I had my first therapy session this morning. I didn’t really feel very prepared… although I’m not really sure what I thought I should have been doing to prepare for therapy?? I suppose it’s just that I haven’t really been thinking about it, I wasn’t dreading it, nervous or anxious about it. In fact I had no expectations at all which is most unlike me. On the walk there, I tried to work out what I wanted to talk about with him first. I couldn’t decide so I just stopped thinking about it and decided to just go with the flow once I was in there. I didn’t think I was going to like the therapist – I was very unsure of him after the introductory 1/2 hour a few weeks ago. I also felt slightly fraudulent because I wasn’t in the pits of despair, so why am I seeing a therapist? I quickly put that idea out of my head – it didn’t take me long to remind myself the reality of my life at the moment and my absolute need to take any help I can get.
I sat down in his office and felt a stab of embarrassed awkwardness as the first seconds were spent staring at each other until I finally said ‘do you want me to start then?’. He said ‘yes’, so I said that I felt much better than I did when I had first seen him. I thought the Fluoxetine was possibly having a positive effect, but I couldn’t be certain it wasn’t just the natural curve of my depression and that I would have been feeling ok even if I wasn’t on the medication. We briefly discussed Fluoxetine, then got down to the crux of the matter which was that I gleaned no enjoyment from life any more. Nothing excites me, I have no hopes, dreams or aspirations any more, nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for… etc. He asked me what aspirations did I used to have that I don’t have any more? …which stumped me for a moment. The list was rather short. Recording music gave me huge pleasure with the added vague hope that just perhaps, one day, I might have some success with it. I also used to think that one day I would love to get a job abroad somewhere for a year or two just so I would have spent a small part of my life living outside of England. I used to have slightly loftier ambitions as far as my career is concerned, and I used to cling onto the hope that one day I would find a partner. I’m sure there were other things, but as I said – the list was rather short. Now all of those things have basically turned to dust and I am left with no ambitions and nothing to strive or hope for.
He said that it seemed to him I had created barriers in my life that were stopping me from something or other – I’ve forgotten what exactly he said but something about trying to build a structure in a sea of emotions that are impossible to contain within any kind of structure (or something). I agreed. I have indeed spent the last 25 years building walls and barriers. Each barrier was very much for my own emotional self-protection, and each barrier was very successful in it’s purpose at the time, but over the years I’ve built so many and they’ve become so complex and intertwined that they are now creating conflicts and causing contradictory thoughts and feelings which have slowly overwhelmed me. Interesting and very possibly true. We discussed a couple of these contradictions I have encountered, and I mentioned that I thought a lot of my contradictions were caused by what I term as ‘social conditioning’ – for example you grow up in a society where little girls play with dollies, little boys play with cars and toy soldiers, then it is the norm to enter into a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, get married and have children. Me being gay, means that I do not conform and my reality is in direct conflict with my social conditioning. He sort of agreed but suggested that what I was describing is a terribly old fashioned school of thought and that peoples attitudes were very different now and these things were not necessarily the ‘norm’ any more. I understood what he meant, but ultimately I was talking about my own experience – my own life and upbringing and that I of course have no idea what other people now consider to to be ‘the norm’.
He then delved back into my childhood and my relationship with my parents – I get the distinct impression there will be a lot more of that in future sessions. I think he believes that the root of all issues stem from your childhood, growing up, and your relationship with your parents. Even if you have a good relationship with them as I do, he believes that your relationship with your parents very much moulds the kind of person you become in adult life. I am interested to explore this further as it isn’t something I’ve given a great deal of thought to. I’ve definitely had issues with my dad in the past, but these things are ancient history and very much in the past – I get on really well with him now.
I did mention a drunken conversation I had with my brother and sister and their partners one evening a few years ago, where to my total surprise, in a conversation about our parents, my sister suddenly came out with ‘mum has never, ever once told me she loves me’. It was clearly a big deal for her, and obviously something that had been gnawing away at her for years, but it felt to me like she was talking about another person – that thought had never even occurred to me. My mum has never been a touchy-feely person, but I’ve always felt she loves me, so I was truly, genuinely shocked to find out that my sister felt this way – and so strongly. The therapist said that there was perhaps something we needed to explore regarding my own relationship with my mum and that perhaps not all my emotional needs had been met as I was growing up… not sure where that one is going to go but it should be interesting.
The most awful moment of the session was when he suggested that perhaps my current lack of aspiration / dreams / desires is in fact just a natural part of life and growing up. You spend your youth looking to the future and making grand plans and decisions about what you want for your future, then when you reach middle age, in theory, you’ve reached your destination and life then becomes something else… it’s not about dreams and aspirations any more it’s about… I honestly can’t remember what he said it was more about, as I was absolutely horrified by this thought. I think I might have even stopped him dead in his tracks and said ‘for gods sake don’t tell me that… because if that’s true then quite frankly there is no reason for me to live any more’. I have never said that before. But for fucks sake, if he was really saying what I thought he was saying, then I might as well just curl up and die, because life will have nothing more to offer me. I really hope I just misunderstood what he was trying to say, because life without hope, life without dreams, life without ambition and aspiration is quite frankly not worth living. At the moment, the only thing I have left is hope – the dreams, ambitions and aspirations have all gone. If I lose hope too, then I’m in serious trouble and I don’t think anyone will be able to help me.
I’m desperately clinging onto the hope that I can find ambition and aspiration again and build new dreams. Even through the blackest days I have always felt the presence of that little flame of hope burning deep inside – and it is that little flame, which always eventually guides me back out of the darkness.
If that flame were to be extinguished….