Monday, 29 June 2015


I've had a fair few therapists in my time.

Since the age of 12 my life has felt a lot like a constant journey in and out of consultant rooms, mental health hospitals, and living rooms. More times than I'd care to admit, in fact. Every therapist that I've seen, whether it be for 40 sessions or two sessions, have provided me with vital knowledge, whether it be good or bad. Some remain in my long term memory, some have faded to that part of the brain that has the trap door secured tightly (with a plan for no return). 10 years of therapy is a long time and I'm honestly unsure whether it will be something I will ever not need. I've learned to accept that being in therapy is not a bad thing and shouldn't be seen as so (maybe I should do a blog post about this?), but I've also learned how difficult and emotionally challenging it can be when the time comes to leave a therapist you've developed a particularly strong connection with.

There have been two therapists in my 10 years of treatment that I became particularly attached to. Both females, both of roughly the same age, both compassionate, caring and involved in the development of my personality and confidence as I grew older. Both who had an interest in me, my life and my interests and hobbies - my life outside of a mental illness. Both, to an extent, saved me from suicide.

Although I am still currently in therapy, I've had to cope with learning to adapt to life without two particularly special therapists who supposedly kept my head above water. I never thought I'd cope four years ago once I had to leave CAMHS and somehow, I did.

Through my two week work experience at YouthNet I've noticed a trend in young people concerned about having to leave therapy, how they'll cope with the transition to living without support, and their doubts on their ability to deal with this change. I'm hoping that this post may give you a few tips and advice based on my personal experiences to make that transition feel a little easier for you.

Expect sadness

I find that it's extremely easy to belittle yourself for your emotions following the termination of treatment/therapy. Many people refer to leaving therapy as a grieving process - and I wouldn't hesitate to agree. Many confess difficulties and emotions with their therapists that they wouldn't dream of discussing with their closest friends or family - and for someone who is mentally ill, finding someone who they can trust to that extent is often a significant event in ones life. It's very easy to develop strong attachments to therapists, to treat them as parental figures even (I know I for one have had that experience), and to invest your life with these strangers who, perhaps unlike others in your life, have a role to support you. My advice is - don't belittle yourself for the grieving process. By not allowing yourself to feel your emotions/sadness - you're possibly throwing away everything that you've ever been taught. Feel the sadness, but don't forget the positives that have come out of treatment also (I'll talk more about this in a minute).

Make your last session a productive one

I've had a few 'final sessions' in my time, and some have gone better than others. Make sure your final session is one where positive closure is made.  If you want to write your therapist a letter or a card, do so (I have done this in the past many times!). If it helps to reflect upon therapy (the positives, the negatives and the in-betweens) during this session then so be it. If it helps to vent solidly for one hour about how much you want to thank your therapist for their contribution towards your recovery, then so be it. Ask everything you want to ask, and say everything you want to say. Try not to get into a position where you regret not saying all of the things you wish you could have said or asked, whether this communication is executed verbally or not.

Come up with a support plan

In preparation for your final appointment with your therapist, ask if you can come up with a support plan. Your therapist may have already suggested this, but if not, it is so essential to know where you can get the required support in the event of a relapse or the need for further treatment. Develop mechanisms to cope with the sadness of leaving treatment should it get too much for you. Make a list of helplines. Make a structured timeline of what to do and where to go in the event of the need for therapy once more. Keep in regular contact with your doctors and make sure you know who to turn to in the event of an emergency. The sooner this is prepared for, the less devastating relapse would be should this occur. Also, if you do feel that it it necessary to seek further treatment, don't be disheartened. It doesn't mean you've failed or let your previous therapist down. Recovery, as we all know, is all about peaks and troughs. See every step back as an opportunity to take further steps forward and an opportunity for you to learn how you can prevent these reverse steps from occurring next time.

Note down and recognise what treatment taught you

This sounds ridiculous, but occasionally I look back and reflect on my therapists and look at how they inspired me to recover and to be a better person. See therapy as a positive process and an experience that you've gained knowledge and skills from. Note down breathing exercises, techniques, and mottoes or phrases that you've retained in your mind. Maybe even ask your therapist if they could give you one phrase or piece of advice that they want you to take with you moving forward, what that would be, and cherish that advice. Look back on the relationship that you and your therapist have had with the knowledge of just how much you have gained from the experience of being in therapy. Note these positives down if you can and perhaps have a look at how you can tailor everything you've learnt into your life post-therapy.

Have confidence in yourself - even if it's false

It's so easy to assume that your therapist 'made you the person you are' or that you 'would be nothing without them'. To an extent, I definitely felt that way with two of my former therapists - but over the years I've been slowly realising that a huge proportion of my recovery was down to my own doing. Have confidence in your ability to move on from therapy, even if to an extent the confidence is false. Your recovery is not 100% down to another individual, as easy as it is to view it that way. Your recovery derives initially from inner strength and willingness to participate in treatment in the first place, no matter how long that may take. Recognise the leaving of therapy as a sign of progression, as opposed to initially perceiving failures. The more that you fuel your confidence to live independently post-therapy, the easier that transition will become, even if there are setbacks along the way.

Most importantly, try to feel positive, encouraged, and enlightened to begin this next stage of your life. It's absolutely terrifying at times and can feel rocky and indeterminate, but have a little faith in yourself. You've made it this far and you can keep going.

Monday, 22 June 2015


I've started and postponed three different posts now, all reaching a mental dead end. I seem to be suffering from a diagnosis of blogger writers block, and I apologise to all of my readers for not being as consistent as I would like. So, to ease myself back into the swing of things, here is an update!

As you all know I finished my second year of University with a pretty horrific exam season. I fell ill with a vomiting virus and severe anxiety (both working in conjunction with each other) during the week of my exams and it thus resulted in what I considered to be my worst performance in an exam to date. Despite this, I still managed to achieve a mid and a high 2:1 in both exams, meaning that overall for the year I managed to (just about) achieve a first. Still a first class, but still not quite where I wanted to be at this point in my degree.

I have recently returned from a weeks trip to Italy with Nathan which was a huge tick off the bucket list. We stayed in Nago, Torbole - just on Lake Garda and visited Venice, Verona and the Dolomites mountains on our trip which were simply wonderful. Our hotel was perfect and I quite simply fell in love with Italy and already am very excited to go back (of which I hope to go to Rome!)

Therapy is going extremely well, to the point where my therapist has decided to reduce our sessions to fortnightly up until Christmas, to which we can then take a look at how things are going and see whether we feel the need to continue or potentially stop treatment for the foreseeable future. We decided that it was for the best to continue with therapy during the first half of my final University year, as the months of September-December are those where my mental health tends to deteriorate more, so thus therapy will act as a security blanket and a way of monitoring my progress more than anything else. However, the way in which my therapist seems particularly pleased with my progress makes me extremely happy and optimistic.

Currently I'm also working out where I want to be in terms of a career and life after University. I've always said on this blog that I've never been someone who has ever been 100% sure of what they've wanted to do with their lives, and spending the last few years working hard at University and taking life each day at a time has actually been a huge blessing. Trying to panic less about the fact that I 'don't know what I want to do with my life' has actually led to some future plans cropping up and after a lot of hard work and applications I have three great summer placements lined up that will take me right up until the 28th of September and my first day back as a final year student.

I've just begun my second week of a two week work experience placement with the charity YouthNet, working alongside their Engagement and Support Team. I've so far been part of a lovely and friendly team who have given me so much support since my first day! YouthNet are a great organisation who help and guide young people to make the right decisions today for a brighter tomorrow. They run a website called which facilitates discussions boards and live chats for young people on a variety of issues including sex and relationships, mental health, housing, travel and lifestyle, and much more, including their blogs and articles which provide young people aged 16-25 with essential support and advice through difficult points in their lives.

One week after I finish with YouthNet and I'll be completing another two week placement with the book publishing company W.W.Norton. This placement may sound a little dissimilar from the work I'll be doing with YouthNet but is all extremely relevant as editorial and publishing work alongside working within the charity sector is another interest and possible career path following University that I have been driven towards in the last year.

Finally, on Thursday I was selected as a successful candidate to work with Macmillan Cancer Support for two months as their Cancer Information Development Intern - working in their editorial department aiding their editing team with the production of their leaflets, booklets, newsletters, articles and much more. This combines working with a successful national charity with developing my editorial and publishing skills, and will be a three day a week role so I can also concentrate on final year reading and dissertation work during the other three days (bearing in mind I also work in retail on Saturdays!)

So as you can see, a lot has happened since I last posted! It's been an eventful few months to say the very least, but I've worked hard and I'm happy that my hard work appears to be paying off. I'm overall really happy with how life is going and how life seems to be progressing, but am fully aware that I need to be careful and ensure that it doesn't all get a little too much at times. The last few days have felt a little emotionally fragile due to exhaustion and tiredness but as long as I can recognise these symptoms and get in there early I can help myself to prevent a crisis point and keep on top of things.

I tweeted the other day that I feel happier now than I've ever been in my life, and that's true. But I guess recognising that means recognising that it's also okay to feel low at times and have it not be a catastrophe but recognise it instead as being part of life and emotions. You never reach a point in mental health recovery where you reach your peak and there's no further mountain to climb. That can often be the disillusionment with not just mental health recovery, but life itself, this perfection in life that we all attain for. The perfection simply just doesn't exist but our ability to cope with emotional fluctuation can and will improve with time and for me, I'm noticing the improvements each and every day.

I'm very tempted to make a full blog post about the idealisations of mental health recovery in due course, and would love requests for blog posts if you guys have any. I'm currently on a mission (although I think I've said this for a while) to re brand my blog, give it a new image and get posts rolling on a regular schedule, and I can't do that without your input. So please let me know!

Have a great week!