define who you are. You are still you, with hopes and dreams you can attain.
This one made me cry. This one is the reason I feel such a sense of reliance on her, because no matter what I say, this is what I hear from her. In an ideal world, this is what everyone living with a mental illness would hear from their nearest and dearest, but sometimes in everyday life it's just not possible. That's why we turn to professionals for support, and why that support is so important. Someday, I won't need that. Someday I'll be able to say these things for myself. Till then? I'll try and avoid list number 1 and accept her help in making sense of my mind.
Labels: compassion, empathy, inner critic, kindness, negative thoughts, perception, support, therapist